The Dark Knight – Review

The Dark Knight So it’s been over a week since I’ve seen this movie and and if you haven’t seen this movie yet, you should! If I know you and you haven’t seen this movie yet, do remind me to smack you a few times the next time we meet.

I’ll try to give you readers heads up before any spoiler, but if you’ve seen any of the trailers, you practically know the whole story already. Why should you watch the movie then? Though the story is important, the experience and execution was just fantastic.

By the way, I’m serious about reminding me to slap you if you haven’t seen the movie yet.

Getting Tickets
My friends and I had been planning to watch The Dark Knight at IMAX for some time. We had plans to go watch it on the opening weekend. With my employee discount, I found out I was able to get IMAX tickets at a major discount. Normally $10.75 (which is exceptionally cheap already considering typical movie tickets are $9+), I was able to get tickets at $3. However, I was only limit to 2 tickets per Prime card and my coworker said I could borrow his to get 2 more.

Everything was set. We had planned to go 3-4 hours before the showing to get tickets, since it was opening weekend. Boy were we disappointed to find out that on Thursday, IMAX tickets for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday showings were all already sold out. To use my employee discount, I had to purchase them in person at the IMAX theater. Talking it over with my friends, we decided we should try to catch it on a weekday evening. By Friday, Monday’s evening tickets were already sold out and by Saturday morning, Tuesday’s evening tickets were already sold out. We decided we’d tried to get some tickets for Thursday evening.

Before I left, I had checked online and Thursday’s 7pm showing still had openings. However we got side tracked by Bite of Seattle, that by the time we went to purchase tickets, the 7pm showing was already sold out. So we opted for the 10pm showing instead. Which was a good thing I suppose since they recommended that we arrive 1.5hrs early if we wanted decent seats and given that we had 9 people in our group.

Anticipation
With tickets secured, the next thing we had to do was to make sure people didn’t spoil it for us. I avoided clicking on any link on Digg that mentioned The Dark Knight. Well, that’s not true. I clicked on the links that talked about how well it did, like how it broke records of all sorts (Best Opening Night, Best Opening Weekend, #1 on IMDb, etc.) I also gave friends an ultimatum that if they spoiled it for me, it could be the end of our friendship.

Why IMAX?
Several friends had asked me why wait for IMAX when you can definitely get tickets for a regular showing if you got them a few hours in advance. There are several reasons for this. Besides the fact that I had a big discount and that I had always wanted to watch a film at the IMAX theater, The Dark Knight had scenes that were shot specifically for the IMAX. In fact there is about 30 minutes of the film shot in high resolution IMAX. You also get more picture with IMAX. Here’s a comparison between what the difference is between an IMAX shot and a standard shot:

The Dark Knight - IMAX Comparison/Difference
(taken from How The Dark Knight Went IMAX)

<SPOILERS>
Most of the scenes that were shot in IMAX were overviews of the city and those were just spectacular. However I was most impressed by the opening segment, with the bank robbery. That whole 6-7 minute scene was shot in IMAX and it was so beautiful!
</SPOILERS>

I did notice a couple of differences between the IMAX and standard parts. Besides the fact it’s much higher resolution making it crisper and sharper, the aspect ratio is also different. It’s not your standard 16:9 that the rest of the movie was in, but was much closer to 4:3 (aspect ratio of standard TV). If you’re looking for the transition, you will see it switch between IMAX and standard film by looking out for the top/bottom bars disappearing and a change in picture quality. However it’s very subtle and the transitions are done extremely well.

After I got home, I did a bit of research on IMAX and found these interesting tidbits:

  • Standard film uses 35mm, but IMAX film uses 70mm and instead of shooting them vertically, they’re shot horizontally. To see a comparison of the different film sizes, check out: IMAX – How Does It Work?
  • The camera that films IMAX weighs almost 2 tons.
  • IMAX theaters are usually at least 6-8 stories tall, much bigger than your standard theater.
  • IMAX theaters comes in 2 forms: Dome vs Flat. Flat is like your normal theater where the screen is flat in the front. With Dome, it is used more for immersion experiences where it covers all your peripheral vision.

