THE DARK KNIGHT **

Some neanderthal was complaining on the internet about women reviewing superhero movies.

According to him, it was completely unacceptable. Apparently our collective points of view – along with our DNA – make us deeply inferior choices when it comes to deciphering the quality of this particular type of bombastic glory.

As a rather conspicuous character proclaimed in Tim Burton’s original BATMAN, wait till they get a load of me…

THE DARK KNIGHT is one of the biggest cinematic disappointments to ever hit the silver screen.

The jumbled plot (such as it is) has to do with criminal masterminds eroding the grandeur of glorious Gotham City. The JOKER (HEATH LEDGER) is taking over, destroying everything in his wake. He wants BATMAN to reveal his true identity. Otherwise he will begin murdering innocent people…and then go on killing relentlessly.

Into the fray steps honourable pragmatist District Attorney HARVEY DENT (AARON ECKHART), who has now captured the heart of our girl RACHEL DAWES (MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL). At some point, things will unravel so shockingly for Harvey that his transformation into TWO FACE will be complete.

But Gotham will likely never be the same…

Director CHRISTOPHER NOLAN and his brother JONATHAN cowrote this empty opus. They have taken the franchise in a rather unexpected direction. This kind of savage brutality combined with the wholly realistic vision of the new BATMAN films leaves an exceedingly bitter aftertaste.

It’s like the CLOCKWORK ORANGE of superhero movies. Except that ACO is one of the great cinematic masterpieces of the twentieth century. THE DARK KNIGHT is a soulless black hearted trifle that’s buried under the weight of its own pathetic faux edginess.

It is actually rather well made. The cinematography is crisp and gorgeous. It was partly filmed with IMAX technology and it shows.

You can not fault most of the performances. But then actors – however excellent – will do as much as they’re capable of doing with the worst script imaginable. Mr. Bale, Mr. Oldman and Mr. Caine are all rock solid.

Mr. Freeman reprises his role with a wily trace of bemusement that’s entertaining enough. Mr. Eckhart starts out uneven but begins to hit his stride towards the end. The marvelous CILLIAN MURPHY appears in a cameo role at the outset. Blink and you’ll miss him.

The only acting that was genuinely off the mark was Ms. Gyllenhaal’s interpretation of Rachel. She plays her as smug, openly confrontational and arrogant – and she comes across as fairly unlikable through much of the picture.

KATIE HOLMES’ take on the character was far more effective. You could at least understand her motivations. But, considering the way the story plays out, perhaps Ms. Gyllenhaal’s acting choices do make some sense by the conclusion.

Mr. Ledger is, as you might expect, beyond brilliant. He is a psychopathic wonder of exquisite proportions. There is not one false moment while he is on screen. His work is seamless and perfectly modulated. You can not detect a trace of his real self or any of his other characters here.

He is like a highly adrenalized cartoon version of Lord Byron: mad, bad and dangerous to know.

Will he be nominated? He definitely deserves to be.

But there is next to no character development in THE DARK KNIGHT and far too many seemingly identical action sequences that don’t do anything to heighten the excitement.

This is a picture that never lives up to its potential. It’s disturbing in ways that are particularly distasteful and manipulative. One of the main characters dies during the course of the movie. You’re positive as to which one it is. Then you find out that it’s actually another. There is a scene near the end where one of the major personalities involved has family members kidnapped. It’s enough to turn your stomach.

The ending is so ridiculous that it would ordinarily be laughable. But you’re too emotionally drained after two and a half hours of devastating misanthropy and cruel viciousness to do anything but try to forget the precious time you wasted in such an unfortunate manner.

Why so serious?

Could it be that THE DARK KNIGHT never lives up to its own grandiose expectations?

For some of us, that would most definitely be the case…

2 Responses to “THE DARK KNIGHT **”

  1. glimmer Says:

    I think it will be totally sold out downtown. But let’s just say I have a strategy. So we’ll see how it goes. If I don’t get in, there will be HELL TO PAY –

    uh so i guess there wasn’t hell to pay. and although i like your review. i would have loved to read about hell to pay. ha ha… 😉

    really m. i think heath would have got some serious push for an oscar even if he was alive. especially seeing how critics are going crazy raving about him/and the movie public is too…

    m. let’s rewind we all remember last year…. who won the oscar for best supporting actor…yep javier bardem for playing the charismatic (ok you know what i mean) bad guy in no country….

    so depite the comic origin thing/ it wouldn’t be too surprising to see another actor playing a magnetic bad guy get a nom…or at least get seroius consideration. uh no….

    and i guess that’s one way to shut up all those that feel ledger’s death (r.i.p.) is the only reason a nom is gonna happen…

    it’s weird m. the same people that feel ledger’s gonna get a nom or win just because of death. had no problem with bardem getting the nom and then the win for playing for playing the bad guy in a popular/accessible movie….

    and even if ledger got a nom ‘just because’ he died. so what. the academy doesn’t need death to make decisions that some feel are wrong or giving undeserved praise/late praise/or over appreciation to whatever film/actor/director etc…

    anyway too bad you hated the film ! 🙂

    i’m just curious though. any particular thoughts on catwoman? i know she isn’t part of the structure here. but i’d really like to know (and I bet everyone else reading would too).

