Dark Knight Thoughts and Going Against the Grain

dark knight2Everyone has one.  I know you do.  That movie that everyone else seemingly adores and you just don’t gel with.  I’d like you to think about that movie while reading this post.  Most likely you can see why that movie is highly regarded by other people.  Perhaps the performances are good or the cinematography or whatever.  You can appreciate it but it just isn’t your favorite movie.  Well, my friends I confess The Dark Knight is that movie for me.

…..Don’t hate me!

I acknowledge The Dark Knight is an exceptionally made film.  The acting is great especially by Heath Ledger as The Joker.  It is also very well shot by Christopher Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister.  It is a masterpiece in filmmaking in that regard.  No doubt about it.

I have a few issues with the pacing and the middle does sag a bit when they are going to Hong Kong and building details about the mob.  Basically when the Joker is off screen it isn’t quite as exciting.

Partly this is a problem with Batman in general.  Aside from Mask of the Phantasm Batman is always less interesting than the villains.  You can make an argument that Batman Begins is the only live action film that is actually about Batman’s journey but the rest of them the villains have all the personality, charisma and character development.  People complain about Marvel villains.  I’d way rather have interesting heroes than villains but that’s just me.

Anyway, Dark Knight is a great movie.  I just don’t like watching it very much. My main problem is the film is very violent and with the darker tone it rams that violence in without many breaths of hope.  That’s just not the kind of movie I like.  Clearly most people do and that’s cool, but variety is the spice of life! Just the opening scene at the bank robbery has 6 or 7 people shot point blank in close contact and that’s not nearly the most violent scene of the movie.

Just to prove my point a little visual. On screenit.com the violent content for The Dark Knight has to be microscopic to fit onto a screenshot.

dark knight3In contrast 1989’s Batman is much shorter and therefore much easier to read!

batman 1989We all have our sensitivities and while I can usually handle battle or historic violence when it gets close and people are shot or pencils are shoved down people’s face that bothers me.  It just does.  I’m sorry but it does.   The truth is The Dark Knight is not a comic book movie.  It’s a crime drama told with a few mildly comic book characters.  It’s all about a battle between criminals and authorities- a crime drama. Nothing wrong with that but those have never been my favorite films.

Sometimes I feel like people expect me to lie and say I like it when I don’t.  Like my being bothered by the violence somehow effects their enjoyment of the film.  There was a time when I did pass a bit of judgement over those that liked the movie but that was only because I felt so judged for not liking it.  It’s a vicious circle!  The fact is I totally get why you love it.  I just have a personal sensitivity when it comes to violence and particularly violence with a dark tone to it.  Not everyone has those sensitivities, and that’s ok!

I don’t judge anyone for having different tastes than I do.  That’s awesome!

So the Dark Knight will never be a favorite of mine but it is a very well made movie.

What movies are like that for you?  Classics you feel a bit judged over for not being super into?  Share in the comments section. And don’t make me turn off the comments on this.  Trolls go away!!!

35 thoughts on “Dark Knight Thoughts and Going Against the Grain

  1. Thank god I am not alone! Don’t get me wrong, I think that Heath Ledger delivers an outstanding performance in this movie. But one good element doesn’t make a good movie. And this one has a lot of the more negative aspects on Nolan’s work in spades. It is overly wordy, Batman is boring, the action scenes are terrible, the end is contrived and once you start to actually think about the “deep messages” in this movie, they make zero sense.

    Usually the movies I don’t like are either those which are controversial anyway (so there are others which agree with me), or it is simply a case of me saying “oh, well, it’s simply not for me, but I understand what others see in it”. The exception are movies which I simply consider stupid. Like Dumb and Dumber. I get that laughing over stupidity is a thing, but there is a limit of stupidity I can stomach. Same for violence.

    1. I really do think the movie rises and falls on Heath Ledger’s performance more than fans let on. I also think it is well made as far as cinematography, production design, etc but I’m with you on the messaging and pacing. I do feel it picks up towards the end but you are right in that it is pretty heavy handed. It comes down to it being a crime drama like the Departed (not seen) or something like that. It just happens to be set in Gotham. Those just aren’t my thing.

    2. And I honestly kind of feel like Batman is always boring. I mean West, Keaton, Kilmer, Clooney, Bale. They are all way more boring than the villains. There’s a mild argument to be made for Batman Begins and Mask of the Phantasm as they are more Bruce focused but still he’s so bland.

      1. I quite enjoy Adam West in the role but otherwise, yes, Batman is usually a pretty bland character. But I could forgive that as long as the actor sells me both the Bruce Wayne and the Batman persona. Outside of the animated series, Adam West is the only actors who managed that in my eyes. The others failed to convince me.

      2. You make an interesting point about Adam West. It’s been so long since I’ve seen him that you might be right. I just remember focusing more on the villains in that show. It just seems like a Batman thing

  2. I love The Dark Knight. It’s one of my favourite films of all time, but I respect your opinion. As for movies I don’t like, but everyone else seems to love. The only one I can think off the top of my head is 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    1. That one I totally get why it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Thanks for being respectful and reading an alternate point of view.

