Monday, July 21, 2008

Dark Meat

(Note: this post will probably be full of spoilers, but judging by the box office numbers everyone on the goddam planet has seen this movie at least once by now, so I guess it doesn't matter.)

I just got out of The Dark Knight, and I wanted to get something written down while I'm still floating in a haze of big budget wonder. I have a bad habit of convincing myself I didn't actually like a movie if given enough time to think about it, so I figure the sooner the better. But don't be surprised if I end up hating it by the end of this post. But right now? Totally don't hate it. Think it's pretty rad, in fact. Most people seem to agree. I haven't read any reviews or anything yet (reading reviews before seeing movies is totally lame, and I will stand by that until I die), but right now Dark Knight is #1 on IMDB by a fairly substantial margin. These numbers are early, and will clearly dip once more people actually see the damn thing, but even still: that is crazy. You people love this movie more than any other movie. And by "you people" of course I mean people who actually go to IMDB and rate a movie after watching it. But I guess your opinion matters? I mean, I'm typing this into a text box on a screen so it will be posted to a fake internet idea called a "blog," so I guess I'm not really one to talk.

Some initial thoughts, in the form of a numbered list:

1) I heard two things about this movie before seeing it. (a) That it's a more "realistic" Batman movie, and (b) that it's "very dark." Neither of these things are accurate. Realistic? Certainly, there are a number of different ideas of what might constitute realism--De Sica this is not, I get that. But dammit people, when I see the batmobile (a largish vehicle, keep in mind) leap into the air like a goddam animal to intercept a bazooka shot, "realism" isn't the term that comes to mind. Not that I'm complaining--let me make that clear. These types of ridiculous feats are, in my mind, totally acceptable and necessary in the realm of Gotham. I feed on them, if you must know. But realism? The only explanation I can come up with is that people accidentally wandered into Up the Yangtze or something by mistake, and thought it was Dark Knight. ("Man, Christian Bale really is a master of accents! His mandarin is terrific!")

As for the darkness? Well, I guess it was. But I wanted dark dark. I wanted nightmares. I wanted (more) disturbing imagery. I wanted death and decay and unstoppable moral corruption. Here's my real dilemma: I wanted something that, these days, no major studio is going to give me. I wanted an R rating! Box office suicide, I know. I don't care. Just imagine what could have been...

(While I'm thinking about it, has everybody seen Batman Dead End? Back before Nolan took the helm, it was the closest we had to a good Batman movie for several years. If you haven't seen it, DON'T read the description. Just watch it. And turn the lights out.)

2) Maggie Gyllenhaal is one-thousand percent better than Katie Holmes. Katie Holmes is bullshit.

3) I almost tried to convince myself that I didn't like Heath Ledger as the Joker, just to be able to argue with people--but I really did. He was great. I was, I'll admit, a little worried the first time he gave his "how I got these scars" speech. My vision clouded with rage at the notion of the Joker having such a cliché origin story. But thankfully it was a fakeout, and the Nolans left him exactly how he should be: a rootless agent of pure chaos. I mean, he's still no Cesar Romero... but I can't fault him for that.

4) Much better than the earlier film (which I still liked). I tend to get bored with Batman Begins about an hour in, but with Dark Knight it was exactly the opposite: an hour in is when it really started to get good. Actually, let me be more specific. (Also, spoiler alert.) I really started to enjoy it the second Maggie Gyllenhaal exploded. Not because I didn't like her, obviously. It was just a total surprise. Not the fact that she was going to explode, but how she exploded. Mid-fucking-word! Right in the middle of her teary goodbye! Needless to say, I was the only one in the (totally sold-out) theater laughing uproariously at that point. And from there everything just got better. The Joker dressing like a nurse and blowing up hospitals, civilians at each other's throats, Batman beating up cops, and so on. Oh, and also...

5) Two-Face actually looks kind of creepy, instead of just dumb. And they did away with the whole "disfigured by acid" story, which is hell of passé nowadays. Straight up gasoline and fire. That's realism for you!

6) Am I the only person on Earth who is tired of Morgan Freeman? I don't care about him anymore. I will surely go to hell for saying this, but is there not one other non-threatening african-american actor out there that can be cast in these kinds of roles?

7) The politics of the movie are a little shady, which I guess comes with the territory. We get a lot of double-talk about the cost of justice and freedom and all that, but basically Bruce Wayne is a rich white man who tells everybody what to believe, and we are (more or less) supposed to consider this is a good thing. It's no 300 or anything mind you--there are dashes of ambiguity here and there. But still.

8) Speaking of Zack Snyder: the Watchmen trailer played before the movie. Naturally I had already seen it about 400,000 times online, but it was interesting to see the audience's reaction. Will this movie be worthwhile? Probably not. It basically just looks like they gave Snyder a green screen and a camera with the "slow motion" button taped down again. (I'm pretty sure that's how cameras work.) But surprisingly, the trailer was actually kind of... cool? I guess we'll find out next year.

(Now that I've finished writing this I don't feel like reading it over, so kindly ignore any crazy spelling mistakes or endless rambling sentences. I've just opened a bottle of wine and I don't really feel up to proof reading.)


elgringo said...

I love that Millhouse picture. It reminded me that I thought Ledger's voice sounded like Chief Wiggum mixed with Professor Frink.

Keith said...

That means Hank Azaria should be the Joker in the next movie! I'd support that.

Fox said...

Man... I big time disagree with ya on Maggie Gyllenhaal. I couldn't get into her performance at all. She seemed bored, listless.

And I hate to say this, but I find her less attractive these days.

Keith said...

How odd! If anything, I find her more attractive these days. Don't know why exactly. And yeah, her performance wasn't totally tip-top, but I also have a semi-baseless grudge against Katie Holmes.

Arjan said...

I can never hold grudges against beautiful women in movies (I like both). Doesn't matter if they're in league with crazy male actors.

Great movie, great review.