Monday, August 11, 2008

Summer Flicks A Kingdom Of Perpetual “Knight”

(And I ask you, where else are you likely to find a bastardized Shakespeare quote in a blog title?)

As noted here, “The Dark Knight” was the No. 1 movie at the box office for the fourth week in a row. I’m not sure exactly what that says about the taste of the movie-going public (and I include myself), but there you are.

And I had planned to add some thoughts on the movie on Friday before all of the mess over John Edwards hit the fan primarily because of what that numbskull Glenn Beck said about it here.

(And I’m sorry – accuse me all you want of trying to degrade the opinions of others, but Beck IS a numbskull at the very least; as long as I’ve been subjected to his blather, I can’t think of a single constructive thought or utterance from this person.)

And the answer is yes, I did see “The Dark Knight” about a week or so ago, partly out of parental duty, screening the movie for the young one (and despite the PG-13 rating, I wish to emphasize that this movie is NOT something that should be viewed by pre-teen kids, IMHO). However, I won’t lie to you; I wanted to see it for myself also.

In addition to being what, at many moments, is a two-hour-and-thirty-minute thrill ride (and you really aren’t aware of the length, trust me), it is also about as involving a story of good and evil on a real basic level as you are likely to see.

And as much as I hate to say it (especially after ridiculing him), Beck is partly right in that the film is a reflection of our life and times - a bit, anyway – creating a sense of dread concerning the inevitability of evil in Gotham City (just the environment for the neocon nut jobs to perpetrate their foul acts, with the Iraq war the most infamous of them all).

However, in Gotham City, you see certain politicians, police, and members of law enforcement (to say nothing of Batman, of course), acting nobly to fight evil, but of course, The Joker (and Heath Ledger’s performance is everything people say it is, and maybe more) skillfully infiltrates the entire law enforcement apparatus to create chaos, and as the movie evolves, you realize that he truly is a step ahead of everyone.

But getting back to Beck, my issue with him is that there really is nothing to celebrate in this movie, nothing that should be considered worthy of emulation. Long before Batman strike his deal with Commissioner Gordon at the end of the movie that creates the whole “Dark Knight” mythology (trying really hard not to give away plot points here), you see him breaking all kinds of rules, whether or not it’s kidnapping a foreign national, doing battle with members of a SWAT team, or, as Beck alluded to, concocting a means to eavesdrop on people’s phone calls (a tactic to which the Morgan Freeman character takes strong objection, as Beck also notes).

In short, this movie is very dark, escapist entertainment that “raises the bar” for the genre (and I have an idea why Christian Bale felt he had to grunt his dialogue as Batman, but it was still hard to hear him at times). I could probably go back and watch it again to catch what I missed the first time, but I don’t think I’ll do that any time soon.

However, even though the movie hits its intended mark, anyone who thinks this film is “a paean to fortitude and moral courage” is living in a truly dark place and, I believe, should seek counseling. And anyone who believes it embodies “values” of any positive sort is as messed up as The Joker himself.

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