Tag Archive | The Dark Knight

Commence au Festival

Today marks twenty-five years since the release of Tim Burton’s Batman, a.k.a. Batman ’89. The arrival of that property seemed like the most important event of its decade (please note: I was only a decade old in 1989). It was definitely the most important Batman movie—the first outing since Adam West’s goofy tenure. Could they reclaim Bats from the campy mire of his 1960s tv series? Imagine if they’d messed it up. Twenty more years might have passed sans Batman. On the other hand, a chasm like that would have left the floor open for something totally wild, like a Wonder Woman movie.

There are, of course, folks out there who think they did mess up Batman ’89 and that the one true Bat-film is Batman Returns or The Dark Knight or one of the animated features. I am not one of those people. I dig Batman Returns, Dark Knight is probably my favorite film of the current era, but Batman ’89 is pure intoxication. The perfect meld of 1940s gothic and ’80s decay, a grime-streaked world where inky blackness acts like some kind of bizarre security blanket. They had trouble replicating that atmosphere even in the sequel where Burton was directly involved. And how can you top the disturbed, punchy combo of Keaton and Nicholson?

Sure, they cut a few corners. The Joker as the guy who murdered Batman’s parents is too convenient and in the end pointless when all they do is have Bats and J argue about it like sixth graders. They posit Vicki Vale as some big shot journalist but the solution to the Batman mystery is just served up to her on a plate. What do you want? No movie is perfect. Nothing’s perfect. Methinks the dialogue is crackling enough to cover these stumbles in plot.

This is the part where I remind you my parents did not let me see Batman ’89 at the cinema; a friend’s mother told my mother it was too violent. I must have complained all summer and fall because my dad brought it home on VHS that Christmas. He wouldn’t let me watch it straight up, though: first I had to sit through The Bells of St. Mary’s, which is one of those Bing Crosby movies where he breaks up fights between altar boys and croons for nuns. I appreciate this torturous move now but at the time I was pretty outraged. Still, I endured, and then Daddy-o let me watch Batman in peace.

To celebrate today’s auspicious occasion I will of course engage in some binge listening of Prince’s Batman ’89 soundtrack. I think a few Pat Hingle impressions are also in order. By the way, I’ve never understood those who gripe about the Prince music in Batman. The sexual undercurrent of pop funk accents the blackness and grit so nicely. Also, like the Joker, Prince is a garish weirdo outfitted in purple who is constantly on the verge of either kissing or slapping someone. Would you have preferred Michael Jackson? MJ was originally approached to write for the movie but couldn’t commit.

It could have been worse. They could have asked some hair metal band to write a power ballad about the Batmobile. One of the greatest joys Batman ’89 brings me is that I can watch it and not think about Vince Neil.

The Unheard Music To Be Heard, Seen Again This December

W.T. Morgan’s 1986 documentary The Unheard Music, centered around L.A. punk poet legends X, is receiving the DVD/Blu-Ray treatment for a December 13 rerelease via MVD Entertainment. This appropriately dubbed “Silver Edition” will boast a new film transfer, a 5.1 audio mix, a twenty-fifth anniversary “dialogue” with X founders John Doe and Exene Cervenka, some behind-the-scenes stuff, a replica of the original souvenir song book, and the movie itself, which covers the timespan between X’s 1980 debut album Los Angeles and 1983’s More Fun in The New World.

As a major league X fan who’s only seen this pivotal film in bits and pieces, I’m pretty effing stoked. Finally, my Blu-Ray player will be used for something other than endless repeat of The Dark Knight special features. Screw you, Christian Bale stunt doubles!

Unsolicited Dark Knight Review

The Dark Knight
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Directed by Christopher Nolan
2008

WARNING: The following article contains a handful of spoilers so potent and explosive they will not only ruin The Dark Knight if you haven’t seen it, they will also completely destroy the fabric of your reality. I’m not even kidding. Do not read the following review if you currently enjoy life on any level at all. Titanic pain awaits. You have been warned.

So Bruce Wayne is Batman. OMG, WTF. Also, there’s no goddamn surfing anywhere in this fuckin’ movie.

Before I say anything else regarding this film, I’d like to brag about the fact I saw The Dark Knight on opening night in Union Square in NEW YORK CITY. In order to accomplish this Herculean feat, I had to purchase tickets immediately upon leaving the theater after viewing Batman Begins in 2005.

