The Killing Joke
August 11, 2008

So, I finally got around to watching Dark Knight this weekend. I read Batman comics from about the late '80s until the early '00s and I enjoyed them immensely. As a result, I avoided most of the Batman movies ... I had the interpretation of the character I liked from the comics. Of course, the fact that I'm actually a Tim Drake Robin fan and Dick Grayson Nightwing fan also meant the movies just weren't for me. I did see Batman and Robin and Batman Forever - two utterly wretched movies despite the fact that I like Chris O'Donnell quite a bit. The writing was blah and the directing was wretched - didn't leave much for the actors to interpret.

So, it took quite a while before I watched most of Batman Begins on cable. Interesting, but not as compelling as the comics. But Dark Knight looked intriguing, particularly the spin we were hearing about the Joker's character. I love the Joker in the comics and in Batman: The Animated Series - a lunatic, yes, but one whose goal is simply to play with Batsy as long as possible. While many of the other Batman villains would exist in one way or another as criminals, the Joker's whole purpose is to "play" with his Batsy.

So, when I went to see Dark Knight this weekend, it was with pretty high hopes but a fair amount of trepidation as well.

I really liked it. I think it was too long - or maybe I drank too much lemonade and had to pee for 2/3 of the movie which messed with my sense of time. I liked the characterization of everyone - the bit with the Scarecrow was unnecessary and could have - probably should have - been cut.

But the Joker? It was truly beautiful. Psychotic, crazy ... and yet there was always a purpose to him - to play with Batsy. The characterization was more complex than the Nicholson version - not because Nicholson did it "wrong," but because the writing in Dark Knight actually captured the Joker's personality from the comics. And, watching the rise of Two-Face was a beautiful touch.

There's loads of buzz over whether or not to award Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar for his work in Dark Knight. I'm not sure I would go that far. It's an excellent portrayal and it's beautifully done. But to give it to him just because he died? I don't think so. It was a good performance and a great interpretation - but I'm not sure it was really an Oscar-winning performance.

Many people are also prattling on about how no one will be able to play the Joker any time soon because Ledger nailed it so well. I agree that Ledger nailed it and I think this is easily my favourite screen interpretation of the Joker - even better than Batman: The Animated Series because it is much darker than the cartoon was allowed to be. But I think there is one other actor who can take the quirky, dark and wonderful interpretation that Ledger created and also make it work - Johnny Depp. The odd head movements, the flicking of the tongue periodically - these are all hallmarks of some of Depp's more quirky work. In some ways, it's almost as if Ledger was playing Depp playing the Joker.

Definitely worth seeing it in the theatre. Shoot, I might even buy this one on DVD and I don't think I own any Batsy movies. My one gripe is Christian Bale's Batman voice. HIDEOUS. Seriously, WTF? We get that Bruce Wayne needs to disguise his voice. For God's sake, build a voice changer into the suit and do the voice through voiceover if you have to. Or do what Kevin Conroy did for Batman: The Animated Series. Hell, my voice hurt every time Batman-Bale opened his mouth. It was ridiculous.

Anyhow, if you're not sure about seeing this flick and you're a comic book fan, I think it's worth seeing. If you're not a comic book fan, I think the interpretation of the Joker will be something new for you and ultimately much more true than the Hollywood bilge that's been shown before.

Posted by Red Monkey at August 11, 2008 9:03 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


PandoraWilde said:

I'm definitely going to have to see this one when my back begins to behave again.

August 11, 2008 8:45 PM


Red said:

Well said Endy, I so agree with you. Spot on!

August 12, 2008 9:25 AM


YogaforCynics said:

I just saw it, too--Heath Ledger really was brilliant--a hell of a lot more, in fact, than I'd have expected from him based on his performances in Brokeback Mountain or I'm Not There (he was good in both, but nothing special, I thought)--actually, speaking of I'm Not There, you mention Christian Bale's Batman Voice--his version of Bob Dylan sounded a hell of a lot more like George W. Bush. Anyway, yeah, the movie was way too long, and had the most drawn out and confusing finale I've ever seen--the whole "hostages in clown masks" thing could have been taken out (especially since it seemed like a really weak rip-off of Inside Man), I could ramble on all night.....

August 17, 2008 2:04 AM
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