“Wait! You could die. At least tell me your name!”
“It’s not who I am underneath but what I do that defines me.”
And with that, Batman jumps off a building.
With the release of Christopher Nolan’s newest Batman flick, The Dark Knight Rises, coming up fairly soon, I thought I’d better remind everyone of his older, often forgotten brother, Batman Begins. To me at least, Batman Begins remains the greatest Batman film of all time, probably the greatest superhero film of all time and yet somehow always seems to stand in the shadow of its flashier but patchier follow-up The Dark Knight. I’m not meaning to upset any huge fans of The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan fans nor anybody excited for The Dark Knight Rises. I’ve seen The Dark Knight about ten times; I spewed on my way to see Inception because I was so excited (true, unfortunately), and I’ll be first in line to see the new Batman flick on the day it comes out.
I don’t enjoy aggressive arguments about these sort of things, films rule too much for that. Rather, I’d like to highlight the awesomeness and general underratedness of Nolan’s first Batman film. Forgetting the extreme silliness that was The Prestige (sorry again to fans), Nolan has made two great films, Memento and Batman Begins; one very good film, Insomnia; two films with moments of amazing but also moments of shit, The Dark Knight and Inception; and one film that I’ve never seen, Following. My chief problem with Christopher Nolan is his consistently, and therein lies my admiration for Memento and Batman Begins – they are the most consistent of his films.
While I do think that the greatest aspects of The Dark Knight reach heights that are way out of Begins’ league, its lows are fairly damn low. Was that awful character Lau and the Hong Kong subplot really that good or did we just pretend it was because Heath Ledger was so insanely awesome as The Joker? And how annoying was that character in the truck during the chase through the streets of Gotham that for some reason they decided to give the lamest lines of all time (“This isn’t good!” “I didn’t sign up for this!”)? We seem to remember The Dark Knight for its incendiary middle act – you know, when The Joker deliberately gets caught and he’s shoved a mobile phone bomb into his mate’s guts? It took me a few viewings to actually realize that outside of this awesome middle act The Dark Knight wasn’t as strong as all that.