Did I mention how beautiful it is already?

Movie
I might as well stick in the big spoiler warning now.

<SPOILERS>
Lets get the most awesome thing out of the way first. DID YOU SEE THE MOTORCYCLE SCENE?!?! I totally did not expect the Batpod to pop out of the tumbler. And then when he pulled the 180 turn by popping off the wall, JUST WOW!

I’m not going to bother giving you a detailed summary of what happens. For that, all you need to do is watch the trailers.

Let’s jump to some things that have bothered me. I had not expected Harvey Dent to die. Throughout the story, they make it obviously clear that Batman does NOT kill. They even made him save the Joker from falling to his death. However with Harvey Dent’s death, it becomes quite clear that Batman has now dirtied his hands.

This also brings me to the favorite quote of the movie. Batman is running away and Gordon says that they’ll have to hunt him now. His son, confused, says, “But Batman didn’t do anything wrong…”

Lt. James Gordon: Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now…and so we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not a hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector…a dark knight.

Did I ever mention my favorite quote in the first one was:

Jim Gordon: I never said, “Thank you.”
Batman: [looks back to Gordon] And you’ll never have to.

Now jumping over to the Joker. RayAlome had asked me whose performance did I think was the best and although Christian Bale’s performance was excellent, Heath Ledger was just amazing.

It was ingenious how the Joker just randomly makes up stories on how he got his scars and how he became what he is today.

Thinking back to the scene where Batman has to make a choice to either save Harvey Dent or Rachel Dawes, and the Joker purposely switches the addresses, so Batman ends up saving Harvey Dent instead of Rachel. This got me thinking… Rachel knew that Batman would come to save her and told Harvey to try his best to get freed. Harvey Dent, not knowing the relationship between Batman and Rachel, assumed they would definitely come for him first, but said they’ll definitely go save Rachel instead to comfort her. This was reconfirmed when Harvey asks Batman in the final scene why he didn’t go save Rachel, but Harvey already knew the answer (but not the real one). This played out extremely well in my opinion.

Since I’m Chinese, I noticed the the dialect they used during the scenes in Hong Kong was not Cantonese, but was Mandarin. Given that the main spoken dialect in Hong Kong is Cantonese, I would’ve expected them to speak mostly that. There were some Cantonese lines and that’s when I noticed Edison Chen (陳冠希) as a security guard in the movie.

The bullet reconstruction scene confused me. I understand he was trying to reconstruct the bullet to find the fingerprint, but before that he shot different bullets at different walls to figure out which bullet type it was. What was the purpose of finding out the bullet type if you already have all the pieces of the bullet?

They made a big deal about how Batman’s new body armor was more prone to knife attacks and given that the Joker had nothing more than knives and lint on him, I’m surprised Batman never got injured by a knife.

RayAlome brought up the question about if Alfred destroying Rachel’s letter was the correct thing to do. Given that Rachel is dead now, I believe it’s the correct thing to do.

I’m not sure how many of you have watched Rurouni Kenshin, especially the first OVA (Trust & Betrayal), one of the themes was that Tomoe would become Kenshin’s sheath. To give a little more context, Kenshin was an assassin during the Meiji revolution. He worked directly under one of the revolutionary leaders. The leader saw Kenshin as a raw blade and didn’t want Kenshin to lose himself into this madness. He hired Tomoe become Kenshin’s sheath, to hold him back when necessary and bring him back into reality. Tomoe ends up dying (actually being sliced in half by Kenshin, but not on purpose), but for the rest of Kenshin’s life, Tomoe has done her part and is continuously doing her part to bring Kenshin back to humanity and keeping him sane.

Rachel says earlier in the movie, “Bruce, don’t make me your only hope for a normal life.” I think in times when Bruce is about to go crazy and insane, memories of Rachel will be the one bringing him back to humanity.

The scene of the 2 boats armed with bombs and detonators was very moving, especially when the big inmate came and threw the detonator out the window into the water.

