90 thoughts on “A Two-Word, Spoiler-Free Review of THE DARK KNIGHT, a Major Motion Picture Starring the Batman

  1. The ‘magic trick’ was one of the greatest movie moments ever. I’m not even sure Heath Ledger was in this movie, as far as I could tell, they actually found the joker somewhere and let him run wild.

  2. Had a chance to see this on Wednesday at a free screening. Amazing. Kicks to the face, dialogue on the nature of good and evil and men in masks, dog punching, you name it, it was all there.

  3. over at i09.com they’re debating the nature of the human soul, as explored by this film. Good on the ISB for keeping it real.

  4. I just said on another site, “I was strangely delighted that Batman kept beating up dogs. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I read Chris’s Invincible Super-Blog.”

    So you have enhanced my appreciation of cinema, sir, and for that I thank you.

  5. My jaw was still open long after the credits ended. I kept thinking “Hmmm. chris will fucking love this movie.” And of course you do! What’s not to love? I agree with Nick, the magic trick was the best! Most jokerish thing in the whole movie.

  6. See to me it was that bit of business he did with his detonator when he thought it stopped working. That was the moment for me.

  7. I haven’t seen it yet, but I had no problem predicting what the 2 words were going to be.

  8. I really liked the movie, but Heath Ledger’s performance is overhyped. Good, but not “Oscar-worthy”. I still prefer Jack Nicholson in the role.

  9. Here, AJ… wanna see a magic trick? :)

    And frankly, Heath Ledger blew Jack Nicholson’s run at it out of the park. That WAS the Joker, and I think Heath Ledger pulled a prank on us and is actually sunning in the Bahamas somewhere.

  10. Pfft. Mark Hamill’s vocal chords are the only real Joker.

    My only real complaints are that it was too long and all the fight scenes were up close and blurry.

  11. Not sure when it opens here, but I am so excited.

    ( Pretty sure modern movie producers have their heros kick someone in the chops and go “ok, we got Sims onside anyway” )

  12. Ok, now don’t get me wrong. I thought Jack Nicholson did a great job with the Joker. He was funny, zany, psychotic. BUT at the same time he was a thug. thats not what the joker is about. Blame it one Tim Burton, blame it one the writers, blame it on whoever you want. But Ledger is the joker. Not the most convincing joker, not the definitive joker, not even the best joker. He just simply is the joker.

  13. I seriously don’t get the fawning over Ledger. Good, yes. Definitive? No.

    Enough of that. Aaron Eckhart was awesome. Now THAT was a definitive performance.

  14. They never tied up the rampant fake Batman plot. Other than that I loved it. Actually, I still loved it just as much anyway. I just wanted to see Batman riding around on a horse with an army :(

  15. The movie was apectacular, in the truest sense of the word. Just HUGE in scope and scale, and yet it still felt grounded. Best time I’ve had at the movies in a long time.

    And hey, who’s this Sims fella getting name-checked in an article at Salon.com?

  16. I really liked the movie, but Heath Ledger’s performance is overhyped. Good, but not “Oscar-worthy”. I still prefer Jack Nicholson in the role.

    Then you can leave.

  17. To First Last

    The fake Batman thing was showing the Citizens for Batman part of the viral marketing campaign.

    And the next time I go, i’m bringing my clicker to count how many kicks to the face are shown in the movie.

    And yes…this movie just raised the bar for Super Hero Movies.

  18. On a related note, can you believe how stuck up Heath Ledger is? He didn’t even show up to the premiere of his own movie!

  19. When I saw Iron Man I felt sorry for the upcoming superhero movies (and was right, since Incredible Hulk is kinda bad).

    Now I feel sorry for any actor trying to play the Joker for the next 20 years.

    This movie was SO GOOD.

