When does a "comic book movie" cease being labeled the best comic book movie and become simply, a great movie?
That's the question I expect to ask myself after I see Dark Knight.
Almost every review I've scanned talks highly of Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan's "syllabus for a civics class in a dark-matter universe," and second go-at with the Batman franchise. It appears to be a stimulating, enthralling and simply excellent movie-going experience.
But the reviews always circle back to the original idea of this being a tremendous comic book adaptation.
Is The Godfather the greatest film based off a novel?
Is Shawshank Redemption the greatest film based off a novella?
Is Titanic the greatest film based off a sinking oceanliner?
Can't a good film just be a good film?
From what I'm hearing Heath Ledger, in his penultimate role, turns Dark Knight into just that. Here's the Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern's take on Ledger's performance:
"His portrait of the Joker owes nothing to Jack Nicholson, even though that in itself is hard to imagine. This knife-wielding psychopath isn't jaunty, but hunched and frowzy. His mirthless grin isn't fixed, but the lipstick smear of a crazy street lady. He moves with Peter Lorre's furtiveness, speaks in a bright, crisp voice that seems to channel Jack Lemmon, and licks his scarred chops with a frequency that suggests heavy doses of anti-depressives. If the stories he tells about those scars are contradictory, they are never less than creepily entertaining. He's the best-written character in the script, but it's Ledger's eerie fervor that plumbs the depths of the Joker's derangement."
Sounds fascinating. But it will only work if his counter, Bruce Wayne/Batman, is just as complex. It's not like Christian Bale to play a one-dimensional character, so here's hoping the meatiness we were exposed to in Batman Begins isn't trimmed off, what with so much attention being paid to the development of the Joker and Two-Face, played by the capable Aaron Eckhart (Thank you for smoking).
Because what separates this franchise, and in fact, most of our recent superhero/comic book movies, from our parents', is the complexity of the protagonist. Batman isn't fighting just because it's the right thing to do or he now finds himself with some mutated gene that causes gigantism or silk to shoot from his wrists, he's fighting the fight because he has his own deep scars and compulsions that drive him to the fringe of maniacal behavior. However, he harnesses it to do good and help society, while the Scarecrow, Henri Ducard and now the Joker and Two-Face fall into blaming society through violent, disruptive behavior.
So while this is a film based off a DC Comic superhero, will it be able to escape the label of "best comic book movie?"
If the IMDB Top 250 is any indication, yes. It's already No. 4.
The top movies this week will be:
1. Dark Knight, $110 million. Remember all those men dragged to Sex and the City? It's payback time.
2. Mamma Mia!, $21 million. Remember all those men dragged to Sex and the City? The dragging continues.
3. Hellboy II: The Golden Army, $17 million. Remember all those men dragged to Sex and the City? It's payback time, but Dark Knight was sold out.
Here's future-gazer Gregory Hardy's analysis:1. The Dark Knight. $85 mil. Was surprised to hear there was a new Batman movie coming out. Who's the villain in this one? I haven't really heard any buzz on this. It's the Joker? Didn't they already do a Joker movie? I just hope it's done campy-funny, not all serious and stuff. I hate serious Batman. Me loves me the whimsy.
2. Mama Mia $26 mil. If I don't get to see this, I can always bust out my VHS copy of Muriel's Wedding.
3. Journey to the Center of the Earth $18 mil. Logic dictates that Hellboy 2 should win 2nd or 3rd place, but I don't know if three superhero movies (when you count Hancock) can make it in one powerhouse weekend. I'm going to go the counter-programming route for the family crowd.
On to the best blogs ... around
Can you dethrone a national champion before the season even starts? We Believe doesn't think so, which is why LSU holds the top spot in his Preseason Top 25.
While LSU sits atop We Believe's Top 25, who makes the less-prestigious, yet equally well-done The Best Damn Poll In The Land's: Not So Top 10 powered by The Greek Speaks? U-daho? Oh, Idaho!
Poll after poll Wisconsin is consistently ranked higher than Tennessee, a team it lost to in last season's Outback Bowl. Just another reason why preseason polls are detrimental to college football, so sayeth Bd's rant.
Amateur Baseball Hour takes several laps around the amateur sports scene, most of which are worth checking in on -- if only for his unique decision to color-code the links.
Klick of the Day
Vote for me. I'm only running for president.