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.


Shayla said...

Completely. Agree. Did I not tell you he was mesmerizing?! He really freaked me out, he was that good. On the same page with you on the female lead...just didn't do it for me. Completely different than the first movie, that just bugged me the entire movie. And THE VOICE. Why?! Why, oh why?! That's all I have to say. Now I want to see it again.

Amy said...

So the voices...I found myself disliking Batman's voice, very distracting but loved the Joker's voice, as odd as that is. I think it totally made the character. I too was completely confused the first half-hour and then a time or two later in the movie, though those times could be due to the fact that I had Carson with me! I loved the movie and LOVE me some Christian Bale!

Amy J. said...

You are too good. I will be waiting to see this when it comes out on video. John took the boys to it (yes moms I lost the PG 13 battle a long time ago) and they all loved it. I have heard several people say they miss your Hollywood funnies and I totally agree!

meohmyers said...

I know. That voice drove me crazy too, but Jeff had to explain to me it was to keep him anonymous but I'm sure you knew that.

"Rubber-suited perfection" cracked me up! So funny.

I was lost, too, in the beginning but then thought the story line didn't matter to me as much as the characters. I loved Heath Ledger in this movie!! His little quirks completely added to his psychotic behavior and I loved when he came on screen. And of course Christian Bale.

I would definitely watch it again to try and understand the story line better.

marisa said...

great review alicia! bale is such a hottie, for me he really doesn't need to say much-just great "eye candy"!

andrea said...

So dead-on! Barlow and I like to have "Batman voice" contests when we are bored in the car or something, you should try it sometime, it makes for some entertaining trips to the store.

Christian Bale is one of those actors that, after watching one of his movies, I must repeat the ritual "I love my husband, I love my husband..." to cleanse my brain of his hotness. Yum, yum, gimme some!

tharker said...

Loved every single minute of this movie. Especially the perfect portrayal of pyscho, crazy Joker by Heath Ledger.

I love, love, love Christian Bale, but I'm with you on the voice. Ughh!

Jodi said...

I completely agree with this post. I LOVED Heath Ledger in this movie and his voice he used. He was very convincing. I kept looking at him trying to picture the HUNK of a man from "Knight's Tale" and couldn't even catch a glimpse of him - he was that good portraying his role as the Joker!

AOlson said...

The voice ruined it for me. I hated listeneing to him everytime he spoke. But I did enjoy the movie. I was fascinated by the Joker even though he was so creepy. Should I have been disturbed by the movie, because I wasn't.