The “most anticipated movie of the summer” doesn’t hit theaters for 24 more hours but the bat has been released upon Raleigh with a special IMAX screening on Wednesday evening to a packed house (and one dude with cheap Joker makeup that you’ll see in the News and Observer soon). The film is, in a couple of words, perpetual, energetic and intense.
Security was tight at the door, with a secret service-esque force (foreshadowing?) checking all bags for any recording equipment. Ah ha!! Another breach of security for the iPhone.
The film starts with a scene that is reminiscent of the robbery escapades from, forgive me, Point Break. Clowns. Ex-presidents. Some may see more parallels than just the loot. From there, the film takes off into an energetic frenzy of spectacular city fly-throughs, intense gun battles, bass-enhanced fist fights, acrophobic building leaps and fiery car chases. There are few points where the action lets up but the plot is a bit more flimbsy. Following your typical superhero story line, The Dark Knight is formulaic in the way similar to most films in its genre.
Many loyal Batman fans will probably disagree, but the film perpetuates the constant need for stimulation in today’s cinema. Nolan is a very well respected director and only amplifies his resume with this film. But, there is something lacking in the care that Tim Burton approached the original Batman or even the way Nolan directed his other films, specifically Memento. Maybe it’s a personal preference, but rather than hold some of the more carefully framed shots (many of which happen in the newly leased bat cave), it seems Nolan cut them 4 seconds too short, cutting to more action shots. Don’t get me wrong, the action shots were fabulous, but it seems the scenes in between could have added more tension to the film.
The Dark Knight is full of big names, but the one that sticks out is definitely Heath Ledger. He has come a long way since A Knight’s Tale to become A Knight’s Enemy. When placed beside Christian Bale, the acting doesn’t come close. Bale’s voice as Batman seems almoat silly and contrived while Ledger animates the Joker with a voice and twitch that creates the much needed tension between good and evil. There’s definitely a nervous attitude that surrounds Ledger while most of the other actors seem a bit too comfortable in their roles. Bale seems to succeed in nervous roles as well, American Psycho, Machinist, and The Prestige (another Nolan film) to name a few, maybe he should stay away from good guys for while. The two also played parallel roles as Bob Dylan, in the excellent film I’m Not There.
Nolan does a great job of filming Chicago and including the city as a character. From high above to down below, Chicago is portrayed very well throughout the film. Nolan also attempts to add layers of symbolism that fell a bit short. Symbolism works in some cases (most of which are novel and not comic book based), but in Batman, it seems mostly to add fuel to the box office flame and the “personable” nature of the film. After a while, the coin toss gets old. Also, the film could be shortened by twenty minutes and still accomplish its feat, but it is definitely a thrill ride from start to end. Nolan packed a lot into this time slot and the result is an (positively) exhausting film that requires a second viewing to digest all the content.
If you have a choice, IMAX is the way to go for this film, although make sure you get a seat the top/middle because it gets a bit blurry at the outside seats.You might want to start standing in line now for the Monday show, because I’m sure that most weekend shows are either already sold out or will be before you reach the door. Even the Obama campaign is going to be hitting the lines to register votes.