Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight

My kids didn't get to see Batman Begins three summers ago -- I went to see it without them, and then took just my old kids (who were 14 and 15 at the time) to see it. My 3 sons, then 9, 6, and 3, I kept home, despite their bitching. They did get to see the movie eventually, but only after it came out on DVD and we could fast forward through some of the rougher scenes.

The Dark Knight is much scarier than Batman Begins. My boys are all three years older ... and they still can't go see this. The Joker is a living nightmare, folks. Take that PG-13 very, very seriously.

Amy and I went and saw it last night at a 12:45 A.M. showing. As we were walking from our car to the theater, Amy said, "I usually feel pretty sensible. Right now I feel like a geek."

I said, "I was just thinking, I usually feel middle-aged. Right now I feel young."

"Same thing," she said. "Nicer phrasing."

The word "masterpiece" has been tossed about casually this summer. Wall-E got it, and The Dark Knight got it. Both are very good movies, and neither are masterpieces. (Though Wall-E comes closer than Dark Knight.) But Wall-E's second half is merely first-rate slapstick, and The Dark Knight is a good half hour too long. Masterpieces don't have you looking at your phone to see how close you are to the end, and I did that a couple times as we crept past the 120 minute mark with Dark Knight. Is it the best superhero movie ever? Possibly, though that's very faint praise. The list of really first-rate superhero movies is still awfully short -- in roughly chronological order it goes: Superman, Superman 2 (the Donner cut), Batman, Batman Returns, Spiderman 2, X-Men 2, Superman Returns, and Iron Man ... and I start going blank. Maybe you could throw The Incredibles in there, too, and possibly The Matrix. (Superman Returns is my favorite of the bunch, though maybe not the best -- I saw SR three times in theaters, and I almost never see anything twice in theaters, these days -- I'm not going to go see Dark Knight again.)

In any event it's not a big list. The comparisons to The Godfather I've heard thrown about are ludicrous. Dark Knight, as good as it is, is getting the overpraise lavished on movies that do something unexpected. (It's not how well the bear dances...) If Christopher Nolan had made a movie about Gotham without Batman in it, with a freaky clown character not named the Joker as the villain, the word "masterpiece" wouldn't have flown off one tenth as many keyboards.

Don't get me wrong: it's a first rate movie, and Heath Ledger is every bit as brilliant as advertised. But it's not yet the superhero movie that stacks up with the best of regular cinema. I don't doubt that movie's coming, but this isn't it, not yet.

Probable Oscar for Ledger.

~~~~~

I owe a bunch of people e-mail. Should get to it this weekend.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, Dan,

Are you going to release A.I. Wars any time soon? I am dying to read it.

Thanks, Ed

Uliari said...

I have to admit I would choose to live in a world in which super heroes existed...

My taste in movies has changed little over the years. I still love Star Wars IV-VI. And I would take my daughter or son to it but I would expect them to process it with me so I know they were OK with it and have a context with which to understand and place it.

I am not sure that is the main point of this post but I did like hearing from you...Thank you, DKM.

Sean Fagan said...

Dan: I disagree with you about Wall-E. Yes, there's slapstick humour in it (it's largely a comedy, after all), but once you disregard the humans in the plot, the whole movie is really a love story. And the first half introduces Wall-E, and shows him attempting to woo Eve. The second half, however, is about Eve coming to feel for Wall-E, and then acting on it.

I think I told you that it may be the best love story I've ever seen. Even on the third viewing, the dance still brings tears to my eyes.

uliari: I don't want to live in a world with superheroes. Because such a world has supervillains, as well. I've long held the belief -- and shared it with anyone who'd listen :) -- that the various construction unions secretly finance both the heroes and villains. Because Metropolis needs to be rebuilt in a week, and that means premium wages!

Uliari said...

sean: I guess I would have to say that some kind of secret construction union conspiracy would have to exist in a world were being of great power blasted the snot out of everything just to win...

Could it be that there is a super-powered union that just liked the world the way it is in super's universe?

My desire to live in such a world has to do with the desire to live in a world that rewards those who do good and punishes those who do wrong. The universe that we live in is basically only out to get everyone. I'd like to believe that I would have a better life in that kind of universe.

It would be nice if ruthlessness was punished because it was self-centred. Bad new for its own sake to those whom practiced narcissism...

Anyway...

Pagan Topologist said...

I'm confused. I thought Batman Begins came out in 1989.

Telpereon C. Arbor said...

Batman Begins came out in 2005...

joseph said...

Ok I admit it, I must be a bad father. I took my daughter to see Dark Knight. She liked it, the only thing that she didn't like was Two-face, or half of him at least. I tend to agree he was a little disturbing. There were a few parts that I wish she had not seen though. It did seem a little more violent.

joseph said...

Oh yeah I meant to say she is nine.

Steve Perry said...

I am still trying to figure out how DK got a PG-13 rating. It needed an R for violence.

People know their own children -- sometimes -- and age alone is not the only indicator of how far along a child may be. That said, I wouldn't take a pre-pube child to see DK, and I think it will give nightmares to a lot of kids who want the toys from MIckey D's or Burger King and whose parents believe it is suitable fodder for them.

It isn't, in my book.

Dan Moran said...

Joseph,

You know your kids better than anyone else does. Some kids are more mature than others -- I wouldn't take the average nine year old to Dark Knight, but all kids are different. If you're cool with your decision, I wouldn't second guess you.

Dan Moran said...

Steve,

Yeah -- a couple "fucks" or some boobs and butts, an R. (An erect dick: NC-17! NC-17! AAAAAAHHHHHH! Run! Hide!)

A sociopathic killer who tortures and kills people, brutal violence every ten minutes without exception ... PG-13.

The MPAA are whores all the way down.

Steve Perry said...

Part of our puritan ethos -- titties bad, axe to the head, no big deal ...

eain said...

Steve-

Keep me out of your puritan ethos. I'll have no part of it. ;)

(Yeah, I know, I live here too, so it's still "ours." But I don't like it, and never have.)