Note: Hoagie told me to review newer movies, so here goes. This one isn’t “New” new, but it’s less than five years old, was a huge blockbuster, and (for reasons I cannot fathom) is rated in the Top 10 list on IMDb.com’s Greatest Movies
of All Time.
of All Time.
Weird, sadistic, no redeeming value, really
The trick to these comic book superhero movies is not to take the source material too seriously. That’s what made the original Batman from the 1980′s, with Jack Nicholson as the Joker, work so well; everything about that movie, including all the main characters, was over the top, and rightfully so. We are, after all, talking about a man who goes out and fights crime while dressed up as a bat. How seriously, really, are we supposed to take such a notion? But this movie (among its various other flaws) takes itself WAY too seriously. It’s supposed to be some deep, even epic, tale of, well, something. But, hey, if I want that, I could read Homer. Or Shakespeare. Or watch “The Godfather”. Stories that truly are epic, in no small part because they feature real human characters, not ones that came out of a cartoon book.
That said, I can only review so much of this movie because, quite honestly, I don’t remember all that much from it. Nothing about it truly stood out in my mind, other than that the general theme seemed to be to inflict upon the audience several scenes of considerable cruelty and sadism. And, unlike in other movies where these qualities played a significant role (Silence of the Lambs, Apocalypse Now), here these elements seem to exist solely for shock value, not because they actually add anything to our deeper understanding of the story.
Which brings us to the character of the Joker. Let me be blunt – Nicholson’s Joker was at least ten times better than this one. Both are completely unbelievable, but Jack’s Joker was at least
interesting, even fun. He was a pleasure to watch in much the same way that a good James Bond villain is. But there is nothing pleasurable at all about Heath Ledger’s Joker. First off, he is so psychotic that he couldn’t function anywhere outside of an insane asylum; he kills off his own henchmen, burns their stolen money before their very eyes, yet this psycho somehow enlists a small army of loyal followers without giving them any reason to be loyal at all, and also, despite being a complete walking mental meltdown, he manages to put in motion any number of very detailed terrorist plots that would require the exact opposite mindset, namely, one of cold and calculating rationality. In short, as a movie villain, he simply fails. Not only is he not credible at all, his sole contribution to the story is to add the aforementioned cruelty and sadism, making this not only a stupid and unbelievable movie, but a thoroughly depressing one as well. I mean, seriously. If you want to see movie characters who have a dark, twisted, and sadistic streak and yet come off as credible on the screen, one need look no further than such persons as Tommy from “Goodfellas” or Luca Brasi from “The Godfather”. But the Joker from this film is just a void. Encountering his character was like stepping on a dog turd. The experience is wholly unpleasant and disgusting, but thankfully you forget about it pretty soon.