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Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Morning

posted by on July 21 at 10:25 AM


Now that everyone has seen The Dark Knight—now that it has broken the record for top-grossing box-office weekend in U.S. history—can we talk about how excellent Heath Ledger is and how limp and drawn out most of the rest of it is?

Paul Constant, who I think agrees with me, writes in next week’s Stranger Suggests:

The Dark Knight is not “the best movie ever,” as many internet nerds have proclaimed. Nor is it even the best movie of the year. But it is truly a great movie, packed with excellent performances (Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart) and thrilling, non-CGI special effects. Plus, Batman! And 30 minutes of the thing were filmed with an IMAX-exclusive camera, which means that if you watch it on an IMAX screen (highly recommended—movie times here) you’re in for some vertiginous eyegasms.

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I saw Mamma Mia instead- I can see The Dark Night when the lines die down, but singing and dancing Meryl Streep? No way am I waiting for that.

Posted by Abby | July 21, 2008 10:29 AM

i disagree. this film is anything but "limp". bleak, dispairing and relentless, but never anything less than engrossing. there were also many other great performances besides ledger. gordon, dent and cain were all stand outs.

you are wrong christopher.

Posted by kory | July 21, 2008 10:32 AM

What's the visual transition like between not-shot-with-IMAX and shot-with-IMAX?

Posted by Nat | July 21, 2008 10:35 AM

Heath is so brilliant I broke into a crying fit during the closing credits of The Dark Knight, thinking what a terrible loss.

Posted by Queen Vidor | July 21, 2008 10:36 AM


I thought it was a pretty smooth transition between the standard shots and the IMAX shots. In some ways, a little too smooth. You almost miss the change if you're not paying attention. I disagree with Paul, though. After having seen it in IMAX, I think it improves the experience a bit, but not by a tremendous amount.

Posted by Collin | July 21, 2008 10:39 AM

I agree. I thought it was a good movie. The Joker character was written extremely well and Ledger's performance of said character was pretty fucking spectacular. All in all, I felt that the Batman character was given little to no character development. I was also disappointed with how quickly they burned through Harvey Two Face. My hope was that he would be left to become the villain in the next movie.

It was good though, and Heath Ledger is going to get the oscar which is A-OK by me. Much worse performances have gotten a golden statue.

Posted by Jonny H | July 21, 2008 10:41 AM

Ledger was good. For the first time in his life. At something. He went out on a high note.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 21, 2008 10:42 AM

I got the impression that Dent was still alive but they faked his death to protect his reputation. I could be wrong though.

Posted by lol | July 21, 2008 10:44 AM

You are wrong 8. How would faking his death protect his reputation when he has CLEARLY gone off the fucking deep end and will ruin his reputation if still alive?

There would have to be a discontinuity so gaping the very fabric of time and space would fold on itself out of universal disgust for the idiocy of faking ones death to protect a reputation.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 21, 2008 10:53 AM

I'm still getting little creepy shudders from the Joker after seeing it opening night ... eeagh. And I thought Gary Oldman did a great job & no one's talking about it. But there wasn't enough character development for Batman, Rachel, or Harvey for me to care at all about what happened to them. Maybe it'd be different if I had seen Batman Begins more recently, tho.

Posted by SeattleExile | July 21, 2008 10:54 AM

How to Look Cool, JUL 16-AUG 29 [2008]: The Dark Knight (Batman Begins sequel) was "good, really good, but, you know..."

Tips: (1) You don't have to cite a same-year film you think is better, but it wouldn't hurt to say [TDK] wasn't the best. If someone asks what was the the best, in your opinion, simply say "it's hard to tell" and bust out some foreign films with flawless pronunciation. They'll back down. (2)Continue to stress that you thoroughly enjoyed it, but make sure you walk away leaving the impression that you were above it. (3) If some shithead won't let go of your moronic distaste for it, change tone from condescending to friendly kvetching, bring up Hong Kong and rant for about 5. Take your exist when you find it.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 21, 2008 10:54 AM

Even as superlative as Ledger's performance was, the rest of the movie was still fantastic. I mean, an action flick with game theory in it? How awesome is that?

