July 20th, 2012

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Some thoughts on the matter

Today I've been completely shaken by the events last night in Colorado. When I should have been excited about having had a fun midnight movie outing, I found myself feeling guilty about it. I was debating how to handle it in my Dark Knight Rises write up. Those of you who've been reading know that my write ups are more blog entries with personal experiences than straightforward critiques. Do I mention something about this or not? There's been so many tweets and facebook status going around, I didnt wanna seem disingenuous. But the fact of the matter is, I consider myself part of the movie community, even if it's a small part, and I feel greatly affected by what happened.

I first saw the news shortly after I woke up this morning. A blurb here and there on twitter. A headline on IMDB. Honestly, I didnt think too much of it at the time. Maybe it's because I was running on three hours of sleep, but I just didn't process it right away, and just dismissed it. Soon after I got to work, I started seeing more headlines, and it started to hit me. I read a few articles, and got to one that was particularly detailed. At that point I was in full on freak out mode, and it just sort of set a shadow over the whole day.

Part of it was the feeling that it could just have easily been the theater I was at. No, I wasn't anywhere close by. Hell, I was a whole two timezones away. But if it was just a random incident, it really could have been any random theater. Even if the end credits were about to roll for me right as the opening credits were wrapping up for them, I was still doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. That's what is scary, in a life-is-short manner of thinking.

But that's not what really gets me. It's sad, but we do live in a world where crap like this does happen in the most ordinary of locations. What hits me hard about this is that the movies are my ultimate safe place, and now my sanctuary no longer feels sacred. Yes there's the escapism inherit to watching a film, but it's intensified by going to a brick and mortor theater. I've gone by myself or with a group so large we took up an entire row or more. I've been in sold out auditoriums, the only one in the room, and once even had an entire auditorium rented out for my group. The movies are where I go when I need to escape, when I need to get my mind off something, when I have nothing else to do, when it's too hot to stay in my apartment, when I've run out of conversation topics. I've been on my birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving. I've gone at all hours of the night and day. I've gone in multiple states across the country. I see action movies, dramas, comedies, kids movies, new releases, throwbacks, special screenings, sneak peeks. I've gone in costume, and in pajamas. It's the only non-location specific place that feels like home. I go through withdrawls if I go too long without my fix. And I feel like it's been taken away from me. I dont mean to belittle what happened and make it all about me, but the truth of the matter is that the effects of it are more far reaching than the obvious.

The effects on every day movie-goers are gonna be long reaching. AMC is banning masks and toy weapons, and very rightly so. There's talk about an uncertain future for midnight premiers, but I hope that's just talk. Who knows what kind of effect it will have on the film's box office take, but honestly, who cares about that. The portrayal of violence in film is gonna come into question, and I pray there's no knee-jerk overreaction. I could go on a long rant expanding on that, but we'll save that for some other time.
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The Dark Knight Rises

It was either late April or early May that I started staking out the Jordan's website. Checking every day for the IMAX ticket calendar to update and show that The Dark Knight Rises tickets were on sale. Like I did with that other superhero movie earlier this month, I snatched up as many tickets as I could fit people in a Zipcar the minute they went on sale. Day of, I made the rounds collecting the group and we got there about an hour early, and found ourselves in the front row of the packed auditorium. There was some trivia fun and freebie posters and then the movie started.

As plugged into pop culture as I am, I really didnt know a whole heck of a lot of what to expect. I knew the major players, but not the expected plot other than there's-bad-guys-and-Bastman-tries-to-save-Gotham. What I did know was that the bar was set impossibly high from The Dark Knight, and I'd really hafta keep my expectations in check. My perspective packed assessment? For most of it, I felt like something was lacking. I wasn't wow-ed. However, read above re: impossibly high bar. Compared to other superhero movies, we're looking at the favorable end of the average side of the bell curve. Looking just at DC movies, and you're waaaaay ahead of the game. But even though most of the film felt slightly subpar (again, by comparison), I knew that the end would be worthwhile. And it was. C'mon now, you know I know better than to go into spoiltacular specifics. I'm just saying that the end was absolutely and completely satisfying. Things wrapped up well, beautifully even. I left happy and content. Christopher Nolan did the franchise justice, and walking away at this point is the smart move (even if there's one open to interpertation loose end that I would LOVE to see him expand on).

Now, think about The Dark Knight, and what made it such an amazing beyond all reason movie. First answer that comes to mind, in a word or two, why was it awesome. Did you say Heath Ledger or The Joker? Yeah, you prolly did. No secret that was the movie's biggest strength, but I'll take it a step further and say it wasn't just Heath but the supporting cast in general. Bruce Wayne had his time in the first movie, so the real meat of the second was in the surrounding characters. Same deal this time around.

A lot of the buzz was around Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman. And yes, she was absolutely amazing. She has come a long way from awkward little princess to sultry sex kitten, and it's just so effortless. It's fascinating to watch her work her magic, and you find yourself wanting to be seduced by her. I feel like the entire audience was hanging on her every last word. While I was stoked to see this femme fatale feline, I was actually kinda excited about Tom Hardy's Bane. Both for Hardy and for Bane. I'm sure you've noticed that Hardy's name has been showing up more and more on this blog, and for good reason. His joining the cast excited me, just because it meant that I'd get to see him again. Bane excited me because he's a character I knew next to nothing about, and I could not wait to hear his story through Christopher Nolan's POV.

However, for me, the real MVP of the movie was Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Blake, Commissioner Gordon's protege of sorts. Sure this has been mentioned before, but I've been a fan of JGL since I was 10, anxiously awaiting each new episode of 3rd Rock From the Sun. With all the expected awesome planned for TDKR, I kept on forgetting that he was in this. His unknown character was shadowed by the bigger names, fictional and non-fictional, involved that each time he'd be mentioned in an article, I had one of those "oh yeah, that's right" moments. I loved everything about his character and portrayal. The first time he spoke, he had this more gruff and macho tone that we haven't heard before from the boy, and my entire posse swooned on the spot. But he was also compassionate and driven and just had my complete undivided anytime he was on the screen. You have no idea how happy it makes me that he has another two movies coming out in the next few weeks.

I've always thought of Christopher Nolan as a brilliant filmmaker and he really proved it with this movie. His one offs are phenomenal (Memento, Inception, The Prestige) but he also succeeded in doing what few are capable of: he put together an impeccable trilogy. There isn't a bad one in the lot, the thru-story is consistent and coherent, and they all feel original. You never get the sense that he's repeating himself or trying too hard. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you build a successful superhero franchise.

The Dark Knight Rises - \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/