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There has to be a thread started sometime...I just saw the midnight showing, and it was AMAZING in almost every sense of the word. It will be the first movie I will pay to go see again in theaters.

Heath gives the performance of an acting giant.

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Well it's finally here.

I've been waiting three years for this particular film.

Not only that -- I've been waiting my whole life for a Batman movie to live up to it's potential.

And this isn't it.

I just got back from the midnight showing. I can't understand it. I don't understand what Nolan was thinking. There were so many good elements strewn around on screen. Ledger's performance. The White Knight and the Dark Knight. Corruption. Redemption. Principles. A first rate cast. And CONFLICT.

All of the ingredients of a masterpiece were there. Somewhere, buried underneath all of the incompetence piled on top of it, there was the basic foundation of a great movie.

This is what killed it:

- Hyper-kinetic pace

- Overstuffed-plot

- Rushed, wordy dialogue

- No atmosphere

The editing of this movie was abominable. But it wasn't the editor's fault. It was Nolan's. The entire movie was cut in the camera. Little fragments that in the end could be pieced together only one way. It was an amateurish mistake - if it was a mistake. It might have been bad taste. Whichever it was it had it's predictable effect.

The effect was threefold.

First it killed any atmosphere the movie might have had. Batman invites atmosphere. He is a mysterious creature, born of the shadows, stalking an urban jungle of neon towers and inky black back alleys. When you don't hold a shot longer than ten seconds, you cannot establish the mood of such fertile surroundings.

Second, it kills dialogue. There was some well written dialogue -- that was barely understandable. The actors had no time to let the words sink into their own minds or the audience's, making it feel unnatural. Too much, too quick.

Third -- it kills plot and suspense. This is really the result of both the cutting and writing. The screenplay had enough material squeezed in for two or three movies. Instead of spending the time to flesh those ideas out, they cut down motivation and depth, leaving ideas unexplored and as a side effect, characterization paper thin. Events happened off screen that should have been shown. Events were implied but not confirmed. Suspense - the feeling of anticipation built on careful delivery of plot and exposition was destroyed by bad dramatization.

In terms of content, Nolan broke a promise. He said that The Dark Knight would show more of Batman's detective abilities - a major cornerstone of the character. It wasn't there.

Overall, I was disappointed. It's predecessor, Batman Begins had it's problems, but was head and shoulders over this. I regretfully, cannot recommend.

Edited by Myself
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Well, despite Captain Nitpicky up here, I can give it a recommendation. It was a good movie, I would of done things a little differently, but that's irrelevent.

9/10.

I'd also be cautious about taking kids to this one, it's kind of scary.

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This film is so confused about its premises, even I walked out quite puzzled. Philosophically, it is a mish-mash. It's a great film if you want edge-of-your-seat excitement, but don't expect to find a hero that knows why he's doing what he's doing... or even a hero that knows if what he's doing is good or not... or a screenplay writer that knows what moral message(s) he's trying to convey... etc

It's worth seeing it in the theatres for exciting "bif! bang! boom!" purposes, but that's about it. Another grab-bag of disintegrated (and often contradictory) moralistic one-liners lacing through two and a half hours of action and cool gadgets.

Edited by athena glaukopis
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Did you guys not see the same film that I did?!

I thought it was fantastic. Great acting, great plot, and very specific moral conflict. It has a few flaws, but still, I take what I can get.

As for the claim that the movie didn't know what it was about, or what its message was, spoilers ahead......

Everything that the Joker did, he did on the premise that he could corrupt a virtuous man if he made the world a vicious enough place. He said this explicitly, and what he did to Harvey Dent was the ultimate expression of his purpose. When the Joker creates the scenario with the two ferries, it's a test of the moral premise upon which he is acting. Just like with Dent, he believes he can get the people of Gotham to turn to corruption and evil when the world goes to hell. The Joker knew EXACTLY what he was doing, Batman knew exactly what he was doing, Harvey Dent knew exactly what he was doing, and Christopher Nolan (the main writer as well as director) knew exactly what he was doing.