Posted by shub-negrorath | July 21, 2008 10:55 AM

Judging by the movie...and your past uses of the word...I don't think "limpid" means what you think it means.

Just sayin'...

Posted by fluteprof | July 21, 2008 10:56 AM

the dark knight should be reviewed by a comics fan. no offense to paul and chris. jonah?

1)jack nicholson wishes he could have been this good
2) bale nails batman once again
3) watch it in IMAX- you will not be sorry

Posted by SeMe | July 21, 2008 10:58 AM

Also, I noticed Batman's lack of characterization compared to the Joker and Two-Face, but there was enough other stuff going on that it didn't bother me.

Posted by shub-negrorath | July 21, 2008 11:02 AM

OK, if Heath Ledger was still alive would this movie still be getting the same reviews? I have not seen it yet but I will. I have seen every other one and have to say I am partial to the first one myself but that's just me. I just want to know if Mr. Ledgers performances is worthy of #4's tears or the Oscar nod of #5 or if most of the reviews are influenced and given liberties because of his death.

Posted by 10 things I hate about Slog | July 21, 2008 11:04 AM

@15, This could have been an action movie with the same folks in it without the batman brand and still been great, right? I dont know whether that is a slight against the Batman license or a testament to the entertainment value the movie had.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 21, 2008 11:08 AM

13 - Ack, yes, "limp." That id just slipped out.

Posted by christopher Frizzelle | July 21, 2008 11:17 AM

Heath Ledger was incredible and should win Best Actor, but the movie didn't hold my interest other than that. It was exactly like every other super hero movie ever made.

PS Dear mainstream society: Can we please stop tolerating comic book movies? Only 12 year old boys and big fat comic book nerds should be watching comic book movies, unless they feature something spectacular like Heath Ledger.

Posted by girlgerms | July 21, 2008 11:18 AM

Saw this one yesterday afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was sitting there thinking how much I love the cast. It didn't hurt that the theater was filled with folks who were pretty darn interactive. Good times.

Posted by Balt-O-Matt | July 21, 2008 11:19 AM

Ledger was brilliant, and I'm not just saying that because he died. The rest of the movie...not so much. I was a big fan of Batman Begins, at least the first 3/4 of it. But I like the character development stuff. This movie tried to stuff in way too many plot elements and explosions and left off the character stuff. Except Ledger. Even Batman was blah. Cool motobike though.

Posted by Lola | July 21, 2008 11:22 AM

@16, first- props for your great name!

I am not one to jump on the Heath Ledger is dead bandwagon and praise him because he is deceased. In fact, I am more prone to do the opposite. Going into the movie I was ready to disagree with all of the pre-release Oscar buzz.

Ledger was awesome though.

Posted by Jonny H | July 21, 2008 11:22 AM

@11 why, hubert c, where have you been?

Posted by scary tyler moore | July 21, 2008 11:24 AM

Bale is a great Bruce Wayne but a boring Batman. His Batman voice is ridiculous. Ledger was mesmerizing.

Posted by i would do either of them | July 21, 2008 11:30 AM


I never left, silly. And now I'm Marjory Stewart Baxter. Must be careful not to call a girl a "stupid bitch" in places that are not Slog.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 21, 2008 11:31 AM


Posted by HULK | July 21, 2008 11:32 AM

Ledger was the most engaging thing about this movie. That is true. He did, however graduate from the "Al Pacino school of over acting" for this job.

Posted by truth hurtz, donut? | July 21, 2008 11:58 AM

@19, if you are indeed a chick, I hardly think your opinion on this issue matters.

