Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dark Knight is a long way from home...

The Dark Knight certainly picked up from where Batman Begins left off. The effort to make Batman more realistic, more plausible somehow seems to enhance the superhero genre, rather than take from it. Of course, some of it needs to be a little unrealistic; a stretch of the imagination, to remind the movie-goer that it is a comic book movie. I can accept blades coming out of wafer thin body armor, or a completely intact Batpod (I guess Bruce Wayne bought over Apple) from an absolute wreck of a Batmobile. But where the buck stops is when it violates basic physics and common sense.

Let’s talk about the Wayne High Definition Sonar Imaging systems.
A typical HD Sonar image can generate about 10Mbits of data per second. Let us assume the technology does not improve (else bandwidth requirements would certainly go up!) and a compression factor of 10. What we are expected to swallow, is that your phone will be transferring over a 100KB of data per second to the Wayne manor and NO ONE notices! People browsing the stock tickers on don’t notice dip in speeds, and more unbelievable, the telecom companies don’t notice this large scale data transfer! I mean millions of their subscribers sending information to the same location, all at pretty noticeable speeds. Oh, and don't even get me started on how they manage to get sonar devices on phones all over the city on such short notice!

But the sci-fi mumbo jumbo is exactly what makes Batman attractive, isn’t it? Who would want to watch the Batman if it wasn’t for these unrealistic inventions, the skyhook and all the weird shit that comes out of the bat armor, or the bat mobile. Perhaps that is true, but then why not have the infinite grappling hooks that the comic books had and the tiny gizmos hidden inside batman’s utility belt?

But where things get truly bizarre, is when they begin violating the laws of physics. No matter how much I suspend logic and common sense, I can’t seem to accept how easy it is to flip on its back an eighty ton 16 wheeler. An eighty ton truck, traveling at about 60mph and stopping in what seemed like about 2 seconds would rip three street lamps, with four 1-inch bolts each right off, no effort. And that is just a conservative estimate. Even if you assumed the lamps were somehow strong enough to withstand that force, you get to the rope that the batman uses. Even if I assume Kevlar-like strength, the force generated even by a forty ton truck would be enough to snap the rope!

Lets get to the final bit. Assuming the rope was as strong as the movie suggested, there is no way the truck could flip over! The worst that could happen is that the truck would get into a slide before finally rolling over! But it is undeniable, the cinematics that a flipping 16 wheeler can achieve, are no where comparable to it rolling about (note: sarcasm).

The illogical stunts aside, the movie has won so many accolades. Rotten Tomatoes have given it a 96% approval, and IMDb users have quickly made it the greatest movie ever made. I’ve tried thinking why that might be. Sure Heath Ledger was quite good as the Joker, making him seem like quite the psycho that he truly is. His performance surely is inspired, but then it’s a comic book psycho. Surely there is more room for over the top psychosis. But somehow the repetitive “do you want to know how I got this scar?” seems more needy, funny, pathetic even, than scary. Jack Nicholson does a better job of scary in The shining, and who can forget Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast. Even Judi Dench in Notes On A Scandal is quite chilling, without needing to cut people’s mouths open or have them blown up!

Let’s grant Heath Ledger his posthumous oscar for The Joker, even though it would be just one of those things, a media event, honoring a fine actor just because he is deceased, rather than based on a critical viewing of the performance. Let’s get to the script, long and winding, almost boring at times. The movie slows down to a snail pace right in the middle, as if to prepare the audience for the barrage of violence and visual titillation that was in store. All it did for me was show how little the script really had to offer. The script had nothing if it weren’t for a love triangle, a love triangle that exists no where in the original comic series. Let us forget that most of the characters have been distorted if not completely changed from the original series. For instance, Harvey Dent is actually married, or that his wife (Gilda) is a (unknown) vigilante who earns the nickname The Holiday.

Harvey Dent, or rather Two Face’s insane need for justice for the death of his beloved is quite out of character. Going after pawns, rather than the kingpin somehow doesn’t fit Harvey Dent’s personality.

