10 things I hate about The Dark Knight (Spoilers galore)

Ok, so hate is definitely a little strong but I do think that while this is a pretty reasonable super-hero action film, it is highly overrated and has a number of gaping holes.

If you haven't seen the movie, I'd stop reading now because I'm going to talk about a bunch of stuff that happens that you may not want to know about yet.

1. Maggie Gyllenhaal/Rachel Dawes - Ok, marriage to whacky Tom notwithstanding, I've liked Katie Holmes since she first popped up in Go, back in the day, and I quite liked her turn as feisty lawyer and moral conscience Rachel Dawes in the original Batman Begins.

This time around it's Maggie Gyllenhaal's turn and all I could see in her this time was half a plot device. I get that she was supposed to be torn between her feelings for the brooding but unavailable hero and the two-dimensional also-hero Dent but the way she flitted between the two of them had me wondering if her heart was really in it either way. Her entire point here seemed to be to act as bait and to give Harvey Dent a reason to turn bad at the end of it all - and maybe also to add a hint of estrogen to what would otherwise have been a massive blokey sausage fest.

2. Christian Bale / Batman - I liked him in Batman Begins, seeing the evolution of a tortured hero but I thought he alternated between slightly bored and a little smarmy in this one. He was cool enough as Bruce Wayne and played the role of someone playing the role of idle playboy well enough but his grrrrrr I'm Batman voice didn't quite cut it - someone trying to be tough but lacking the necessary testosterone to pull it off. I actually found this voice kind of silly pretty quickly. (Kevin Conroy he ain't).

3. The fight scenes - Maybe I'm just old (36 for the record) but I like a well choreographed fight scene that shows how awesome the hero can be. Take pretty well any Jackie Chan movie for example and you will see a hero, in plain view, kicking the arses of a dozen or more opponents and strutting his stuff. It doesn't have to be done all in one take, editing lets you change perspective, introduce new information and create pace but when a fight scene is all edits all the time, I just don't buy that the hero has the skills to pay the bills.

The fight scenes in The Dark Knight are for the most part a blur of swooshing cameras and strobing cuts that leap from one place to another in the space of seconds - it might be stimulating but it's not so much about seeing the action as getting the vibe that Batman is a bad ass fighting machine. Yes it's called the Dark Knight and his thing is all about being dark and broody and mainly coming out at night (and he's got this whole stealthy ninja thing going on) but I wouldn't mind actually seeing him do something for more than a second.

4. Harvey Dent / Aaron Eckhart - Conceptually, not a bad character as a way of talking about virtuous people and doing the right thing but I kind of just didn't care that much. He never did anything the seemed to be beyond what anyone else in his job should be doing - perhaps doing this in the corrupt cess-pool of Gotham has a bit of a halo effect and so when he eventually loses the plot and turns evil, (all too easily and quickly) it didn't seem like as big a jump as everyone onscreen was making out. Having another character mention how heroic and virtuous Harvey is every five minutes don't necessarily make it so.

He was likable enough but didn't really seem to have much to work with - the big richlist fundraiser scene - where Rachel had to emphasise twice (in case you didn't get it the first time) that he was more afraid of the snobs than the mobs - was sadly cliched.

If you want to dig down into the Batman canon - and I respect Christopher Nolan's right as a film maker to tinker with this - Two Face is an ongoing character whose good side is constantly at war with his bad, letting the flip of the coin make his decisions - this Two Face had none of that ambiguity and just played the bad guy, using the coin toss like a tacked on gimmick with none of the evilness that Javier Bardem brought to it in No Country for Old Men.

5. The Ending - Did I mention the spoilers?
Ok so there's the big showdown with The Joker where he uses the whole never-seen-that-before-in-half-a-dozen-other-recent-action-films gimmick of dressing the hostages as bad guys and vice versa. This does end with a nice game-theory based exercise demonstrating that the people of Gotham can act morally (even though the civilians vote overwhelmingly to blow up the prisoner ferry) but when Batman shoots the Joker in the face with his little gauntlet arm razor things, not one of them actually leaves a mark. (Nitpicking perhaps but it would have looked much cooler)

Skip to the also not-at-all-cliched showdown with hostage holding Harvey Dent and the aftermath of his death. Ok, fine, they need to preserve his sainted image for the sake of the city - I'm ok with that - and so the story has to be that it wasn't Harvey that killed 5 cops in his rampage (which evidently no-one saw in the whole city, including me - 5 cops? really?).

If memory serves, our Harvey did kill a few cops with a gun - which Batman has never ever used before - and so now the decision is made to pin the murders on Batman. Um - why is that again?. Why not pin them on the proven cop-killing psycho The Joker? Why does Batman suddenly need to become public enemy number 1? Why? Granted it gives the film an Empire Strikes Back down-note ending which is good for cult cred and creates the cool image of smashing the bat-signal. I really don't follow.

6. Recycling plot points - Remember in Batman Begins Gotham Knight where Batman gets the ubercool bullet deflecting force field but has to reject it in the end because there are some ethical issues - proving that Batman is ultimately a good guy. Let's try that one again but with a surveillance system using mobile phones.

7. The Wayne Corp guy who discovers Batman's secret identity. - Ok, so you discover who Batman is and you don't tell a soul - not friends, family, girlfriend/wife - no-one at all the coolest bit of gossip you have ever held. Sure. Not even to reassure yourself that you're not batshit crazy.

8. Batman falls off his motorcycle - Yes this whole sequence is pretty awesome - from the Joker truck and the rocket launchers and the explosions and the whole shebang - but it all just ends so limply with Batman getting knocked out falling off his bike on a snaggy 180 degree turn.

9. Alfred / Michael Caine - I like Michael Caine but I just can't buy the billionaire Waynes with a cut-price cockney butler. All English accents are not the same.

10. The Police Commisioners funeral - Ok, so a proven dangerous psychopath super villain has openly announced that he is targetting the mayor for assassination - maybe you want to make a point about not bowing to terrorists but seriously - walking in the open down endless city blocks might be good for dramatic tension but I just didn't buy it as a realistic response to a credible threat.

Things I really liked about The Dark Knight

Yes, Heath Ledger does put in a best villain yet performance as the Joker (though I wouldn't have complained if he had been a little more demented and a bit less passive-aggressive manipulative)

Spectacular action.

Cool gadgets

The opening bank robbery scene is awesome and Ledger owns pretty well every scene he appears in after this.

All in all, The Dark Knight is worth seeing but don't buy the best movie ever hype that seems to be all over the shop, it's not true. A solid 75%. Check out Batman Gotham Knight - the Animatrix style animation compilation set between the two films for a better take on the tale.