Watching Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight again (on Blu ray no less) has made it clear why this is no masterpiece, or even one of my favorites from an otherwise drab 2008. My main problem lies with but not exclusively to the first half of the film where Nolan frantically attempts to build the foundation of a changing Gotham City with an endless array of short scenes that overlap onto each other. No individual scene is given time to develop or breath. Martin Scorsese creates a similar narrative pattern in The Departed, but bases his breakneck speed on character, while Nolan’s version is entirely based on moving the plot forward, with exception of The Joker’s anarchic monologues. During these moments, The Dark Knight lacks depth and life, instead setting in with a pattern that nearly suffocates the film under loads of exposition.
If it weren’t for Heath Ledger’s dynamic presence, The Dark Knight would have certainly crumbled under it’s own girth. Nolan finally jumps into gear with the Bat Pod scene nearly 75 minutes into the film’s 2 1/2 hour running time, however, by that time the film has meandered into the realm of self-importance more often than not. The Dark Knight becomes more focused as it progresses and an incredibly fulfilling experience by the end, the standout moment being the hospital scene with Ledger and Aaron Eckhart. But the suffocating narrative bursts remain, tedious and problematic reminders of a film hellbent on impressing everyone and indicative of a filmmaker with too much plot to unload and not enough interest in the underlining character interactions being addressed.