Posted by shub-negrorath | July 21, 2008 12:06 PM

I loved The Dark Knight. It was tense from the get-go and didn't let up until two and a half hours later. Ledger defined the Joker, of course, but I was struck at how moved I was by Harvey Dent's story arc. (I also think that we haven't seen the last of Two-Face.) Are there flaws? Sure. But to only say it is "limp and drawn out" without going into more details gives off an air of "cooler than thou." I agree with Mr. Poe's statement at #11. "Only simple-minded people love this film, and though there seem to be many, *I* see through the pop hysteria and regard it is as pedestrian." What impressed me the most is how the people of Gotham were characters in this story, too. How would they respond to the impossible choices that the Joker gave them? I have seen it twice already, and there are still ideas that I need to unpack. The genre of comic book adaptations has grown up considerably with this film.

Posted by Bub | July 21, 2008 12:17 PM

is katie holmes in it? no? then it's GOT to be better than the 1st one.

and i'm frankly annoyed that they're recycling not one, but 2 villains from previous Batman movies.

overall, DC is inferior to Marvel.

Posted by max solomon | July 21, 2008 12:28 PM
Posted by stinkbug | July 21, 2008 12:39 PM

I think it was overall very good, though I too wish Two-Face was left alive, and the Joker not. Obviously Ledger's death was unforseen and tragic, but now they have no option to revisit either character. The Joker's fate will have to be assumed or exposited in some way in the next movie. I think all they can really do at this point is revisit Ras Al Guhl and the League of Shadows. I sure hope to hell they don't revisit the Riddler, Poison Ivy, or dear god, Dr. Freeze. Maybe Harley Quinn can show up as a side character, someone to pick up the Joker's mantle.

Other quibbles; It seemed like they had a lot more going on with Gordon's character and it ended up falling by the wayside in editing. A lot. The most jarring moment was when he was first in the jail with the Joker in custody, followed by arriving at home to his wife, then immediately coming back to the jail to interrogate the Joker, all within about 3 minutes of screen time. I think that mostly came at the expense of the Two Face arc. They really stretched the story with the whole Gordon-Dent-Batman triad, which really could have been left to continue in another movie, with Two Face fucking with Gotham's criminal hierarchy from the outside.

Posted by laterite | July 21, 2008 12:45 PM

I forgot Heath Ledger was even in the movie. The Joker is insane in this film and they let him be insane by turning him into Osama bin Laden.

There are so many current event themes in the story that it impressed me as much more than just a comic book movie. I'm glad they didn't make Rachel and Batman french kiss to build some bullshit romantic character development. Batman is basically a self centered could he develop as a human and still be some kind of vengeful supercop?

Hmm...Batman kinda sounds like America when I put it that way....I wonder if there were undertones of that in the film....

Best movie so far this year..believe the hype.

Posted by patrick | July 21, 2008 12:48 PM

1)I don't understand why people are saying the Batman character is 'under-developed'. It's BATMAN. We already have established who he is and what he is about. I don't need another 3 hours to do that. Yeesh.

2)I thought Heath was good, but not as great as most people are saying. I thought Aaron Ekhart did better, honestly. Not tons of over-acting.

3)More or less predictable movie (well duh, it's an action movie), and I fell asleep for part of the first half (not due to boredom, I was just tired)

All in all? The next one will be even higher grossing than this one. I also hope that Harley-Quinn is the villian.

Posted by Original Monique | July 21, 2008 1:20 PM

I will be waiting for payday in a couple weeks and hopefully it will still be at the IMAX.

Posted by elswinger | July 21, 2008 2:15 PM

How would faking his death protect his reputation when he has CLEARLY gone off the fucking deep end and will ruin his reputation if still alive?

Follow me here.

He gets knocked off the ledge and is unconscious. He's alive. Now, Gordon and Batman have to decide what to do with him.

Obviously, they're not going to finish the job and kill him.

But if he's alive and brought into custody, it would ruin the public's faith in the justice system. So they tell everyone that he died as a hero and that Batman has gone over the line killing criminals and crooked cops.

