The Dark Knight (2008) – Christopher Nolan (Dir.), Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Eric Roberts…basically everyone again

Dude, it’s behind you…

As we have witnessed this franchises lowest lows, so must we visit its soaring high. As the flashing neon of Schumacher and the pop music of Burton drift off into the distance, Grand Master Nolan reaches down from the grit-covered heavens and offers us entry into the darkest most decrepit vision of the Bat-world. If The Avengers hadn’t soared its glorious way across the silver screen this last summer, The Dark Knight would have to unequivocally be the greatest comic book movie ever made. Other than Ang Lee’s HULK, of course. But I’ll go off about that work of brilliance another day (read: sarcasm). I remember when I was living in England, the trickle of news about Ledger’s joker infecting the news waves, tickling our fanboy titties, just teasing us with the titillating temptation of the Dark Knight’s greatest villain. Honestly, all I was hoping for was a musical interlude in an art museum and purple berets. I was sorely disappointed when that was replaced with ‘good acting’. What pish-posh! Thematic depth? Well constructed character arcs? Get yourselves out of my genre of goofy bullshit and go back to that Ishiguro movie. The one with Keira Knightly where she maybe gets naked. Maybe not. I haven’t seen it. The point remains the same, who let you be so fucking good at this Chris Nolan? Did Zeus descend from Mt. Olympus disguised as a ‘talented director’ and impregnate your mother (thinking it was, after all, Rob Reiner circa 1985…ewww)? How did this happen?

Most violent game of duck, duck, goose ever.

Well, let’s check out what’s going on here. After Ra’s Al Ghul took the phrase ‘getting on like a house on fire’ the wrong way and got off at one El stop too late (i.e. the one where he dies) Batman is cleaning up Gotham like a champ. And he has groupies! One of them being a hilarious dude wearing hockey pads (side note: Andy Luther, the hockey pads dude, is an amazing Chicago actor and stand up guy). Well, mob bosses are all wetting their panties in fear of the Bat, they hire the world’s worst kids’ entertainer to, well, I believe the technical term is: fuck shit right up. And he does. In increasing maniacal and vicious ways. All the while, we have Bruce pining after a woman who looks as though the original version of her was kidnapped and forced into slavery by Scientology (and nobody minds) and Aaron “Chin of the Year” Eckhart is trying to be the best DA in town. Well, shit gets nasty, stand-in-Katie-Holmes gets blowed up, Aaron’s beautiful, beautiful face gets a healthy dosing of the Courtney Love Vagina treatment (don’t ask what that is), a truck flips over on Michigan Ave, Batman gets a new motorcycle-batpod-thing and Heath Ledger dresses in drag. It’s a feast for the eyes! Basically, Nolan has taken the basic premise of the chaos vs. order dichotomy and injected it with a vicious dose of Heat (all the parts without Val Kilmer) as well Goodfellas (without Ray ‘Exasperated all the Time’ Liotta) and The Untouchables (without Kevin ‘American Robin Hood’ Costner. And no, I will never let him live that one down. The bastard). It’s complex. It has something to say. And, like a goth stripper with a PhD, it will let you know in the most boner-inducing, gorgeous way possible.

Okay, so, the movie is good. It’s got a solid script, decent set pieces yada, yada, yada. What elevates it from the mantel of ‘Pretty Good’ to ‘Ball-Blazingly, Seizure-Inducingly, Melt-Your-Face-Off-Good’ is Mr. Heath ‘That One Time in the Mountains With the Cowboys’ Ledger. Holy shit. While we were watching, doing our regular jackassy thing, the room fell silent whenever the Joker entered. He has Scenes, with a capital S. You know, for Actors with capital A’s. Every other mutherfucker unlucky enough to be dumped into a comic book franchise barely even phones it in. I believe Chris Walken mailed it in, that’s how little of a fuck he gave. Ledger, on the other hand, crafts something otherworldly. It’s a performance that reminds you plebs out there that actors don’t simply interpret, they create. Ledger was a fine artist who, of course, will be sorely missed. But day-um. What a way to go.

Harv, the Crypt Keeper called and he wants half his face back. Also, he was wondering if you were around for poker on Tuesday. Are you guys seriously friends?

Unfortunately, by contrast, the rest of this A-list cast looks closer to a matinee performance of the Mikado in Bum-fucktonville Idaho. It’s not that they’re bad…they’re just adorable in comparison with their ’emotions’ and ‘gravitas’. This is probably my favorite role of Eckhart’s other than Thank You For Smoking and yet, whenever he has a scene with Ledger, you almost feel bad for him. You want him to be as good, you pray for him to be as good, but his scary half-face looks as intimidating as a fucking corgi. The man just doesn’t have the ABs (that’s Acting-Bollocks, a technical term for when Marlon Brando would pull down his pants and slap his adoring audiences with his 400lb nut sack. True story.) Oldman is still around kicking tail as Gordon as is Morgan “I had a friend named Andy Dufresne” Freeman. But, Mr. Bale…oh Mr. Bale. Can someone please tell Chris to clear his throat? Or stop eating cigarettes? Or stop using the bladed dildo? Who ever thought that impression of a gravel road was an acceptable form of communication? It’s fine when he’s demanding to know where the drugs are going, but when he’s having a simple conversation with Harvey Dent, he seems more likely to begin coughing up radioactive phlegm rather than plot points. Just take a lozenge, you silly man.

