Monday, July 21, 2008

Dark Knight

Looks like Sunday is the new Monday and Thursday. For the time being, I'll try to regularly post sometime Sunday night, with mid-week posts if I get time. Tonight, I'll join what I'm assuming is the rest of the world in talking about Dark Knight. There will probably be some spoilers, so if you haven't seen the movie be warned.

An appearance by Oliver Queen would have made this the Batman movie I've been waiting to see my entire adult life. I was really impressed with the Nolan's first Bats flick, and this one managed to surpass it in every way. The previous Batman series included one great movie, one pretty good one, one that was more or less watchable, and one that made my eyes bleed. Based on that math, if Warner cuts this series off before at least five movies (assuming the primaries, or reasonable facsimiles thereof, are still willing), a terrible crime will have been committed.

I'm sure everyone's talked about Heath Ledger's performance, and he did in fact play a hell of a Joker. Borrowing a little twitchiness from his own performance in Brothers Grimm, obviously paying attention to Mark Hamil's voice work as the Joker, and generally just being creepy as hell, Ledger's Joker was dark and, more importantly, completely mad. While I'm glad Ledger didn't go out like Raul Julia (whose last role was Street Fighter), it really sucks that he's not going to be around for the good stuff I hope is coming (we'll get to that in a minute).

I knew they were at least setting up Two-Face in this one, and loved the idea of Aaron Eckhart in the role, but wasn't sure if we'd get to see Two-Face as a major villain or not. In a way I was hoping not, since the "more villains each movie" thing helped to kill the last set. We pretty much got the whole Two-Face arc in this movie, but fortunately the writers studied their Sam Raimi and made sure that the extra bad guys dovetailed nicely into the main plot.

I'm a big fan of supporting characters in comics, so Nolan won me over in the first movie by making Alfred, Fox, and (most importantly) Gordon actual characters. To me, Jim Gordon's relationship with Batman makes him one of the most fascinating characters in comics, but all too often (especially in the last series of movies) he's portrayed as some bureaucrat who hangs out on the roof. In Batman Begins and Dark Knight, Gary Oldman's Gordon is what he's supposed to be: a good cop stuck in a corrupt system.

The Gordon thing is why I want a bunch of these movies and wish Heath Ledger were still around to play the Joker. Gordon's major role in the films, combined with Nolan's obvious familiarity with the darker corners of Bat-lore make me believe that he's the man to bring one of the most gut-wrenching Batman story arcs to life: The death of Robin and the crippling of Barbara Gordon. It could just be wishful thinking on my part, but young Barb has shown up (at least as a reference) in both movies. Assuming the casting directors can find someone to pick up where Ledger left off, there's a chance that around the fourth movie we might see some serious shit.

Of course, since Hollywood rarely listens to me, the next Batman movie will probably be directed by Brian DePalma (the Chuck Dixon of Film) and star Shia LeBouf as Bats, Vern Troyer as Bat-Mite, and Carrot Top as the Mad Hatter. Still, it would probably be better than Batman & Robin.
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