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July 14, 2008

Why The Hyper Praise For The Dark Knight Is Bullshit

— Posted by John Campea

Dark-Knight-Bullshit

The Short Version

  • The Dark Knight is a great movie
  • It’s not even close to being the “darkest” or “Grittiest” or “violent” or “best crime drama” movie ever
  • It’s ok to love a movie without the need to make up fake praises and to admit its shortcomings

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
This statement (or some variation of it) is one of the staples in the blog fanboy quotes you’ll see in most Dark Knight reviews. When I read those quotes all I can wonder to myself is “what the fuck movie were they watching and what made them think it was Batman?”

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
Good grief, reading this statement in a couple of fanboy reviews is what really convinced me some people were just making up ways to praise this film (that’s good enough that it doesn’t need people making up fake things to say about it).

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
Again, I don’t know what movie these people are watching. Reading one of the blog fanboy reviews would lead you to believe that Heath Ledger walks around slitting the throats of women and children at the local Dairy Queen just to pass the time while waiting for his Blizzard.

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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  • jason

    also, jim in charolette, it was a fake batman who crashed into the window (with a carved joker smile) and daniel has already commented on your two-face coin rip-off comment, so i won’t. of course this film has flaws, but i am always entertained by people who hear hype and immediately set out to dislike something that is generally loved.

  • giren

    Guys, I think John was right. There were a lot of things people say about TDK, and it turns up wrong. TDK was great. It was fun, brilliant, sophisticated AS A COMIC BASED MOVIE. That’s all, you guys!! Keep it real. It rocks for making money and put itself on the top of IMDb. But it’s not the darkest, the most violent, the BEST, no….

  • Daniel

    Jim, don’t let the facts get in the way of your bashing of the movie. Two-Face has been flipping a coin since the 1940′s in the comics. If anything, No Country For Old Men ripped off Two-Face, not the other way around. And another fact. The Dark Knight was done filming by the time No Country For Old Men came out in theaters, so they have absolutely no connection whatsoever other than the potential that Two-Face influenced that element of Anton Chigurh.

  • George

    “Was anyone really surprised that the coin was two-headed and was not this act of ‘flipping the coin’ a direct rip-off of last year’s Oscar winning movie where ‘random chance’ was the theme?”

    That is the line that made me realize you are joking. You are joking right?? You do realize Two Face is a comic book character who has been flipping coins long before No Country for Old men??

    I mean fair enough if you don’t like the film but you are kidding with that bit right?

  • Jim in Charlott

    Went to see Dark Knight last night. This was the worst movie of the year. With so much hype, you’d think this was the smartest, most thought-provoking movie ever made. But the dialog was simplistic and each scene was totally transparent. The only time the movie ‘shocked’ me was when the fake Joker slammed into the glass. And yes, the flying scenes were spectacular. But after 90 minutes I was begging for this movie to end. The DA character was so silly and so unnecessary that I was convinced the only reason he existed was because someone’s friend who does SFX must have begged the director to let them work on this film. Was anyone really surprised that the coin was two-headed and was not this act of ‘flipping the coin’ a direct rip-off of last year’s Oscar winning movie where ‘random chance’ was the theme? Was anyone really surprised that Gordon wasn’t dead? Has anyone else noticed how Maggie Gyllenhaal looks a lot like Miss Piggy? After seeing this film, my faith in America and the World took a nosedive – are we really as stupid as the trite dialogue in this movie?

  • http://n/a sanjoy alexander

    Thanks john….for giving the movie the credit that it deserves. some fans out there are showering too much praise on an excellent movie…and in fact it’s these hyper praises that trigger an Anti-The Dark Knight crowd….

    Kudos for giving the movie the respect that it must be given

  • http://n/a sanjoy alexander

    Thankjs john….for giving the movie the credit that it deserves. some fans out there are showering too much praise on an excellent movie…and in fact it’s these hyper praises that trigger an Anti-The Dark Knight crowd….

    Kudos for giving the movie the respect that it deserves.

  • YOUR ALL LAME!

    YOUR ALL LAME, IT ROCKED THE SOCKS OFF MY FEET.

  • Silenus

    “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.”

    Ah, but that’s where you’re (tragically) wrong. For good or ill, superhero movies are the new gangster/cowboy/ninja movies.

    http://thecurrent.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/05/iron-man-conquers-the-world.php

  • T-Vo

    I’ve never been a huge fan of Batman (Make Mine Marvel) but I enjoyed the Batman films, except Shumacher’s of course.
    And I hate say this but I agree, it was a good movie but nowhere near the instant classic the so called experts and internet who haws are proclaiming. I thought the movie was a little bit too long and gotham looked totally different than it looked in the first movie and some of the dialog in the first half of the film between Dent and Dawes was cheesy.
    I guess I like my Super Hero movies less gritty, I wanted real life, I wouldn’t be reading comic books!

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