Also, let’s be real. For all it’s titty-twisting beauty, this isn’t without its flaws. First and foremost we have the extended Tom Waits impression that is the Bat-voice. Next we have far too much footage of the Bat-pod. Seriously, I know you spent a really long time building that thing and it looks fun as hell, but Mr. Nolan this isn’t a meditation on how totally sweet Batman’s wheelies are. I think, if you remove half of the batpod footage, you’d get this monster of a film down to an acceptable length. Another bone to pick: we are led to believe that Batman is a stand up guy, making sure to never murder any perps…but he doesn’t seem to give a single, voluntary, airborne fuck when it comes to collateral damage. Every chance he gets, he’s blowing up parked cars or walls or malls or glass or…what is he, a nine year old who found the cheat code to the tank in Grand Theft Auto? Also, if anyone has read my review of Mississippi Burning, you know some of my fury when it comes to the conservative undertones of this movie, specifically in regards to police brutality and the whole cell-phone radar conceit at the climax. I mean, it’s a debatable thesis and I won’t get into it again, but I will say this… The Joker is holed up in a totally abandoned building filled only with hostages, dogs and thugs. How can Batman use cell phone radar in the entirety of the structure? Are the bad guys live-tweeting their murder of civilians? Are the guard dogs instagramming the whole affair: “W/ Joker LOL. Here comes Batman! Charge! Oh he punched me! ROFL!”

Also, a lot of dogs get thrown down elevator shafts. What does Nolan have against dogs? Is he just kind of a dick? Is he simply a cat person?

The Joker: Most Unnerving Blackjack Dealer Ever.

On a serious note, for once, what Nolan did with movie is rarely achieved. He took something in the popular domain that, honestly, has a rather basal approach to thematic exploration and doesn’t really have any huge dwellings on the Human condition, and turned it into something good. I’m talking The King’s There Will Be No Country For Old The Hours in Love with Atonement good. It raised the bar for what we expect in a summer blockbuster. We’re not just here to sink into our jumbo buckets of heart-attack-corn, only to have our brains numbed by an onslaught of visual and cranial anesthesia. His work on this franchise takes all other major titles to task. Forever more, summer movies will be judged against this work of pure panty-wetting bliss. It’s a movie like this that would force a studio like Marvel to do something drastic such as hire a veritable madman to almost single-handedly craft their golden child of a film franchise into whatever he pleased. Now, The Avengers is by no means nearly as deep or thoughtful as The Dark Knight, but it isn’t a piece of shit like everything else that parades across our eye-testicles every summer. It had quality acting, taught directing and fight scenes that made sense. This is becoming the norm. I hope. Give people something juicer to mull over during the waning summer days, not just more sugar-coated schlock to make us ever more artistically bankrupt than we already are.

So, Mr. Nolan, you have raised your bar high. Perhaps too high. Bring it home with what could be one of the best blockbusters of all time. Or else. You bastard.

Well, this is the end of our Bat Saga until the grand opening of the Film Du Jour. As a celebration, my friends, Alex and Kevin, joined me in competing for the ‘Best Bat-Voice Impersonation’. The prizes were of the highest caliber. Here is a little smattering of how fucking ridiculous my friends are:

Alex as Emotionally Supportive Boyfriend Batman:

Kevin as Batman rehearsing with his cat:

And, finally, me as Batman ordering movie tickets:

I believe I ‘won’. My prize, well, let’s just say the emotional roller coaster it put me through upon its reception could be best summed up with this picture:

There are no words.

Well, now for some serious Tweetage.

Kids, this is what happens when a smurf farts. #batathon

I like that all the clowns really want to give exposition. #batathon

Oh Heather Ledger, work the fucking balls. #batathon

Yes, nobody will notice the school bus that came out of the building.#batathon

“I’m not wearing hockey pads!” Batman has been drinking way too much Jack drenched in cigars drenched in Phyllis Diller. #batathon

“Sir, Batman just left. He left when you were talking to him. How rude.” #batathon

“Oh Maggie Gyllenhaal. She looks like Sarah Jessica Parker on a good day.” ~ Kevin. Wrong. #batathon

“I want your trust. And a mustache ride. Not in that order.” ~ Dent to Gordon, still a better love story than Twilight. #batathon

“Look at my whore, Rachel. This is how I impress women.” ~ Wayne. #batathon

“No ballerina would have tits that big!” “Have you seen Barishnakov’s bosom? He is a well endowed mutherfucker.”#batathon

Wait, everyone shut the fuck up. The Ledger is approaching.#batathon

“You’re a hard man to reach.” “You’re a hard man to reach around.” “What?” “Don’t worry about it.” #batathon

Did Morgan Freeman start a Meth Lab in Wayne Industries? Hey…Walt? Jesse? #batathon

And starring Maggie Gyllenhaal in the new sitcom from Fox: “Oh that bat!” It consists of her shaking her head with a smile in every scene.

