“The Dark Knight”

The hype surrounding “The Dark Knight” has become overbearing. Heath Ledger…a possible posthumous Academy Award nominee for his take on the Joker? A Batman movie…not just a superior comic book movie, but a superior film, as well? Roger Ebert gave it four stars?

I was never overly-excited to see the movie. I loved “Batman Begins,” and I love the character of Batman, but all the trailers, advertising, and accordant buzz just felt flat to me. Regardless, I went to see the movie with an open mind. Like I said, I love Batman.

Two and half hours after walking into my local theater (three, if you count trailers and time spent buying nachos and a Diet Coke), I have to say that I walked out completely underwhelmed. Here’s the dirty little secret of “The Dark Knight”–it’s dull. Sure, lots of stuff gets blown up, but the movie is boring.

And stupid, too. The dialog in several scenes was completely unnatural, and conspicuously written to further the story. Conversely, transitions between scenes were choppy and confusing, and could’ve benefitted from some conspicuously-written dialog to advance our overall understanding.

Much effort was put into making Gotham City look like a “real” city (specifically, Chicago’s Loop). For all that verisimilitude, the characters didn’t behave in believable ways. Bruce Wayne was an absolute jagoff to Harvey Dent early in the film (jealousy over Maggie Gyllenhall’s character is a nasty little thing). Without much explanation or motivation, Wayne suddenly canonized and feted the hotshot D.A.

At the end of the film, two absolutely ridiculous things happen. First, after Harvey / Two-Face kidnaps Commissioner Gordon’s family and almost blows Gordon’s young boy’s head off, Gordon agrees with Batman that the city should remember Harvey as the “White Knight” inspiration he once was, going as far as to eulogize him in a public memorial. If Chris Nolan was shooting for making his characters feel more real, he should’ve asked a parent how he or she would’ve felt about saying nice things about a homicidal burn victim who tried to murder his family.

The other side of that was Gordon and Batman agreeing that Gotham should view Batman as an outlaw, ending the film with Batman on the run and the batsignal being hacked into shards. Yawn.

Christian Bale, when in cape and cowl, is just plain silly. The “grrr, scary” voice he uses as Batman is distractingly bad.

And what of Heath Ledger? Was he that good? He was good, sure, but I found his vision of the Joker to be so pornographically evil that I really didn’t enjoy watching him in any of his scene-chewing moments.

There’s no joy in “The Dark Knight;” nothing to hold on to, and nothing to make me want to see it again. It’s an unpopular thing to say right now, but I’d take “Iron Man” or “Hellboy 2” over “The Dark Knight” any day of the week.

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