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Joker: Why so Serious?

I know people’s takes on the The Dark Knight remain polarized. Some people loved it. Others people hated it. Well, I loved it and that’s that. For those who belong to the opposite pole, better close your browser tab. Go surf porn. While I wouldn’t make this a full-blown fanboy rave, this post will mostly contain praises for the film.

The title says it all. Batman and Robin and their chronic nipple-itis destroyed the Batman film franchise but Batman Begins turned things around. And even compared to the Tim Burton Batman movies, I considered Batman Begins as the best Batman movie ever. That was then.

Then The Dark Knight came along.

My sister probably had better ways of praising the film and we practically felt the same way about the movie.

Two important points about the film.

First, Heath Ledger deserves a posthumous Oscar for his take on the Joker character. I totally agree with Michael Caine for the nomination call but Ledger should win. I’d have to say that after all these years holding the Joker in the animated series (not even Jack Nicholson’s performance) as the benchmark, Ledger’s take was very fresh. He wasn’t the playful villain that everyone expected Joker to be. The gait. The slouch. The reptilian flick of his tongue. He was devil incarnate. He was anarchy personified. A real “agent of chaos.” His portrayal scared me. Oh Academy, please don’t make Ledger just another James Dean.

Second, it was a story about people. I really loved how the story zoomed out of the Batman character and focused on giving Gotham City a character. I totally appreciated how the Bruce Wayne-Batman dynamic was second string to the great take on society. Classic themes and social theories carefully woven through the fabric of the story. Forget Social Sciences 2. You need not read through Plato to Keynes, The Dark Knight had it all.

It has been a while since I enjoyed the movie and got challenged intellectually. Many complained it was too long. But as how I consider it – at least it’s worth the admission price. The prospect of a third film scares me as I could only pray that it somehow follows The Godfather tradition of pushing the envelope. As far as I am concerned, it is the best Batman movie ever, and perhaps, of all time.

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One question to the MTRCB. Why did the movie open as GP and eventually bumped up as PG-13 this weekend? Both ratings are plain stupid. Not just because it’s a Batman (ergo, superhero) movie, it’s for kids. No kid would have appreciated the film and I’m pretty sure any pristine mind would’ve come out of the theater corrupted and stained by what the story offered. It was cerebral. It was gritty. It was not for kids. What kind of parent and what kind of child could carry a decent conversation on social and political theory? If the MTRCB had decent enough brains, they should’ve rated it R-13 the very least. If we eventually have a psycho-terrorist in a few years time asking people, “Why so serious?”, we know who to blame.

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