Both regular New Humanist contributor Christina Martin and myself are huge fans of these sites, one of the best being Christian Spotlight on Entertainment, which as Christina pointed out to me awards the fantastic "Moral Rating" to each film:
- Good (Nothing Offensive)
- Better than Average (Slightly Objectionable)
- Average (Somewhat Offensive)
The site's reviewer for The Dark Knight, Jonathan Rodriguez, seems to have had a bit of trouble handling Christian Bale's troubled Batman and the late Heath Ledger's psychopathic Joker, for while giving the film a 5-star rating for "moviemaking quality" and assuring readers they "will not leave the theater disappointed", he dishes out a moral rating of "Offensive".
The reviewer clearly enjoyed the film, but just as you feel like you're reading a fairly standard review he drops the C-bomb with a vengeance, declaring that "The film hits on all sorts of different spiritual topics, and I could probably write a dissertation on them all."
Unfortunately it seems the thesis proposal will go unfulfilled, but he offers some closing thoughts on the untimely death of Ledger: "I urge all Christians to pray for Hollywood, for each and every performer they see, and to never stop. We may not be able to personally intervene when a celebrity is plunging headfirst into a downward spiral that may claim their life, but we certainly know the One who can."
You don't see that in Total Film, and likewise you don't see user comments like those on Christian Spotlight. Here's one from Adam, aged 21: "Personally, I found this film offensive to my moral spirit ... It detracted me from the Spirit of God, and that's just not OK, seriously."
Over on another site, the wonderfully named Hollywood Jesus, one reviewer (who also enjoyed the movie) wonders if the prevailing darkness in Batman's world is designed to give us some hope for our own. Not that he's convinced this will work: "The fact is, however, looking at something darker ... won't provide the hope that we really need. So where do we find a hope that we can count on? Hebrews 6:18-19 tells us."
To be honest, all this can simply be filed alongside some of the other inflated rhetoric that's accompanied the release of a film which, while you could choose to read it as a post-9/11 allegory, is, as NH contributor Natalie Haynes pointed out on Newsnight Review last week, essentially a very, very cool action movie.
And in case you're wondering what a film has to do to get a good moral rating from Christian Spotlight I'll give you a clue – they were big fans of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.