“We’re not even sure they’re making a sequel yet,” the elderly usher told me that night. “But you’d better buy these anyway, just in case.”

It should also be noted that I saw exactly one person “in costume” for this premiere. A chubby kid in o-fficial Heath Ledger Joker make-up and an o-fficial Heath Ledger Joker t-shirt was milling about, looking a little too Marilyn Manson fan circa 1996. This kid’s ghoulish visage was almost as frightening as the time I walked by my local cineplex the night Austin Powers 3 came out and spotted three underfed dweebs in ruffled shirts, nerd glasses, and false teeth gesticulating wildly for local news cameras. Needless to say, I fled for my life that evening and took several cold showers when I got home.

Back to the movie. The Dark Knight is just as good as everyone says it is. Thrills, chills, spills, pills, kills, drills, hills, frills, bills, and grills—this movie’s got it all, plus Anthony Michael Hall. The most entertaining and exciting Batman flick since Keaton first donned the suit in ’89. The only thing keeping TDK from exceeding that landmark film is ol’ Bats himself. Same issues I had with Batman Begins: the suit looks like a pile of misshapen clay, Christian Bale insists on growling like Joe Cancer while he’s in it, and the Batmobile is that all-terrain redneck nightmare I’d rather see crushing cars at a monster truck rally. Thankfully Bale was likable enough outside the cowl to make me root for his funky alter ego.

The story was nice and believable, too, grounded in some kind of normal crime reality. No wacky mind-altering gas, no penguins with missiles strapped to their backs, no dehydrating world leaders—just robbing, stealing, shooting, stabbing, beating, and a handful of bombs for good measure. Batman has some pretty silly high-tech crap (the tool he uses near the end of the film is some straight-up Metal Gear Solid video game-type wizardry), but as Homer Simpson once cheerfully pointed out to his wife, the Caped Crusader is a scientist. If he’s clever enough to keep that stupid car hidden, I’ll believe he can (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER OH GOD SPOILERS ARE REAL FTW!) manipulate every cell phone in Gotham City.

And now I must address Heath Ledger. Does the late Aussie’s turn in The Dark Knight make every other performance in the entire history of acting look like a festering pile of diseased whale cock or merely the filthy, worm-ridden butt of a three-legged junkyard dog? I don’t know. All I can tell you for sure is the Ledge does a winning job bringing the Joker to life, transforming the beloved comic villain into the psychotic demon we always knew he could be. The Joker’s first major scene in Dark Knight will probably go down as one of cinema’s most awesome moments, right up there with Robert Shaw’s grizzly death in Jaws and that totally bad-ass part in The Untouchables where Andy Garcia shoots all those dudes while sliding down the staircase on his back (Andy Garcia, you just pwnd Capone! LOL).

Final grade for The Dark Knight? Four super-rich, strep throat-afflicted superheroes out of four. This movie is textured, satisfying cool, the kind that doesn’t come along too often. It’s worth the price of admission and then some.

Now, as is tradition once a new Batman film has been released, let us begin speculating / postulating / spreading crazy, crazy lies about who or what will appear in the sequel. I officially put forth the following theories for Batman 3, Gotham 0:

– Damon Wayans as the Riddler, a collegiate Kaczynski-type who terrorizes the citizens of Gotham while retaining the ability to walk among them (of course, the studio would probably save a lot of money if they just hired this guy to play the Riddler)

– Christopher Lloyd as Mr. Freeze, a global warming watchdog who takes things just a bit too far

– Cee-Lo from Gnarls Barkley as the Penguin, suave affluent hipster who seduces high society socialites with his soulful singing and then beats them to death with his umbrella

– Jack Black as King Tut, the bipolar Professor who wants to kidnap Batman and take him back to ancient Egypt for the ultimate paaaaar-TAAAAAYY!!!

– The Jonas Brothers as all three Robins, simultaneously helping Batman solve crime while making pre-teen Gotham hearts swoon with their popular brand of faith-based pop rock

– CGI Ace the Bat-Hound voiced by a very bitter and sarcastic Norm MacDonald

– Yakoff Smirnoff as the weird Russian Batman who resides on Earth-30 in the alternate DC comics universe

– Verne Troyer as Bat-Mite (you saw it coming and there was nothing you could do)

None of this, I repeat, none of this is more insane or stupid than anything that was in Batman and Robin.

Why So Serious?

Going to see The Dark Knight tonight. If there’s no surfing in it, I’m demanding my money back.