Media Production Mentoring

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The Iron/Bat Debate

I went and saw "The Dark Knight" this morning ($5 before noon... which is more within the budget than $9.75). Unfortunately, due to some technical problems, I had to watch it on film instead of digital projection. Very sad times.

I somehow managed. But going back to the grain and jitter of film after the beauty of digital... it was painful and pulled me out of the experience at least once.

There has been quite a bit of discussion going around over which film was better: Batman or "Iron Man"--the first film I saw via digital projection.

For me, even accounting for the discrepancy in viewing experience, "Iron Man" is far superior as a film. Granted, there were things that bugged me about "Iron Man": 1. Any time they cut to kids (oh, the poor screaming family in the car! I'm supposed to care about them! Cheap/lame filmmaking); 2. The fact that we never see "Iron Man" really fight; 3. Jeff Bridges' lack of motivation; and 4. Some of the comedy is a little too over the top (let's fly him into a wall again).

But "The Dark Knight" suffers from many, many problems at a core level. I will briefly recount a few of them.

1. Christian Bale talking like Batman: "I'm Batman. I have a utility belt." [From 1:20 and following.] That really bugged me this time.

2. We don't have time to really care about Two-Face. Compared to the Joker (who was fantastic, by the by), Two-Face feels like a cheap bad guy with a grudge. We just don't care.

3. Speaking of Two-Face, his CG face lacks emotion. We don't know what he's feeling, so we don't really feel for him (see point 2). This leads to...

4. Despite the film's attempt to be emotionally compelling, it isn't. At all.

5. The Joker is the only character who fits within the world. This movie is driven by reaction. Not a single character takes a proactive step the entire movie. This is perfect for the Joker who just does whatever pops into his head, but strips the film of meaning for any of the other characters.

6. The biggest problem I have with "The Dark Knight", however, is the inconsistency in plot. The film opens with a subplot revolving around the general populace's attempt to do the good that Batman is doing. When we finally get to where this theme resurfaces (with the two ferries, which is a great scene) we have forgotten about the copycat guys at the start and don't see the connection. But the movie is about the propensity for good to be corrupted but also the tendency for people to want to do good. So to end the film as they do, they essentially throw out the theme of the movie and give us a lame, and a philosophically inane conclusion.

So. Yeah. "Iron Man" is fun. "The Dark Knight" is a movie about the Joker... and I wish no one else was in it.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

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