Monday, July 21, 2008

Dark Knight

Darren says: Best comic book movie ever. Christopher Nolan says, damn skippy.
"Memento" rocked. "Batman Begins" rocked. That is just the director.
Toss in Christian Bale -- "American Psycho", "The Machinist", "Equilibrium". "Reign of Fire", "The Prestige" and even "Velvet Goldmine" -- as the darkest Batman yet and the only thing that could go wrong would be the villain.
Actually the hardest part of the Dark Knight is knowing Heath Ledger is dead. He made a lot more movies than James Dean, and leaves us with quite a legacy. The marketing suits play up the connection, but it is absolutely unnecessary, excessively tawdry, and even worse than all the damn product tie ins that play during the previews/tv ads.
Ledger played the Joker unflinching. A masterful performance. I could not watch, just as I had trouble with "the Crow", and forget that the guy I was watching was dead. A true shame.
On the positive side, this bleak uncompromising vision of Gotham has terrific camera. I was actually able to see the heightened depth of field of the Imax equipment, and Nolan was able to show it off. Fight scenes were brutal, quick and physical. Until the blinking blue eye caps we are treated to Bale in the blackest black suit and the clearly real world engineered Batmobile with a dose of real world weight and heft unmatched in the artificial light of the CG choreography that rules the modern actioner. No F15s in midtown Gotham!
Nolan does not live in a bubble, and like every film made since 911, he pushes the Iraq War into our face. Batman faces his heart of darkness, we must face our chickenshit response to a conflict we choose not to understand. We must face the absurdity of serving evil to destroy a perceived threat, and understand the cost to our own soul.
Heavy stuff for comic books.
That just means you haven't read any comics lately. Comic writers have been grappling with power and the abuse of it long before Bush took office, but the lines have never been drawn with such emphasis. Artists are sensitive people, and the assault on morality and reason has been unrelenting for the last 8 years. Enough is enough, and that plain fact has bled onto the screen, into the comics, and blogs and the cereal aisle at Dillons.
Janet Jackson (fine rescinded) was charged a half million dollars for a breast flash while we waterboard human beings. Thank goodness the Pentagon has a voice in every newsroom to make excuses.
The overt critical movies like "Rendition" and "Stop Loss" died like "Talladega Nights" should have, Nolan is smart enough to wrap his message in Batwings and serve it hot, in the dark.
Since every man woman and child in America will see "Dark Knight" twice (if the box is to be believed) perhaps the tide will turn -- no more eviscerated, bubble-gum "Fantastic Four" movies, and no more draconian laws and pardons for the illusion of safety. When the corporate ties to modern evil are a given (A la Iron Man) and government collusion (Lord of War) not even a twist, perhaps the voting public will make the connection.
"The Sheep Look Up" if you will, with all apologies to John Brunner.
Recommended (even though you have already seen it)

1 comment:

  1. The best part was the jokers 'magic trick' making the pencil disappear.