Negative Dark Knight Movie Reviews?

77 hours. 77 hours until the lights will fade, the previews will begin, and the theater will roar as The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger and all, rolls onto the screen. Anticipation is high… in fact, amazingly high. In order to subdue my hype, however, I went searching for bad reviews, and, of course, went straight over to RottenTomatoes.

The reviews did not help in crushing my hopes. The movie only has an 88% fresh rating based on 20 reviews, and the snippets from the bad reviews include:

This movie is grim and jammed together. The narrative isn’t shaped coherently to bring out contrasts and build toward a satisfying climax. The Dark Knight is constant climax; it’s always in a frenzy, and it goes on forever. -David Denby, New Yorker

Why do comic-book movies want to be serious literature? That’s the problem with this movie the same way it was with 2006’s “Superman Returns.” Instead of being exciting pop-culture entertainment that forces the viewer to take it seriously, the movie takes itself too seriously – and misses the fun in the process. – Marshall Fine, Star Magazine

But then the novelty wears off and the lack of imagination, visual and otherwise, turns into a drag. The Dark Knight is noisy, jumbled, and sadistic. Even its most wondrous vision—Batman’s plunges from skyscrapers, bat-wings snapping open as he glides through the night like a human kite—can’t keep the movie airborne. There’s an anvil attached to that cape. – David Edelstein, New York Magazine

Actually, those are all of the rotten reviews thus far, and the first two don’t strike much confidence in me. Denby’s review is scathing, to say the least, but he loses me when he bashes Bale, Batman Begins and everything else I know I’ll like. I can’t pre-judge someone else’s movie review until I see The Dark Knight myself, but when someone hates a movie for being “perverse” and sounds like they hated the first one, too, credibility goes right out the window. After all, Batman Begins is the best comic book movie made, and so it’s unlikely I’m going to agree with him here.

Fine, who still gives the movie 2.5 stars, complains that the movie isn’t fun enough, and points out that comic book movies shouldn’t take themselves too seriously. That’s fine, but one gets the sense he doesn’t like realistic comic book movies, and again, we have a severe difference of opinion. I feel most comic book franchises, from Spider-Man to X-Men, would be best served by being grittier and adult-oriented.

The Dark Knight movie review by Edelstein is the most sobering, as he seems the most unbiased by Christopher Nolan’s approach. If I were to end up being disappointed by The Dark Knight, his review is what I’d write. He complains there’s too much dialogue and that the movie is too smart for its own good; could Nolan have gotten too caught up in the drama of it all that he forgot to make an exciting action movie? I doubt it, but we shall see.

More dampening are the fresh movie reviews that fall short of calling the movie a classic; they liked it but didn’t love it. I didn’t go on to read the movie reviews beyond the snippets in RottenTomatoes, but if The Dark Knight isn’t everything I wanted and more, it will probably fall in line with these reviews. After all, if you hype a movie up so much, you’re bound to be disappointed.

Of course, most of the Dark Knight movie reviews rave about the film; some call it a masterpiece; others a classic. At the very least, they say it’s an excellent film. Damn. My hype has not gone away.

By Erik Samdahl
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