A Little Longer Review of The Dark Knight

In my off-the-cuff quick review of The Dark Knight, I said that I would write up a lengthier one after I had seen it a second time and could focus on a couple of points that confused me originally. I saw it again a couple of weeks ago and it really didn’t hold up well the second time.

Most intriguing the second go round were The Joker’s villainous experiments in game theory. The one involving Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes tied up in warehouses full of explosives but on opposite sides of town didn’t originally strike me as anything special originally, but it was more obvious this time that Batman actually went to save Rachel and that The Joker had consciously switched the addresses. That meant that picking one over the other meant that the one chosen is the one that dies. Much more dastardly than I had originally thought and it also made it understandable why Batman “chose” to save Harvey Dent.

The ferry experiment, in which The Joker loaded two ferries with explosives and then gave the other boat’s detonator to each set of passengers, was much more disgusting the second time. Originally, I thought that the convict’s taking of the detonator and throwing it out the window was a moral statement that they should have refused to play The Joker’s twisted game. Further, I thought that the other ferry’s wavering and refusal to push the button at the last minute was a wrestling with a difficult decision and opting to not partake of it.

However, I’m now convinced that it was a sacrificial act and very repulsive. By waiting, they had effectively doomed both boats to destruction by The Joker—they did not know that Batman would save them. In the face of a serious emergency, they chose to forfeit the responsibility of a decision. It is possible that The Joker would have wired each detonator to blow up the ferry that it was on or blow them both up—it’s certainly feasible that there was a nihilistic trick up The Joker’s sleeve—but they had no way of knowing. Either way, both groups clearly did not value their own lives.

The biggest revelation with the second viewing was that it’s not nearly as good of a movie as I thought. The disjointed subplots first felt like the painful inhalation when you come up for air before being dragged down: one concluded and then another one immediately began. This time, though, I could see how they just extended the movie into discomfort. It’s as if there were a brainstorming meeting prior to the start of the script and they couldn’t decide on a single, coherent plot so they just took the top three ideas and went with them. This time, it was just tedious.

I still think it was a good movie, just not as great as I had thought.

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