There's a somewhat infamous internet forum poster, that claims Watchmen was the movie that "broke" them, that it got them to see the art of film, recognize and interpret the symbols and subtext, and so on. There is more to a film than what lies on the surface. My best guess to the film that broke me was Enter the Void "This is us, this is now" were my words, well close enough anyway. Since that film, i've written fewer reviews, but i feel, they're hopefully more well thought out than "i didn't like it because plot" or "comics books" and more thinking on what the movies are about, and why they do the things they do.
The first film i reviewed on this blog, would be the Dark Knight, i've reviewed it twice actually, once after first seeing it, and then watching it again months later. i also used it to contrast Batman's death in Final Crisis. And now, i'd like to talk about for the forth time. Because, what can i say, i love Batman.
Mostly, i'm interested in returning to TDK because of how bad my previous reviews were. "Not my Batman" seems to be my only point, and it's not even really a point, and certainly not anything i agree with now.
Let's start with Final Crisis:
Dent has taken Gordon and his family hostage, Batman shows up, trying to save them all, but Dent wants to make the men responsible for all that has happened pay, he flips his coin and shoots Batman who falls down, dead. He then flips his coin again, to choose the fate of Gordon's son, but something comes back from the dead in the guise of Batman and kills Dent before the coin lands. This is shown to be pointless, as the coin lands "good" side up. Batman was gunned down, and whatever was left was let to come back and kill. i like it. Not really sure why i had such an objection to Dent dying anyway, it makes sense for his character, he wanted to share his pain, nothing else matters. Perhaps just some objection to the world feeling smaller, i mean seeing Crane in all three films was a joy, but i failed to realize Dent was more than just a freak of the week. He was a half-dead man, a tarnished symbol, the other side of Batman.
Now i also complained about Bruce being a whiny baby.
|My childhood crush was going to wait for me!|
i was right about one thing though, that the Joker is the star, and that he is the man who laughs at how ridiculous Batman is.
|Ha Ho He Ha|
I mean, what is it with you? What made you what you are? Girlfriend killed by the mob, maybe? Brother carved up by some mugger? Something like that, I bet. Something like that... Something like that happened to me you know. I...I'm not exactly sure what it was. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another... If I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice! Ha ha ha!The Dark Knight really is the same deal as the Killing Joke, the Joker trying to prove he can make anyone mad like him, in the comic he goes after Gordon and fails, in the movie he goes after Dent and wins. And it's interesting because i've heard people argue that he loses because the people on the ferries don't blow eachother up, but as the Joker says, it was never going to come down to a fist fight between him and Batman, that was all a fun distraction, Dent was a main event. The Joker succeeds in ruining the holy trinity of Gotham. The White Knight is sullied, Dark Knight is dead, and Gordon, he lost everything he believed in.
Though it is interesting in how low key the movie plays the Joker outsmarting everyone, he flat out lies about the locations of Dent and Rachel, Batman goes to get Rachel, but finds Dent instead, so suddenly, this is the plan, Batman has always been going to rescue Dent, and in my experience, the audience goes along with it, without realizing anyone has been duped. The disappointment on their faces is amazing.
One really fantastic scene is Alfred's "Some men just want to watch the world burn." speech, he's so caught up in his sense of duty, the status quo of colonialism, that he fails to realize that the bandit is eliminating a currency that's being used to enslave his people, and that Alfred himself, was the one that failed to understand what he was up against. The further irony of this speech of course is that Alfred and his men are the ones that burn down the forest.
There's a theme of communication being a weapon in this film, i already talked about the Joker's misinformation, he does something similar when he burns the cash "I'm only burning my half" If you want to understand, let me drink the bottom half of your milkshake. But more than that, Batman and the Joker directly use cellphones as weapons. Batman gets his sonar ears all over the city and Hong Kong, and the Joker blows a dude up with his one phone call.
Of course, Batman's wiretapping brings comparisons to the Patriot Act and the War on Terror, breaking the law for "the greater good." And sure, it exists, that scene of Batman standing on the rubble is very clearly an homage to the aftermath of 9/11. However, the argument against that, is twofold. Firstly, that has always been Batman's M.O. He's beyond the law, he does things that cops can't (and shouldn't) do. Fox's objection seems to be based less on liberty, and more on spirituality. "This is too much power for one person." This deus ex machina, turns Batman into a god, he's everywhere at once, hearing everything, look as his eyes glow white with his divine judgement. I Am Become Batman Secondly, the Joker has no ideology, he's not fighting for religious, social, or political beliefs, he has none. As he says, he's a dog chasing cars (though again, he lies when he says he has no plan). And him calling himself a dog is rather important.
|Bow wow wow, yippie yo, yippie yay.|
Batman comes up against dogs a lot in this movie, at the start with the drug dealer's dogs (which leads to the great quip about the armour being good to protect against cats), at the end with the K9 units, and everything in the middle with the Joker.
Two-Face: The Joker's just a mad dog. I want whoever let him off the leash.
Though i'm not bringing up Kurosawa's Stray Dog to compare to the Joker, but instead Batman and Dent.
Stray Dog is about a rookie cop chasing down a thief that stole his gun, by the end, we find out after returning from war, both men had their belongings stolen from them, both wanted to retain a sense of balance, but one became a cop, the other a thief. Remember, Dent tells Gordon to come to the place where his family died.
The Joker: Why don't we cut you up into little pieces and feed you to your pooches? Hmm? And then we'll see how loyal a hungry dog really is. It's not about money... it's about sending a message. Everything burns!
How wonderful is Burroughs voice?
Batman: Then why do you want to kill me?
The Joker: I don't, I don't want to kill you! What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, no, NO! No. You... you... complete me.
Batman: You're garbage who kills for money.
The Joker: Don't talk like one of them. You're not! Even if you'd like to be. To them, you're just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don't, they'll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.That right there leads me to believe that Nolan read some Grant Morrison, as there's this in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth
Dr. Adams: The Joker's a special case. Some of us feel he may be beyond treatment. In fact, we're not even sure if he can be properly as insane.And it is interesting to see Nolan give his version of popular comic stories, i already mentioned the twist on the Killing Joke, but the twists on the Long Halloween are also interesting. In the movie, Dent is the killer of the corrupt, it's Gordon in the SWAT suit, and Dent survives the courtroom scene unscathed by chance.
His latest claim is that he's possessed by Baron Ghede, the Voodoo loa.
We're beginning to think it may be a neurological disorder, similar to Tourette's syndrome. It's quite possible we may actually be looking at some kind of super-sanity here. A brilliant new modification of human perception. More suited to urban life at the end of the twentieth century.
Batman: Tell that to his victims.
Dr. Adams: Unlike you and I, the Joker seems to have no control over the sensory information he's receiving from the outside world. He can only cope with the chaotic barrage of input by going with the flow. That's why some days he's a mischievous clown, others a psychopathic killer. He has no real personality. He creates himself each day. He sees himself as the Lord of Misrule, and the world as a theatre of the absurd.
Not that i'm saying the Joker is a good guy here, he's not, but neither is Batman.
Not sure if i've mentioned this before, but i love comparing this movie to Burton's Batman. In that film, we see the origin of the Joker, his rise, his insanity, his insights, the film follows him. Batman shows up every now and then, when not brooding in the empty mansion. It made Batman more fantastic in that film, and it makes the Joker amazing in this film. The same idea, used in a different way.
Seems like i'll have to give Batman Begins another chance now.