Sunday, October 12, 2008

the dark knight

Tonight I discovered that I really need to watch more movies in Imax. I have been meaning to see The Dark Knight. I was concerned that I'd missed the theatre release on the west coast. While I am by no means a theatre snob when it comes to movies (only the live version) I do understand that some movies need to been seen on the big screen. I feared that this was one of them and I had missed my chance. Lucky for me, it's still playing here in Winnipeg. I got to see Dark Knight tonight and it was awesome.

I can't remember the last film I saw in Imax -- I think it might have been BodyWorlds at the Science Center. So Dark Knight was sort of a first for me. It won't be the last. And what a film to see on the big screen. The really, really big one. I wondered if the film would live up to the hype and for me it surpassed it. I wasn't a huge fan of the first two Batman movies -- you can keep your Michael Keatons and your George Clooneys (Clooney as a hero, really?). I much preferred Christian Bale's broodier, conflicted Bruce Wayne. And yes, I know, it's an archetype. It works in Pride & Prejudice and Jane Eyre too. But with the Dark Knight you get cool car chases. And explosions.

Imax reminded me a little of the Grand Canyon -- of standing there thinking, "Wow, it's really big." (I know, I am writer, you can tell, right?) The screen almost filled my field of vision which makes for a very cool viewing experience. The truly all around you surround sound didn't hurt either. But for me, the most compelling aspect of Dark Knight was not how great the story looked (although it did look great), it was how well the story was told.

**Spoilers ahead! If you are one of the last people left who has not seen this movie, skip the next bit***

From the very first time the Joker pulled out a knife and started telling someone how he got his scars I was convinced we were in for a very bloody scene. But they never did it. How rare is it these days to find anything in Hollywood done with subtlety? This story didn't need the help. You didn't need a lot of blood to make the Joker scary. Heath Ledger did that all by himself. He deserves all the hype he got, or at least the hype that will live on after him. I don't know if they'll give him the Oscar, but if they let the rest of vote he'd have mine.

The Dark Knight is interesting because they've managed somehow to inject some subjectivity into the usually black and white world of comic books. Often in hero movies there's the good guy and the bad guy and a little back lighting to make them look cool. In Dark Knight it's more complicated than there and so so much more interesting. It did bother me a little that the story in not canonical. One character dies much earlier than he should for the story's timeline. But Dave assures me that none of the movies follow canon so I can let it go.

The Dark Knight was great entertainment even if it is impossible to watch Heath Ledger without thinking about Heath Ledger. His acting and the character he creates out of a little makeup and slightly Jack Nicholson-southern accent is truly remarkable. Watching him you can hear the "if onlys" echoing through the theatre. Reminds me of a quote I came across recently, "We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahnuik

2 comments:

TL said...

It's a really good movie to see in Imax, I hear (I tried and tried to get tickets to go, but the few times we were within range of an Imax, it was sold out). It was actually filmed partially on cameras that utilize true "imax-sized" film -- the kind they shoot sweeping documentaries on.

http://www.slashfilm.com/2008/07/14/how-the-dark-knight-went-imax/

j.britto said...

It was great entertainment even if it is impossible to watch Heath Ledger without thinking about Heath Ledger.