The new Batman film is now the biggest debut ever in U.S. box office history. The Dark Knight took in $155.34 million Fri-Sun. I have some reservations as to whether it’s worth all this.
In essence, The Dark Knight is a tired morality play rerun, too convoluted, too dense and too long. The plot has done before, frequently better. The nihilistic moral dilemmas are created by a clever sociopath for no apparent reason than to generate as much confusion and violence possible. After a while the viewer wonders what the point is.
There doesn’t seem to be one. The villain has no history, doesn’t want anything and doesn’t care about the outcome of his actions. Christian Bale consistently plays a straight man to the Joker. Aaron Eckhart overacts. Talented veterans Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman toss away peripheral roles. Gary Oldman delivers a soggy melodramatic performance. All have done much better in the past.
The film is carried stem to stern by the late Heath Ledger. It is a pretty safe bet that the film was built around Ledger, who appears in virtually every scene. Ledgers performance is very good, but not awe inspiring. The character is very original and Ledger plays him creatively, intensely and believably. Ledger works hard to create an original interpretation of the character, and occasionally goes a little over the top in scenes that would do better by more subtlety.
In essence I think this is yet another film that showcases the talents of one actor in an otherwise mediocre setting, much like “There will be blood” did for Daniel-Day Lewis and “No country for old men” did for Javier Bardem. Ledger’s performance was very watchable and consistently interesting. The rest of the cast fell on their swords to highlight Ledger. Will this get the very talented actor Heath Ledger an Oscar?
Sadly, I don’t think so. This performance, although very good, is not Oscar material. Ledger’s performance in “Brokeback Mountain” was Oscar material and it remains one of the great theatrical bonehead mistakes to give Best Actor award to overblown Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2005. I think history will remember Ledger for the Joker and Lionize him for Brokeback.
I give it three and a half of five smeared red scowls.