Late in the movie, Bruce builds a system to use all the cell phones in Gotham city as little sonar devices to spy on people to figure out where the Joker is. When Fox found out, he said this was too much power for one man to have. Batman gave the power of destroying it to Fox, but right now he was determined to find the Joker. Fox agreed to help but said something along the lines of, “Consider this my last act and my resignation.” This was never retracted and in the final scenes, you see Fox walking away from the array of monitors shutting off, which leads me to think he is actually resigning. Batman will probably have to win him back somehow in the 3rd movie.

There was an article on /. on the similarities of this and our current government on how so many of our freedoms and liberties are taken away justified by the fact it’s helping us catch terrorists. Someone commented that The Patriot Act should only be used to capture Osama Bin Laden and France would hold the keys to destroy it once the deed is done or when they deemed it abused.

I was also surprised that part of Gordon’s team was corrupted. I thought his men were handpicked and fully trustable. I mean even Internal Affairs was investigating his men and I’m not sure why Gordon wouldn’t have cooperated with the investigation given that 90% of the cops before were corrupt. Because of this, we ended up losing both Rachel and Harvey Dent.
</SPOILERS>

Music
The music was once again composed by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. However instead of giving the tracks names with names after different bat genus/species (i.e. Molossus, Myotis, Eptesicus, Vespertilio) as in the Batman Begins Soundtrack, they named tracks after famous quotes from the movie (i.e. Why So Serious?).

The music was darker and heavier than the original. For some reason I find myself liking the original one better. Maybe it’ll just takes some time for this soundtrack to grow on me. I read somewhere that the main Batman theme song was only played twice throughout the movie because the main theme song didn’t give the dark feeling that the movie needed.

Conclusion
This movie instantly became one of my favorites, probably #2 or #3. I would definitely recommend anyone that hasn’t seen it to go see it. The hype is all REAL!

22 thoughts on “The Dark Knight – Review

  1. I want to second your enthusiasm for IMAX. I saw TDK twice in huge stadium seating theaters then a few days ago in IMAX and there really is no comparison. Being my first time, I was surprised at how much I noticed the resolution increase.

    And about Lucius Fox: He does say something like “You can consider this my resignation”, but then adds “As long as this machine is at Wayne Enterprises I won’t be.” Since he destroys it at the end of the film I don’t see his employment status being an issue.

    cheers

  2. Great comments and it is super that you included the film frame comparison—-an IMAX film frame just has so much more information and it goes through the projector at 24 fps.
    In fact, an IMAX film frame has about 16 K of horizontal resolution. Also, as shown in IMAX theaters, the 35mm footage has been digitally enhanced so even these images are superior to a 35mm film presentation. You have Chris Nolan to thank for pushing for this superior film experience. Check out the American Cinematographer July issue for more behind-the-scenes info.
    And I agree with Jesse on the Lucius Fox comment–he’s still on the payroll….
    DC

  3. There is nothing wrong with people speaking Mandain in HK. The guy, who appears to be Singaporean, spoke Mandarin to his colleague. There is nothing wrong with that. Would you expect a Mandarin speaker to speak in Spanish if he were in Mexico with his Mandarin friends?

    The cops and security guards spoke in Cantonese which makes perfect sense.

  4. First of all, I did not say there’s anything wrong with people speaking Mandarin in HK. They can speak French, Italian, German, Japanese, Korean, etc. for all I care.

    You say the guy looks Singaporean, but that has nothing to do with the movie. It’s common that actors get hired to play a different ethnicity than what they really are. The movie never does state where he’s from (besides HK). If they did, I must’ve missed it.

    I’m not saying the scenario provided is impossible nor even unlikely. I’m just stating that the director threw in a complexity which did not add anything to the storyline. I mean imagine instead of speaking Cantonese or Mandarin, they had this actor speaking French to his bodyguards. Plausible? Yes. Adds to the storyline? No.

    That is why I questioned the reasoning for having him speak Mandarin. My only guess is that the actor they hired wasn’t fluent in Cantonese, so they decided to go with Mandarin and hopefully sneak that by the audience.

  5. BM: Wow this is pretty sad. Someone with a different opinion gets his post edited and labeled a “troll”. Perhaps you are from some communist regime which denies you the freedom of speech and the right to have an opinion? I mean if you disagree, you can always post a rebuttal instead of taking cheap shots..

