I woke up with great anticipation on Friday July 18th. It was like the excitement you feel when it’s the last day of school, the first day of camp, your 21st birthday, and Christmas. Well, Christmas (or Chanukah) came early this year with the opening of The Dark Knight. On Thursday night, I saw people flood the streets of New York in their Batman T-shirts and Joker make-up. One girl even carried a sign that read: “Will trade phone number for Dark Night ticket.” So when I woke up Friday morning, all I could think of was Batman. In the morning, I attended one of my post-grad school classes. Instead of taking notes, I poorly doodled the Batman symbol all over my notebook. Today was all about The Dark Knight.
I wanted to see the movie on IMAX, but of course it was sold out. Fortunately, I was able to sneak a ticket to the 1pm showing at the Union Square theatre in NY. I was surprised how easily I was able to get tickets. In LA, this would’ve been impossible. But then I remembered people actually have jobs in New York, and nobody works in LA.
The Dark Knight is a challenging movie to review because it is so complex, layered, intense, and lengthy. The Nolan brothers (Memento, Batman Begins) delivered so much that my mind overloaded in a good way. You could tell how much time and effort they put into this film. They should be applauded for taking pride in their work especially with so many superhero/action movies mailing it in with predictable stories, scenes, and characters.
The opening scene is a bank robbery which is clever, unique, and fast paced. It sets the tone that this movie is going to be unpredictable, fun, and scary. There are several other action/thriller type scenes that I’d never seen before. The best action sequence comes in the middle of the movie: the car chase topped off by a 16 wheeler flipping over (the one in the trailer) is voyeuristic bliss.
The cast is great, and Heath Ledger’s role as the Joker is extraordinary. In fact, I wouldn’t have known who played the part if it wasn’t advertised all over the place. It seemed like the Joker was a real person they found on the street, and then they made a disturbing reality show about him. What I mean is that he seemed absolute real: sadistic, horrifying, and creepy as hell. Sure, he’ll make you crack up a few times, but you’re still scared.
Throughout the movie, the Joker forces Batman and the city of Gotham to constantly make choices. To make things more complicated, there is no right decision. Either way, there will be a negative outcome. In other words, someone’s going down no matter what/who you choose to save. The Joker also tries to prove that we’re all a little evil inside. “Introduce a little anarchy... Upset the established order... Well then everyone loses their minds!” As a viewer, we are glued to our seats because we have no idea what’s going to happen: Who’s gonna live? Who’s gonna die? Who’s good? Who’s bad? The movie jerks us around and forces us to wait and see.
By the end of the film, I felt completely drained. The Dark Knight provides several complex and rich characters, a deep and well-thought out plot, some excellent action scenes, an intense musical score, and an unforgettable image of the Joker. When it’s over, you’ll feel like you just saw 2 or 3 movies at once.
There were not many flaws to the movie, but one included the length: 2 hours and 30 minutes. The last 45 minutes felt a little like a different movie, and stretched it out unnecessarily. Another complaint was that the people of Gotham were complete idiots especially the cops. They fall for the same tricks over and over again and as a viewer it gets a little frustrating. It reminded me of the horror movie when the soon-to-be-dead character goes into the dark basement. Don’t do it! Audience members kept shouting that as yet another character gets tricked by the Joker. Don’t do it!
I spoke to a lot of friends who thought this movie was amazing. But I put it in the very good category. It was hard to love it because it is so heavy, lengthy, a little confusing, and disturbing. Originally, I planned on seeing the movie 2 or 3 times (at least once on the IMAX.) But when I left, I was exhausted. It was kind’ve like watching a war movie. I saw it, it was very good, but I need a break from it because it was so intense. I could see movie buffs classifying this as an excellent movie because it is so layered and complex. But for me, it gets a very good. I still think the 1989 Batman with Jack Nicholson was more enjoyable, but give The Dark Knight lots of credit. Even though it was a sequel, it was still very well made, and it gave us a reason to love The Batman and fear the Joker once again.
On a Side Note, I hate People.
There were a few things that hurt my movie experience on Friday.
#1 The idiots at Union Square lined up people for the next showing just outside my theatre with 40 minutes left in the movie. People were literally 2 feet from the door, and I could hear them talking, shouting, and laughing. When I left the theatre, I said to the three 20 year-old girls with a volume control problem that I thought there was a party out here. They laughed not understanding that I hated them. Then one girl giggled: “Wow! You could hear us the whole time?” Then she paused for a second. “Wait a second…that must’ve been really annoying.” Exactly.
#2 I hate to bring up movie jail again, but this is killing me. Shut off your damn cell phones. DO NOT SPEAK ON YOUR PHONE unless you have a dying family member or something as dire. DO NOT check the time on your cell phone. Holding up your lit up phone is the equivalent of holding up a shaking flashlight in the middle of the theatre. And what kills me is that the same person checks the time (or for a text) every 20 minutes. Why are you even at the movies? Go away!
For those who haven’t read about my theory of movie jail, here it is again from a previous post:
Mid-way through the movie, some random guy kept yelling out jokes. Two people chuckled which encouraged his tirade of hideous one-liners. It took 3 or 4 “SHUT UPs!” over a course of 20 minutes to make him stop. I don’t believe this should ever be allowed, but I guess if a movie is terrible, sometimes it’s OK. But not only was he distracting us from a good movie, but he wasn’t funny either. He basically ruined 20 minutes of the film for all of us except the two stupid people who laughed. So I have a theory to prevent this…the MOVIE JAIL. Offenders include the man from above, idiots on their cell phones, and d-bags that talk to each other throughout the movie. These offenders will be escorted to the lobby and imprisoned in a confined yet hospitable jail cell. I will neither encourage nor prevent abiding audience members from throwing popcorn and such at the perpetrators as they walk by the prison. Once the film ends, the offenders will be released, and hopefully will have learned a valuable lesson. Don’t ruin my movies! This might seem a bit extreme, but I feel it will improve the overall movie viewing experience for all of us.