The Dark Knight

 

I often hear great things about a movie only to be disappointed. Sometimes I hear that a movie is not that good, have low expectations, and then I’m pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as bad as I thought. In my opinion, The Dark Knight is as good as critics are saying. It comes in at around two and a half hours, but it doesn’t feel like it. There is very good pacing and editing. There is also a lot of good character development and it is very intense throughout, particularly the scenes with the Joker.

The villain in this one, the Joker, is more interesting on screen than is Batman. This has been true of every Batman movie I’ve seen, but in this case it was a much closer call. Heath Ledger played the Joker well, but Christian Bale played Batman well, too (with the exception of the growling ‘McGruff voice’ that was a bit overdone by the last third of the movie).

It is the first Batman movie that really gets at the complexities of the characters. Is Batman a good guy or a bad guy? Well… this movie at least looks into his motives – why he chooses to do some of the things he does. We don’t get as much insight into the motives of the Joker – he tries to tell people why he does some of what he does, but we get two different versions and a third is on the verge of being provided when he is ‘interrupted.’ We also get a good look at how Harvey Dent becomes Two Face. Nice. There is also a lot more appreciation in this move for the corruption in the police force in Gotham that leads to questions of loyalty and trust. Having this in the background of the rest of the exchanges and key decisions makes for a good story.

With the Batman movies you also get some ties to Arkan Asylum. I’ll make one comment on this. There is a scene in which one of Joker’s henchmen is said to be a paranoid schizophrenic from the Asylum. This plays into the stereotypes about mental health concerns and the supposed dangerousness of those with severe mental illnesses. This is unfortunate because it is not true (the strong association between mental illness and dangerousness), and there has been such progress made in reducing the stigma associated with serious mental health concerns. So this kind of off-hand remark – while brief – is unfortunate and unnecessary.

This is also not a movie for children. It is intense, as I mentioned. Nevertheless, we saw many children at our showing, some of whom were crying and wanted to leave. Of course, at $7.50 a ticket or more, few parents will make that decision once they are already inside.

Overall, it is a good movie. It is breaking all kinds of box office records and it deserves to do so. It is complex in character development and plot. There is enough action and romantic ties for everyone, so few will go home disappointed. Maybe just the young children who should have been home to begin with.

5 Comments

  1. Pingback: » The Dark Knight

  2. So out of curiosity, do you tend to believe the insanity plea is often overblown (referring to your remark about the stereotypical beliefs that severe mental illnesses are linked to dangerousness)?

    I still haven’t seen the film, but it looks like a good one for a psychology major to analyze.

  3. I think the public thinks it is used more often than it is (probably due to media coverage when it is used – kind of like how we cover airline crashes), if that’s what you mean by ‘overblown.’ I understand it to be rarely used as an actual defense.

    But criminals can just be criminals without having to have a mental illness. The idea that the Joker’s henchman was a ‘paranoid schizophrenic’ does little to help the public take an empathic view of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. I don’t want to make too much of it – just a minor point really.

  4. That makes sense. It seems like the insanity plea could be a predominant factor in why so many people have a bias against those with severe mental illnesses. In a media age, it’s so potently intertwined for us, that we probably don’t ever think through what we unconsciously choose to believe about it(even if in reality it isn’t that common).

    I found your point about it interesting; I hadn’t seen anyone else mention it. I understand you were not making a major issue about it. Sorry for the digression!

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