I am so tired of seeing Objectivists whose judgment is completely clouded by dogmatic moralizing and cynical nitpicking.

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I am so tired of seeing Objectivists whose judgment is completely clouded by dogmatic moralizing and cynical nitpicking.

You know what? I'm tired of people who check their intelligence and taste at the door when they think they're going to see a "popular" or "action-driven" film. Forget moralizing, forget Objectivist critiques - it was incompetent filmmaking, pure and simple.

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As far as philosophy and consistency goes, it was much like the first.

Possible Spoilers Ahead:

I think Batman has always been a great outlet against the idea of simplistic "Retribution" justice. This film, like the last, focused heavily on the true nature of justice. Batman knew he could not be the final arbiter of the law, and I've always enjoyed that theme.

Also, did anybody criticizing the philosophy of the movie catch Two-Faces rant about chance while holding Gordon's son? It was probably one of the best representations of a ruined mind, and it's depraved conclusions. He concluded that the only avenue for justice is " Chance ". It was at that point I thought Miller himself had some say as to the dialog of the film.

This might be me stretching it here, but once again I got that Miller sense of things with what seemed to be an allegory for the military. An entity that many despise, that get criticized and shot at and put their lives on the line for what NEEDS to be done. Batman is a necessity for Gotham, a city of mafia thugs, insane supervillains and corrupted police. I do not think Wayne is driven to be Batman out of sense of " duty " but out of a sense of what is truly right. He isn't confused in the matter, as someone tried to claim earlier. He acts, as a normal or even great person would, with his regrets. Because of his life as Batman, he's lost most of his loved ones and his public image, but he DOES know what was right

And finally, Joker is probably the best villain any rational person could ask for. In the end, the Joker is not after money or political power or anything like that. As Alfred said " Some people just want to watch the world burn. ". Ledger's Joker was brilliant, and he portrayed perfectly a blood-crazy Anarchist who doesn't live by any moral code. He is a brilliant villain and is rightfully considered Batman's perfect enemy because he stands for the opposite of Batman: Anarchy, Randomness, Force.

To claim that the characters had no defined purpose, or that they did not know what they were doing, is foolish. They were members of an epic conflict, and like anyone, are going to question their surroundings and motivations.

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This is one of the greatest movies ever made.

It does demand your full attention. This is no movie to relax and have fun with, the pacing is relentless and the plot just keeps going and going because the Joker is a mad genius 3 steps ahead of everyone and the audience. Every frame is essential and multiple viewings are necessary to pick up all that is going on.

I will post more later, I've seen it twice today and am exhausted.

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This film has two major flaws, one already mentioned: First, it's two movies in one and second, as in all Bat Man films, his best actions are treated as a sacrifice.

It is understandable why the writer felt pressure to include the story of Harvey Dent (with his deliberately chosen name) given what the shallowness of Bat Man's character would have been had he merely served as a foil to the ground breaking study of the Joker. It was a difficult predicament to be in. However, to try to cram another villan into the Joker's film was just too much. Dent, for all of his extraordinarily dramatic twists and turns, was essentially just like the Mob bosses in his reasons for going bad. They did a fine job themselves of contrasting the average criminal with the essential criminality of the Joker; Dent wasn't needed. The Mob bosses flipped their own coins when they decided to cut the "mad dog" loose on Bat Man (and thus on themselves by letting him threaten "their" "justly" stolen money). I'm not saying that the Two Face topic is not worthy of discussion; but that it's so worthy of discussion that it doesn't deserve to be relegated to a subplot.

