« Pre-Knight Roundup | Main | The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008): C »

July 17, 2008


I've just finished reading your freshly posted review of The Dark Knight at Slant, and I immediately have two questions for you, which I hope shouldn't be too hard to answer: 1) The Dark Knight or Hellboy II: Which did you like or think was better? 2) Did Ed attend the screening with you, and if so, what did he think about it?


1) The Dark Knight is probably better, though both are good at what they do.

2) I don't believe Ed has seen the film yet.

Note: I moved your comment to this post, for obvious reasons.

I saw Hellboy last night, and I'm seeing TDK tonight. They don't immediately strike me as being ripe for comparison, despite some similarities. I think the giddy joy that del Toro takes in his latest creation probably won't be matched by anything in TDK, but that's probably not a bad thing.

Having now seen the film (and in IMAX no less -- my first time!), I too can say that it ranks as one of the great superhero films, and one of 2008's greats, at that. It's apples and oranges, really, but I do prefer it over Hellboy II at this point.

Great review Nick. I just saw it in IMAX this afternoon myself, and was absolutely captivated by the viscerally charged IMAX experience. But it was the flipping of Harvey "Two-Face's" coin that intrigued me the most, especially after Anton Chigurh's similar philosophical leanings in last year's "No Country for Old Men." In the Coen Bros. film, the coin was the only source of solution for Chigurh, who was so detached from any possibility of negotiation or reason (as you stated to be the case with The Joker here)and the 50/50 flip of a coin decides fate. Once Dent turns, his despair (much like the more enigmatic Chigurh) leads him to no other solution than violence. Both films have been called "sadistic" and "nihilistic" and I'm curious as to how you believe these films can use violence without exploiting it. In other words, I feel as though both films shriek in fear at the behavior of their villains (Joker and Chigurh)yet they paradoxically embrace them on some level. In a weird way, an audiences voyeurism allows them to wallow in violence, yet cleanse themselves of responsibility by conclusion of the film. This is not new stuff, I know, and this question is quite convoluted, sure. But as a 20 year old aspiring film scholar, I'm interested in your take on the similarity between the two films and how their approach to dealing with the madmen in a post-9/11 world correlates? Thanks buddy, you really are one of the most thoughtful critics writing today.

The Dark Knight is now #1 at IMDb with an average rating 9.7 and with 23,611 votes. Let's see how long it lasts.

Rob - Agreed that it's one of the year's best, and that it's better than Hellboy 2.

Clayton - Thanks for the kind words. As for Two-Face and Chigurh, I think their coin-flipping is similar in that, for both men, it's a sign that they view the world as random/illogical, and consequently that fairness - or, at least, the only reasonable type of behavior - involves yielding to chance/fate. That the two films both posit the modern world as increasingly chaotic, brutal, and incapable of being policed (or even managed) through traditional, noble means does, I think, speak to the current threats that we face. But I don't think The Dark Knight is quite as despairing as No Country For Old Men.

As for the issue of violence, I don't think it really matters that both films treat violence as horrible and yet also make it entertaining. Both films - and especially The Dark Knight - are genre films, and as such have a right to deliver basic, visceral thrills.

Fei - Um, that's just scary. And in retrospect, this post's title is misleading, since NO film could possibly live up to the over-the-moon insane hype that's accompanied the release of The Dark Knight. Even as a fan of the film, I readily admit that the pre-release fanboy adulation has been unnerving...

I was talking in a forum recently about how people make too much out of IMDb rankings. I rambled quite a bit while on my high horse, but basically, my point was that fans (even the most reasonable ones) love to see others share their enthusiasm (and often tease, flame, or complain about those who don't), and when just about everyone likes the movie that much, it will achieve a high ranking. In order to "put it in its proper place," you would have to welcome the votes of naysayers to bring down the average, which is simply against our nature as a social species.

For those reasons, I don't like to read too much into IMDb ratings. Theoretically, every one of those ~24,000 voters could've genuinely loved the movie, as you did, without thinking that it's anywhere near the greatest movie ever. The Dark Knight's current rating is a statistical anomaly, that's all. Of course silly fanboy vote rallying is part of it, but genuine audience adoration is also a part. We can never know how important each part is compared to the other, so speculation about it is just not worthwhile. I just prefer to sit back and watch the ratings with amusement.

By the way, I realized, before I asked you about it, that Hellboy II and The Dark Knight are not directly comparable as they are radically different entries in the same genre and work in different ways. But most movies are individually very different from nearly all other movies, and yet we inevitably like to rank and rate them anyway. I was surprised when I saw your A- grade for Hellboy II, and even then, I was eagerly anticipating your take on The Dark Knight and how they would compare in your mind. They are both superhero movies after all, and it's not like I'm asking you to rank either of them against WALL-E (a comparison that I'll gladly wait for your year-end top ten list to discover). Why else would we consider labeling any movie "the best superhero movie ever" when the genre itself is so diverse?

What's your take on your friend Keith Uhlich's pan of The Dark Knight?

What's your take on your friend Keith Uhlich's pan of The Dark Knight?

As Omar Little once said, "Do tell!"



I think you're right to put little stock in imdb rankings, which, as far as I can tell, simply reflect the favorite films of a very particular film-loving web demographic. Nothing more.

As for my good pal Keith Uhlich (whom I'm glad has stopped by to hear my thoughts, and whom I would have already touched base with via The House Next Door comments section if it weren't for my insanely busy weekend), all I can say is that it's a very well-written review. And the vitriol it's inspired strikes me as insane, and indicative of a fanboy mentality I reject.

That said, I disagree with almost every one of his review's contentions.

(Although, Keith, your Omar quote was well-timed, as I first read your comment last night while watching The Wire)

Fortuitous timing with regards to Omar, then. That boy has a tendency to be in the right place at the right time. :-)

I'd welcome a comment over at The House, Nick. Just know that I've disabled the comments section on that thread because the amount of spam and personal attacks became a major distraction, and the conversation was just descending into vitriol. If you'd like to respond, though, just private mail me the comment and I'll publish it myself under your name.


Good to know, Keith. Will send you something shortly.

The comments to this entry are closed.

New Releases

© 2004-2011 LoD