And then Alfred had sex with everyone on that boat. Man, woman, child, mineral, vegetable…it was a veritable sex-topia. #batathon

“Why So Serious?” “Um…you have a blade in my mouth. Do you really want me to answer?” ~ Ended terribly. #batathon

“Leave your cell phone.” “I use that one solely for bitches.” ~ The Freeman. #batathon

“John Woo should have directed this scene. You don’t understand, there are doves and people jumping with two guns EVERYWHERE in China”

“That card completes my Pokedeck!” ~ The judge, about to be mercilessly murdered. #batathon

“That bitch behind him has some awkward tan lines happening.” ~ Meg. Vigilant. #batathon

“Let’s get drunk and sexually experiment. I mean…let’s just get drunk.” the commissioner, lonely #batathon

“Hey, Maggie, remember that movie where I made love to your brother? This is like that, but with less cowboys.” #batathon

“You remind me of my father. I HATE my father.” ~ With a knife. How Harry Reid gets the Senate to vote in his favor. #batathon

How did Batman not die from that height? Also, they forget they left the Joker with a room full of innocent rich people. #batathon

Batman…were you just standing there for like 20 mins until we got here?…that’s kinda creepy. #batathon

“A riddle…Riddle-er” “Shut the fuck up.” #batathon

“I don’t think we need a minigun to do that.” “But it’s sooo cool.”#batathon

And Joel Schumacher was allowed to direct a single scene. You know, the one in the gay night club. #batathon

“Anyone in this town you can trust?” “Bruce.” “Okay, anyone you can trust who won’t put his penis inside you?” Silence. #batathon

“I was literally a block away from you. We should torture suspects together.” “Sounds hot.” “Sounds like a sitcom.” Batman/Dent high five

“What will you have me do, Alfred?” “Endure.” In fairness, they had the same conversation when he wet the bed as a youngster,#batathon

I wish Aaron Eckhart’s chin had more press conferences. #batathon

“Ok, that’s NOT good.” ~ Thank you Greek Chorus of idiocy.#batathon

You know…that’s not how physics work…but it’s okay. Because it’s amazing. #batathon

Batman, you suck at braking. #batathon

Gordon is wearing a turtleneck! You know, I shall let that one pass.#batathon

“Glad we have mood lighting so that Batman totally can’t hide behind you.” Seriously, there is one door. How didn’t he notice him come in?

“Like a leper!” “I’m not a leopard. I’m a bat.” “I said leper.” “I’m NOT a LEOPARD.” “Um…let’s move on…” ~ Batman, mishearing

“This is the WORST SURPRISE BIRTHDAY EVER!” ~ Dent before a severe facial. #batathon

Wait…wouldn’t the GCPD have a unit in the areas next to both Dent and Dawes? Isn’t that how Police works? #batathon

“Let’s play a game. I spy something beginning with B. That’s right! Barrel of gasoline! Harvey…Harvey?” #batathon

Chris Nolan: “We’re playing for keeps. The only female character gets mercilessly murdered.” #batathon

“The guys at the station bought you this dildo. It was a joke and I didn’t have money for another present. So…I guess, here’s a dildo.”

On the upside, Harvey, your teeth look REALLY good. #batathon

“Fuck plans! Plans are pathetic!” ~ Joker, the man who plans the entire elaborate climax to this film. #batathon

GTA. Either Gotham Transit Authority, or the City of Gatham encourages violent rampages and sex with hookers in a hilarious manner #batathon

And then Mr. Freeman discovers the center of the Matrix. He uses to watch all the penguins in the Antarctic for narration purposes.

“Mr. Wayne, you don’t have to use the silly voice with me. I know who you are.” ~ Lucius Fox.

Remember, kids, wear a seatbelt or Two Face might murder you.#batathon

Wait…whose cell phones are they using here? The SWAT teams? “I’m on the roof, LOL” #batathon

And Gordon chooses his favorite thereby making every Thanksgiving far more awkward for years to come. #batathon

Batman falls like three stories and we’re worried he’ll live. He also fell from a penthouse onto a fucking car and was fine. WHAT?#batathon

“Dad, why didn’t Batman sign my tits?” “Because you don’t have tits, son. You don’t have tits.” ~ Gordon and his son, confused#batathon

YAY! The Batathon is over! The Dark Knight Rises, you better not fucking disappoint, or I will murder EVERYBODY. #batathon

And so, I’m seeing The Dark Knight Rises on Friday night. Be on the lookout for the review on Saturday.

Comments
  1. […] The Dark Knight – Like an aged Scotch, smokey, mysterious and surprising. With a dead guy in it. […]

  2. […] We’ll always have The Animated Series. We didn’t have it, we’d lost it, until you came back to Batman Begins. We got it back last Dark Knight. […]

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