Secondly, and more importantly, "The Dark Knight" mantra is not a morally appealing conclusion. Bat Man - and Bruce Wayne - is a better man than Harvey Dent; Gotham's white knight. Yes, without his persona as a petrahuman he could not accomplish what he does, but his willingness to dualize his personality does not make him noble. Just ask "Two Face" Harvy Dent. No, what makes Bat Man / Bruce Wayne noble is that he can withstand the pressure which comes from such dualization; albeit with some help from Alfred at the end. No matter what Rachael says in her letter, this movie turned a corner, I believe, into officially making Bruce Wayne's primary purpose for living the pursuit of justice instead of wealth or love. Bat Man, ironically, learned from her that Bruce Wayne was, for all intents and purposes, dead. He took her line "Don't make me your only chance for a normal life" to heart. He clearly became alright with that; as evidenced by his choice to save Dent instead of Rachael. That is not altruistic - he is not a guardian. Instead, he is a seeker of spiritual values which are so rare, so exhalted, that only he - with his extraordinary virtues and his extraordinary sacrifices - can experience. Bat Man lives in a world of utter peace and contentment; no matter what is going on around him. He is always confident in his ability to live because he has so profoundly automatized doing the right thing. Not only is he immune from temptation towards evil, but he is driven, like an engineer to the drawing board, to defeat evil. He gets pleasure from his acts - not as some second handed feeling of superiority - but from the simple fact that he has mastered his trade. For him, the dispensing of justice is the "normal life." I wish the writers and director had labeled it as such. They certainly should have explored it more. It would have been a great way to add depth to his character once Two Face had been cut out.

However, there is still immense value to gain from watching this film; which far outweighs those flaws. The internal lessons, which I discussed, and which Bruce Wayne deals with (but misunderstands) are fascinating. The Joker's character may just be the greatest presentation of the essence of evil ever filmed. (That is was acted by a real life nihilist didn't hurt either). If you are astute enough to appreciate the value, then you should be strong enough to filter out the flaws.

- As an aside, I also want to point out that I agree with "Myself", the editing was terrible. Even the excellent elements were spoiled somewhat by either too little dialouge at times and too much during others.

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The Joker's character may just be the greatest presentation of the essence of evil ever filmed.

There was so much hype around this movie, and like others, I had been anticipating it for so long, so I went in with very high expectations. Though I still have a bit to digest, and I will see it again in the theater, I thought the movie itself was just good, not quite great.

However, for me, Ledger's masterful performance makes it worth seeing again and owning it. His acting definitely lived up to the hype, and in not much time I think we will come to see it as an all-time performance. I think very highly of Jack Nicholson's acting talents, but to me this one is not even close. Nicholson's Joker was kooky, almost bubbly. I know that might not be all Jack's fault. I don't know how much of a role the direction, script, etc., played in that. But Ledger's Joker was madness through and through. His voice, his little ticks (e.g. the lip-licking), his makeup and hair, his maniacal laugh. All these added brilliantly to the content of madness that was presented.

I might comment some more after I see it again. The summary of my thoughts for the time being: movie itself was just good; technology and action were really cool; scenery was really cool (both the cities and the Wayne properties); Ledger was brilliant.

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I'm going to review with some overall impressions, since I have just left the theater.

First, the movie was aesthetically consistent and beautiful, the visual tone matching the content well. The Batman atmosphere was left intact, too, and I appreciated frequent shots of Gotham throughout.

Heath Ledger's performance as Joker was something to marvel. I believe he has personified the comic villain in live-action form perfectly (think Metroid Prime or TLOTR movies). The Joker is a monster, terrifying, sad, evil, something to gape at in near disbelief. I guessed I would feel sorry for Ledger's death after this movie, and I was right.

Though the movie ends positively, I thought the tone was somber. Perhaps this is to the director's credit, since there is no other way Batman himself could feel at the end. I was expecting something more positive, but I'm not disappointed.

Finally, I was glad for the cinematic struggle between total evil and the fight against it. I think each character was totally aware of his particular motivations and subsequent moral obligations. That is why the Joker was so evil, and why Batman can be a vigilant. The boat scene didn't illustrate a solid dedication to goodness, but rather Gotham's struggle toward it.

I liked the movie, and thought it was almost great.

