The Dark Knight is the single most misreviewed movie of this year (2008) thus far. All too many movie reviewers are pandering to what they believe their readers want to hear, rather than what they actually believe. As a result, what is actually a movie with a confusing plot and a tendency towards speechifying, especially in its last half hour, has been hailed as one of the greatest movies of the year, if not this decade thus far.
Why has The Dark Knight been so widely labeled a great movie by the critics? Basically because movie reviewers, particularly critics for print publications such as newspapers, have been pandering to what they believe that their readers want to hear. Since the conventional wisdom is that The Dark Knight will be a blockbuster, the critics want to get on the “right side” of the public and so they write these pandering reviews that overlook the problems with The Dark Knight.
Why are the critics engaging in this behavior? Newspapers are downsizing and dropping their in-house movie reviewers and are either replacing them with syndicated writers or not even running movie reviews at all. Casualties of the recent downsizing trend include Terry Lawson of the Detroit Free Press and Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune. A big reason for this trend is the increasing belief that movie reviewers are irrelevant as far as the movie going public is concerned. Flicks denounced by the critics score big at the box office while films that win critical praise bomb out. As a result, the critics are praising movies that they think will attract huge crowds so that they can “prove” their relevancy and as a result, keep their jobs.
While a better movie overall than Batman Begins, The Dark Knight suffers from the same basic flaws as its prequel. The plot is poorly thought out and has several improbably moments such as the Joker being able to escape at least 3 different times and in hard to believe ways each time. The acting is average at best & the script is not much better than okay. If Heath Ledger were still alive, practically nobody would be singling out his performance as the Joker as being Oscar worthy. Ledger’s Joker is lame and inferior to Cesar Romero’s Joker from the mid-1960’s TV show Batman and the 1966 movie version of the same show. About the only saving grace for The Dark Knight is the fact that its first 2 hours is so fast paced that it flies by so much so that you would almost swear that substantially less time had elapsed. Too bad the last half hour is loaded with characters making speeches to each other and the like that causes the movie to suddenly drag.
Like Batman Begins before it, The Dark Knight is basically a perversion of the original Batman created by Bob Kane. As such, it should be avoided by all those who read and respected Batman in the comic books.
As for those pandering print movie reviewers, if all they can do is praise the movies that they think are going to become hits, and trash the flicks that they believe are going to bite the dust, then they richly deserve to become an endangered species, if not altogether extinct.