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That Batman Movie

We finally caught it over this last weekend. I guess a lot of other people did too, since it’s hit 300 million bucks already. I am eagerly waiting to find out if it has the sort of legs that’ll get it into the top five ever domestic, although I suspect it won’t.

Somewhat surprisingly, it didn’t blow me away. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t overwhelm me. Great acting, excellent plot and theme — I thought the whole balance of duty and public personae was superb, and it echoed through both good guys and bad guys. The early Scarecrow appearance was ideal.

Still and all, the movie needed to be half an hour shorter. I’m not sure what you’d cut — you could lose the foreign travel and edit out the cell phone moral dilemma, but you’d still have a movie that feels somewhat overstuffed. I’ve heard a lot of people call the movie relentless, and it was, and I liked that. I just think it would have been tighter with a couple fewer beats in the Joker’s plan.

Nobody’s ever accused Christopher Nolan of being insufficiently intricate, I suppose.

Second, the fight scenes were muddy. I have a sudden fear that I’m getting too old here, except I recall liking the fight scenes in the last Bond movie, so — crap. Yeah, I’m getting old. Well, the fight scenes were still muddy. Batman’s sonar vision did not help this in the least. Nolan’s not known as an action director, obviously, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but he ought to get someone to give him a hand with the fight scenes next time. In all fairness, the car chase was pretty great.

So as not to give the impression that I didn’t like the movie…

Really good acting all around; probably the best I’ve ever seen in a superhero movie. I loved that it wasn’t Batman’s movie — it was about Commissioner Gordon, the Joker, and Harvey Dent. All three of those guys were great. Particularly Gary Oldman. I wish it had been more Rachel Dawes’ movie, but even so, Maggie Gyllenhaal kicks Katie Holmes’ ass.

Batman really doesn’t make a lot of choices during the movie, and the one choice he does make is predicted and subverted by the Joker. That’s practically a theme — Harvey Dent takes Batman’s choices away from him, the Joker does it a few times, and so on. Thus, the aforementioned trio has to drive the movie, and they’re really good at it.

Also, Heath Ledger’s performance is about as scary-good as people are saying; emphasis on scary. The movie’s worth it just for that.

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