— Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard, 1950
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July 14, 2008
Why The Hyper Praise For The Dark Knight Is Bullshit
— Posted by John Campea
The Short Version
The Full Version
We’re now just a few short days away from the opening of one of the most anticipated movies of the year. The Dark Knight (the sequel to Batman Begins) and huge swells of movie going patrons will storm theaters this weekend… the wait is over. But dear international friends… as your friend I feel the need to warn you in advance. IGNORE THE BLOG FANBOY CRITICS (like myself) who are hailing this Batman flick as: “The darkest”, “the grittiest”, “the revolutionary”, “the masterpiece”, “The Ultra Violent”, “The instant Crame drama classic” film that some of them are making it out to be, because you’ll be disappointed.
Let’s get something straight. I loved The Dark Knight. I gave the movie an 8.5 out of 10. It’s fantastic on many levels. Very fun movie… yadda yadda yadda. But it seems like some guys had so pre-invensted themselves into believing the movie would be awesome long before they ever saw it, that when the movie turned out to be really good, they praised it like it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s not.
Now, if you’ll allow me to play a little Penn and Teller, here are a couple of false praises the film gets, and why they’re bullshit:
1) The Dark Knight Is One Of the Darkest (Or Grittiest) Films I’ve Ever Seen
Bullshit: Let’s get the straight. The Dark Knight isn’t really all that Dark and it isn’t really all that gritty. Oh it’s dark and gritty for a COMIC BOOK MOVIE. Sure, I’ll agree with that. Compare this film to X-Men and you can call it dark and gritty. Compare it to Spider-Man and you can call it dark and gritty. But don’t even pretend like The Dark Knight is even in the same league as Apocalypse Now or American Psycho (also featuring Christian Bale coincidentally) or The Killer. The Dark Knight looks like a G rated family film next to real “dark” films. Dark and gritty for a comic book movie, sure… but just leave it at that.
2) The Dark Knight Transcends Being A Comic Book Movie And Becomes An Instant Crime Drama Classic
Bullshit: Instant crime drama classic? If I ever smoked drugs, I’d want some of what these guys are having, because in my opinion, that statement is nothing short of absurd. Godfather, Goodfellas, The Usual Suspects… these are crime drama classics, Dark Knight is not, nor does it try to be. I’m sorry, but aside from Heath Ledger, the “criminals” in The Dark Knight (including Eric Roberts, whom I normal love) were terrible and acted like they came straight out of… well… out of a comic book. Please don’t tell me The Dark Knight is a new Crime Drama classic with a straight face when a copy of Reservoir Dogs and The French Connection are sitting on the shelf behind us.
3) The Dark Knight Is Ultra Violent
Bullshit: I’ll go back to what I said about the dark and gritty point. Yes, for a COMIC BOOK MOVIE this film is quite violent. I’ve said before that this movie is not for little kids, but to call the stuff on screen in The Dark Knight “intense violence” is quite frankly laughable. Big spoiler here folks… the Joker shoots some people. There’s another scene where he does something pretty cool to a guy… but we don’t even see it really. Come on… phrases like “intense brutal violence” are for movies that have… you know… intense brutal violence. Films like Aliens, Hostel, Battle Royale, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance… these are intense brutal violence movies. Dear heavens Dark Knight doesn’t even come close to being a part of the discussion.
IT’S OK TO LOVE A MOVIE AND ADMIT ITS FAULTS AT THE SAME TIME
Regular Movie Blog readers know how much I loved Transformers. I bloody flipped my lid for that movie beyond all reasonable limits. I said it was the most fun summer flick I’d ever seen and I said it was the best visual effects I’d ever seen. However, if you read my stuff, or if you listened to the Transformers DVD commentary that we did, you’ll know that I openly talk about the many weaknesses of the movie. The painful dialog in places, the poor choice in certain characters they used, the horrible lack of dialog between the decepticons (how can you have a transformers movie and only have 1 single line between Megatron and Starscream?!?!)
Just because I acknowledges the film had a lot of flaws didn’t mean I couldn’t still love it
Also, I praised the film for what it was (fun, great VFX). Even though I loved the movie, I never felt the need to say it had the best acting, or the best story, or the best comedy or the most “intense brutal violence”. That would have been just making shit up to artificially justify my love for the movie… when I don’t need to justify my love for a movie. None of us do.
The Dark Knight never tries to be a Crime drama. It doesn’t try to be one of film history’s most dark and gritty movies. It doesn’t try to be ultra violent. It is what it is… and it’s damn good at it! There’s no need to reach up our collective asses to pull out false praises that the film doesn’t even qualify for. It’s good enough on it’s own without all the hyperbole.
Please be clear, this is not a “hate on The Dark Knight” post. I LOVE the movie… I love the movie enough to let it stand on its own actual merits without the need for the internet’s collective hyper exaggerated praises about it. It’s a wonderful movie and I think you’ll love it… just be very very very cautious of the bullshit some people are spraying in advance.
Anyway, just my grumpy subjective opinion written at 7am when I haven’t been to bed yet.
As a side note, another good read on the Hyperbole (he actually uses that word in his title) over the new Dark Knight movie, check out Devin’s (who I think it probably the best pure writer in the movie websphere even though I often disagree with him) post over at CHUD.
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