And some other things I liked:

  • The different levels of criminals. The Joker was the ultimate criminal because he was the most evil, the one who "just likes to watch the world burn." The mobsters were still men, because at least they were still trying to get something out of their lives.
  • The use of gadgets throughout, both by the Joker and Batman
  • Bruce Wayne's beautiful lifestyle (minus the womanizing in public)
  • Harvey Dent's willingness to do whatever it took to fight for Gotham
  • The score, which was also beautiful, and so appropriate

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I just saw a late showing of the film. I have been a general fan of the Batman movies and cartoons since my teens. I found this film to be philosophically simple and it's message morally depraved. The movie's underling premise is that there is a higher good. That the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few; that a true hero is and should be, willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good. The message of this film is not justice. Secondarily, the movie was focused on a typical philosophical paradox: What to do in the face of a prisoners dilemma? I find this to be a rather boring and uninteresting issue to wrestle with. Another repeating sub-premise of the film and of its villains was to offer an incentive to Batman or the general population to be evil to avoid a greater catastrophe, mass death, or a greater evil. And, in thus doing so, the villains attempt to demonstrate that everyone is morally corrupt. I agree with the assessment that Batman was unclear in his moral self-assessment. Batman consistently offers mercy to evil as a moral message of nobility.

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I just saw a late showing of the film. I have been a general fan of the Batman movies and cartoons since my teens. I found this film to be philosophically simple and it's message morally depraved.

This film was in line with most of the popular comics, cartoons and old movies centered around Batman. The only thing I find wrong is that it considers what Batman is doing a " Sacrifice ".

The movie's underling premise is that there is a higher good. That the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few; that a true hero is and should be, willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good.

That is the false conclusion the movie comes to, but to call it " depraved " is simply a an over dramatic, silly statement

The message of this film is not justice. Secondarily, the movie was focused on a typical philosophical paradox: What to do in the face of a prisoners dilemma? I find this to be a rather boring and uninteresting issue to wrestle with. Another repeating sub-premise of the film and of its villains was to offer an incentive to Batman or the general population to be evil to avoid a greater catastrophe, mass death, or a greater evil. And, in thus doing so, the villains attempt to demonstrate that everyone is morally corrupt.

It doesn't so much face you with a prisoner's dilemna as it shows you the intentions of people who want to consider these things the undoing of morality, such as the Joker. The outcome was correct, as well. He was not able to turn everyone into a murderous villain.

I agree with the assessment that Batman was unclear in his moral self-assessment. Batman consistently offers mercy to evil as a moral message of nobility.

Where? Batman only offers what is right to do with criminals, which is not necessarily to crush and flay them mercilessly. Batman is conflicted, that is what makes a film: conflict. You claim yuo're a fan of Batman, but the whole idea of Batman is a man who is conflicted when doing his good deeds. " Is it worth enduring the slander of others? Should I do what's right in spite of others? "

The point was:

If people have to hate Batman for there to be order, that is fine with him. It isn't some unbearable sacrifice. It's his life's meaning.

If you want to claim Batman has been a character with no conflict until the Nolan series, you have some serious reading and listening comprehension problems.

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The only "flaw" I see is that this very much seems like the second of three films. The saga needs a third act, not to redeem TDK, but to finish the story. I feel the same way after TDK as I do when I get to the scene when Dagny crashes in Galt's Gulch in Atlas Shrugged. By facing the Joker, someone who pushed Batman into a moral corner, Wayne was shown the true personification of evil, someone who just wanted to "watch the world burn." This prepares him for what he must do in fighting crime in the future. To this end, I am sure that - properly done - a third film would complete the saga and firm up the philosophical underpinnings.

Aside from that, TDK is a brilliant movie in my opinion.

Ledger's Joker was absolutely terrifying. That the audience laughed at him at several points made me think they missed the point.

