We went to see The Dark Knight this weekend, and it was okay. A few years ago, I might have told you it was wonderful. Even now, it beats any other comic book movie I’ve seen, and I see most of them.
Heath Ledger really was as amazing as everyone says. For the first time, the Joker almost makes sense as a character. As something of an agent of chaos myself, I almost sympathized with him. Not with his methods, of course, but with his impulses.
Neither Gary Oldman nor Maggie Gyllenhall got enough to do, but what they did, they did well, as usual. There were moments when the ease with which the Joker executed his plots stretched credulity (the funeral), but I’ll give any superhero plot one or two of those. Bruce Wayne dithered over things that should have been straightforward, but his other secret identity has always been Angst Boy, so it wasn’t out of character.
None of those things were really what bugged me though. What bugged me is what usually bugs me about a movie these days. It was a combination of feeling that the movie didn’t trust me as the audience and knowing the answers to things that were supposed to be mysteries.
As for trusting the audience, how often does one really have to be shown that the Joker is a tricksy badass before the main conflicts can come into play? How much needs to be made of Dent to show that he’s wearing a white hat before it can be knocked off? How many times must we hear about crooked cops? I get it all already.
But it’s the knowing the answers to the mysteries that really gets to me, because I don’t think it’s all the moviemakers’ fault. At least according to my husband, most people don’t say, “Well, it had to be them. They’re the only ones we’ve seen on camera in speaking roles who aren’t dead yet,” and, “But why else did you think his big ole stomach hurt?” and, “The stereotype wasn’t a huge flag to you?” In this case, it really is just me. I’ve been editing too much.
I ran into a similar problem with fiction about the time that writing really started to work for me. I couldn’t look at a book without seeing down to the bones. Every book was reduced to its structure. The problem isn’t completely fixed yet, but it’s getting better. I can read fiction for pleasure again…as long as it’s well written.
But in the meantime, I’ve been doing more editing. So now I look at a story and I see the function (preferably functions) of all the pieces. Everything has its purpose, and every story has pieces it that are needed to make it work. Fitting the two together is all too easy. Worse, it makes almost everything look predestined.
I can only hope that I’ll get over it in time. Because The Dark Knight really should have been a better movie than it was–to me. For you, if you haven’t seen it and I haven’t spoiled anything for you, it will probably be much better than okay.
And in other review news, Banana Creme Oreos taste very much like circus peanuts shoved into an Oreo, with that coolness on the tongue that artificial banana flavor gives. They’re kinda weird. Duh.