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RATING: 4 out of 5 Thumbs.
Yes, only four thumbs – I figure my first movie review can’t be all five, or people won’t see my reviews as credible. That being said, I generally won’t bother reviewing a movie unless it’s a) Awesome; b) Awful; c) Getting Critical Reviews I Disagree With. In the case of ‘The Dark Knight’, see option a).
The Short Version: As a movie, it’s awesome; as the second of Nolan’s Batmans, it’s definitely the better one, but it could’ve been even better.
The Long Version:
Those of you that have seen it may not think it’s credible to only give four thumbs. Touché, dear reader. Yes, this movie is awesome for many, many reasons. I have now seen it thrice – twice on the normal screen, and most recently on IMAX – wouldn’t have bothered if it weren’t awesome. But here are three short, potentially minor, reasons it’s not a full-blown hand o’ thumbs:
1) Alfred & Bruce/Batman banter. The scenes where Bale interacts with the world’s best Alfred (Michael Caine) do NOT come off well. Personally I blame this on bad dialogue choice (since when does Alfred have stories about burning down forests & hunting bandits?) and a mediocre Bruce Wayne that Bale delivers. A respectable Batman, a refusable Bruce Wayne – I actually liked Bale as Bruce better in Batman Begins.
2) Rachel Dawes. I was actually disappointed that they brought Rachel Dawes back, but in all fairness, I never read many of the Dark Knight graphic novels, and am not invested in her arc AT ALL, so if you are, you can stop reading this part. I just think the whole Rachel/Bruce dynamic sucked a particularly large quantity of ass in this one. SPOILER ALERT: I am glad she’s dead. Yes, sad for Harvey & Bruce & Alfred, but good for the next – I’m not longing for a Vicki Vale reprise or anything, but Rachel Dawes’ character is crap. Yes, Maggie’s way better than Katie Holmes. But so is a ham on rye.
3) The 1UP Mushroom Factor. This is potentially the most important reason for withholding the fifth thumb, though also probably the most debatable. After such AWESOME performances by Heath Ledger & Aaron Eckhart & Gary Oldman, combined with the altogether awesome story arc we’re on, I’m concerned for my future as a Batman fan. What the F are the Nolans going to write next? And who the hell are they going to cast? SPOILER AGAIN: Neither The Joker OR Two-Face actually die at the end of this movie, but there’s NO WAY they could sub in anyone to replace Heath’s Joker. Even if they tried, just on principle alone (especially if he doesn’t get the Oscar he deserves) I will be against it. Sidebar Insult: If you see/saw this and don’t think Heath deserves a posthumous Oscar, kill yourself because you are an IDIOT. And Eckhart makes a great Two-Face, but he can’t carry a whole on his own. So, to 1UP Dark Knight, Nolan has to pull in … what? An awesome Penguin? A Catwoman that doesn’t suck balls as bad as Halle Berry? or a Robin that isn’t as effeminate as Chris O’Donnell? All three? He & his bro have set the bar high, & I’m just worried about their ability to man up. (My op: he’ll find a Catwoman – remember the line Lucius delivers when he gives Bruce the new dog-proof batsuit? “We talking Rottweilers or chihuahuas? It should do fine against cats.” I just don’t know what woman is up for it – and if anyone even thinks of the Jessicas (Alba/Biel), go join the No-Oscar-for-Heath crowd at the bottom of the bay. They do not belong in cinematic adventures.)
Hopefully you get why I withheld one thumb. (That’s what she said.) But my call? GO SEE THIS MOVIE. Heath’s performance alone is worth it. And I recommend the IMAX if you haven’t seen it – see it there first. If you’ve already seen it in standard format, it’s still great to see the sweeping city scenes & the bank robbery scene on an 80 foot screen. Worth the $15, anyway. I’m not the only one who thinks so – IMAX in SF has been sold out at least one showing EVERY DAY since it opened 3 weeks ago.
What are you still doing here? Go see this movie. Again.