Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Dark Knight

I haven't seen The Dark Knight yet, but I'm looking forward to it more than I was to the first one, because of the new incarnation of the Joker. He is just fabulous, he oozes psychotic threat. Not just the make-up, but the way he is played, the posture, the voice, the sort-of-relaxedness.

I wonder if it's a coincidence that it features Harvey Dent and the Joker, just like the Frank Miller book of the same name?

Amazingly, this creepy joker was played by a young, pretty actor, Heath Ledger, who I was not familiar with. Sadly he died later by prescription drug overdose. I was just looking forward to more power performances by him.

From wikipedia:
Heath Ledger described the Joker as a "psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy". Nolan had wanted to work with Ledger on a number of projects in the past, but had been unable to do so. When Ledger saw Batman Begins, he realized a way to make the character work consistent with the film's tone, and Nolan agreed with his anarchic interpretation. To prepare for the role, Ledger lived alone in a hotel room for a month, formulating the character's posture, voice, and psychology, and kept a diary, in which he recorded the Joker's thoughts and feelings. While he initially found it difficult, Ledger eventually generated a voice unlike that of Jack Nicholson's character in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film.

I'll bet he found it difficult, Nicholson was powerfully seminal in that film.

Is it just me, though, or are action film trailers in a rut? Just hear those deep booms which for no reason fill the first seconds of the trailer. How many times have we heard that now? Dozens? Hundreds?


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen it yet either but based on the trailers I'm going to like it a lot better than the first one. I wonder if it's a mistake having Dent and the Joker in the same movie. I did love Nicholson's take, but his Joker was perfect for 1989. Ledger's will be the definitive version for a while but might possibly be superseded in time as well.

I've read some funny negative reviews of the movie. Usually the negative ones are by people only familiar with Adam West's Batman*. One thing some are saying is that Batman as become "too dark". To that I would suggest they look up his earliest appearances in Detective Comics where he killed people regularly and even carried a gun (though not for long). That was the style at the time, when even Superman killed (sort Superman's case it was more that he threw people around so hard that he would've died).

You mention Frank Miller, but personally I hope they don't introduce Robin into these movies, if Nolan makes any Batman movies. Robin doesn't work. As unrealistic as comic books are to being with, having a young kid joining Batman in fighting crime is pretty stupid. Batman's whole idea was to scare criminals, who he believed to be " a cowardly, superstitious lot". Who would be scared of a guy who sort of vaguely resembled a Robin - a guy in a bright red, green, and yellow costume? Superman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter - they got away with it because they had powers.

-Brian H.

*I love this version, which was a good sendup of comics as they existed at the time and of Batman at that time in particular.

eolake said...

Goodness gracious me, I've been a Batman fan for forty years, and I did not know he killed people in the early comics!

eolake said...

Yes, Robin is a pretty shaky addition to the Batman concept.
I'd like to see his first appearances.

Though Frank Miller does a good job with him in the current Batman All Star comic, which is breathtakingly violent. And I like how he's made Batman so psychologically and emotionally strained that it's a wonder he's functioning at all. Which is how a man would have to be to be a vigilante.

Bert said...

I've never been a Batman fan, oddly. I say oddly because I otherwise have always enjoyed comic books of all kinds, but not Batman. Perhaps due to the more than crappy TV series than ran when I was a kid (and of which I have fortunately only very vague memories). KERPOW!

This being said, and despite my ignorance of all things Batman, I still must say that I loved Batman Begins. And in a "first time I like Batman" kind of way.

Anyway, being a fan of Ledger, I will definitely have a peek at this one too. If you didn't know the guy, you might want to see A Knight's Tale too, for the entertainment value. I loved that movie firstly because of the soundtrack, but that certainly won't work for everyone (Queen & Bowie in a medieval setting). But it also has memorable performances from Paul Bettany and Alan Tudyk, among others. And a few adorable faces...

Oh, and knowing that there was not a single frame of CG in the jousting scenes also gives a unique color to the movie, too.

Too bad Ledger passed away in such a stupid way. Wasn't even an overdose, but incompatible medications. A really stupid thing.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps due to the more than crappy TV series than ran when I was a kid "

It wasn't crappy, it was a good satire of the sheer innate crappiness of comic books and the ridiculousness of superhero vigilantes who put on costumes to fight crime.

eolake said...

I only saw a little many years ago, so I can't say how good I judge it to be, but it did not feel to me like satire. More like a pop adventure series. Perhaps deliberate kitch, but I'm not even sure about that.

Brian H. said...

Yes, Robin is a pretty shaky addition to the Batman concept.
I'd like to see his first appearances.

Robin's first appearance is not too bad. He offs somebody his first time out! Batman was proud. They were duking it out on the high steel of some half-completed building, and Robin swings around, kicks the guy off, who falls to his death.

Batman was more like The Punisher in his early days, except that he didn't set out to kill from the get-go - he just wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty if he had to.

It's interesting how, early on, there was no Batmobile - Batman just used an ordinary car.

Perhaps deliberate kitch, but I'm not even sure about that.

That's maybe more accurate, but it did always strike me as a kind of sendup of comic books in general as they existed then. Batman by 1966 had become a huge joke. A lot of people blame the show for the stink of camp that follows him to this day (at least among the non-comic-book-reading crowd, which is most people) but the comic was already like that. I guess the show just put that in the minds of the general population, who haven't bothered to read any of the comics since.

Personally I loved the show because of the little details - everything in the Batcave is labeled, even the Batpoles. There's the emergency red phone that's a direct line to the commissioner - which Bruce Wayne has right out in the open in his mansion. Who laid the phone line for that? And didn't they notice that the money for it comes of Bruce Wayne's bank account?


Brian said...

Oh, and that reminds me, Frank Miller's Batman kills too. I remember when Batman's attacking one of the Mutants who takes a child hostage. Batman has a huge, Terminator-style machine guy and blows the guy away.

eolake said...

Yes, but I don't think it was a killing shot. For the reason that in the end, when he has plenty reason and opportunity to kill the Joker, he doesn't. (The Joker mocks him for this, and then somehow kills himself by breaking his own back.)

eolake said...

"Batman by 1966 had become a huge joke."

Ah, the good old "giant typewriter" days. Good times.

brian said...

I looked it up. It definitely was a kill shot. They show the guy sliding down the wall with a big smear of blood. If Batman hadn't gone for the kill shot then the Mutant might have been able to shoot the kid.

eolake said...

Ah, yes. I guess there's a difference between killing and executing.

brian said...

Well, it looks to me like he killed him, but they don't outright say it. If you have a copy take a look.

If he did kill the guy, I don't know what else he could have done in that situation. Throwing a Batarang to deflect that gun would have seemed too like theAdam West Batman in my opinion. :)

Terry loved the Dark Knight said...

Ledger should have won an OSCAR for his performance! He made the movie such a huge success. I'm planning on buying it as soon as it hits video. Great great flick! AAAAAAAAAAAAA!

eolake said...

So you liked it then? :-)

Anonymous said...

Leder's Joker sucks. Nicholson played him like a grown man and not a boy. He seemed lost in the company of these real criminals. He seemed like a boy playing at being a man. Overall this movie was a pretentious piece of garbage, taking a comic book FAR too seriously.

Eric said...

The thing I love about Ledger's Joker is that he'd be such a likable guy under different circumstances. He's the first villain I've found genuinely frightening since I was a child. It comes as no surprise to me that a villain without an objective would be one of the best.

If the man had to die when he did then this was a hell of a way to go out.