Batman Afterthoughts: The Dark Knight

It’s 4:39 AM. I’m hyped up on energy drink and peanut butter cups, so no falling asleep for at least a little bit. Just got back from the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight.

Well, technically it wasn’t a midnight premiere. Since I only bought my tickets about a week early, I missed out on the 12:01 showing, and had to watch the 12:04 show. Though less prestigious, we still had a good group. The winner of theater #8’s costume competition had a Joker outfit that would blow all others away. No pictures, unfortunately.

After about 3 hours of playing cards, chatting with friends, throwing a miniature frisbee and smuggling candy bought at a nearby Safeway into the theater, the previews finally started. By the way, for any graphic novel fans, there’s a Watchmen movie coming out. This one looks good.

Once we were all pumped up by the intense quick trailer cuts, the DC Comics logo popped up and things got quiet.

If you haven’t watched the movie, there are probably three questions you would want to ask:

Q: Is the movie that good?
A: Yes

Q: Is Heath Ledger that good?
A: Yes

Q: Does Maggie Gyllenhaal’s face sort of look like Darth Vader?
A: Yes

That being said, the movie almost exactly met with my expectations (which were high), Heath Ledger’s acting surpassed what I believe is an Oscar-worthy level, and I’m sure most everyone will be happy to have this movie certified free of Katie Holmes. Gyllenhaal is a welcome addition, as much as I hate cast-swapping. But her face still sort of looks like Darth Vader…

The Dark Night takes off where Batman Begins left off. Not much is explained for those who missed out on the prequel, but not having this information won’t detract from the experience. You’ll be subtly elated to see Morgan Freeman return as the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, and the Scarecrow even makes a brief cameo at the start of the film.

The Dark Knight consists of two main parts. There’s the Heath Ledger part and the action part. If Frank Miller wrote the screenplay for The Godfather, it would end up looking a lot like the Heath Ledger part, which comes first in the movie. The reason I call this first half the “Heath Ledger” part is because Mr. Ledger, rest is soul, has not only portrayed the Joker in a completely fresh and new way, but has formulated a character who fits the twisted, anarchic and surprisingly intricately amorally inclined new Joker like a glove. Adding to this, the rest of the cast in no way rely on Ledger’s coattails. This particular Batman franchise has been immaculately cast from the beginning and will continue to be as such until Tom Cruise plays the Riddler in the Summer 2012 release of Batman: The Gotham Scientologist Uprising.

This film continues the recent super-hero movie trend of displaying a more cinematic portrayal in favor of the traditional comic one. In fact, the only prominently unbelievable part in The Dark Knight comes when Batman rides up a wall with his Batpod (that’s the new Batcycle), and flips around in a way that shouldn’t be physically possible. Sure, it was awesome, but I stopped watching Power Rangers about 11 years ago. Okay, maybe less.

The Dark Knight refuses to fail where many movies fall short. The film handled a rating of PG-13 in a way that didn’t require pulling any punches. It developed a complex storyline over an appropriate period of time. (Two and a half hours was touching on the long side, but that might have just been because the theater air-conditioning seemed to shut off). Ledger is allowed to hold the reigns of the film’s underlying concepts of morality and social psychology that are both entertaining and enthralling. Coupled with enough impressive fast-paced action to show off your subwoofer, The Dark Knight becomes an exhausting movie to watch. Sure, it was late – but it’s almost as if too much was thrown into the film than was necessary. Just like the extended edition of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of The Rings made you want to go run sprints during the slow parts, the Director’s cut of The Dark Knight will make your brain reach critical mass and probably explode.

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