And of course, the humanity aspect. Ah, so touching. Didn’t everyone just about suppress those tears when that big man in orange claims “I’m going to do something you should have done a ten minutes back” before (unexpectedly?) throwing the remote for the bomb into the sea. Who are we kidding here? If this is supposed to emulate real life, we all know what would have happened. The Joker would have won. And if the Joker wanted chaos as much as he claimed, he’d be a lot smarter. Why would you put all the faith of your plan in the hands of some irrational, emotional bullshit? For all his precision, the joker is just another fool, the bad guy who doesn’t have the balls to follow through on his plans. A man who doesn’t have any Plan Bs?

Let’s get to the Batman now, shall we? The Dark Knight, the upholder of justice; truth above all and all that crap. Somehow he has no pangs using a sonar system (whose plausibility is very questionable) that is a sure invasion of privacy, but to “rid the city of evil”, ah, he is too good and moral to let the joker fall! The duplicity of Batman’s nature surely indicates schizophrenia. What lengths is the batman willing to go to, to rid the city of evil? Obviously he isn’t the dark knight! He doesn’t have the cajones to do what is necessary, let the Joker die. But he has no pangs killing of those little pawns that obstruct him as he fights those minor drug deals, or weapon sales or whatever it is bad guys like Maroni do. Oh, and whatever happened to Falcone? The mob boss whose life Dr. Wayne saves.

All in all, the movie was full of plot holes, illogical, impractical and sometimes impossible stunts, suspension of all reality. Add to that characters that are very much contradictory, The Joker is precise (killing his crew for the heist) yet imprecise (killing Harvey Dent, the ships and more), Batman is the Dark Knight, having to do the “dirty deeds” that the Law cannot but unable to do what is really needed! Finally the duplicity of Gotham City; On one hand they are “sane” enough to decide not to blow each other up, yet the two “corrupt” cops were so easily persuaded to destroy two lives, an equal trade? I guess The Dark Knight is the greatest movie ever, if you can swallow all the bullshit it throws at you. But then so is Armageddon, or Total Recall, or Independence Day…


Anonymous said...

I agree with your review for most parts. A few offhanded things that might not matter, but still...

Jack Nicholson's version of the Shining, specially the bar scene, was over the top and not too realistic. I felt that way, specially having read the book..

Harvey Dent's wife is not a vigilante. The "Holiday" murders are actually done by three people, as you find out in the end of The Long Halloween. One of them is Falcone's son, ALberto Falcone, the last Holiday murder is done by Harvey Dent, as Two-Face, and as we find out in the end of the book, Gilda Dent, his wife committed a murder too, making it three people who all were assumed to be the Holiday murderer.

Joker's "Do you know how i got these scars", is based on the Killing Joke comic book, in which he says, "If I were to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice." I did not think it was pathetic, when it asks it the second time, I expected the same story, but it was different. And the third time, it was funny, coz by now you know his gimmick.

Good review though. It was definitely not the best movie, definitely not worth the number 1 slot, but it isn't a movie that deserves blatant hatred either. Come on, I definitely enjoyed it. Are you sure you are not just turned off completely by the rave reviews and "acting out"?

The Depressed Doormat said...

I disagree about The Shining. Nicholson's performance in that is going to the top of my favs list. Ben Kingsley in sexy beast and Judi Dench were also far superior "psychos" in my opinion, keeping in mind their characters are in the real world.

As for the holiday murders, Dent only commits one, the last one. He supposedly kills Alberto, but we know that doesnt happen. Also, Alberto sees the Holiday as a chance to upstage his father who doesn't allow him to participate in the family "business" by staging his own death. The murders I think he commits are the ones that might see him get caught and the last one before he gets caught.

Also, Gilda didn't commit "a" murder. She carried out most of the executions. She reads Harvey's notes (I am assuming Harvey isn't stupid enough to make notes on executions that would cause him a world of trouble if ever found out) and plans the executions. She also mentions how Harvey picks up where she left off. But who really picks up is Alberto, staging his own death, then killing his aunt and the coroner before coming to finish of Maroni, which would be a glorious moment for him. So Gilda is the Holiday. Alberto and Harvey are just copycats.

As for me "acting out", I did enjoy the movie. In fact I rated it a solid 7 on IMDb. The reason I have highlighted only the negatives is, there are enough people out there singing its praises. And there are enough deficiencies in the movie, the script, even the acting and not to mention the stunts and "science" to make it "just another movie".

Nothing but "Ficus" said...

Sensible comment. Guess I did not like Jack Nicholson coz i imagined more having read the book.

Raveena said...

Can't you even appreciate anything??!