Main menu

"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

What's the appropriate rating for The Dark Knight?

by Ken Newquist / July 21, 2008
6% (1 vote)
31% (5 votes)
63% (10 votes)
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 16


I think PG13 is sufficient.

There were creepy themes. The joker looked scary. Two Face looked scary.

But really most of the violence happened 'off screen'. Not very FAR offscreen, I'll admit. More like the camera man saying "dude! that's horrible!" and quickly turning away just enough. :)

But there were a lot of 'good' themes in the movie, too. The overriding theme of sacrifice and heroism. Of standing up to do what's right and being strong enough to withstand the consequences. And especially Harvey defending Batman's actions. These were all valuable lessons for kids to see.

Off screen, on screen, I think it was still far, far too intense for 13-year-olds. The scenes with the joker placing the knife to the inside of his victim's mouth while explaining how he got his scars? The death of a goon by pencil? Incinerating a man alive?

Hell, is there a single action by the Joker that doesn't cause some sort of intense psychological or emotional anxiety on the part of viewers? Nicholson's Joker was lauded for being a dark madman, but he's got nothing, nothing on Ledger.

Yes, all of the violence happens off screen, but in this case I think that the overall effect is far, far greater than the sum of its parts. I'm not saying its bad; I'm just saying that it's not something I'd take *my* 13-year-old to see (granted, I doubt Jordan would ever *want* to see this kind of movie, but I digress).

To me, these ratings are designed to inform parents of the content within. PG-13 says that it may be inappropriate for kids under 13 because it has some adult themes. (definitions here, btw).

An R rating, on the other hand, says that kids under 17 can't see it without and adult, and that "Parents are strongly urged to find out more about R-rated motion pictures in determining their suitability for their children."

To me, that fits The Dark Knight to a T. This isn't something that parents should be walking into uninformed, and they certainly shouldn't assume that because it's a superhero flick that it's automatically appropriate for kids. It's all the more important with Batman, given the campy history of the 60s television series and the non-Burtan movies. IMHO, a stronger warning is in order.

Ultimately though, it's a hard call because it's so subjective. The MPAA ratings are focused on stuff they can quantify -- is there violence on screen? is there nudity? is there drug use? -- while avoiding the meat of the movie.

If nothing else, the PG-13 label itself needed to be more strongly worded. As stands it reads "Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace."

"some menace" ... are they kidding?

The Joker toy was so scary that they hade to pull it off the shelves. I know in the ideas of the rating scales it did not cross the lines of a rated R movie, But some of the since were dark to the point of making me double think about things. But then again my 13 year old brother sate next to me though the movie and had no trouble. So where I do not think I could watch it at 13 maybe this generation is desensitized enough.

Spoiler Stop reading if you are one of the few to have seen this movie and care about small spoilers: The part where the dead man is hung in front of the window or joker coming from the body bags though amazing in a dark way I would think would be the parts to strong for kids.

Heh. Well, then again when I was 13 I was happily working my way through the works of Stephen King (Dead Zone, The Shining, etc.) so maybe I would have been ok with it. I don't know -- but I do think that as an advisory rating for parents, this one needs to pack a stronger punch. I don't know think this is the sort of film you plan a birthday party around for your 13 year old. :)

I agree with E.G. that PG-13 was sufficient, but some of the scenes were definitely pushing the envelope.

I took my 12-yr-old son, and he didn't seem disturbed. If I had seen the movie first myself, I would still have taken Zack to see it, but with us and not a group of his friends, per se. I'd always prefer that we're there to discuss anything that bothered him, etc.

All that said, my worry with the PG-13 rating is that it won't be enough to dissuade parents from taking even *younger* kids. Too many parents will be thinking, "It's a comic book movie - how disturbing can it be?" Example: there was a mother sitting behind us in the theater with two kids that could only have been 5 yrs old. Not good.

Edit: One more comment. I'm pretty certain that for marketing reasons, the producers did everything possible to obtain the PG-13 rating (vs. R) to ensure a broader audience.

A busy gamer dad shares his thoughts on gaming, geek life, and other eclectic topics of the day.

Yeah, having given some more thought to it, I agree with you -- it's less about the movie being inappropriate for 13-year-olds, and more about people realizing that it *really* isn't for kids younger than that, and that if they do let their pre-teens see it, they should be right there with them.

I took my nephew to Batman Begins when he was five, against my better judgement (his mom said he'd be fine, he really, really wanted to go, and I was already taking his 12-year-old sister ... so I gave in).

That was obviously a mistake -- he liked the film, but the Scarecrow's final ride was just too much for him and we bailed early. That said, The Dark Knight is far, far more disturbing than the earlier film and I can't imagine taking any kid under say, 10, to see it.

Of course, my perspective on this has been skewed heavily, since I know have my own 5-year-old who's easily scared, so I tend to be a little more more sensitive to these things than I was (re: our conversations regarding Star Wars in the last few episodes of Radio Active).

I don't how in the world this movie got a PG13 rating. Once upon a time, I could take my nine year old to see some PG 13 movies. Since seeing the Hulk, however, with the R rated trailers and all the violence within the movie, I decided that there would be no more PG 13 for him until he's 13. The Dark Knight pushes the envelope even further however. lt did not seem appropriate for a 13 year old.

I think film makers are getting very crafty at editing and scripting to get the money making/greater audience getting PG 13 rating. It was a fantastic movie but I don't like feeling tricked.

Who is monitoring this?

Was the Dark Knight originally rated "R" when it was in theaters? Did anyone notice how it was maybe edited. Like the scene where the Joker kills the black mob guy? I remember it a happening differently in theaters.

The Dark Knight was PG-13 in theatres. I haven't seen the DVD yet, so I don't know if it has any uncut scenes. It wouldn't surprise me though.