A Movie, Reviewed

by |
07/21/2008 11:00 AM |

Jesse Hassenger saw a movie that opened last week. No points for guessing which.

Notes on seeing The Dark Knight at a midnight screening in Times Square:

–This movie is awesome, go see it if you haven’t. Not that it needs your money, but I’ve got your needs in mind here.

–We got to the theater at 10:45. The line for the AMC Empire (42nd and 8th) was already around the block, down 8th, and halfway down 41st Street — and in the street, because one sidewalk was under construction and the other was getting soaked under the New York Times building’s power-washing. Eventually, some cops moved us where buses would not be crawling a few inches from our faces (true story).

–Yes, cops regulated a movie line, and it was kinda awesome. The people-hating fascist in me was delighted and kinda wanted to ask them to patrol the actual theater for talkers ‘n texters (like the one sitting two seats away from me).

–Now, the actual movie. No big spoilers, but if you want to come in completely clean, get thee away from the jump.

–Christopher Nolan may not be able to play around with timelines or perceptions here, as he was wont to do, to varying degrees, in Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige, and the flashback-laden Batman Begins, but he makes up for it via some crazy-propulsive intercutting. The whole movie is pretty much structured like the climax to Return of the Jedi — though the more apt sequel comparison is The Empire Strikes Back, and I know that title gets thrown around a lot in the business of overhyping sequels, and I’m not saying this is as awesome a movie, but it’s got some of that feel to it. Also, the 150 minutes fly by; I could’ve gone for the three-hour version with even more Jim Gordon and Rachel Dawes and, hell, Bruce Wayne, but this one will do.

–Some of the dialogue gets a little on-the-nose at times — characters explaining the themes and all. But there is a Batman-Joker interrogation scene that schools anything from the Nicholson-Keaton face-off. Also, I’m pretty sure I recognized some indirect Killing Joke borrowing, like how Batman Begins nicked bits from Year One.

–One of my friends noted that the Gotham of this movie doesn’t look all that much like the Gotham of Batman Begins (especially considering they both used Chicago in many sequences); fair point, but I’m figuring it’s just because all of the most recognizable landmarks from the last movie were destroyed during the climax. I still love the Gothic freakshow version from Tim Burton’s movies, but I appreciate Nolan’s efforts to make Gotham and its problems seem more like a heightened urban environment and less like a fantasy nightmare.

–I’m not sure about Heath Ledger’s Oscar chances. On one hand, the Joker doesn’t have a lot of depth, and Ledger’s excellent interpretation of the source material probably won’t count much with the bluehairs who vote on this stuff. On the other hand, this is exactly the kind of scene-stealing that gets awards, maybe to such a degree that the comic-book origins won’t matter, and the poor guy isn’t with us any more. The crowd applauded his name during the credits, which I found really touching.

–Speaking of those credits: about three quarters of this sold-out crowd stayed through all of them (and the lights didn’t go up until they were over). I’m assuming a lot of people were hoping for an Iron Man-style bonus, and even though (spoiler alert!) there is none, it was a satisfying experience to not have everyone stampede out as soon as the movie even looked a little bit over. I always wonder about those people who leave even crappy movies that way — often in horror movies, as soon as the bad guy has been killed for the fifth and presumably final time, people will get up to leave. I guess you can read it as a comment on the emptiness and predictability of those types of movies, but for Christ’s sake, if you so greatly value your time, why did you buy a ticket to Boogeyman in the first place?

–But I digress. The Dark Knight is awesome, go see it.