An organized crime enforcer doesn't scare him, and with the lightness of swatting away a gnat, he impales him on a pencil. Forcing people to kill each other is entertaining for him. He doesn't strap a bomb onto someone - he surgically installs one. He destroys a hospital, a universally-understood place of peace and healing, as if he were pulling a weed from a garden.

But Joker's quest for chaos isn't a silly pass time - he's philosophically committed to the destruction of that which is valuable to everyone, just as committed as Wayne is to re-establishing justice and rebuilding Gotham.

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Lemeul,

You bring up an interesting issue which I also have been thinking about. In reading your discussion of, I think I have found my answer. In the theatre I was in, people also laughed when

the Joker impaled that man's eye on the pencil. They also laughed when he nonchalantly walked out the hospital he had just set to explode.

My initial reaction to this laughter was terror, but I forced myself to believe that these fellow viewers, as you said, just missed the point. That they don't understand the true nature of evil on a philosophical level and I do, and so to them an exposition of it is so ridiculous, so impossible, that they laugh at it.

But then I realized that my explanation is exactly what I thought they were doing by laughing! I thought that my conceptual explanation was equivalent to their emotional reaction. I felt terror from their laughter, and so I immediately said "no, it couldn't be that I'm sitting here in a theatre full of nihilists" and so I decided that they had decided "no, it couldn't be that the joker refers to anything in reality" and that that was why they laughed.

But your words made something click in my mind just now. I realized that the Joker DOES refer to something in reality. I realized that these people WERE laughing, just as the Joker laughs when he does something evil. I realized that there was no thinking underlying their laughter, in order to make the act of laughing their defense against the Joker. I realize now that that laughter I heard was REAL. It was the Joker inside them which was coming out. They hadn't missed the point, they had been awakened to it. Unlike myself, who was revolted by the Joker's actions automatically - they laughed.

No, these people are not philosophically committed to the destruction of that which is valuable, but neither are they committed to it's preservation. If they were, they would have bothered to learn the true nature of evil and their revulsion to it automatized. It would have been a byproduct of their passion to understand the nature of good. True, they also clapped at the end when Bat Man proved victorious. True, that is just as real. But make no mistake about it: Just as the Joker cannot FULLY practice nihilism lest he would just kill himself and that would be it, no real-life nihilist can be utterly devoid of some short-term semblance of reason, purpose, structure, and value.

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No, these people are not philosophically committed to the destruction of that which is valuable, but neither are they committed to it's preservation. If they were, they would have bothered to learn the true nature of evil and their revulsion to it automatized. It would have been a byproduct of their passion to understand the nature of good. True, they also clapped at the end when Bat Man proved victorious. True, that is just as real. But make no mistake about it: Just as the Joker cannot FULLY practice nihilism lest he would just kill himself and that would be it, no real-life nihilist can be utterly devoid of some short-term semblance of reason, purpose, structure, and value.

Wow. It really is futile to explain humor to people but I feel the need to reassure you that things aren't so bad that your theater experience can only be explained by an audience full of nihilists.

This is a "matronly lady slips on banana peel" moment, in that a formidable mobster tough is surprisingly defeated by a mere pencil. It could be the surprise and shock value of that clever moment, and that mobster toughs aren't sympathetic characters. Regarding the hospital scene, it could also just be that the Joker in drag in broad daylight, with that funky walk, looks ridiculous. Then there was that stutter-step moment when the hospital bombs looked to be a dud, that was a deliberate play for some comedy by the director. I haven't laughed, but I have smiled at these moments. Batman is somber character and this is a serious film, these wry moments are needed to aid the pacing, timing, and contrast of the rest of the movie.

Let not your heart be troubled sir.

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Many people don't seem to really get the Joker. He's nihilistic, but his evil is to such a paramount level it is ridiculous. We're not laughing directly at the evil action, but the absurdity of just how evil it is. If a person saw what happened to that one mobster in real life, they would probably scream in horror.

