Monday, July 21, 2008

Finally! -- The Dark Knight Strikes Me

We all know I hate movies. I hated the beloved Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I hated The Great Debators. I hated Gone, Baby, Gone. I hated Freakin' Forrest Gump. All cinematic pap. So, I hear about this new Batman movie coming out, and I think, "Great!" then I hear about it, and hear about it, and hear about, and then people start talking about poor Heath Ledger, and that adds another element, and I start to worry. There's no way this movie can live up to all this. In my mind, no movie can. but maybe, maybe Christopher Nolan can deliver.

He did. It is the best movie I have seen in a long time. I liked Iron Man and Incredible Hulk, but The Dark Knight blows them both away. It blows away almost every comic book movie, except Batman Begins and X-men 2. And we'll see how it settles (A good movie is like a good meal), but it will probably end up as one of my favorite movies EVER, comic book or otherwise. And remember whose blog you're reading.

So, why was it so good? (Here's where I talk about the movie. Don't read if you're one of those people.) Well, first off, it was totally believable and intense from beginning to end. I actually didn't know if The Joker was going to get away with it, and there was a part of me that was hoping he would get away with it, because he was such a great character (kind of like you root for the outlaws in cowboy movies, and gangsters in gangster movies.) I am never fooled in movies, unless they are done really well. I knew Spider-man would always come out on top in his movies. I never doubted for a second that Iron Man would beat the baddie, I just enjoyed watching him do it because Robert Downey, Jr. was pretty funny. There were parts of X-men 2 that got me, like when Magneto reversed the mutant-killing guy to make him target humans was cool. That was big. And this one did it, too. The Joker always seemed to be one step ahead of everybody, and I thought it was fantastic. I actually wanted him to blow everybody away. I actually was hoping that the last we would see of him was him sauntering off in his little nurse's skirt after he blew up the hospital. I know that it would not have been the best send-off for Heath Ledger, but what a finale for The Joker.

So, anyway, every review and podcast will say the same thing as I could say here. the acting, the action, the blah, blah, blah. That's all true. But I expect that out of all my movies. All movies should have great effects and great acting (This isn't live television here. These guys have months to make a movie perfect.) So, what it boils down to, for me, to make a great movie is the writing and the subtle nuances within the characters. For instance, Christian Bale goes to Morgan Freeman and says, "I need a new suit." Morgan immediately remarks that a three-button is a little 90's. Obviously, Bale is talking about a bat-suit, but I thought that line was hilarious (even though no one else in the theater I was in laughed), and it was a very subtle moment that showed you what Lucious Fox was all about and how he works with Bruce Wayne.

I could go on and on about the subtleties of Heath Ledger as The Joker (The two different origins for the scars on his face, the creepy tongue thing he did) but you've read it all before. Let me just say that this will go down as one of the all-time movie bad guys, and deservedly so. Even better than jack Nicholson in the Tim Burton version (Basically a fat old man in a clown suit). And we all know that a hero is only as good as the villain he faces, so there you go.

Just so you know I'm not being all fanboy-gushy about this, I did have a couple small problems with Two-Face. For one, they really beat us over the head with this White Knight of Gotham business. We get it. He's a good guy, and we know he's going to be a bad guy at some point. And my other problem with him was the coin-flipping. I realize that it's a big part of his character, but we only see him as Two-Face for the last half-hour or so, and I think he does the coin-flip about 853 times. Once or twice is probably enough to realize that's his schtick.

Nevertheless, I won't let that take away from my good time. I didn't even let getting caught in the rain on the way home ruin the movie for me. See, every once in a great while, a movie comes along that restores my faith in humanity and makes me realize somebody out there gets it. Natural Born Killers, American Beauty, Saving Private Ryan and now The Dark Knight. I realize that is an odd collection, but that only proves my point. It can happen anytime, anywhere. This one brought me back to my younger days, before I hated everything, before all movies were ruined by film school. It reminded me(to quote James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams) "of all that once was good, and can be again."

People will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

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