Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dark Knight

My wife and I saw the latest Batman movie tonight. It was quite a ride! All the buzz about Heath Ledger as the Joker was accurate - he gave a chilling, creepy performance, making his tragic death earlier this year all the more ironic.

Besides all the theatrics, pyrotechnics, fight scenes, chase scenes, and other scary moments, there were a few strong hints of the gospel scattered throughout the movie. In one particular scene, two ferryboats full of people get to decide whether or not to pull the trigger on each other in order to save themselves. I'll let you see the movie to find out what happens, but the scene poses the age-old dilemma whether, given the opportunity, we would choose to let an innocent person (or in this case, many people) die to save our own skin. Just the fact that they consider doing it reveals what the human heart is like. According to Jeremiah, the heart is sinful and beyond cure. We have to have a heart change to love others unselfishly.

There are other pieces of redemption in the film but since many of you probably have yet to see it, I'm not going to spoil it for you.

One thing I do wonder, though, is why there is such a plethora of superhero movies out there these days. They are big-budget action thrillers that get us all excited and earn a ton of money. But we know the bad guys are going to lose out in the end. The movies pretty much all tell the same story. So why do we like them so much? Are we so devoid of real-life heroes that we need a constant stream of computer-assisted super-humans to satisfy our need for deliverance? Or is it just the special effects, music, and costumes that we enjoy?

Personally, I prefer the quieter independent films that have a creative story and real human beings doing the acting, without a lot of help from special effects departments.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mike -- I hope you did this movie right and saw it at an imax. If not you have to go back.

I'll be honest with you this is the first movie I've seen in a long time that I walked away from actually impressed. I don't know if I've just become hard to please or if Hollywood has just been stinking it up lately.

The thing I loved about this movie is that it actually goes beyond your typical super-hero story line. Other superhero films have some great themes and stories but this one is in a class all to itself. There were tons of great themes and contrasts to work with.

For example, Batman's dilema of dealing with popularity and having the perception of doing the right thing versus ACTUALLY doing the right thing.

I also loved the contrast between Gotham's "white knight" and its "dark knight" and the contrast between the Joker's no-rule lifestyle and the Batman's regulated approach and his temptation to compromise that.

It was a dark film with a lot of hard questions about life that left my head spinning. And it was told with some characters who were clear representations of good and evil and some who were a little bit more shades of grey.

On top of that you have the oscar caliber performances of some of the cast. Heath Ledger really was amazing. As far as the Joker is concerned my new line is, "Jack who?"

I also appreciated the way that this movie kept things relatively clean while still creating a great deal of suspense. It's a violent film, granted. I wouldn't take a kid to see this movie. But there was very little sexual content, very little vulgar language, and apart from two-face, very little in your face (pardon the pun) gore.

The director of this super-hero film is the same guy who brought us films like Memento -- which is a great quiet independant film with human beings and a really clever storyline. I think this story included some of that ... it was just dressed up with special effects too. And with all Batman stories the thing I like about the character is that he is human. He's just really rich too.

As for me -- I'll take more movies like this one from Hollywood anyday.

Mike said...

Good comments. I can agree with your points. I think I'm just a bit weary of superhero, action movies. A sign of age, perhaps. One thing I didn't mention is the droll humor of the Joker...it was awesome. I loved it!

Scott Williams said...

I think the reason the comic book movies are so successful is two-fold. Most people have a favorite (or more) comic book character that they have grown up admiring for one reason or another. My personal two favorites are Batman & Spider-man. Batman first though. Anyway, seeing your favorite comic come to life is a huge draw.

Second I think comic book movies are just fun. They foster suspension of disbelief and allow the mind to escape for a couple of hours to a world from your childhood.

With all the bad things in the world, seeing the good guys win and win big is always brings a smile to the face even if just for a couple of hours.