Saturday, December 1, 2012

Reflections on a 'Dark Knight'

When ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ debuted this summer – there was a lot going on.

First off, there was an “unofficial” war between ‘The Avengers’ fans and ‘The Dark Knight’ fans about which movie was going to be a bigger hit.

 When ‘The Avengers’ came out of the gate in May and started breaking box office records, the fight turned to quality instead of money. For the record, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ finished its run at the box office with a worldwide total that exceeded $1,013,114,000. ‘The Avengers’ finished its box office run with $1,481,585,111. I’m sure the money fight will continue on DVD and Blu-Ray for years.

Then, the unthinkable happened opening night. A deranged fan opened fire at a theater in Colorado – in what is considered to be one of the worst mass killings on American soil – and the good-natured (read: immature) battle between ‘The Avengers’ and ‘The Dark Knight’ took a backseat to real life terror and human loss.

With ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ coming to DVD and Blu-Ray Tuesday, I’ve seen the debate start to stir up again on certain message boards.

For the record, I think ‘The Avengers’ is probably the best super hero movie I’ve seen to date. It was fun. It was poignant. It had enough one-liners to fill a couple episodes of ‘South Park.’ And it had a Justice League full of hot men -- which is really the most important thing, isn't it?

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ was nowhere near as good to me.

I should point out that I think ‘The Dark Knight’ was a truly profound movie. I also think it might have been artificially elevated due to Heath Ledger’s untimely death. It’s not that it’s not a great movie – it’s just not the holy gospel according to Stan Lee.

My problems with ‘The Dark Knight’ remain today what they were when I saw the movie at a midnight showing this summer: Tone.

The original four ‘Batman’ films may have been campy, but at least there was a little fun in them (except for ‘Batman and Robin’ – that movie was a steaming pile of guano). There is no fun in the Christopher Nolan trilogy. 

Some fans argue that it’s art. Fine, but art still has to be interesting to be of any value.

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is so maudlin and so unsavory that it’s hard to watch – and not in a good way like ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin.’

The entire story arc for Nolan’s trilogy was solid – but as I look back on it I worry that it tried to be more than it ultimately was capable of.

A lot of people complain about Bane as a villain. I didn’t dislike Bane. I couldn’t understand him half the time, but I didn’t hate him. There was just something missing from that whole storyline, though. It was like the heart of the series went with Harvey Dent and the Joker – which is entirely possible. Ledger's death is something that is hard to overcome.

So, as Tuesday approaches, I am considering renting ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and giving it another go. Maybe I'm being too hard on it -- it wouldn't be the first time. And then, after I'm done watching it, I’ll probably pop in my ‘The Avengers’ Blu-Ray.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to the release of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ on Tuesday?


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