What are the Most Overrated Movies of All Time

ROLLING STONE presents: The Most Overrated Films of All Time. In our series we present works that are good, but not as good as most critics find (“Fitzcarraldo”); Works that are less clever than expected (“Blade Runner”); as well as works that just hurt (“True Romance”). Part six:

The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)

Christopher Nolan's most ambitious work to date is not the sci-fi opera "Interstellar", but his second Batman film, "The Dark Knight", released in 2008. The director wanted to "revolutionize the genre" by decoupling the struggle of good versus evil from the laws of comics, from all its improbabilities and follies. Instead, the duel of broken characters who, under their mask, are people like you and me.

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The Batman? No just avenger, on the contrary, someone who would value the lives of his fellow citizens differently if he were given a choice. The Joker? A former abused child who wants to fight for his place in society, albeit with criminal methods. How do you know? At least not from the movie. Such conclusions are best-willed guesses that you must make yourself.

Everything defined

The result with “The Dark Knight” is the portrait of two fully defined men who are trying to negotiate their roles. Disguised in carnival costumes. They are entertaining and cannot be taken seriously.

The model for the supposed “character study” is Michael Mann's “Heat” from 1995. It is the current benchmark for portrait films, in which the line between heroes and antiheroes can no longer be defined. The more corpses they complain, the dirtier the methods get. In the end, Al Pacino as a cop and Robert De Niro as a criminal realize that they had only found themselves at opposite ends at the beginning of their work. They then met in the middle.

The characters in "The Dark Knight", however, do not show this ambivalence. Bruce Wayne alias Batman (Christian Bale) has - at least in the films - no depth. He has a childhood trauma because his parents were shot in front of his eyes. Sometimes the rich heir broods over his responsibilities. Will he manage to arrest the Gotham gangs? That's all. Otherwise, the following applies to him: Do good until the bat costume falls apart.

Funny is better

The Joker is less successful. Heath Ledger posthumously received the Oscar for his portrayal, and legend has it that he holed up in a hotel room for days in preparation for the role. But in the end this figure lacks any originality. Ledger presents a true bouquet full of mannerisms. Most noticeable is his constant smacking, perhaps a parody of Anthony Hopkins ‘Hannibal, who clicked his tongue like a gourmet. Ledger limps, and before he assassins, he tells each of his victims a different version of his autobiography, and how the corners of his mouth were slit open as a child.

Jack Nicholson's Joker from 1989- "Batman" refrains from such dodges in the life story, he laughs because he thinks things are really funny. Like a child with no sense of guilt, which only makes his character all the more diabolical. Nicholson becomes a joker in the first place because he falls into a chemical bucket and melts during a robbery. And then just look like a clown. Nicholson doesn't need any depth, he's a cartoon character. Because “Dark Knight”, on the other hand, relies on realism, author Christopher Nolan ascribes an illness to his Joker that sounds malicious, but is usually a sad ailment. Batman gives us the diagnosis of the Joker: "Paranoid Schizophrenia". That sounds like a mass murderer!

Cool guys don't look at explosions

The scene, described by fans as the highlight of the film, depicts the first encounter between Batman and Joker in a police interrogation room. Both are shown fully illuminated, so we see a man with rubber eaves beating a badly made-up Pierrot. It doesn't look like Gotham, it looks like the sobering cell at Cologne Carnival. Pacino and De Niro met in “Heat” in a diner and delivered one of the best dialogues in recent film history. In "The Dark Knight" the bat man works his fists off a clown who does not want to speak. (By the way, there is a reasonably funny parody of the interrogation scene here.)

These two empty figures and their tension-free confrontation are the biggest disappointment in "The Dark Knight". But also Nolan's claim to a realistic living environment begins to become a burden for the cinema viewer for the first time, at least the development of the story suffers as a result. Because the director relies entirely on realism here instead of the supernatural hierarchies of the fantastic comic genre, the rise in power of various antagonists is explained right at the beginning with difficult money transfers. Nobody understands them.

Neither does the action scene at the end, in which Batman and his assistant manage to “visualize cell phone signals” due to “complicated technology” so that the winged avenger knows where to go. The viewer sees this on a screen with schematic figures. This is probably a charming reference to the echolocation of bats; in the film it turns into a thunderstorm of light from Playstation men.

One more thing: Do you know the fun video "Cool Guys Don't Look At Explosions"? In this collection of scenes, most of which are perhaps Michael Bay's films, you can see cliché heroes causing really big fires. The men do what is expected of them: calmly run away with the explosion in their backs, there is no need to turn around. The Joker in the hospital scene of “The Dark Knight” also joins this line of Prolo-Pyros, in this action film full of empty gestures.

More overrated films:

The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmark)

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (Steven Spielberg)

Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick)

Blade Runner (Ridley Scott)

The Omen (Richard Donner)