24 January 2009

The Dark Knight Redux

My parents asked me what I most wanted to do on a Saturday afternoon to celebrate my birthday with them. The answer was easy: I want to see The Dark Knight in IMAX again.

The Dark Knight, 2008’s #1 grossing film, went back to theaters, both in IMAX and standard 35mm this weekend for a limited run. I imagine it was meant to connect with the film’s Oscar nomination for Best Picture… which really, uhm, didn’t happen. The film received numerous nominations, mostly technical, and the expected Best Supporting Actor nod for the late Heath Ledger as the Joker. (Ledger has a lock on it at this point.) But, in the Best Picture Category, The Reader somehow sneaked in, shocking pretty much everybody. I don’t mind that The Dark Knight didn’t get a nomination, at least not at the level that some of the fans are screaming about. The film has had a huge cultural impact, and if a smaller film that needs the exposure wins Best Picture—like favorite Slumdog Millionaire, which deserves all the honors it’s getting—than I have no argument.

But… couldn’t The Dark Knight have gotten snubbed by WALL·E or Gran Torino? Why The Reader? That annoys me enough to write about, but not lose any sleep. When it comes down to it, I don’t care much about the Academy Awards that any more.

This was the third time I’ve seen The Dark Knight in a theater. I saw it opening weekend in IMAX (the same theater I saw it in this time) and then next week in a standard 35mm showing. I also have it on DVD, and have watched it all the way through on that format at least once. I think I liked the film the most on this showing: I now have a solid grasp on the intricacies of the story, the various themes, etc., and now can get it once more in the enormous engulfing IMAX format. All the movie clicked into place for me, and I let the enormity of the format sweep me away.

The difference in the film in IMAX and on 35mm and DVD is astounding. It’s a great film in any format, but those twenty-five minutes of footage shot in IMAX have the explosive impact of a scud missile. The Hong Kong extraction is especially weakened cropped onto regular film. If you have a chance to see it these next two weekend on IMAX and haven’t had the chance before, do it. It’s a great experience, and gives you a feeling of what the early days of Cinemascope and Cinerama were like.

It also gave me great pleasure to see my mother react with cringing during the finale with Two-Face threatening to kill Commissioner Gordon’s son. She really thought that Two-Face was going to whack a little boy right on screen. That’s a great compliment to Christopher Nolan and Co.

We didn’t have many images of Two-Face on-line because Warner Bros. had tried to keep the make-up a secret. So here’s some Two-Face for you:
And remember, if you’re good at something, never do it for free:
Finally, here’s a message from the Joker to the Academy, courtesy of NightWatchRadio.Com:
The Joker should calm down a bit. After all, the guy who played him is up for one of these suckers—and he’ll probably get it.

Batman-on-Film has a nice tribute to Heath Ledger, one year after his death and with an Oscar looming.