  20. For me, here’s the thing about the Joker in Dark Knight: he was funny. Above and beyond whether Ledger was definitive (and I want to see it again to be sure, but I think he really was), most of the Joker’s ‘bits’ actually work as comedy! Nicholson’s Joker had some funny lines, but basically he was a freakin’ prop comic! “Nicholson Joker” = Carrot Top! Each looks like a mutated freak, each is an irredeemable ham, each does kind of hacky prop comedy. The Joker’s first scene in Dark Knight? That’s something Woody Allen would have written back when he was funny, but then plus blood and death! Since I would argue that “Dark Knight”: Killing Joke as “Batman”: The Laughing Fish, I think they had equally good Joker stories to start from. So Ledger or no Ledger, this would probably have been the definitive movie Joker for me. As for Ledger, maybe overhyped because of the circumstances, but really completely electrifying. Couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He was basically asked to carry this movie and he did (I don’t mean carry it because it was bad, just that the Joker is the prime mover of almost everything in the story). Is it Oscar-worthy? I doubt he’d get one if he were still around, but even if he didn’t, we’ve all seen Oscars go to worse performances.

  21. Ledger’s Joker felt the most real of any Joker we’ve had- including in the comics. Even when they write him really dark, usually he’s sort of inhumanly insane, more an icon or symbol of chaos than an actual person. Ledger’s Joker has that symbolism, but you can tell there’s actually somebody there, and that somebody is genuinely deranged. He’s not the Clown Prince of Crime, he’s a loon. The look, the way he talks, the way he carries himself, he’s just entirely unstable the whole time. And yet he still has so much power. It’s really remarkable.

  22. The Joker in this movie was not just a guy, he was a force that drove the whole city to the brink. That’s what the Joker ought to be.

    The pencil magic trick was great — compared to the hand-buzzer burning in the Nicholson Batman, it was 1) not as cartoony and 2) much funnier.

    Eckhart was pretty great as Dent/Two-Face.

    And the ending was perfect. I was so happy when the douchebags sitting next to me didn’t understand it. The movie was for me, not them. Thanks, Chris Nolan.

  23. As I’ve pointed out, I love the movie, but I also agree with the writer of that Salon piece SteveNS posted 100%.

  24. Wow. I believe it’s possible for someone to like another joker better, but Nicholson? Over Ledger? Did we just see the same movie?!? In any case, I thought Ledger completely redefined the joker as he should be: A force of pure anarchy and chaos. Originless, even. I thought it was brilliant that he kept giving different backstories, since theres quite a few in the comics. (No one in the dcu knows which one of those, if any, are real.) One of my friends was saying as we left the theater “well, it looks like the joker will never be in live film again. Can’t beat that!”

  25. One thing about the Salon article that I really liked is that they point out that Batman never really seems to have a plan in this movie. I kind of think that’s an appropriate reaction to the Joker though. And I think the Joker’s various plans were great. It’s not like a Batman plan like in “Rock of Ages” where you have to pull back and see the whole mosaic to get what he’s doing, with this Joker it’s more like “That couldn’t possibly have been a plan! At any point in that plan there a half-dozen major things that could have gone wrong! But it all worked so well, it had to be a plan didn’t it?” You don’t know whether he has a real plan or is just a lunatic. I mean, if this were just any random superhero movie, I’d think it was sloppy summer-blockbuster plotting and not worry about it, but here it actually kind of makes sense for the characters.

  26. I’m skiving off work monday morning to assault UK’s GMTV textline to get Bale to answer my demands for the next movie.

    Plus, thanks guys for raising my expectations from “oh I don’t care since everyone going to be talking about Ledger and how dark it is” to “How long do I have to freaking wait for a Dog to be punched off a roof?!?!?”

  27. MW, you can’t really be called out for “pompous” when all you did was say what the rest of us are thinking.
    I don’t welcome the company of the likes of the douchebags you had sitting next to you either. I don’t go watch their wrestling movies and make stupid comments, do I?.

    Everytime one of our local news-organs gets some “Critic” who has never read a comic, never learnt the first thing about the genre, to review a genre movie . . . well I must be pompous too, because I always think ‘Who forking asked you to come to our party anyway?’

    In a years time we are going to have them criticing Watchmen , and what COULD they really know about it one way or the other, without having read and obsessed and thought about it and its effect on such a large industry, for two decades?.

  28. So, only fans can review comic adaptations correctly. I guess that’s why you don’t go to wrestling movies, what with your lack of intricate knowledge of the genre you just made up, I think. I mean, I’m so misanthropic I won’t even go to see this in the theatre most likely, and I find that a douchy thing to say. Maybe I’m just cranky because I have not seen it and he punches dogs!

