28 July 2008
The Dark Knight, dir. Christopher Nolan (2008)
I thought Tim Burton's Batman was dark. I mean, compared to Adam West's camp comedy and Joel Schumacher's neon-loaded glam-fests, of course it was. But Christopher Nolan's new movie makes Burton's look like a little girl.
Even compared to Nolan's own Batman Begins, The Dark Knight has upped the darkness quotient. It's got a whole different feel to it. More realistic. Like it's, for once, not a comic book movie, but a movie set in the real world, of which Batman happens to be a part. Like Heat with a superhero.
But nobody's talking about the production design, or how good Chicago looked doubling for Gotham. It's all the Joker. So let's get this out of the way.
Heath Ledger was good. Very good. Different from the Joker of days past - no César Romero, this guy, and definitely (let's be very clear about this) better than Nicholson's portrayal where he showed up and, basically, gave us Jack Nicholson in white-face. Ledger took the Joker to a whole new level of dark, playing him as an anarchist instead of insane. Deeply psychotic, still, but the anarchist thing was new. So, having said that, let me say this:
Wasn't he really just doing Christian Slater?
Everybody's talking about how he channelled Jack Nicholson, but I just don't see it. First of all, you put those two performances side-by-side, and Nicholson comes off as a try-hard, playing a thug with a grudge - which is all the script really allowed for him, to be fair. But I don't see any Nicholson in Ledger's performance. If anything, it's Slater he's channelling, from Heathers.In that movie, Slater's Jason Dean was a deeply psychotic anarchist who wanted to destroy the school and everyone in it just for the sake of doing it. Ledger's Joker really isn't that far removed. Sure, there were Slater/Nicholson comparisons when Heathers hit the screens, and they weren't inappropriate. But can we please, for the love of God, stop rolling out "Nicholson" every time someone does something brilliant in a movie, huh?