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.