Not Your Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel

August 8, 2009 – A movie review.

By The Cerebral Aesthetic Vagabond

I hope this review of the movie The Dark Knight doesn’t offend anybody, but let me say it right up front: I thought the movie was trash. Last night I watched the movie because so many people, both those known to me and those online, declared it a great movie. Yet, while watching it last night I found myself alternately hoping a story would emerge and hoping the movie would end, several times my twitchy finger even coming close to fast forwarding through the needlessly long movie to get it over with.

The characters were uniformly dull and apathetic, not to mention utterly unlikable, if not downright unsavory. Even when the district attorney’s “squeeze,” as the Joker called her, was blown to bits it didn’t cause me even a momentary pang of sorrow, especially since the supposed love affair between her and the DA was one of the least convincing in cinematic history.

Not even Batman himself was appealing, and I found myself muttering, “Do it, do it,” urging him to follow through on his threat to turn himself in to the police, which would have added a much needed intriguing twist to an otherwise limp and lifeless movie. (Anyone who has read my writings long enough knows how fond I am of “authority” figures, so my wishing that Batman would turn himself in to the police reveals the depth of my disappointment with this movie.)

To say there wasn’t much of a story is being charitable. One could have stuffed this film into a blender, put it on high for several minutes, reassembled the film and watched it with no almost discernible degradation of the “story.” Or, to put it another way, one could watch different segments of this movie at different times and in any order and walk away with the same impression as watching the whole thing from start to finish. The movie was more or less a disjointed collection of de rigueur, but shoddy action sequences sprinkled among an equally disjointed collection of insomnia-curing scenes of contrived emotion and solemnity. Although my viewing companion was actually falling asleep during most of the film, I was kept awake by the drive to identify a single frame of film that would make me care about the story or any of the characters. Such a frame never did flash across the screen.

Now, I’m no great fan of the Batman genre to begin with. I believe I’ve only seen perhaps three of the movies in the last twenty years, and none of them were memorable. When I was a kid, of course, I watched Batman on the television, “Same bat-time, same bat-channel,” but it was merely cheap entertainment. I never desired to be Batman, nor ever owned any Batman-related paraphernalia. Nevertheless, it just so happens that I saw another Batman movie some months ago, titled simply enough, Batman. Although the movie was made in 1966, at the same time that I was watching the television series, I never knew of its existence all these forty-plus years until I watched it recently, and I have to say, that old Batman movie was a far more entertaining movie than The Dark Knight. Batman had a simple plot, not unlike the preposterous plots in the early James Bond films, before they too became pretentiously complex, and a cabal of villains that were, well, likable and even classy. Who wouldn’t be charmed by Cesar Romero’s Joker? By comparison, who wouldn’t be repulsed by Heath Ledger’s Joker? I have seldom laughed so hard as when I watched the movie Batman, because it was so ridiculous and campy, but that was deliberate. For example, in one scene – if memory serves – Batman is hanging on to a rope ladder suspended from a helicopter and has a rubbery, great white-like shark attached to his leg. No problem. Batman simply whips out his handy-dandy can of bat-shark repellent, which he had the foresight to place in his utility belt, sprays the toothy monster and it falls back into the sea, leaving not even so much as a tear in Batman’s tights. It’s terribly amusing, but the creators of that movie had no delusions of creating a cinematic masterpiece – they were trying to create entertainment, and succeeded.

Maybe it’s the times. Maybe people born in the last twenty years or so see The Dark Knight as an apt reflection of the ambiguous, morally relative times in which we live today, while I, having been born decades earlier, still recall a time when moral absolutes prevailed and life was truly pleasant and carefree. Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’ve finally become the curmudgeon I’ve always longed to be. There is at least one noteworthy thing I can say about this movie, and that is that it moved me enough to write a review of it.

The End