  3. I certainly have many movies that other people love but I just don’t see in the same way, to the point that I feel I must be missing something. The biggest one that springs to mind is Spirited Away: everybody loves it, and I can understand why, but it didn’t appeal to me at all.

    Personally I think that Batman is an interesting character with different layers to his psyche and multiple directions that he can be taken in, if he’s handled correctly. The thing about his villains is that the best ones connect with him on a personal level, so both he and they appear more interesting as a result. I agree that Batman doesn’t get enough focus and thus can be quite bland in many of the live-action films, but he’s much better explored as a character in his own right in the animated series or the Arkham video games.

    1. I totally agree on the animated series and film being the best depiction of Batman as a character and you make an interesting point about Batman and the villain being kind of a character duo. I guess I just feel like he usually get’s lost in all that villainy but I know I’m in the minority on that one.

      1. When I was a kid I never liked Batman. I could just never relate to him because he was so aloof, distant, grim, and violent. He scared me a bit, in fact. Superman on the other hand I loved, because not only was he obviously heroic and virtuous, he represented the American way and was an all-around nice guy I wanted to hang out with. So I watched just about every episode of Superman: The Animated Series (most of them many times), but I still respected Batman: The Animated Series because I could tell it was well-made and well-written. It just wasn’t for me.

        I do agree, in other words, that Batman was probably at his most interesting in that show. What’s funny is my dad grew up watching the Adam West show, didn’t read comics, and was already working hard in college when the Tim Burton Batman came around, so when I told him about why I didn’t like Batman based off of the animated series he would only marvel at how much they changed him. I eventually rented Batman & Robin for him and his first reaction was “I can’t believe people didn’t like this!”

      2. I really like how you describe preferring Superman to Batman. I can totally relate. As a kid I was more into princess type stories but think I would have picked Superman too or probably Wonder Woman. It just shows how subjective film or media can be and we should be respectful of people who like all kinds of things

      3. I only knew Wonder Woman as a member of the Justice League, which was a cool show, but her television show is airing on ME-TV on Sundays now, so you might like that.

      4. Oh cool. I wasnt really into superheroes as a girl but I remember thinking she was fun. I more liked Disney and things like Little House on the Prarie, Little Women, Ramona Quimby, Anne of Green Gables. I also liked Rainbow Bright, My Little Ponies and Strawberry Shortcake. When I got into middle school I liked Star Wars and had huge crush on Harrison Ford. Once the Raimi Spiderman came out I liked those probably best whenever that was

      5. I liked Anne of Green Gables a lot too when I read it for my literature course. It almost made up for having to read The Swiss Family Robinson before.

      6. It’s really quite a good book. I love getting in Anne’s head and imagination. Mark Twain said Anne was “the dearest and most lovable child in fiction since the immortal Alice”. I can see why

      7. I like her more than Alice. I could never get into the Lewis Carroll books due to their lack of plot, logic, or any coherent narrative structure. I know that was their charm but I never understood how to approach them as a result.

      8. Actually I’ve never read the books but I love the Disney movie so I need to get on that

  4. I’m also surprised that the 1989 Batman has a Screen It! page since Screen It was only founded in 1996. Was Batman ever re-released?

    Also I do think the descriptions of violence in the 1989 film seem more disturbing.

    1. They have some classic films for subscribers. Some of it is disturbing. I honestly havent seen 1989 in a long time. It was just a nice comparison as far as quantity.

  5. I also thought that Batman wasn’t cool because he didn’t have superpowers, but I’m going to admit that was naive of me and in hindsight probably added to his appeal.

  6. One fateful Christmas afternoon in 2008, at the age of 16, I chose watching ‘The Dark Knight’ on DVD with my brother and cousins, over watching ‘Mary Poppins’ in front of the TV by myself. I wanted to try and understand what everyone was going on about, and then everything changed. I was in awe, fear, and admiration at this incredibly earnest movie about a man in a bat-suit and a killer clown. That movie christened me as a Batman fan; I read up on the character through comics and websites, watched the older movies and joined everyone else in lauding ‘The Dark Knight’ as a revolutionary film.

    I appreciate your honesty in your review, but there are aspects of it I don’t see eye to eye with. I vehemently disagree with the idea of Bruce Wayne/Batman being boring and lacking in development, since ‘Batman Begins’ is ALL ABOUT developing Bruce as a character and why he becomes Batman. But there are some points of view I can understand like the significantly darker tone and violence, as well as ‘Batman 89’ and ‘Mask of the Phantasm’ being more accessible to younger viewers, that is perfectly fair. And we both agree, Heath Ledger’s Joker was the stuff of nightmares, and by far the most memorable part of the film if not the trilogy.

    Nowadays, I still consider The Dark Knight to be one of the best-made films in the last decade and a pillar of the superhero genre, but it’s not my favourite Batman film. I actually hold ‘Batman Begins’ in higher regard because it is ultimately a story about Batman rather than an entire city. For example I generally don’t get annoyed or upset when people say ‘The Dark Knight’ is overrated, but it does bother me when people say that ‘Batman Begins’ sucks.

