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Movie Review: The Dark Knight Is Very Good, Not Perfect

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I am guessing compared to most of the reviews that will be written about The Dark Knight, this one could end up being misconstrued as the one that smashes the film. I want to make sure that doesn't happen by addressing it right here and now. There is something I want you all to remember as you read the rest of this review. The Dark Knight is very, very good. It is a movie that builds upon the wonderful re-start that Batman Begins began a few years ago.

The Dark Knight has great performances by some great actors. The action scenes are remarkable at times. Specifically, when Batman makes a harrowing, unauthorized extradition of a criminal in a foreign country, you will forget just how impossible it all is because of the imaginative nature and beauty the scenes and the action. Where the final scenes of Batman Begins were a bit corny, The Dark Knight lets no such goofiness creep in.

That lack of goofiness, in a large part, is due to the performance of Heath Ledger. Ledger's performance is very good. He was probably even better than Jack Nicholson from Tim Burton's 1989 iteration of Batman, but let's be serious. Can you give an actor an Oscar for playing a role that at this point in pop culture is just an amalgamation of all the performances that have preceded it? While I will try not to disparage the memory of a very good actor, if you start to hear his name and the word Oscar in the same sentence, I fear that this might just be an overreaction to the sadness related to his young death.

The story itself was also very good. We were presented with more than just your average hero storyline. Good and evil were blurred lines and the fickle nature of a city with a masked crusader was handled beautifully. And just when you thought you couldn't be any more disillusioned with humanity, they were given an opportunity to implode, and instead the citizenry of Gotham rose to the occasion. Trust me when I tell you the movie's story arcs were well thought out.

Unfortunately, it wasn't paced nearly as well as it could have been. At 150 minutes the film felt like 150 minutes. That is not a good thing. The movie had at least three moments that could have been considered suitable endings. But Christopher Nolan wasn't able to quite pull it off perfectly with his multi-pronged storyline. What we are left with is a good movie that tends to plod along occasionally in its own self-impressed manner, not wanting to act like an action-based comic book movie and maintain even the slightest bit of popcorn feeling with a tidy ending.

You see why I wrote that first paragraph? I feel like I just trashed the movie. I want to reiterate just how good this movie is. I just don't want to let the negatives get overlooked or the movie's quality level get overstated. Expectations are important in the relationship between movies and viewers. As I said, this movie is a welcome addition to the Batman franchise, but based on some of the reviews I have read so far, I think the movie is turning out to be a bit overrated. It is either because Batman is such a valuable franchise, or it is an unnecessarily forced tribute to Heath Ledger who died before the movie could hit theaters.

Just know that when you watch The Dark Knight, you will enjoy it immensely, but upon a second screening I think you might feel that it could have been perfect and wasn't.

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About Craig Lyndall

  • http://trinimansblog.blogspot.com/ Triniman

    I agree 100% with you. It’s a fine film, for sure, but is getting overrated. I felt that Iron Man was also overrated.

  • http://filteringcraig.com Craig Lyndall

    Iron Man didn’t seem overrated to me because nobody had the same expectation level as they did for the continuation of Batman. By the time I saw Iron Man, I was still just pleasantly surprised that it didn’t stink on ice and I liked it a lot. :-)

  • Jordan Richardson

    I agree with that assessment.

    I just finished watching it and I think the hype has a lot to do with it. There are impressive sequences and great performances, sure, but I found the film to be rather underwhelming. I think it raised the bar of the “comic book movie,” but some people are rating this higher than The Godfather and other crime classics. In fact, it’s #1 over at IMBD right now with 9.6/10. Granted that could go down in time, but I think that just proves how much this movie is a machine of hype.

    It is a very good movie, no question about it. But it is not a masterpiece. All things considered, I think I’d give this around 8/10 or so.

  • nick

    is it just more or was the movie so involved trying to explain the plot that it was all over the place. the fight scenes were alot slower when batman was fighting. and what happened to the bats in the first batman begins?also no batcave?? and should have showed more gadgets, come on the movie did not flow nearly as smooth as the first one.. the joker was a great performance.but it didnt really seem like a superhero movie. was way too long could ve cut like 25 minutes. Ironman was short and sweet…was alot better!!!!

  • kiesha

    I feel like this movie was outstanding..i think everyone played their role well..heath ledger did his thing if i didnt know it was him i would have never guessed it, he was excellent..and i wasnt mad at batmans role either..this movie put my faith back in going to the movies at the theater..the action flicks..im going to rewatch it at the imaxx theater it is worth paying for twice..it was action packed from beginning to end..cant wait for it to come out on dvd so i can watch it everyday..

  • anakris

    I saw Dark Knight this afternoon and came away feeling differently than I anticipated. ie: I expected to feel terrified of the Joker (and he was a bit frightening in the first scene) but then something changed and instead of feeling fearful I began to embrace this character and found him amusing and endearing. All fear gone. Heath Ledger did do an excellent job playing this role but equally good were all the other actors including Eric Roberts who got no publicity at all for the film. There were also several minor characters that were outstanding. The pencil in the head scene was almost unnoticed and the “body bag” Ledger was supposedly in was more like a black garbage bag (so why all the hype?) If I felt anything about the movie it may have been annoyance at all the loud “blow up” scenes that made the dialogue difficult to hear. Overall, it was a good film which I may even see again but as far as being the “best” movie I’ve ever seen? I would have to say “I don’t think so”!

  • Buck

    I thought – with the major exception of Heath Ledger’s outstanding work – that the movie was largely a mess. The storytelling – so surehanded in “Begins” – was almost nonexistent in “Dark Knight.” The movie hit the ground running and didn’t let up – no variety to it’s Climax-Only style.

  • one

    i believe it was extremely long. normally in an action film you see 1 large fight scene and then there are other mini ones. this film had about 3 large fight scenes which leads me to say that the movie could of ended a lot sooner and not have lasted 150 minutes. heath ledger was great and made some great points that make you think which is what going to the movies is all about. the way the movie plays upon batman being a dark knight instead of a hero is brillant. i mean what would you do if you saw a 6’5 bat? i would not think hero. the film was GREAT.