I don’t remember the last time I saw a movie in the theaters twice. Here it is less than 48 hours after the second contemporary Batman installment has been released and I have already revisited it. After the initial viewing (12:05 am, July 17th) I was almost ready to sit down and write a dozen page raving review about the genius of this film. Unfortunately I had to sleep and get to class a few hours later, but the movie was still imprinted in my mind. I don’t think I have the energy (or time) to sit down and analyze every spectacular moment since they were all too plentiful, but here are a few notes that I think are necessary.
#1 – Many people who I have spoken to are actually wary to see the film. They are afraid that it is too scary or “dark” (figuratively speaking) for them to enjoy it. I believe the take away message really is hopeful. There were several moments in the plot, 2 in particular (the ferry dilemma and the Reese incident) where not the main characters but the mass human population was faced with intense moral crises. You are forced to consider “How would I react?” “Who would I choose to save?” and the definition of what is ethical in general. The beauty of the execution of the situations is that they are not predictable. ANY outcome could be possible. So rather than being able to sit back, relax, and soon forget about it, you are sitting on the edge of your seat, mouth slightly ajar, and you try not to blink so that you don’t miss a crucial moment in the deliberation. One of my favorite, and the most hopeful, characters is found in the credits under the title “Fat Thug” – if you’ve seen it, you know who I am talking about. I’m almost convinced that if everyone were to watch this movie, the hope that these few characters provide, as well as the end result of the decisions of the masses, would inspire us to be a better people and stand up for the lives of one another.
#2 – This is being said over and over again, but I have never loved a villain as much as I LOVED the Joker. From the moment he first opened his mouth, I couldn’t believe the stunning performance that Heath Ledger delivered. His execution of the dialog is phenomenal. His character is set up perfectly as not just an actor pretending to be insane by overdoing the crazy moments. Crazy does not always mean loud and overbearing. For those paying attention, he really drove his insanity home in a quiet response.
Thug: You’re crazy!
Joker: [almost whispering] I’m not. No I’m noT. (capitalization on the last “T” from the way he clicks his tongue. Such a little detail but it is freaky)
Joker: You see guys like me …
Thug: Yeah, a freak
Joker: [shyly] guys like me… guys .. like .. YOU know what? (dialog continues more confidently, but he has a shy doubt in character then pushes that behind him and just lays it out like it is)
These incidents in his opening scene plus much later his insane laughter while he is getting severely beaten up show how messed up he really is. Even when he is walking toward a speeding Bat-motorcycle that is racing in his direction (the same one that just AMAZINGLY flipped over an 18-wheeler as one of the best special effects of the film) he is mumbling to himself “I want you to do it, I want you to do it, come on hit me, I want you to do it.” It is almost as if he is trying to convince himself or is loosing his mind (though it is already gone), Batman clearly can’t hear him so its not for his benefit. It is actually true, he is so into fighting with Batman that he THRIVES on the thrill that Batman could take him out any second. My absolute favorite line in the film, when he starts the line, you can see where he is going but you are almost knocked over with the irony “I don’t want to KILL you! You … complete … me.”
So later Joker poses the question “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?” This timeless paradox (click here, it actually really is philosophical) is valid, because Ledger’s performance as Joker really leaves the affect of an unstoppable force. Absolutely Amazing.
I could go on and on, but those are my two main take-home-points. For another good review, visit Peter Traver’s article in The Rolling Stone.
Batman: The Dark Knight has far surpassed the usual boring summer flick status and actually hit the “significant art” level in my book.
Oh, yeah, and Christian Bale is in it, too.