    Krunk: The director did not threw in unneeded complexity. For a 200m budget movie, I am pretty darn sure they have considered the implications of him speaking in Mandarin.

    Btw, I think you confused the meaning between “possible” and “plausible”. For him to speak French to his body guard would be “possible” but not “plausible”given the context in the setting of that scene..

  6. Why not plausible? What makes you so certain they’re from Singapore or another Mandarin speaking country and not from France? Less likely, sure, I’d give you that. But what context in the setting of that scene makes them speaking French not plausible but speaking Mandarin plausible (given that plausible is another word for credible/believable)?

    The fact that you have to try to come up with reasons why he used Mandarin instead of Cantonese unrelated to the storyline (i.e. the guy looks like he’s from Singapore) is more complexity than needed in my opinion. The director may and probably has considered the implications of having him speak Mandarin, but I just can’t come up with a good reason.

    Is the fact he’s from Singapore, Taiwan, or China going to come to play in the story? Is it to attract audience from Mandarin speaking countries? None of these seem to matter to the story. Hence my reasoning of unneeded complexity still stands.

  7. “Why not plausible? What makes you so certain they’re from Singapore or another Mandarin speaking country and not from France? Less likely, sure, I’d give you that. But what context in the setting of that scene makes them speaking French not plausible but speaking Mandarin plausible (given that plausible is another word for credible/believable)?”

    I don’t have empirical data on the number of Chinese who can speak fluent French, but I am pretty comfortable in stating that there are more Chinese who can speak Mandarin than French. Further, there are a lot more Chinese from Singapore or China then say, France?

    Giving that the character in the movie is of Chinese descent, one would expect him to be fluent in his native language (i.e. Chinese) and a foreign tongue (i.e. English).

    It would be difficult to imagine that he can be fluent in more than two foreign languages, hence speaking French to his body guard is possible but not plausible.

    I apologized for being too offensive in my initial post. Wasn’t in a good mood when I wrote it. cheers
    😀

  8. As I said before, I agree a Chinese is more likely to speak Mandarin than French, but that doesn’t change the plausibility of a Chinese being able to speak French.

    The whole point of me bring up French is to see how you’d react compared to Mandarin. And you reacted to it exactly how I expected you to.

    Now swap out French for Mandarin, and swap out Mandarin for Cantonese and you’ll see where I’m coming from.

    As you said:

    I don’t have empirical data on the number of Chinese who can speak fluent French, but I am pretty comfortable in stating that there are more Chinese who can speak Mandarin than French. Further, there are a lot more Chinese from Singapore or China then say, France?

    I can argue the same thing. I am pretty comfortable in stating that there are more people in Hong Kong who can speak Cantonese than those who can speak Mandarin. Further, there are a lot more Cantonese speaking people in Hong Kong than Mandarin speaking people.

    What makes you say it’s not plausible? Less plausible maybe, but certainly believable.

    I also don’t think you have the correct definition of plausible. It feels like you’re treating the word as “likely”, but it’s more like “believable”. Maybe you can define what plausible means to you or replace plausible with another word in your statement.

    I never claimed he was able to speak 2 foreign languages fluently, just like you’ve never claimed he could speak Cantonese and Mandarin fluently.

    But going with that idea, given that he’s a businessmen who travels around the globe, he could easily be speaking multiple languages fluently. I mean he’s speaking Chinese and English fluently already. What makes you think the character can’t speak French fluently?

  9. “As I said before, I agree a Chinese is more likely to speak Mandarin than French, but that doesn’t change the plausibility of a Chinese being able to speak French.”
    Haven’t seen too many around unless those who are raised in Quebec or France. l

    “I also don’t think you have the correct definition of plausible. It feels like you’re treating the word as 「likely」, but it’s more like 「believable」. Maybe you can define what plausible means to you or replace plausible with another word in your statement.”

    I am an Auditor and the term reasonable and plausible are used frequently for my work. I am pretty clear on the meaning.

    “But going with that idea, given that he’s a businessmen who travels around the globe, he could easily be speaking multiple languages fluently. I mean he’s speaking Chinese and English fluently already. What makes you think the character can’t speak French fluently?”

