Tonight I found myself with some free time on my hands, which is becoming increasingly unusual for me, so I decided to re-visit the most hyped film of last year: The Dark Knight.
Raving about the brilliance of the film is old news, but I realised as I was watching it that there was no way it was ever going to live up to the expectations people had for it. Don’t get me wrong, I think its a great movie, and Heath Ledger is in a league of his own when it comes to performance, but I too fell victim to the hype and found myself rating this movie higher than perhaps it deserved when I first saw it in the cinema.
The cast is something to be envied, including star turns by Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, and the special effects are pretty awesome. Christian Bale also plays well, although I find his “bat-voice” increasingly difficult to take seriously. The main problem with the film is its length; clocking in at 2 hours 25 mins which I think must be something of a record for comic book films, and there are sections that feel slow, mainly because you’re just waiting for Ledger to reappear on screen.
*update: I thought it was long, then I saw Watchmen!*
It falls foul of the same problem that Spiderman 3 had: one two many villains. Even though the signposting for the transformation of Dent into Twoface is a delight to comic book geeks, it feels like the final half hour is actually another short film tacked on at the end, which could legitimatley have been saved for a sequel, especially since the actual ending is so clearly gearing up for one. In general the plot is good, but there are sections which are confusing. I’m still not that sure what’s going on in the car park at the beginning with all the copycat batmen….
Basically it boils down to this: The Dark Knight is an average film catapulted to mega-success simply because of Heath Ledger. I would like to believe that if the tragedy which brought the film into the media spotlight had not happened, the film would still have enjoyed the same hype on the basis of what really is an astounding performance. The scenes in the jail are creepily reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs and everything about the characterisation is completely unique. I guess we’ll never know, but it just goes to show that when tragedy is involved even critics draw in their claws and choose to overlook faults in favour of seeing the good.
Case in point: I’m a Marvel girl, I’ve never liked DC or Batman, mainly on the basis that he has one of the lamest costumes in superhero history! But I desperately wanted to see Dark Knight. Now, I have always been a Heath Ledger fan, and that was a big part of it, but I can’t help wondering if I’d have heard so much about his performance if he hadn’t died. I still maintain that it was for Brokeback Mountain that he deserved the Oscar.
I love Dark Knight, and I think everyone should see it, but without Heath Ledger, I don’t think I’ll be fighting to see the next one.