  29. My favorite moment was when the Bank Manager comes out of his office.

    Nothing else said to me “This is a story that takes place in Gotham City” like the bank’s “security measures”.

  30. So, only fans can review comic adaptations correctly. I guess that’s why you don’t go to wrestling movies, what with your lack of intricate knowledge of the genre you just made up, I think.

    As someone of unique qualifications, I can assure you that David Arquette’s Ready To Rumble fucking blows.

  31. What nobody seems to be saying is that this movie’s screenplay is heavily influenced by Jeph Loeb’s magnificent graphic novel “The Long Halloween” though I make this point in my blog bc both Nolan and Christian Bale cite it as a heavy influence on both films. I agree that Ledger’s performance is mesmorizing

  32. re: Salon

    Batman may not do much long-term planning in the film, but he does think on his feet pretty well. The fingerprint sequence with the bullet and his recognition and dismantling of the Joker’s final hostage scheme are both driven by smarts more than muscle.

  33. As someone of unique qualifications, I can assure you that David Arquette’s Ready To Rumble fucking blows.

    As someone who inexplicably draws a paycheque for writing about wrestling, I agree.

    But No Holds Barred was worse.

  34. I really dug Bale’s fighting style in this movie. No two dozen light hits and blocks, no shadow punching – every shot he threw was designed to punch holes in things. It was great. The Joker’s greatest moment? Striding along in the nurse’s uniform, and only concerned by his detonator.
    Also, why the hell do these comics movies have to kill villains at the end? Can’t we leave it open for a return bout in future sequels?

    Cheers, Mal

  35. why the hell do these comics movies have to kill villains at the end?

    YEAH! Like, at the end of the Tim Burton “Batman,” they kill the Joker, and now we can’t make any more movies with the Joker in it!

  36. “why the hell do these comics movies have to kill villains at the end?

    YEAH! Like, at the end of the Tim Burton “Batman,” they kill the Joker, and now we can’t make any more movies with the Joker in it!”

    Not in that movie continuity you couldn’t.

  37. For those of you who think the Nicholson Joker is better than the Ledger’s Joker, I ask “when was the last time you watched that Burton Batman?” Because if it hasn’t been a couple of years, I’m here to tell you that it’s not as good as you remember.

    Nicholson’s Joker is very good, but not as good as what we’re getting from Ledger.

  38. You know the moment I knew I’d love this movie? The dialogue between the two bank robbers. “I bet the boss told you to kill me as well, huh?” “No, I kill the bus driver.”
    Facekicking, Detective style Batman, vast multi-tiered joker plans. It was genius on film.

    The one scene that got everyone in my theater cheering was when the criminal threw the detonator overboard.

  39. How can anyone say that Batman doesn’t have a plan in this movie? Using illegal wiretapping to make a sonar map of the entire city is like the ludicrous speed of plans.

  40. William Fichter’s bank manager was freaking fantastic. In fact, that whole opening scene was perfect. But IMAX didn’t show the Watchmen preview for some reason. That made me sad.

  41. I loved when Spawn threw the detonator overboard. I figured the Joker had rigged it so that whoever chose to blow the other ferry up blew up their own boat instead. It would be fair, to his way of thinking.

    As a fangirl, I LOVED this movie. I also hated the idiots in the theater who didn’t get it. I was completely amazed by some of their dumbass comments.

    The Watchmen trailer was incredible, too. I couldn’t stop grinning. One of my friends leaned over and asked me if the Comedian was a good guy. I really didn’t want to spend the time explaining it then, so I just purchased another copy to give him.

  42. Honestly, that film should supplant Citizen Kane as the best movie of all time. it was BRILLIANT.

  43. Do people who loved the Watchmen trailer think Zach Snyder really has a great movie in him? I’m very, very skeptical on that point.

  44. Also, why the hell do these comics movies have to kill villains at the end? Can’t we leave it open for a return bout in future sequels?

    To be fair, Ledger’s Joker is very much alive at the end of the movie. Can’t blame the writers for that one. The friends I was with were desperately hoping that there was some ambiguity about Harvey being dead, but I just don’t see it – the whole “take the blame” plot point fails if Dent is still potentially running around.