    Mastering three different languages is much more difficult. It’s far less likely he can speak all 3 languages unless he was raised in some special settings.

  10. One more thing, you asked about the definition of plausible.
    Here is it from Wordnet 2.0 (Princeton)

    The adj plausible has 4 senses (first 1 from tagged texts)

    1. (2) plausible — (apparently reasonable and valid)
    2. probable, likely, plausible — (likely but not certain to be or become true or real; “a likely result”; “he foresaw a probable loss”)
    3. likely, plausible — (within the realm of credibility; “not a very likely excuse”; “a plausible story”)
    4. credible, plausible — (appearing to merit belief or acceptance; “a credible witness”; “a plausible story”)

  11. Nonetheless, it does NOT make it unreasonable (according to your definition).

    I wasn’t asking for a dictionary definition (as I’ve already looked it up on m-w.com), as the definition posted above covers a wide array of scenarios. I was asking specifically which definition you were using. As it appears, you’re associating the word with reasonable, which as I’ve stated above, a Chinese person speaking French is not unreasonable, and you’ve already provided examples of Chinese growing up in Canada of France.

    And my analogy of your arguments (Cantonese : Madarin :: Mandarin : French) still stand. Everything you’ve argued so far, if you swap out as above results in an argument I can use against you.

    Mastering three different languages is much more difficult. It’s far less likely he can speak all 3 languages unless he was raised in some special settings.

    What if he only spoke English and French fluently, and not Chinese (only fluent in 2 languages), which has been the counter example I’ve been using all along. You’ve been attacking the French point as being a weakness, but I only arbitrary picked a ridiculous choice to show you the distinction I see between a Hong Kong person speaking Cantonese and Mandarin. However, if you want a more reasonable language, imagine he speaks English to his bodyguard. To me that’d actually be more plausible than him speaking Mandarin.

  12. I think we’ve gone quite astray from my original claim: Having that character speak Mandarin in a non-Mandarin speaking city provided no benefit to the story, which is another way of saying it added unnecessary complexity.

    If you can provide any reasoning to WHY he spoke Mandarin instead of Cantonese which added to the storyline, I’d give in and agree with you. Otherwise, you won’t be able to convince me of otherwise, just like I won’t be able to convince you that him speaking French is anything but silly.

  13. StanMan just sent me this IGN article: Two-Face: Dead or Alive?

    But was that the filmmakers’ intention? According to two new tie-in books, no. In the movie novelization, author Dennis O’Neil wrote, “Dent was sprawled, neck twisted, the mutilated side of his face exposed, his left eye open and staring sightlessly. He was obviously dead.”

    And just to hammer the point home further, the script by Jonah and Christopher Nolan — included in The Dark Knight: Featuring Production Art and Full Shooting Script — states, “Dent lies at the bottom of the hole, his neck broken. DEAD.” The capitalization is their emphasis not ours. And in a later scene, “Gordon stands on a podium at Dent’s funeral. Behind him is a large photograph of Dent smiling.”

    So there you have it, fans. The brothers Nolan killed off Two-Face. It makes you wonder if they flipped a coin to decide his fate before they wrote the scene.

  14. Similarly, this story was posted:

    ‘Dark Knight’ Script Answers Highly Debated Question: Did Harvey ‘Two-Face’ Dent Live Or Die?

    The script for the blockbuster sequel was made available for purchase on Tuesday and soon after found its way online. It’s a long read at 167 pages, but fans looking for confirmation on the fate of Dent need only look at page 163.

    “Dent lies at the bottom of the hole, his neck broken,” the stage direction, written by brothers Jonathan and Christopher Nolan, reads. “DEAD.” (Capital letters their emphasis, not ours.)

    Although some already are arguing that because it refers to the character as “Dent” and not “Two-Face,” it’s possible the villain could make a return appearance, but Gotham’s D.A. is always referred to as Dent throughout the script, even after his transformation.

  15. Wow.. you’ve made a big deal out of the actor’s use of language and Harvey Dent’s death among others by continually defending your stand. It’s a common symptoms of people who are self-absorbed.

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