Christian Bale

The Dark Knight

This post may contain spoilers.

Last night we saw 'The Dark Knight' with Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. The short version is 'very enjoyable, a few minor annoyances'.

The film was good. Heath Ledger as the Joker was fantastic, which just the right amount of 'insane'.

He was pure mania, and really did steal the show.

His motivation for anarchy was true to character, and the situations he presented for the people of Gotham were simply terror tactics (the Ferry thing was plain nasty).

Christian Bale as Batman was everything the gravelly-voiced Bat should be - tortured, dark, a cipher.

The high spots in the film were very high. The best sequence for me was in the hospital, Heath Ledger just walking away from the building. If it was done live.... what a sequence. If it was CGI, then I found it hard to see the joins (at least in the closeup with Heath Ledger).

That truly was spectacular.... and our first glimpse of 'Two Face' was a superb piece of film-making.

There were a few points I wasn't too keen on, all fairly minor. Firstly there was Gordon being killed, and then magically re-appearing. In such a situation would he really have been able to engineer this?

Let's put that to one side. The two remaining things that really annoyed were Batman and Rachel falling from the top of a skyscraper. They survive apparently by virtue of them falling together, and landing on top of a car. Could not Batman have converted the fall into a glide? Could he not have sent out a grappling hook with a bungee cord slow them gradually, if bouncily? (A grappling hook with a stiff rope sent horizontally would have converted the downward motion into a swing, which they then could have rolled to a halt ... lots of bruising and roadrash, but....)

The other was that whole thing with the mobile phones. It was unnecessarily complicated. I could accept (just) one specially modified phone being used to image the room, however remotely modifying every phone in the city to simultaneously take sonar images and feed the data back to a central hub? crikey... Quite apart from anything else, the vast majority of phones have only one microphone and so only distance from phone could be obtained (in real ultrasound, there are multiple transmitters and receivers, used in rapid succession).

Then there's the bandwidth requirements. Mobile phone masts don't have tonnes of extra capacity 'just in case' - that's wasted money. They build for the average, add some - and then install extra capacity 'just in time' to meet demand. It's cheaper that way. In London the phone network limped for a day when some public transport was blown up - and people were just sending voice and text messages as a rule. The premise here is that the whole city was being evacuated in a panic - and yet the phone system coped?

They could have done the same trick of locating the Joker by saying that Wayne enterprises owned the mobile phone network, and that they installed a server which could do voice recognition. All that stuff with Batman having glowing eyes could be lost without any problems with the sequence (indeed, it would have made it better).

That said, these are minor points. The overall film was very enjoyable - a nice mix of humour, action and darkness - as well as setting up a third film without requiring that third film.

The Prestige

Monica and I went to see 'The Prestige' this week. Now, this is watchable, but it annoyed me immensely. I was enjoying the general direction of the film, the technical nature of the tricks, the rivalry... and then the dodgy science started.

Firstly, they had Tesla coils, now, that's not too bad (they can be impressive), but do with them what they were doing with them and you die!

Tesla coils aren't safe things.

Not only that, but (and here is a spoiler), if you put an item in an electrical discharge, you do not get a duplicate.

I liked the Christian Bale storyline, but the Hugh Jackman's storyline was so laughable it drove me mad - the energy requirements for a hat, let alone a cat or a human are incredible (and that's notwithstanding issues regarding the conservation of baryon number). Yes, a method was needed, and yes, it needed to be a desperate method.... but why not have Hugh Jackman extending the 'double' method, training up some number of doubles (say five) for a limited run, and bumping them off to stop them talking? Same creepy factor, no annoying leap of faith.

Or for a more technical solution (and one which at least doesn't run into some fundamental violations of the physical laws) he could have found some way to clone himself, and send in the clone to be transported (killing them in the process to stop them talking).

The leap of faith in the Hugh Jackman storyline was too much for me to stomach, and this alone totally spoiled the film for me.