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This is a "matronly lady slips on banana peel" moment, in that a formidable mobster tough is surprisingly defeated by a mere pencil. [...] Batman is somber character and this is a serious film, these wry moments are needed to aid the pacing, timing, and contrast of the rest of the movie.
I can't imagine that the director used these moments for pacing, Grames, at least not like you are talking about. If anything, as far as pacing goes they were used as the Joker himself is used: as the diametric opposite of Batman. Serious but good, joking but evil.

I was repulsed or horrified by the Joker's displays of "humor." They only amplified his character. There was laughter in my audience as well, which I found inexplicable unless it was knee-jerk. I couldn't tell, though it happened four or five times.

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Grames, I hadn't thought about the perspective you raised. It seems very plausible that they were laughing at how stupid mobsters are that they could be tricked into approaching the Joker as a rational human being when we know that a poke in the eye is all they will get.

I certainly didn't mean to imply that I felt like I was in a theatre full of Jokers. I was being somewhat hyperbolic because the purpose of my post was to demonstrate what the Joker refers to in reality. Nihilism is not merely an under world, criminal element; it is a cultural phenomenon and it is present, in varying degrees, in virtually all of us. Was Heath Ledger's exceptional performance in this film the result of being a highly skilled actor or the result of being a real life nihilist? I think it was a little of both. That your explanation for the audience's laughter seems just as plausible as mine proves my point.

I went into this movie with a serious attitude. It was a philosophical exercise more than entertainment. Sure, I was entertained, but knowing the serious, weighty nature of it's prequel "Batman Begins", as well as the fact that Bat Man is not a wholly good character (ie: he labels his best actions a sacrifice), I did not expect to be moved. Not in the way I would be moved by, say, Braveheart or October Sky or something.

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Lemeul,

You bring up an interesting issue which I also have been thinking about. In reading your discussion of, I think I have found my answer. In the theatre I was in, people also laughed when

the Joker impaled that man's eye on the pencil. They also laughed when he nonchalantly walked out the hospital he had just set to explode.

My initial reaction to this laughter was terror, but I forced myself to believe that these fellow viewers, as you said, just missed the point. That they don't understand the true nature of evil on a philosophical level and I do, and so to them an exposition of it is so ridiculous, so impossible, that they laugh at it.

But then I realized that my explanation is exactly what I thought they were doing by laughing! I thought that my conceptual explanation was equivalent to their emotional reaction. I felt terror from their laughter, and so I immediately said "no, it couldn't be that I'm sitting here in a theatre full of nihilists" and so I decided that they had decided "no, it couldn't be that the joker refers to anything in reality" and that that was why they laughed.

But your words made something click in my mind just now. I realized that the Joker DOES refer to something in reality. I realized that these people WERE laughing, just as the Joker laughs when he does something evil. I realized that there was no thinking underlying their laughter, in order to make the act of laughing their defense against the Joker. I realize now that that laughter I heard was REAL. It was the Joker inside them which was coming out. They hadn't missed the point, they had been awakened to it. Unlike myself, who was revolted by the Joker's actions automatically - they laughed.

No, these people are not philosophically committed to the destruction of that which is valuable, but neither are they committed to it's preservation. If they were, they would have bothered to learn the true nature of evil and their revulsion to it automatized. It would have been a byproduct of their passion to understand the nature of good. True, they also clapped at the end when Bat Man proved victorious. True, that is just as real. But make no mistake about it: Just as the Joker cannot FULLY practice nihilism lest he would just kill himself and that would be it, no real-life nihilist can be utterly devoid of some short-term semblance of reason, purpose, structure, and value.

Well, it's often been said of the Joker, he has the ability to make you laugh in an inappropriate moment. That's why they call him the Joker. That and the his deformity...

I give the movie an 8.5/10. That should sum it all up.

You have to also understand that this movie was based alot off of certain Batman stories, one of the biggest being The Long Halloween. If you liked the movie, I'd recommend picking up and reading The Long Halloween, Batman is protrayed as a lot more morally confident in it as well.

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