Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Best Weekend Ever? pt. 1

Now I'm not one for hyperbole, but when the movie you've been waiting close to three years for opens the same weekend as the concert you've been waiting all summer for, you know it must be the best weekend ever!

July 18th 2008.

Like the true geeks we are, Lesley and I are finally able to see 'The Dark Knight'. We bought our tickets a whopping six days in advance online (ironically we didn't get our first two preferred times) and went to the theater an entire hour early, which for us is as early as...we're willing to go.

But the prep for this movie started WAY before last Friday. To gear up we watched 'Batman Begins' in June, and I bought one of the graphic novels that inspired the Nolan films "Batman: The Long Halloween" last week.

On a side note, there are few things in life better than a really good graphic novel. I'm not really a huge comic book fan, but I loves the graphic novels, and "The Long Halloween" doesn't disappoint. I read all 370 someodd pages in about 20 minutes. I've recently purchased the sequel "Batman: Dark Victory" on half.com and curse the postal service each day it doesn't arrive.

But back to Friday, having watched the three trailers a combined total of at least 35 times each, and having read 116 rave reviews about the film, including Jed's six word review, we were feeling pretty prepared for the dark thrill ride that lay before us.

I'm not going to lie, I was still a little shocked by how dark the film was. I loved the bloody thing, and will probably see it at least one more time in the theater and own it as soon as it comes out on DVD, but MAN! When Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face and is missing a cheek (his whole cheek people!) a nostril and an eyelid I was somewhat appalled. Granted the damaged looked very CG, but c'mon! No eyelid! Lesley wasn't half as disturbed as I was, saying that if his skin looked like it was 3rd degree burned it'd be much grosser in her mind.

I was surprised how challenging the film is to the audience. If we compare it to another summer superhero blockbuster, Iron Man, we get an interesting look at what makes a summer blockbuster a spree of pure entertainment vs. a viable piece of film art, to sound horribly snobby.

Iron Man is pure confection on screen. We are treated with a wise guy handsome protagonist, with neat technology, a pretty assistant, and an evil, if not fear inducing villain. While the protagonist does face some viable danger, we are never in fear for him for we know he will vanquish evil and save the day, all the while having our ribs tickled by his funny jokes and our senses pleased by the stunning action sequences. A very satisfying bit of summer pop-corn moviedom, and if I never see it again, I really don't mind.

And then we have 'The Dark Knight' where every character seems in some sort of mortal danger the entire movie. We have a villain, who while charismatic, is completely terrifying and reeks havoc not only on Gotham City, but our, as an audience, feeling of security the entire film. We're right to feel uneasy, because not only is he completely capable of carrying out horrible things, he actually
succeeds a staggering amount of the time. Our hero is not only vulnerable to this villain, he also battling his own sense of right and wrong, and struggling to maintain a balance with his own morality. We have other main characters whose families are in danger (including children mind you), and another who loses his sense of justice for blind revenge against those who harmed him. Heavy stuff for a summer, comic-book movie.

And yet 'The Dark Knight' pulls it off beautifully. The action was exhilarating without pulling focus from the characters. The climax is satisfying without being 'a happy ending'. Nolan brings the extra weight to a Summer film and has the chops to keep an increasingly demanding and cynical audience satisfied and hungry for more. I'm excited to see this film again, and will probably see it many more times over the years to fully get my mind around it. The themes of true heroism, sacrifice, and what it takes to whether the storms of evil will radiate with me for a long time to come.

Which begs the question 'what next?' I read on a film blog, by an astute film viewer, that the Nolan Batman cycle could follow a traditional three act play. Act one being the beginning and set up. Act two comes the crisis and fall, and Act three brings redemption. I like this idea, and hope that Chris Nolan will lend his auture stylings to Gotham one more time. If for nothing else, to ease the jones of this closeted comic fan.


  1. Look at this guy write. Are you in grad school or something? Right on. So, Wall-E or Batman, which one you going to see again first? And have you read The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. That one rules. I've got a hold request on the long halloween, so I'll get to that soon. You know what else rules? The graphic novel of Nausicaa. He wrote it before the movie, so it's way more in depth and pretty fascinating.

    So what was the concert?

  2. It sorta deepens on what sort of movie night the fam has. If it's family night it'll be Wall-E for sure, but if it's date night Les and I will probably see Dark Knight first, we'll see it soon if 'The X files' movie gets bad reviews. After that I fear we might go see the new Mummy film just to see the new Harry Potter trailer. Yeah, that's right, we might see a movie just to see a trailer, got a problem with that Holmes?

    Interestingly enough I had 'The Dark Knight Returns' when I was a kid. My mom got it for me for a long car trip not knowing how dark it was. I wasn't old enough to really READ it, but I looked at the pictures. My mom hid it from me when she actually took a second to look through it.

    Hold request? P-shaw! You can borrow 'Long Halloween' from me, and then maybe I'll stop thumbing through it with my spare time.