    So what can they possibly do for an encore? I think a lot of Batman villains just won’t work in this movie continuity at all. Anyone hinging on any kind of superpower, for instance.

  45. the whole “take the blame” plot point fails if Dent is still potentially running around.

    Gordon and Batman clearly think he’s dead, but there’s no reason to accept their judgment.

  46. >>>I think a lot of Batman villains just won’t work in this movie continuity at all. Anyone hinging on any kind of superpower, for instance.

    I agree. Many Bat-villains would never work under the revised Gotham that Nolan has established because they are either too over-the-top (Killer Croc, Clayface, Mr. Freeze), or simply not threatening in the slightest (Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman).

    Granted, Two-Face is something of a stretch, but I have little problem believing that a whackjob like The Joker could easily exist IRL.

  47. Dark Knight isn’t out in the UK till the 25th… but it is on in IMAX at the Glasgow Science Centre… but I’m working till 2 a.m. on the 25th because of the Clone Wars launch… need money… but Batman… gnrk.

  48. So what did people not get about the ending?

    And was there supposed to be a Watchmen trailer with this? My matinee showing didn’t have it. I got to watch a promo about nascar-jail(with guns!) instead.

  49. I assume that you’re talking about the Jason Statham remake of Death Race, which looks absoludicrously fantastically stupid. I can’t wait.

  50. without the Joker as a return villain, the only rogue who could credibly push Batman to his limits again in a next movie would have to be a resurrected Ra’s Al Ghul.

    Bring it!

  51. Brad Curran

    You misunderstood me. I don’t say people who don’t like or at least have a basic UNDERSTANDING of the various genres shouldn’t be allowed to act as reviewers in the media.

    I just think no-one with an ounce of sense should listen to a word they say. They know not of what they pontificate, you see.

    Just like if I went to see a Gridiron game, and spoiled the enjoyment of a real fan by sitting beside them and making my ignorance of the rules and conventions intrude on his ears. It isn’t being played for my entertainment, really, and it wouldn’t be pompus for someone to make that clear to me . . with a bit of 4 by 2 if neccesary.

    And did I REALLY invent a whole genre of movies?.

    F.I.G. J.A.M. !

  52. Ledger’s Joker was the best villain I have ever seen in a movie, period.

    The truly terrifying thing about him was that he could not lose. I mean, you could foil a given plan, you could beat him up, you could capture him – but as he said to Batman, there was nothing you could take away from him at all. It didn’t matter what kind of technology or planning or physical ability Batman had – at the end of the day, he had a lot to lose and the Joker had nothing.

  53. I was talking with some friends about Mad Hatter being a possible villain in the future, it could work if done right but beyond Manchurian Candidate hijinx I’m not exactly sure how it would be pulled off. I’m not a writer.

  54. Vendicare, Spawn didn’t toss the detonator; that was President Lindberg. (Spawn never finished his pool game when the Joker stopped by.)

    Also, I’m a little surprised that Batman and Batmanuel didn’t team up. Maybe they’ll save that for the next one.

  55. To CHV:

    I think the Riddler could potentially work. The problem with Batman Forever was that he was too much of a Joker-Lite character, which I blame partially on the expectation that came with a (then) big-time comedy actor like Jim Carrey.

    I think the Riddler could work if you reimagined him in just the right way; his penchant for riddles could be taken to an extreme that would work for the universe and also give Batman an intellectual challenge.

    I think the Penguin might work as well, so long as they avoided the monstrous social outcast of Batman Returns – he would have to be the sophisticated ganster as portrayed in the comics, perhaps moving in to take over/unite the Gotham crime families after the removal of Salvatore and the chaos of the Joker.

    That said, I don’t think either of those villains could carry a film in the way that Ledger’s Joker did here; they would probably have to be relegated to a more background player status a la Begins’ Scarecrow. Maybe if they both featured in some way…?

    However, at this point in time I almost want to tell Nolan to quit while he’s ahead – surely Warner Brothers will want another Batman flick, but I don’t see how they can top this one, creatively.


  56. Or, as many have said, Two-Face’s death is somewhat ambiguous – Nolan could easily bring him back to wreak havoc, perhaps accompanied by one of the other villains.


