Thursday, January 15, 2009

THE DARK KNIGHT (Christopher Nolan, 2008, USA) THE DARK KNIGHT is exciting, a seemingly rare Black Pearl which upon closer examination is a fraud, pretty but valueless, inset into an empty suit of armor. The narrative attempts to be a modern myth, a prescient legend that remakes King Arthur as an emotionally tortured and brooding sociopath, a millionaire who plucks not the sword from the stone, but Hollywood gold from our pocket. This is a superficially contrived hyped-up morality play that is crushed under its own self-important weight. Once upon a time Director Christopher Nolan made two great films: FOLLOWING & MEMENTO. The script is inundated with awkward dialogue whose internal logic is skewed with unbelievable character motivations: Harvey Dent’s transformation (physical and mental) is a jejune plot device to create frisson, both pretentious and improbable. The direction is lazy with spiraling nausea-inducing camera movements and sloppy editing; the actors perform as wooden clacking marionettes fulfilling allotted roles without individuality, their strings manipulated, lacking basic human DNA. The writer pushes square dialogue through their round holes, blathering insipidly about morality and justice without regard to a thinking audience who can figure it out on their own (thank you very much): this condescending attitude is unacceptable. Heath Ledger as The Joker seems to be the embodiments of anarchy, his goal the destruction of social order to create a lawless society, to see the citizens of Gotham revert back to the Dark Ages. But his plans are meticulous and artificial; the polar opposite of a chaotic maddened mind that seeks to burn down the world. The plans are so mechanical that we can see the writer’s hand at work, busy punching plastic lettered squares that create a vapid electronic text which masquerades as drama…but is an illusion that hides, not a half-scarred script, but a faceless and phony melodrama. Heath Ledger’s inspired performance is the bright spot in this dismal failure. To awaken your numbed brain, please refer to Frank Miller’s original four-issue series that gave birth to this catastrophic mediocrity. (D)

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