Meanwhile, Harvey is locked up at Arkham under a different name and with skin grafts in the hopes that one day he'll be well enough to make a new start at life...

No discontinuity at all, or at least nothing larger than the one that allowed Jim Gordon to fake his death earlier on.

As for Joker, we'll probably just see a glipmse of him at Arkham, heavily dosed on meds.

The next film might be the last one with Bale and Nolan so they'll go out big. My money is on Bane. The mafia is on the verge of being completely driven out of Gotham by Batman and decides to bring in a heavy hitter to kill him.

Maybe work in the Riddler as a brilliant, though obsessive compulsive, private investigator who uses the information from his work to committ (mostly non-violent) crime. Bane hires him to find out who Batman is.

Could work.

Posted by lol | July 21, 2008 2:16 PM

You and me both, elswinger.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 21, 2008 2:20 PM


what the fuck? Did you go to the James Bond Villain School for Imprisonment? Everyone knows that Arkhum Asylum is looser than a 2 Dollar Hooker and it'd only be a matter of time before he goes and tarnishes his rep.

also the entire idea of two-face trying to reconcile the angry, destroyed side is completely against the grain of anything I've ever seen in the Batman series, it seems like you're just making up to be fanciful and quaint.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 21, 2008 2:43 PM

SeMe @14:

"the dark knight should be reviewed by a comics fan. no offense to paul and chris. jonah?"

What the fuck? Were you here when I turned Slog into Hulk porn for a day? You think I don't read comics? You have insulted me, sir.

Posted by Paul Constant | July 21, 2008 3:16 PM


Ledger was better than my already high expectations- wrung every nuance out of that character, including genuine 'what the hell' style when in nurses clothes. Otherwise, I enjoyed the tone of the film, Christian Bale is always appropriately dour as private Bruce and a little flash of "American Psycho" as public Bruce - but the whole shebang still seemed about 20 mins too long for me. And as a fan of the Two Face character, that subplot seemed to get short shrift. I wish they'd introduced Dent, maybe even showed how he was disfigured- and left the rest to part 2 (though we wouldn't have gotten the fantastic Joker/Two Face hospital scene since HL's sad death). Two Face is such a fascinating character, it deserved more than 48 hours in story time. I'm hoping he didn't really die in that fall- they put him in Arkham Asylum from which he'll escape and announce the memorial service for Dent was a government scam. There was a great Two Face story once where the technology for plastic surgery was good enough that both side of his face matched up- and for awhile, he was 'cured'. But he couldn't let it go- "It's too late", he told the Caped Crusader- and the scarred side starting re=emerging. I'd love to see them run with that ball in Dark Knight 3.

Posted by brueso | July 21, 2008 4:00 PM


You must not read that much Batman. He got his face restored in the Hush storyline and with it his sanity for the most part. He became a strong enough force for good that Batman left him as Gotham's protector for the year he was gone. Eventually, paranoia catches up to him and he mutilates himself so he can be Two-Face again.

I believe this cycle has happened a few times before with more or less the same result.

Posted by lol | July 21, 2008 4:24 PM

saw it today .. and while it might be a tad too soon to announce it as best of the's inarguable that it's the best of the genre .. and even though you might consider fantastic four silver sufer or spidey 3 to lower the bar beyond belief, 'the dark knight' sets an admirably high example to emulate and i'm pretty danged excited about that.

Posted by reverend dr dj riz | July 22, 2008 1:22 AM

@32: If your only exposure to Mr. Freeze is the godawful Schwarzenegger caricature, then your dislike is understandable. Either way, I have to disagree. I think Mr. Freeze is exactly the character they should be exploring in the next movie. He's emotionally cold; yet he's motivated by love and vengeance - there's a tension there that a good actor could really use.

I heard a rumour that they had been considering Patrick Stewart for the role in Batman and Robin. Whether true or not, he'd do a damned fine job of it.

Posted by Breklor | July 22, 2008 12:29 PM

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