  57. Was Harvey supposed to be dead because i felt like that was just another cover-up, especially since he no longer identifies as Dent anyway.

  58. It’s being rumored that the guy who figured out Batman’s secret identity, Mr. Reece (Mysteries), is going to be the Riddler.

  59. There’s plenty of good villains still without getting to superpowered ones. Now that Gotham has improved to the point where its citizens would not blow each other up in a prisoner’s dilemma situation and they’ve made a martyr of Dent and there’s an incorruptible new Police Commissioner, and Maroni, Gamble, Lau, and the Russian are all dead, and the mid-level guys are still in jail, they can do a story about Bruce Wayne instead of Gotham. The girl who kept him tethered to reality just got blown up, and in walk Catwoman and/or Talia who are both into him for the fact that he’s crazy, or you could have Hugo Strange, hell, maybe they could do a Bane who actually lives up to his billing as a Doc Savage of Evil to Batman’s Shadow. Since Batman’s a “villain” now, Deadshot started as a fake hero in Batman. I trust these guys to know what they’re doing now (although, I said that after Spider-Man 2 as well).

  60. p.s. Don’t have Angelina Jolie be Catwoman. She’s a good-looking woman (although I liked her old nose better), but she’s really becoming a walking camp machine.

  61. Well IF they decide to film another one, there’s only one way to escalate, because they already used the best Batman villains.

    So, Superman.

  62. I’m pretty sure she was on one of the ferries.

    On that note, one of my fav parts of the film was the blink and you’d miss it look of disapoitment on Scarecrows face when Tiny tossed the detonator out the window. Dr. Crane really wanted to see the civilians blowned up real good as much as the joker did. They’re gona hav so much to talk about in Arkam (with Harv too) until Mr. Reece breaks them all out next movie.

  63. Hello.

    Long time reader, first time poster, and all that.

    People seem to like to use Mr. Freeze as example of what can’t be used in mostly reality based movies of Batman today, which I think is something of a misconception. If you take away the Freeze Ray and the, well, Arnold Schwarzenger persona most people have in their minds thanks to the other movies series (honestly, who did the cast for that? Exact opposites if there ever were such a thing, polor opposites if I really must say it), You get a very real man.
    A man broken who manages, by brilliant chance, to have logic as a dementia. It could be a whole play on the Joker, showing Batman the opposite of what the Joker showed him.

    Foucus a little less on the gadgets and puns, and with a little imagination, you have a working character. Although, I have to admit with a bit of her theme already used in the first movie, and her wild powers, Poison Ivy has bit more trouble.

  64. PS

    Do people who loved the Watchmen trailer think Zach Snyder really has a great movie in him? I’m very, very skeptical on that point.

    Bingo. Particularly since it’s the King Bastard comic-to-film adaptation challenge.

    And does Jason Statham really need a project like Death Race at this time in his career?

  65. Man, I would love a live action Deadshot.

    See Wanted. It’s good, not great, but man oh man, the “I shoot you from across the city” reminded me very much of Floyd Lawton.

  66. Zsasz could work in this milieu. I never found him particularly interesting, but he’s the right tone for a series that’s suddenly got a healthy dose of the terror-suspense genre in it.

    Hugo Strange has potential, I guess. He’s not one of the greats, either, and I think we’ve seen the headshrink-the-bat plot already with Nicole Kidman and Jim Carrey, but someone who could really psychologically get under Batman’s skin seems to be needed.

  67. Two words for Mr. Sims.

    I agree.

    TDK is a great movie. Whoever disagrees is just piss off angry godfather or shawshank redemption fanboy from IMDB.

    (Those of you whom are regulars at IMDB know what I’m talking about)

  68. Well since the Killer’s based on Deadshot to begin with, that would be pretty logical.

    Oh! Did not know that. Maybe I should actually read Wanted.

  69. If you actually liked Wanted the comic you’re in for a disappointment.

    loom of fate~!

  70. Oh, I dunno about Szasz, I mean they’d have to change the actor. did he not have a cameo in Batman Begins, played by tim Booth, lead singer of 90s indie band, ‘James’?

    I’m afraid I could never take him seriously. Not like that end of game boss (end of game ‘bros.’?) from Blade 2.