Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The new Batman movie, “Dark Knight”

This is less a movie review than a discussion based on Chalicechick's excellent analysis Oh, how I hated the Batman movie


I agree with her on some points, disagree on others (big shock, there)- I'll start with the disagreements. The Joker. She liked Ledger's performance, (agree!) but not the character. She complains about his almost magical abilities- "He can do anything, and the movie wants us to believe this so badly it doesn’t bother to explain how he does some of his more amazing feats. (E.g. Joker can sneak lots of bombs and arguably surgical equipment into jail with him.)" I bet Cris Angel could do it; and anyway, it was established not much later in the film that he had city and police officials working for him- the people Dent, by then Two-face, killed. You can do a lot with insider assistance. She thinks he should have had a hard time recruiting: "Said mooks have to have heard that everybody who helps Joker do anything dies, but they play along anyway and are all dead by the end of the movie." This is a hallmark of evil dictators- Stalin's purges were legendary, and Sadam Hussein tortured and mutilated his own officials... and yet, they never seemed to have trouble finding replacements.

But those arguments are really beside the point; a larger than life hero requires a larger than life villain. To borrow a line from "Inherit the Wind", if St. George had killed a dragonfly rather than a dragon, who would remember him? I liked the fact that this Joker had no origin story; he was simply evil. Indeed, he mocks the concept of an "origin" by making up different origin stories for different people. He doesn't kill for profit or sexual gratification- he does it to make the world a worse place... truly the Anti-Batman. Or rather, the Anti-Ideal-Batman, which this one wasn't.

I totally agree that much of the plot was contrived- a perfect example of why I have grown to not only dislike situational ethics, but also the discussion of situational ethics. One of the ethical lapses this leads to is even worse, in my opinion, than CC paints it- the cell phone eavesdropping. CC says, "One of Batman’s most impressive toys is a pretty clear stand-in for domestic wiretapping (I guess thanks to Obama and McCain's agreement on the issue, Wayne Enterprises won't even get fined)..." As I understand it, the two provisions Obama and McCain agree on are for calls that originate and are received in foreign countries but pass through our routers, and for calls that originate in foreign countries and are received in the U.S.- but Batman is listening to not only purely domestic calls, but also every sound the cell phones can pick up as he remotely activates them! I can only hope there were plenty of cell phones present at a burrito eating contest. Batman supposedly proves his honesty by not holding the power himself, but giving it to Lucius. To my mind, that's worse, not better... he didn't have the courage to face his decision, and instead tempted another!

But even that’s not the worst of Batman’s ethical lapses. In the end, he proves his nobility by taking the rap for the murders Harvey Dent committed, so the people could have a hero and not lose faith in the system. Huh? Just minutes before he had been supremely confident of the decency of the Gothamites trapped aboard the bomb-laden ferries, certain that they wouldn’t kill innocents to save their own skins- and had been proven right! Now, suddenly, he can’t trust their judgment? And what if the truth had come out- that after being forced to listen to his fiancé getting the Col. Sanders treatment, then getting half his own face melted off, Dent- still in shock- loses his temper and kills some of the perpetrators? Who would have judged him harshly for that- harshly enough to lose faith in the system? (after all, this Dent didn’t live long enough to become the super-villain of the comic books) No, Batman becomes just another government bureaucrat, lying to the public for their own good.

This new Batman series is more down to Earth than the Tim Burton franchise, has a better (in George Carlin’s words) “Hey, this could happen!” feel, but Burton’s has more heart, more humanity. The heck with it. Go see “Iron Man” or “Spiderman” again instead.

1 comment:

Chalicechick said...

I love me some Tim Burton.