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The Dark Walrus

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They weren't kidding about the dark part As we discussed in CT's Dilemma, I am the first of the crew to see The Dark Knight. As you might have guessed from the (lack of) timeliness of my reviews, I don't make it out to the theater often. Though for this one I was completely on board and knew I had to go all in. So I headed to my local IMAX theater with high hopes and came home disappointed.

Story

Your own mileage may vary, but the story left me wanting. It was a relatively straightforward plot designed to showcase the morality play and Heath Ledger's performance. The plot did what was needed to tie into the first film and then got out of the way. All in all, not a bad way to go, but it also didn't offer much new in the way of storytelling.

Where things went a bit sideways with me was the darkness of the story. I certainly expected a darker version of the Joker, but the story on the whole was the most depressing I've seen since Children of Men. Quantitatively speaking, I don't think The Dark Knight featured any more mayhem than Batman Begins. However, there was a qualitative difference to me. I won't divulge spoilers here, but by the end of the movie I felt that even a world with Batman is a dismal place. I came out of the theater feeling like I had watched Schindler's List instead of a comic book/superhero movie.

Presentation

The acting performances were solid all around. Everyone has raved about Heath Ledger and indeed he was as good as advertised. I've read that Ledger was inspired by the Alex DeLarge character in A Clockwork Orange and, if that's true, Ledger succeeded at being equally disturbing. Rather than laughable or just plain weird, Ledger's version of the Joker was purely sadistic and psychotic.

Aaron Eckhart's portrayal of Harvey Dent was noteworthy as well. Dent came across as capable, likable, and a worthy counterpart to Batman. I empathized with Dent and that made his part of the story work for me. The rest of the main characters were well done, though there was less of Bruce Wayne, Alfred, Jim Gordon, and Rachel Dawes this time around.

The special effects were top notch and the IMAX specific scenes were impressive. Nolan chose some odd shots for a few scenes including an overuse of the single take (or appearing that way) shot which revolves around the performers during dialogue. Once per two hours is probably enough of that, Christopher. The Foley art sounded especially good over the IMAX sound system, but none of the score stood out to me.

Story score--

Presentation score--

I can't hand out the rewatchable walrus for this one. My feeling is probably best encapsulated by the following gem that Shamus from 20 Sided Blog let loose in a video game review a few months back.

"How do you rate a restaurant that serves mouth-watering steaks for $5 and a punch in the face before the meal?"

I did enjoy the steak, but the punch in the face left me feeling bad enough that I'll pass on seconds.

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