  7. Thanks for your great comment. I don’t know if I would actually say that the Dark Knight is overrated. It’s just not my kind of movie. I get why people love it. I’m just not a big fan of crime dramas. I also don’t think it is a perfect movie like other people do. For instance, we rarely see Dent and Rachel together. We are told Rachel is in love with Dent more than we are shown any intimate moments, and yet we are to believe his drastic transformation at the end where he is going to kill a child. I don’t know if that really works…But that’s just me and an example. I totally get I am in the minority on this one.

    I certainly wouldn’t say that any of the Nolan films suck. I just prefer superhero movies that are a little bit more fun and hopeful than his versions. (I did just watch Dark Knight Rises for the first time yesterday and will be curious what you think of my review of that film).

    I will grant you that Batman Begins does tell Bruce Wayne’s story better than any of the other Batman movies. It is a little silly with the microwave emitter and poisoning the water, and it would be much better if it started 20 minutes sooner into the story. However, it is a decent film. I like it fine.

    I still I think in most Batman movies, and especially in The Dark Knight, the villains are much more memorable than Batman is (you even own to it yourself that Ledger may be the most memorable thing in the entire trilogy). Even going back to the old TV show it’s the villains everyone talks about. Batman Begins and Mask of the Phantasm are definitely the best examples of how to tell Batman’s story and make him interesting IMO. I happen to like stories about heroes more than about villains. Nowhere did this annoy me more than Man of Steel which turned Superman of all things into Batman.

    I guess we all have those films that others love that we just dont care for. What are yours?

  8. For a film that others love but I don’t care for, a most recent example would be ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’. The reason for that is because I didn’t see characters or story; I just saw Marvel glorifying in its own excess, while also trying hard to be funny where it shouldn’t have to be. Not helping was the inconsistent acting from anyone who wasn’t Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel or Dave Bautista of all people! I couldn’t stand Rocket Racoon, but his friendship with Groot was nice to watch, and I dug the soundtrack!

    Peter Quill’s arc is tangential at best and nonexistent at worst, the rest of the movie’s time is spent on blobby CGI, preachy sentimental scenes and a disappointing way in which the villain (who was absolutely worthless by the way) was defeated. Simply put, GOTG steadily made me sick to death of Marvel Studios, but ‘Age of Ultron’ and now the upcoming ‘Captain America: Civil War’ have renewed my interest in them.

    I’ve been aware of your dislike for Man of Steel for some time but avoided talking about it because of all the things that went darker in that movie I didn’t feel like Superman himself “became Batman”, I just don’t see where the evidence for that lies and I’ve seen that film multiple times. But that is a topic probably best saved for the eventual ‘Batman v Superman’ review, because I do have my own thoughts on Superman to lay down.

    You do make a good point about the fact that the Batman villains are so memorable; but where I feel The Dark Knight Trilogy separates itself from the Burton/Schumacher series is that the emphasis IS placed on Batman more than the villains, whereas in the 90s it was always placed on the villains and Batman was more like a side character in his own franchise. Overall, I don’t mind if Batman isn’t your kind of superhero; and with Marvel providing more fun and upbeat superheroes I think it’s cool that there are multiple flavours of superhero movie to cater to everyone’s tastes. I’m more of a generalist: I love the darker/more realistic stuff as much as I do the colourful/comic-bookish stuff.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We definitely disagree on these films. I liked Guardians and the return of the space opera. I found it highly entertaining. But that’s ok you’re not the first person who doesnt like that film.
      As far as Man of Steel I found the whole film to be joyless and an attempt to take the darker tone and brooding nature of Batman over to Superman and it didnt work for me. Even with Lois there wasn’t a moment of fun. I found the action to be unending and it didnt ask any interesting questions which Nolan does in his Batman movies. It just makes Superman this brute when I needed some relief.
      Anyway I recognize I’m in the huge minority on the Nolan movies and I do see why others love them. They just arent my favorite. And Man of Steel is perhaps the most divisive movie ever made. (I must own to being a little weary of hashing that one out. It didnt work for me and that’s that)

      As you say luckily there is no shortage of superhero movies for everyone’s taste. 🙂

      1. I realize we both have very different opinions on MOS and GotG, but I’m not taking that as a bad thing because I know that almost everyone I know loves GotG, and I wish I could love that movie with them! I certainly see where most people are coming from when they say MOS didn’t work for them.

        Still, thanks for sharing your thoughts, (and not chewing me out 😛 ) and when all is said and done I think 2016 will be a fantastic year for superhero movies and their fans! 🙂

      2. I dont take it as a bad thing either. You are one of my best commenters about always keeping things respectful and well thought out. I just had a long bout with a Man of Steel fanboy the other day who was unrelenting and I guess that’s why I’m a little burned out on talking about that film is all. It’s just not my Superman. In the end some of these things come down to different tastes because all of these movies are well put together. It’s like some people like oranges, other people like apples. It’s what makes the world interesting. Did you read my Dark Knight Rises review? I’m more positive about that film as I found it kind of a hopeful end to the trilogy.

        Anyway I do also agree that 2016 looks to be an amazing year for superhero movies. Even the ninja turtle movie I think looks good! Yay!

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