  2. Hey, my precious little glim…

    Hah hah. In the immortal words of genius singer AMY WINEHOUSE: No, no, no…

    You don’t want to be anywhere near me when I get white hot. When I lose it (AND I have – even in public) the world just stops turning and the appropriate people pay. BIG TIME. I can be quite the intimidating presence (tall and blonde – you couldn’t miss me for blocks) and I will get what I want or turn the situation to my own advantage.

    GUARANTEED.

    The only positive thing for other people is if you happen to be a boyfriend when I really go to town. Lots of times when the blood gets pumping, all that adrenaline comes to the surface and the passion and wild energy begins to flow, some very interesting things can happen in private.

    But other than that, I know how to handle myself pubicly and nothing gets by me. NOTHING.

    I saw TDK in a small out of the way suburban theatre that most people don’t go to. Would have much preferred seeing it downtown or at this grand and gorgeous neighbourhood mall that I frequent on occasion. But they were all popular locations and likely to be sold out.

    Couldn’t take that chance. But it really didn’t matter anyway. All things considered.

    I guess IF people are actually complaining about HEATH being nodded or winning I imagine that their reservations stem from the fact that he is no longer with us. So he can’t enjoy it or derive any positive benefit from it. I imagine there are some people that feel that HEATH’S win would deprive a deserving gentleman who gives a great performance of that esteemed honour.

    That’s neither here nor there as far as I’m concerned. I know that HEATH was a generous kind human being from all accounts and he wouldn’t want anyone’s deserved victory coming at his expense. But I think you’re very right, glim. All this Oscar buzz is NOT happening simply because HEATH passed away.

    HE IS GENUINELY DESERVING NO MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES.

    It would be a lovely tribute to him and it would be something for his family to treasure. MATILDA will grow up proudly knowing that her dad was an Oscar winnner. (If, of course, that were to happen.)

    We’ll have to see how it all shakes out. Oscar nominations won’t come down until January. Long time. But now that TDK has received such glowing reviews (from nearly everyone in the world EXCEPT ME) and is such an enormous force of nature, I know that HEATH won’t be forgotten.

    As for the CATWOMAN thing…

    BATMAN RETURNS is one of the biggest wastes of MICHELLE PFEIFFER’S considerable talent and star quality EVER. I adore her but she should NEVER have been cast as CATWOMAN. She’s more than beautiful enough and she certainly can be sexy in the right role. Don’t even get me started on this. Though I am a blonde, I would be the first person to step forward and state passionately that CATWOMAN CAN NOT have light hair. It’s completely wrong for the character.

    CATWOMAN is like BATMAN. Dark and mysterious. That’s one of the reasons they’re drawn to each other romantically and sexually. He’s good and she’s bad. But they understand each other completely.

    CATWOMAN MUST BE a brunette or auburn. She can even be some kind of a redhead if you want to be utterly subversive. (Girls with red hair are wild. I’d have a LOT more red in my hair if I didn’t dye it. So there we go… )

    Blonde hair evokes innocence, sweetness, approachablity. LIGHTCATWOMAN is the ultimate in femininity and her sensuality comes as naturally to her as breathing. MICHELLE was all wrong and as a blonde was wrong beyond belief.

    EARTHA KITT and LEE MERIWETHER were both far better. LEE in particular. She was drop dead beautiful and she had a strong natural comprehension of what she had to do to make CATWOMAN compelling.

    But the gorgeous, stunning JULIE NEWMAR was THE BEST EVER. She trumps them all. From the way she moves to her voice to her complete and total embodiment of CATWOMAN.

    You have to have a woman who would walk through a room and have EVERY MAN turn to look at her – a woman who would have guys crawling on their knees unapologetically – a woman who could level bulidings and cities with her charm and sex appeal – a woman that every girl dreams of being.

    That woman, ladies and gentlemen, is JULIE NEWMAR.

    But casting the wrong CATWOMAN was the least of that dreadful picture’s problems. YOW….

    BATMAN FOREVER is a fun little trifle that had the potential to be so much more. NICOLE rocked. She was smart and sexy as hell. (That hair was unbelievable. Adore her as a blonde but she’s a fabulous redhead.)

    I loved the way that she was always all over BATMAN. She couldn’t hold herself back. Here you have a brilliant, capable professional woman (she’s a noted psychiatrist) that looks like a supermodel. But she can’t even control herself when she’s in the same room with him. She just has to have him. So she’s got all the career achievements and she’s accomplished exactly what she wanted on her own terms.

    But BATMAN is something new that she just has to add to her to do list. Her need for him is unstoppable and wanton. I JUST LOVE THAT. Love it even more that they end up together. But I dig the fact that she takes control when she’s fired up and won’t let him escape from her grasp. When she wants something, she goes out and gets it. That’s a quality I admire greatly. In a man or a woman.

    Seems especially fitting that her name is CHASE Meridian. Hardy har har….

