The Dark Knight

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May launched a very anticipated summer movie season for me: Iron Man, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Kung Fu Panda, Wall-E, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, and finally, The Dark Knight. Let’s face it: the summer is usually a season of heavily hyped disappointers with a couple gold nuggets that slip through. I have to say on the whole I felt this summer was largely satisfactory, and went out on a very, very good note.

After the series of Batman films wound painfully down in the 90’s, I’d really written off hope for one of my favorite comic book heroes. Batman wasn’t the dark, brooding, troubled vigilante that delivered justice via brain, brawn and ingenious technology that he should have been; he’d become a James Bond full of corny one-liners that battled silly, bumbling bad guys in funny costumes. It was embarrassing.

Then Batman Begins came out in 2005. I went with expectations carefully in check, but excited at the appropriate darkness I’d seen in the previews. Was it perfect? No, but it hit all the right notes with me. I loved it. Its sequel, The Dark Knight, came out Thursday at midnight. I didn’t see it until Sunday afternoon, but everyone I heard in the interim — friends, family, fellow bus riders and strangers in cafes — had very positive things to say. I would say them, too, except the movie left me largely speechless.

I LOVED IT. It’s long (152 minutes), but it’s really two movies. Right when the story seems to resolve and your internal story-clock is thinking “ah, here’s the end”, they twist it around and give you another 45 minutes of movie. Heath Ledger’s Joker is deliciously unpredictable. Aaron Eckhart is an ambitious, well-intentioned and valiant Harvey Dent, which makes his fall from grace all the more painful. Christian Bale is… well, he’s a dark, brooding, troubled vigilante.  And you have to love a supporting cast that consists of Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman.

The mood is dark, gritty, dangerous, and beautiful. There’s a layer of wonderful anxiety over the whole movie. People died, which was refreshing; I like a movie that isn’t afraid to kill important people off. Characters are believable and artfully crafted. The costumes and technology are modern and realistic. Some of the plot was predictable, but they threw enough curve balls that I stopped guessing and just let them take me for a ride. They cover a lot of ground. The end is… poetically bittersweet and wonderful. It was a perfect movie experience as far as I’m concerned, with magic that won’t strike again, especially in light of the rumors that Bale and Nolan will not return for the third installment.

It’s rare that you see a movie that legitimizes the hype. This totally lived up to my expectations.

BONUS: They showed a preview for the film adaption of Alan Moore’s Watchmen. The Billy Corgan music pseudo-slow-mo thing was a little over the top for me, but I’m still looking forward to it. Can they pull it off? I don’t know. It’s a seriously dense piece of fiction. Here’s hopin’ they can.

This should conclude the movie reviews for a while. Probably. Maybe.

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