Yesterday my friend Viggie mentioned that he had a pass to see The Dark Knight. I tried to weasel my way into an invite, but crapped out. That’s cool. Win some, lose some. No biggie. I’ll just go see it in a couple of weeks after the crowds die down a little. So I went to work today and sometime this morning I got an email from my comic store (Golden Age Collectibles in Seattle) saying that they had a limited number of passes to the screening, first-come/first-served. I jumped on it and scored one of the coveted passes. I endured as much as Batman himself to acquire that pass. I ran a gauntlet of people looking to sign people up for charity, the summer-tourist crowds at the Pike Place Market, panhandlers, and the searing heat (searing for Seattle, anyway), but I finally arrived at my destination. My stack of comics sat there glaring at me, but I didn’t want to carry them around, so I just grabbed the pass, much to the disapproval of the girl behind the counter. Hey. I’m going to pick them up on Friday. I’m not a bad guy. Just lazy. But I had my pass.
I emailed The Woodsman and he was excited to see it. We decided to meet at my place, play a little GTA, and then head out. The movie started at 7:00, but we knew there’d be a massive line, so we left just after 5:00. After an hour and a half, under the incredibly blazing early evening sun, the line started moving. We were on our way to seeing The Dark Knight: The IMAX Experience.
It was a full crowd of your usual dorks that show up for these things (I’m not excluding myself, but I gotta say that I’m a pretty crappy geek compared to the two guys ahead of us in line that spent the ENTIRE 1.5 hours heatedly discussing some game called Vampire. We wasted some good opportunities at mediocre seats and wound up three or four rows from the front. Not as bad of a seat as a normal theater from four rows back, but still mighty close. But that was no problem for me. I think it just added to the spectacle of the “eight scenes” that were filmed in IMAX. As a bonus, we got the trailer to next year’s Watchmen. Looks pretty good, but we’ll see. I’m just incredibly skeptical that they can do the maxi-series justice.
The Dark Knight is a movie that simply lives up to all the hype. Every good thing you’ve heard about it is 100% true. It’s dark. It’s realistic. It’s breath-taking. It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a really, really long time. This is by far the best Batman movie ever made. The story is complex and every actor gets a moment (or several) to act their asses off and they don’t pass up the opportunity. Christian Bale is great as both Bruce Wayne and Batman. Aaron Eckhart continues his streak of solid performances as Harvey Dent (aka Two-Face). Gary Oldman is the quintessential Gordon. Maggie Gyllenhaal is an improvement on Katie Holmes from Batman Begins. And while I was very skeptical about the hype surrounding the late Heath Ledger’s performance, I will say that he’s every bit as good as the most glowing reviews say he is. This really is a revelation of a performance — a definitive Joker that makes Jack Nicholson’s performance in Batman look like a 13-year old boy on opening night of the high school play. This is the Joker as he was meant to be. And the scenes between Batman and Joker are riveting. It really is a shame we won’t get to see a rematch.
I refuse to give away the plot. This is a complex crime thriller disguised as a summer superhero blockbuster, but it’s a story that could only be told using these characters. And I have a feeling that Ledger’s Joker will go down as one of the greatest villains in the history of movies. I’m trying not to gush, but it just really is that good.
I cannot recommend this highly enough. I imagine it will play almost as well on a regular-sized screen, if only because the special effects that really shine on the IMAX screen are there in support of the story. They’re not flashy and they don’t draw attention to themselves. The stars of this movie are the story and the performers. If you don’t see this movie, one day you’ll run across it on TBS or FX or something and you’ll be too lazy to change the channel and start watching it. And then you’ll be contorting yourself into anatomically impossible positions trying to kick yourself in the balls (all the more impossible if you’re female, but you’ll try) for being such an idiot as to not see this in the theater when it first came out.