Gone is Gotham.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Everyone can stop complaining about the heat, please. Don’t you know I’ve been waiting years for a summer with weather as perfect as this one has been? And after such a horrible winter! It hasn’t been a summer of rock and roll, bike rides, and carefree painting, it hasn’t been a summer of weddings and budding romance, it hasn’t even been a summer of decomposing apartment managers (thank God!) But it’s been a hot summer, and therefore a good one, if uneventful.

Well, I did see The Dark Knight, and since everyone has been pouring forth the same obvious praises (It’s the best Batman film to date, Heath Ledger’s performance was un-flippin-believable, No other superheroes need apply, etcetera, etcetera) I will take a minute to make two slight criticisms. Slight because the sheer awesomeness of this movie overshadows most of my nitpicking. I don’t think there are any spoilers here, but if you haven’t seen it yet you might want to play it safe and skip this one.

Nitpick number one: A Missing Character. No, Batman was present and accounted for, as was Commissioner Gordon, Lucius Fox, Salvator Maroni, Harvey Dent, and of course the Joker. They even kept the girl around, which seems very un-Bruce-Wayne-like. So anyway, who could this missing character be? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not a person. It’s Gotham City! This movie was over two and a half hours long, and at no point in it did Gotham make an appearance. Sure, they called it Gotham, but come on. It was Chicago, baldly. I’ve heard opinions and read reviews that praise this decision, to leave the Windy City undisguised, to shoot so many scenes in daylight, because it brings the movie to a very real level, makes it relevant and timely in an age when America is scared of criminals but even more scared of itself. Well that’s nice, but here is what I think: it’s still a movie. It’s still a movie about a man who wears a bat suit and swings around in the dark beating up thugs. Sure, there is crime in Chicago and every other regular looking city in America, but we can see that on the ten-o’clock news. When I watch it on the big screen I want to be taken somewhere else, I want there to be an element of playful darkness and dark playfulness, and no other city has come close to being as delicious to watch as Gotham. Until now. I really missed it in this movie.

Nitpick number two: Christopher Nolan… I love the man, I love the movies he makes, including The Dark Knight. But there is something about his storytelling that pushes my limit. Maybe after making Memento he felt that each transition in all of his subsequent movies could be just as jarring, I’m not sure. I didn’t notice it in Batman Begins, but there were definitely moments in The Dark Knight where I felt like I had been running along with the movie and suddenly, with a scene change, was made to stop where I was, losing some momentum and taking a few extra moments to get back on track. It makes you conscious of the fact that you are sitting in a theater, staring at a screen, and not actually there where the action is taking place. Granted, this happened very few times (maybe twice?) but it left me feeling a little like I did after watching The Prestige, which was, “Am I sure that this movie was made to its absolute greatest potential?” And I don’t think it was. Of course I watched The Prestige a number of times after the first viewing and came to terms with the parts that bothered me and liked the film more and more each time I saw it. Which is what I imagine will happen with The Dark Knight. But as awesome as The Dark Knight was, for now I’d have to say (and I don’t say this lightly!) I liked Batman Begins better. Anyway, considering what I just said about Christopher Nolan, I’d still list him as one of my favorite directors and I really hope he signs on for the next Batman movie. Is it too early to start talking about the next Batman movie?

Well, okay, I don’t like writing reviews. I hope we can consider the above post to be more of a conversation starter than a review. What did you think of the film?


  1. Posted July 31, 2008 at 1:42 pm | Permalink