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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Too dark for me

Yesterday as part of my youngest's birthday celebrations, we went to see The Dark Knight. Although I have enjoyed Batman for years and liked Batman Begins, I found this latest installment far too dark and gruesome. I really thought that it lacked humanity.
There were parts that I had to close my eyes and wince away from the screen. It is not a children's film or even really a young adult film. The themes are far too mature.
Now I know that Blake Snyder has gone on about it being beat perfect etc etc, but I did not think it was. I found the film dragged, particularly at the end and that there were too many threads. As my dh said -- there was one too many crash bang whallop. In particular, he felt the thread about the Chinese businessman went nowhere as did the thread about the Wayne employee. The film could have been about 45 minutes shorter without losing its punch.
I also had trouble with the love triangle. The Rachel character's motivations were unclear, and I did not really understand why she would choose the man she did. As my dd said -- the wrong person survived and it would have been far more poignant if the ending twist had had to do with her. If she had been the one... (I am trying to avoid spoilers here)
I had no empathy with the Joker as he merely existed to kill and cause anarchy. I know people have spoken about Heath Ledger's last role and there is perhaps an argument that the role contributed to his untimely death as it may have sucked the life out of him. It can not be easy to play that sort of psychopath. But his stakes and motivations in the film are never clear. What does he hope to gain from killing Batman? Why does he need to expose Batman's face when he never exposes his own? Why does he hate Batman? Why are his followers attracted to him as he kills them once their job is finished? With the Jack Nicholson Joker, you could at least see some of the why, even if it was twisted and warped.
Equally with Batman, there should have been more Save the Cat! moments. Yes, everyone knows -- he is a superhero, but he is also supposed to be in love with Rachel. Where were the little touches? The photo? Or symbol? The humanity that Bale brought to Batman Begins is missing from this one. You only get Alfred and Lucius Fox. What is driving him at the moment? Is that he wants to rid the city of crime? And why? If it is so he can hang up his cape and ride off into the sunset with Rachel, where are the hints? Where is the longing? What is at stake for him personally? How does he see his future? Some of this could have been easily shown.
Because the full emotional colour wheel was not employed. the movie just feels dark. It reminded me of what Donald Maass once said about the problem with midlist authors who write this wonderfully troubled hero and say it is the best thing they have ever done, when really they just need to spend some time with a therapist. The hope is gone and that is not a good thing.
Anyway, the film did not work for me and I did not feel emotionally satisfied at the end. It did work for my daughter who loved the Gothic elements. It is a huge blockbuster, but it is not a film that I will be in any hurry to see again.

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