Sunday, August 24, 2008
The Dark Knight
I read a review of this movie a few weeks back that spent the entire article raving about Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker, and then, at the very end of the article, said, "Oh, and Christian Bale was in it, too." This reviewer hit the nail on the head. For most of the movie (all the scenes without The Joker, to be exact) I sat, forehead scrunched up, eyebrows together, mind whirling, trying to follow the storyline. Finally, at the point that my head started throbbing, I gave up and waited for The Joker's scenes. The first half hour had me completely lost, feeling like a Kindergartner thrown into an advanced calculus class. I was so worried it was just my blondness coming through, but since then other people have assured me it wasn't just me. (Whew.)
But honestly, it didn't matter. No one will remember this movie for the politics, mafia, or bank heists. In fact, no one will probably remember this movie for the always-cool Batman gadgets, special effects, or action sequences. What people will be talking about for years to come is Heath Ledger as The Joker. I thought maybe I was expecting perfection, that I'd built up the performance I'd heard so much about too much in my head. I thought I might be disappointed. I wasn't. Not even a little. In fact, I was still blown away. The minute that distorted clown face appeared on the screen I went from confused and restless to completely engrossed. Never have I been so convinced that someone was psychopathic. It was disturbing, thrilling, chilling. I was so curious about The Joker's back story--what had happened in his past to make him become this insane killer? I thought, for one blissful moment, that we got a glimpse of that back story as he told how he got the disfiguring scars on his face. Then, twenty minutes later, he told a second, completely different story of how he got the scars, and I realized it was all part of the character: crazy. Although I do believe my interest in Mr. Ledger's performance is somewhat rooted in the fact that he recently passed on, I like to believe I would be just as fascinated if he were still alive. Because he was just. that. good.
Which is unfortunate for Mr. Bale, whom I adore. He is an amazing, amazing actor. He shone in Batman Begins, which I loved. He made the movie. He brought the saga back to life. He was rubber-suited perfection. And he still is, just...overshadowed. My only complaint about the masked man is that voice. Why is it that putting on the mask = talking like he eats lit cigarettes for every meal? It was unbearable to listen to (my husband literally clenched his fists every time he spoke), and almost ruined the character for me.
Maggie Gyllenhaal takes the place of Katie Holmes in the role of Rachel Dawes, Batman's main squeeze, and while there are some similarities in their facial features, the difference between the two actresses is like a kitten (Holmes) and a lioness in heat (Gyllenhaal). There are few things I hate more in movies than when a repeat character is played by a new actor. Oh, how I loathe this.
Aaron Eckhart plays Harvey Dent/Two-Face, and, although I won't deny the creepiness of the scarred half of his face, it resembled the guy from Raiders of the Lost Ark (you know, the one whose face melts off?) a little too much for my taste.
I honestly can't remember anything else about the movie, except for Heath, Heath and more Heath. Seriously, if he doesn't get an Oscar for this (it would only be the second time an actor received the honor post-mortem), there is no justice in this world.
Oh, and Christian Bale was in it, too.