Friday, November 13, 2009

Remember that Dark Knight movie?

Let's change the subject - that warning from the board mods is a joke.
Click to enlarge.

Hey, remember that movie The Dark Knight? You know the movie that everyone saw but no one seems able to recall? The one whose IMDB board is filled with chatter having to do with everything but the movie? Is it because generally liberal-leaning superhero and comics fans are silently embarrassed about falling for what is essentially a neo-conservative propaganda film? It isn't just iMDb- no one on any of the comics or movie sites I checked seems to talk about what is one of the highest-grossing movies of all-time, one that came out less than 18 months ago. Very strange. Usually, these kinds of blockbusters continue to resonate for a while after their original run, but not this film.

Why is that?

Is it possible the poor reception that greeted Watchmen (which is cosmically superior to TDK, IMO) is a hangover from critics and fans uncomfortable with having championed a film that celebrated torture, vigilantism, broad-spectrum surveillance and jack-booted stormtroopers marching in the streets? That depicted terrorism as simple nihilism, and cross-dressing, sexually-ambiguous nihilism at that?

It's nothing I haven't seen in a million comic book stories, but I'm fascinated how situational some people's capacity for political outrage can be. It's especially ironic given how much Christian Bale resembles a young Bush cousin.

In hindsight, the whole 2008 Batmania phenomenon feels strange, even surreal. It didn't feel like 9/11, which the film was clearly trying to exploit. And for this old-school fan, it certainly didn't feel like Batman either. The Batman I read in the 70s and 80s was more like that in the classic Batman: The Animated Series. As played by Patrick Bateman, he's a prep school void.

I've never been hypnotized, but to think back on the whole Dark Knight phenomenon almost feels like some hypnotic spell, or even some bummer trip, like PCP or something. Like all of the color and vibrancy was sucked out of the world, both onscreen and off. But then again, I'm a huge Batman Beyond fan, so maybe I'm not the right person to ask.

The funny thing is I'm usually very forgiving of comic book movies. Hell- I even liked The Shadow. Though it may be because I saw it on a hot summer afternoon in an old-fashioned theatre that was air-conditioned to perfection. The Shadow is a criminally underused character, one who Bob Kane stole from lock, stock and two smoking .45 barrels to create Batman.

There is a new Shadow film in development- one I hope they don't screw up. I think the character has vast, untapped potential, particularly given his psychic powers and Blavatskian backstory. I know Jake Kotze keyed into the Shadow film as well, so maybe I'm not completely insane.

One film I'm not in a hurry to see in Inception, Nolan's new Matrix-like film. As with Dark Knight, I'm sure Inception will be a brilliantly-crafted piece of filmmaking, but something very cold and hard has crept into Nolan's work- or maybe I'm simply noticing what's been there all along. But it certainly doesn't entertain me.