I’m probably the last person in the country to see “The Dark Knight,” so I figure I don’t need to tell you all to go see it; if you haven’t, you’re missing out, but at this point, I don’t think a review would change anyone’s mind, one way or the other.
So, I’m going to write a different kind of review, one that comes with spoilers. You’ve been warned.
After the movie was over, two thoughts kept skipping around my mind; 1) “The Dark Knight” was a thousand times better than “Batman Begins,” a movie I could barely stay awake through. An action movie, good or bad, should never be boring, and director Christopher Nolan, along with his fellow screenwriter Jonathan Nolan, learned that lesson and brought their A game to this set. 2) The violence in this movie comes with a cost.
The violence isn’t fun; the explosions/death staging are the best CGI can offer us, but through most of the movie, it’s unsettling to watch these people, these goodies and baddies, die on screen. They’re our friends; they’re our family; they’re our people dying on the frontlines, and Nolan wants you feel that loss, even when it’s the bad guys doing the dying.
At its best, “The Dark Knight” reminds me of “Battlestar Galactica” (like you didn’t see that coming), another epic that asks a hard question of the viewers; if we’re willing to do anything to win, to beat the bad guys, even sacrifice our most sacred believes, do we deserve to win? If we’re all monsters, just like the Joker, what does it matter if he kills us?
After a gut-wrenching sequence involving two ferries, “The Dark Knight” posits that humans can rise above our darker instincts, that we can make the right choice, even if it will kill us. All his violence was for naught; despite his astonishing and complete victory over Harvey Dent, the Joker doesn’t win the war for our souls.
The punch of the movie is that Batman doesn’t either; for all their fighting, and all the violence, and all the death, they exist in tandem and where there is one, there will be the other (and probably a sequel). When we don’t need Batman, we won’t need the Joker either; he’s what our fear creates, and if Batman is the “hero we deserve,” then the Joker is the villain we have allowed to happen.
All this from a summer blockbuster? Say it ain’t so!
(It’s so; go see “The Dark Knight.”)