It’s not safe to say anything negative about the Dark Knight in public for fear of facing the fan-boy-mafia firing squad, lined up to pop their juicy zits on you. Wall Street Journal film critic Joe Morgenstern was one of the few brave enough to say anything moderately negative about the sixth Batman film and has since received hundreds of vicious hate emails. I have made mistakes in the past (namely deluding myself into liking the Matrix sequels), so I figured I’d redeem myself by coming to Mr. Morgenstern’s defense.
I wanted The Dark Night to be great, but it wasn’t and we have to accept that. I won’t go into the nitpicky problems (did no one want to inspect the ferries before sending them out during a terrorist threat?); I’ve learned to accept stuff like that from a summer blockbuster. The real shame is that all the love Dark Knight deserves is from the first two acts, where all the stellar writing and eye popping set-pieces occur. The third act, Morgenstern correctly points out, is a muddled disappointment.
Heath Ledger is, of course, amazing, so much so that I found myself rooting for the Joker. If Christian Bale wants me to become emotionally invested in Batman, he needs to learn that there’s a difference between brooding and boring. All the supporting roles are well cast, Aaron Eckhart is particularly on point as District Attorney Harvey Dent, but disappoints in his implausible transition to the cartoonish Two-Face, undoubtedly the film’s JarJar Binks.
Yes, it’s heartwarming that people are still waiting around for the rock in front of Heath Ledger’s burial shrine to be mysteriously rolled away. (Heathster Sunday anyone? We can bring our kids to the mall where a handsome blond man in a kangaroo suite hands out Oxycodone), but let’s call a spade a spade, a great joker a great joker and just a pretty good movie just a pretty good movie.