Finally, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet has been released. I have not seen it. I will not go to theaters to see it. I will watch it someday. Personally, I think Nolan is a perfectly solid filmmaker. The Prestige is a great movie. Memento is clever. Dunkirk looks nice. Plus, there are the Batman movies. This is where I am bringing you my hot take. When I say this, I assure you I am being completely sincere. This is not just to rile people up. The Dark Knight is not a good movie. In fact, it is the second-worst Batman film.
Hey, if I wanted this to be a hot take just to get people talking I would say it’s the worst, but Batman & Robin exists, so I can’t say that. That movie is terrible, and not even in a fun way. Also, I’m not saying The Dark Knight is bad. It’s mediocre. It’s a C+ film. Two-and-a-half stars out of five. To many, it’s the best Batman movie, the best superhero movie, even straight-up one of the best movies. Personally, I do not see it. It just doesn’t do it for me.
Now, if I tell you that my favorite Batman movie is the one from the ‘60s with Adam West, that may explain things. Hell, it may invalidate my opinion to you. I really love that movie because it’s funny and campy in the right way and just such a joy to watch. I like when movies are entertaining. The other Nolan Batman movies I actually like just fine. I think they are both good. I’d watch them, over, say, Batman Forever. The Dark Knight is a slog, though, and I don’t really ever find myself on its wavelength.
Personally, I find it both too bleak and too heavy handed. I don’t mind a dark movie. No Country for Old Men is great, for one example. However, darkness and superheroes just don’t gel as well for me. All this bleakness and misery while a man is dressed like a bat and another guy is dressed like a clown? There’s a cognitive dissonance there. I watch it and I keep thinking, “This is a bummer.” It hits you over the head not just with the darkness, but with Nolan’s themes. The movie is clunky in that regard. I feel like Nolan wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to make a serious movie that isn’t “just” a comic book movie while also making a comic book movie. You can’t have it both ways.
Heath Ledger was quite good as the Joker, though an Oscar was maybe a stretch. Although, looking back at 2008, it wasn’t a good year for supporting performances. I certainly prefer what Ledger is doing as the Joker as opposed to Two Face, who is just unpleasant.
You can keep your grim, miserable Dark Knight that also still wants to be a big popcorn comic book movie. I’ll stick to Adam West running around with a cartoon bomb over his head. That’s a movie that knows exactly what it wants to be, and it nails the execution. I can’t say the same for The Dark Knight.