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Batman/The Dark Knight - Two visions from two directors.
As an unconditional Batman fan, I have read the comics, followed the cartoons, and seen the films. I was but a few years old when I first saw "Batman", and it remained, until late, my very favourite Batman film adaptation by far.
Burton applied his well-known talent and put a lot of himself into this film (but not too much, as in the sequel "Batman Returns"), masterfully recreating a dark, gritty, Gothic Gotham City. Burton's magic works wonders in that sense, creating a convincingly gloomy atmosphere so familiar to us who know the Batman universe and have read the comics. But "Batman" also bears its flaws, perhaps more than most people would initially agree with. There are a few things that inevitably bugged me about this film, and that have become more and more evident the more I've viewed it.
Almost inevitably, this film is now compared to Christopher Nolan's most recent Batman creation: 2008's "The Dark Knight", greatly praised by critics... And with good reason. The film offers a darker, stormier, more serious and realistic Batman. It is more loyal to the original comics in small details, such as the fact that "The Dark Knight"'s Harvey Dent is caucasian rather than African-American, contrary to 1989's "Batman", or that, in "TDK", it isn't the Joker that killed Wayne's parents, whilst at the same time taking creative risks that work extremely well for it.
A lot of my preference for "TDK" has to do with the depiction of the characters themselves. Obviousnesses and truisms first, "TDK", with it's 152 minutes of duration (as opposed to "Batman"'s 126 minutes), gains in length and hence in time for character development, which Nolan employs to avail. Thus, the characters in "The Dark Knight" have far more dimensions and are more complex.
In my humble opinion, actors portraying Batman have always been replaceable, from Keaton to Bale, through Clooney; there isn't one, true Batman, like there is one, true Bond, for instance. With this said, there are a few things that really disappointed me about Keaton's Batman, therefore forcing me to incline slightly more towards Bale, not as a performance, but as a character depiction (hence having all to do with the script). Without further ado, why is Keaton's Batman so keen to reveal his identity of the Batman to Vicki Vale, after knowing her for so little time? And why does he say he wants to kill the Joker? In fact, why DOES he kill the Joker? All this just seems very unlike the Batman I love and know, to me. Nolan's Batman is The Dark Knight, Burton's... Just a shadow.
What "TDK" and "Batman" do share in common is that it is the antagonist, the villain, the Joker, who steals the show. Nicholson went for a more comical, heinous but at the same time defeatable Joker, with no real sense of direction, intent, or purpose. All Nicholson's Joker knows for certain is that he wants to be more famous than Batman, and that he enjoys killing. The more the merrier. In that sense, Nicholson's Joker is more legitimate, as he stays more true to the Joker of the original Batman comic series.
And this is where Nolan's genius comes into play. With his new Batman, the Joker, Batman's opposite, had to be different. Ledger took the Joker in a whole new direction. He offered, in my opinion, a far more scary version of the Joker, with no laughing gas or acid-squirting flower, but with knives and explosives instead. One creative decision Nolan took which earned him many points was to not reveal Joker's past. By not knowing his past, who he was, how he came to be, how he got those scars, whether he is an anarchist or a schemer (or a bit of both), a dog chasing cars or a brilliant mind who has all his evil deeds planned out, Nolan and Ledger's version of the Joker is far more ambiguous and sinister.
Ultimately, there is no winner in this duel. It really all depends on which Joker it is you prefer. Nicholson's narcissistic madman or Ledger's nihilistic degenerate. The truth is, both have traces of each other, and hence of the original Joker character. They highlight different aspects of the character. Nicholson's stays more true to the original Joker, but the superior support of Nolan's script for this character in particular provided Ledger a better chance to develop as the pure opposite of Batman the Joker is intended to be. Therefore, Ledger has a lot more to play with, and is truly Bale's Batman's opposite in every way. A lot more attention is put into this relationship in "TDK", and it is truly beautiful to see on screen.
In conclusion, Nolan's script is far more multi-layered, his characters more complex, and consequently his movie, solid, than Burton's "Batman". "TDK" emerges the winner in the battle between film giants Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan. Both try to stick as close as possible to the comic (Burton's Joker vs. Nolan's Batman), but in the risk-taking business, it is Nolan who ticks all the boxes. From providing an alternate version of the Joker that is just as charismatic and convincing, but more enigmatic and terrifying, to a much more intelligent script, with a build-up that keeps you hooked to its mesmerising ending, through a fabulous musical score (contrary to the out-of-place soundtrack courtesy of Prince, in Burton's "Batman") and an Alfred that wouldn't let Vicki Vale into the Batcave, Nolan made all the right choices, while Burton got a bit lost in the darkness.
Mediocre X 2
Anyone with a mildly decent taste in literature will tell you that the original series of books, the first of which the movie is based on, is mediocre. As will anyone with a mildly decent taste in movies tell you that this first attempt of cinematographic adaptation is also just that: Mediocre. So in that sense, the movie "Twilight" does not fall short of being an accurate and loyal translation from the pages to the screen. But as far as everything else goes, from the acting to the humour and the special effects, falls short on all sides and from all angles.
As hard as it may be for some to accept, Stephenie Meyer is not a good writer. Some of you may have noticed it before watching the movie, some after, some without, and some may have not noticed it at all (for that I pity you). But the one, undeniable truth that anyone (I must stress this) with a mildly decent taste in literature will tell you is that Stephenie Meyer "can't write worth a darn". Stephen King said it and I reciprocate it: Stephenie Meyer is simply not a born writer. She was busy taking care of her kids and living the life of a typical American housewife until one day, after a very vivid dream, she woke up and decided to write "Twilight".
Most good books are forged in the light of spontaneity, but that is not the case of "Twilight". It is not a good read. It's just a shame Meyer didn't dream every single one of the scenes, because apart from the one with the 2 main characters in the woods, the rest simply Sucks with a capital S. What is so special about this specific scene is the electrifying chemistry that is created between them, the risky relationship they have decided to commit themselves to and how they must both keep their innermost inhibitions restraining their darkest desires to make their love for one another survive.
Although the aforementioned chemistry is present throughout the better part of the entire movie, it is not enough to support the rest of the production - the oh-so-many things beside it that don't feel right - hence the whole thing collapses under its own weight. Apart from the obvious deficiencies in the original script (i.e. the book), the special effects are reminiscent of the 1970's, the fight scenes are deplorable, and the pace is uneven. At times everything seems too rushed and you don't have much time to sit back, relax and enjoy, while at others you're just wondering when the movie will finally reach its end. Well, I personally was just waiting for the movie to end from the first minute to the last.
Bottom line: The book was mediocre and the movie was mediocre.