Saturday, July 26, 2008

Speed Racer crushes the Batmobile!

Sorry, everyone. I've been gone away for a while. The reason for my absence is kinda funny. I've been hiding out, frightened for my life. Why? I was stupid to publicly say The Dark Knight was just okay. That's not to say I hated it, but I might as well have, considering the near violent reactions from all who've heard me speak of it. Honest to God, it seems that if I say it was anything less than amazing, then I'm a fucking leper and have no taste. I've been told I'm biased because of my less than stellar reaction.

The bottom line is this. Yes, I know it's an event film. Yes, I know I'm supposed to rhapsodise over Heath Ledger's posthumous performance. I wish I could just shit flowers all over this movie, but I can't. I went in with an open mind. Truly, I did. I wanted to be nothing less than entertained... and I was, but I didn't witness the second coming of cinema that night. It was just another Batman movie, but this time Batman was just a footnote to the story; a supporting character that just happens to be the film's namesake.

As much as I disliked the Tim Burton Batman (But I did enjoy the first sequel, Batman Returns), I'm seriously beginning to believe he got it right. Well, more right than anyone else did. ...and no one is going to sway my belief that Caesar Romero is the penultimate Joker. Hail Caesar.

He was far more annoying than frightening, but Heath Ledger's performance was great. No question.


  • 1) He wasn't (and shouldn't have been) the best reason to see the film

  • 2) There are many competent actors who could have pulled off that role. The entire role consisted of makeup, lighting and chewing of scenery. Hell, Carrot Top could've done it as well.
  • 3) I'm convinced, had he not died, there wouldn't have been near as much raving about this simply above average movie

  • 4) His ultimate best performance was Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain and it's unfortunate that he won't be widely remembered for that role.

Other complaints:

The film was too long. 40 minutes could've easily been excised. The film couldn't decide if it wanted to be a realistic crime melodrama or a dark graphic novel come to life. The script was a bit too mean spirited for it's own good. Christian Bale was woeful as Batman. That damn Bran Muffin in his throat killed every scene he was in. As Bruce Wayne, he was fine. I'll give him that.

Also fine in their roles were Gary Oldman and Michael Caine; their presence giving some balance and prestiege to the piece. Morgan Freeman was great, too, as always, but I'm puzzled by his presence here. His role amounts to nothing more than a pale copy of James Bond's "Q".

My biggest complaint is the disservice being done to the actor Aaron Eckhart who played Harvey Dent / Two Face. There was no mention in the advance press or previews of this particular villain's appearance in the film and, in my opinion, Harvey Dent / Two Face was a far more compelling character than the Joker.

The Joker's character arc was "I'm bad and crazy - I'm bad and crazy - I'm bad and crazy". In fact, his antics were getting a bit annoying towards the end. Harvey Dent / Two Face's character arc was much more complicated. Seeing how a true good guy could be perverted by vengeance and then redeemed was the real glue of the story in The Dark Knight for me.

So, no, I guess I wasn't The Dark Knight's target audience and I'm sure there a lot more people who don't like it as much as they say they do for fear of being an outcast. I don't care. Never did. That's why I have so few friends. Suffice it to say, I predict a ton of revisionism once it's released to Home Theatre systems.

At least it was far better than the royal turd that was Batman Begins.

The Summer Movie season in general has been pretty damn wonderful, however. I really liked Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and it's poor cousin, Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D was light family entertainment that used it's 3D effects to wonderful advantage. I haven't yet seen Iron Man, but It's high on my list. The biggest and best surprise for me this summer was Speed Racer, an incredibly beautiful and surprisingly thoughtful film that I fully regret not seeing on the biggest screen possible. I'm sure it killed in IMAX. I have a feeling that Speed Racer will do wonderful business on Blu-Ray and I'm also sure it'll sell tons of Blu-Ray units as well. It will leave your eyes popping and your ears bleeding (something they also said about Suspiria back in the day). Speed Racer may well be my favorite popcorn movie of 2008.

(Heath Ledger is the new Matt Damon)

No comments: