Review: The Dark Knight

Do not read any further if you do not want critical plot points revealed

I saw The Dark Knight on Friday afternoon. Like many movies, I need a few days to truly digest the film. Sometimes, I like a film and later decide I didn’t like it as much as I thought (see: Spiderman 3, Die Hard 4). Sometimes, I like a film and decide later it was better than I thought (see: The Matrix, The Bourne Ultimatum).

In this case, I knew I liked the film. It was very true to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins film in both storyline and dark overtones. But, like James Bond, I fear there are some real breaks with reality that I struggle to accept. Nothing in the Bourne movies I mentioned above requires major suspension of disbelief. But The Dark Knight pushes reality a little too much. Let’s examine some aspects of the film:

Cast and characters
Again, masterfully done. I enjoyed the acting quite a bit. Christian Bale, Michael Cain, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhardt, Gary Oldman, Nestor Carbonall, all were fantastic. Heath Ledger – while I won’t call him Oscar-worthy, primary because I don’t really understand what makes one role Oscar worthy but not others) – was truly genius. I say this for several reasons: firstly, his facial expressions, voice tone, and eyes were masterful. Secondly, because I largely forgot it was him for most of the film. To me, this was the Joker, not an actor I’ve known for over a decade.

Like the last film, pretty well executed. The entire thing felt a bit rushed – they crammed a lot of plot into a little time (note it still runs well over 2 hours), meaning some characters got a little short-changed, primarily Two-Face. The fall from do-gooder and justice-seeking Harvey Dent to the conscious-less Two-Face was a bit too harsh and dramatic. Such a cool character would have been a great long-term adversary.

Bruce Wayne was a bit brash, which I suppose was how they wanted to keep him, a trait established last film. Alfred Pennyworth and Lucious Fox were consistent. The Joker was perfectly executed in that we learned virtually nothing about him and his origin remains a mystery.

Where Things Went Wrong
Okay, I’m a stickler for plot bending. I don’t like when an otherwise semi-realistic film, requires me to entire dicard realism. So there are several key points here:

Amazing Explosives!
How did the Joker get the hospital wired so effectly and so quickly with no one noticing and no real team of goons to speak of? That were a LOT of very well placed explosives that would surely require a very skilled expert to help design that implosion, no?
Sonar on your mobile?
After months of work, presumably, Lucious Fox was able to design a prototype “sonar” using CDMA or GSM technology. He was able to rig a device to use it. He was able to make it work through existing mobile networks with neither the networks, nor the satelite owners, nor the military noticing it. We must presume, given these facts, and the limitationsof existing hardware, that the data was tranferred as internet data. Not much later, with no previous knowledge of the project or how it works, Bruce Wayne, never an engineer, was able to decipher, understand, and deploy this technology to millions of existing phones, most of which, I’d wager, do not have internet plans, a good portion of which is using half-decade old technology. We must also presume that the Wayne R&D department has the necessary bandwidth to receive the data from millions of phones and that their ISP and the phone carriers wouldn’t notice this incredble spike in traffic. Oh yeah, did I mention that they somehow were able to locate a particular crystal-clear voice amongst this overwhelming parade of sonar? Pshaw!
Extra! Extra! Commissioner Dead!
Explain how the Joker and/or his minions were able to get into the commissioners office, replace his booze with poison, and get him to drink it at the exact time?
Mayor Assasination Attempt Thwarted by Gordon
So, uh, the Joker anticipated the Batman locating a name that was NOT actually him and going there and breaking in? And conveniently, some cops who had recently been kidnapped were all there waiting? And the Mayor, while under fire, delivered a speech in a neighborhood with more Windows than a room of government computers without a protective shield or bulletproof glass? What the hell? Who runs Gotham security? Find him and smack the bitch upside his stupid head!
A Boatoad of Trouble
Lastly, why didn’t the boats explode at midnight? Did Batman somehow disarm it off camera? It was the BACKUP Joker was holding. That means the original device failed. But how? By the way, give me the remote while I’m on a ferry with my wife and kids. The scene would be like this: “Give me the remote!” BOOM!

All the foolishness aside, I still really liked it. I really hope there’s a third entry to this series.

5 Replies to “Review: The Dark Knight”

  1. I think the commissioner getting poisoned seemed reasonable if the Joker had gotten to anyone who worked in that office, they would know that the commissioner keeps the alcohol and would drink it. It was quite a feat, but it seemed less extreme to me than the other stuff you listed.

    I got the idea that both the Joker was busy dealing with Batman and that the Joker did not actually expect to have to blow up the boats himself. He was not ready at exactly midnight because he was surprised he had to do it at all.

  2. You’re probably a little too glued to reality. The Bourne series follows a man who’s being chased, that’s pretty much it. In Batman we’re talking about a movie made to follow up/ give the series fans a better look at the entire thing and it was perfect.

    Forget about Batman, his power is really seen in the night, it’s Bruce’s Wayne’s money that is able to make all these things you’re critizing come true, like the mobile devices, he probably owns the companies you’re wondering about.

    I was pretty impressed with that use of technology, how someone tried to rat him out, how he uses jetpacks to fly, all of it.

    The different characters might have been rushed, but the blowing up of the hospital was easy, that’s what you use goons for and that’s not too difficult with a explosives placed where needed. Joker doesn’t alway wear the make up, as seen when the tried to take out Harvey during his speech and as he said, most of the cops themselves are corrupt.

    Go look at the movie again.

  3. Hey Adam,

    Thanks for the review. How did you find Heath Ledger’s performance compared to Jack Nicholson’s version of the Joker?

    I haven’t had much enthusiasm for going to see Dark Knight – partly because I thought the previous Nolan film was overrated (IMO, Christian Bale was more believable as Bruce Wayne than as Batman), and partly because I can’t imagine anyone topping Jack Nicholson’s performance (or Mark Hamill’s from the animated series, for that matter).

    But from your review, it sounds much better than I had expected.

  4. Oh, one other question: were the action scenes any more watchable than they were in Batman Begins? I found the shakey-cam & jump cuts made it nearly impossible to follow what was happening on screen.

  5. maybe somebody can explain this to me. i’ve accepted the fact that bruce “did something” to make this sonar imaging technology so effective that it was able to help him identify those clown hostages. i admit, it stretched my imagination very close to what i could tolerate but… fine, i’ll just grant the movie that much. but what were those things in his eyes? were they supposed to be the sonar emitters? or the image constructors?

    if they were the image constructors then that means he himself could see the people behind walls, floors and ceilings. if this is the case… why did he ask for lucius fox’s help? didn’t he ask fox to stare at the screens back in his lair to be bruce’s “eyes”

    if they were the emitters… why the hell would he put them over his eyes, rendering him blind? well that’s just poor design, isn’t it?

    oh, i can be foolish and nitpicky, too. =)
    1) cities were supposed to be a no-fly zone and yet no military jets went after bruce’s plane during his escape.

    2) bruce shot a sticky bomb (maybe several, can’t really remember) onto the building’s glass window so he could make his entrance. and then he jumps off a building and glides… around another big building… because it happened to be in his way… how the hell did the sticky bombs find their target with that other building in the way?

    don’t try to come up with answers to these 2 points, i really don’t care. lol. but i would like an explanation to the sonar thing. did i miss something?

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