Thursday, July 24, 2008

Batman, Bateman and a Bad Attitude

In the same time that The Dark Knight became Citizen Kane, I actually went to see the movie, much to my own surprise.

I own up to this: I don't care about superheroes. None of them really. Unless you count Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the series, obviously), the genre is completely off my radar. I love a rich mythology, veiled subtexts and hunky male leads though, so nothing seems missing on the surface. Still, with consistency, I forget these movies the moment I've left the theatre. Worse yet, as is completely unlike me, I nod off within the first hour. In my distaste for eating popcorn at the movies, do the popcorn movies pass me by?

Well to minimize the genre and this superior sequel is completely unfair. The Dark Knight has plenty of arc, a beefy Christian Bale (in too many layers), one of my favorite young actresses Maggie Gyllenhaal (with too few scenes), and even darker than usual undertones (with too little blood and gore, let's be honest). As for the plot? I may have forgotten it... Nevertheless, I know I've watched a superior superhero movie. More importantly, I stayed awake.

The Dark Knight
doesn't buck character for explosions, it doesn't overuse CGI, and it strips bare most of the bombastic excess for a dense plot. That's not to say it does all this flawlessly, but it stays true to being a spectacle film while allowing that to be the cause of some stellar casting choices and well timed twists.

I guess I can't deride the film's over-hyped success either, as long as it's so far beyond the tripe that so often get this kind of box office reception. It's worthy of respect, but I'm not going to lie. I'm still hoping the next film in the franchise is the Batman & Robin kind of awful. There's a certain shitty novelty that I can appreciate there, plus I know mockery keeps me awake. Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Christian Bale have foregone the puns and rubber nipple shots for a level of legitimacy I'm not sure I can get behind. Why so serious? If Morgan Freeman can't bear to say "let's kick some ice!"... fuck him.

Additional comments:
  • I get a feeling the mockery is universal when it comes to Bale's "Batman Voice." It's not quite a John Wayne impersonation... So what's going on there?
  • A great turn from Heath Ledger, of course. He gave every scene a certain sizzle that hasn't been in this series since Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman purred and pounced. She's still my favorite Batman villain, and that makes me think that in the next installment we need another female villain, or possibly the intro of the gay sidekick. Let's get this sexual tension thing going!
  • I loved when Bruce Wayne walks into that party scene with three girls on his arm. He's a player, and I bet he's had a few Patrick Bateman-inspired "don't just stare at it, eat it" scenarios. Bateman is basically Batman, but instead of rescuing a stray cat, he'd try feeding it to an ATM. Ahh, Patrick Bateman... Saving the city from yuppies and the homeless, one day at a time.

Seriously. Any excuse.

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