    I think MICHELLE was completely miscast as CATWOMAN. TIM BURTON and the studios obviously wanted her because she was a big star and I know that she genuinely desired that part.

    Don’t get me wrong. MICHELLE is amazingly talented. When you look at the characters she’s played that’s a pretty wide range. Mafia wife turned hairdresser (with a perfect Brooklyn accent) in MARRIED TO THE MOB. Stunningly flawless Russian accent in THE RUSSIA HOUSE. She’s a awesome blend of toughness, vulnerability and distracting sensuality as SUZIE DIAMOND in THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS – and she sang like a dream.

    I’m a HUGE fan. Of all the women that came up when she did (the 80s) there aren’t many that can compare when it comes to classic beauty and incredible talent. Yeah, normally I don’t care whether she’s a blonde or a brunette. I even saw her on a PBS thing (which she did early in her career) where she played an actor. She wore a red wig and she looked incredible.

    So I do not want to give the impression AT ANY TIME that I am less than impressed with the belle MICHELLE. I own a ton of her films and she has ALWAYS been a particular favourite of mine.

    It’s a wicked shame that this lovely woman has three Oscar nominations and no award. I think that’s pretty tragic.

    If MICHELLE had been a brunette in BR I think it would have been much truer to the character. But I still think she was miscast.

    Did you know who originally had that part? ANNETTE BENING. But she got pregnant. That’s how MICHELLE ended up with it. I have no idea what ANNETTE could have come up with. She was hot as hell in THE GRIFTERS. So the possiblities were there.

    Unless an actor is extraordinarily talented, it’s fairly easy to be miscast. Despite the fact that there are some AMAZING casting people in the industry it happens. (MERYL STREEP would be one of those people. AL PACINO would be another. I can’t imagine them being miscast in anything. They’re too brilliant.)

    So….I don’t think it’s MICHELLE’S fault AT ALL. It’s not even a bad performance per se. SHE’S JUST WRONG.

    It amazes me that 40 years ago for that crazy television series they came up with three different women right off the bat who were fabulous CATWOMEN – and two of those (Ms. Newmar and Ms. Meriwether) were absolutely extraordinary.

    CATWOMAN is an entity unto herself. Honestly, I don’t think there would be many women who could do that part justice. It has nothing to do with being a great actor. Or even beauty to be truthful.

    You must be able to project a kind of smoldering sensuality. The kind that makes men weak. You have to be the sort of woman that guys would kill for GLADLY. Without a second thought. Not every actor can do this. I also think (and I swear that I’m not trying to be sexist here) that a voluptuous physique would go a long way to making the character come alive. So would a sultry voice.

    CATWOMAN is a real specific kind of femme fatale. It’s not that MICHELLE’S not beautiful enough. SHE WASN’T RIGHT. She can be sexy in the correct role. But I just don’t think that she had what it takes to be the ultimate CATWOMAN. This is no knock on her tremendous abilties as an actor. It’s just whatever you can bring to the table.

    NICOLE is an incredible beauty though she does come off as rather an ice queen in public. CATHERINE DENEUVE has the same thing going. But NICOLE can play sexy in film readily and very well. MICHELLE seems warmer when she’s in the public eye. But I don’t think that she’s overtly sexy either.

    Who would make a great CATWOMAN now? CATHERINE ZETA JONES would be fantastic. She has that kind of riveting sensuality that would make guys go a little crazy. Plus she is incredibly talented. ANGELINA JOLIE would be equally fabulous. She seems to have all the quintessential CATWOMAN qualities down RIGHT NOW. She’s fearless, sexy beyond belief, larger than life – and you’d DEFINITELY believe that guys would give up whatever they have just to be with her. Oh yes…JENNIFER CONNELLY could pull that off too, I think. LENA OLIN would be perfection. She’s one of the sexiest women on the planet.

    SCARLETT JOHANSSON is a little young. But as a non blonde (obviously) she would be superb. She’s got the right kind of electric smolder. MILA KUNIS would be fantastic. She possesses a jaw droppingly powerful sensual presence. You would absolutely believe her in that role.

    Over the years who would have been great if they had been offered the part (even as a lark)? I know that SUZANNE PLESHETTE tested for the TV series and they were going to give it to her. Can’t remember what happened. But she would have been MAGNIFICENT.

    I think ELIZABETH TAYLOR, VIVIEN LEIGH and (ESPECIALLY) AVA GARDNER would have been awesome. LAUREN BACALL would have been exceptionally wild. DONNA MILLS (as a non blonde, obviously) would have had people crawling on their knees. ANN MARGRET would have been THE LIVING END. KATHLEEN TURNER would have been superb. DEMI MOORE would have been the bomb. SIGOURNEY WEAVER had the right look. I think she could’ve been interesting. JESSICA LANGE could have been a force of nature. FAYE DUNAWAY would have been a little on the cool side. But I think she could have done very well.

    If I think of any more I’ll come back to this thread. Like I said, you need a lethal combination of traits. Or you have to be able to project them EASILY. It has little to do with acting expertise or beauty per se.

    IT’S ABOUT BEING RIGHT FOR THE PART.

    Thanks for this, glimster. You’re the best……….

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