“No matter how good ‘The Dark Knight’ is,” writes Steven Zeitchik at the Hollywood Reporter‘s Risky Business blog, “how mindblowingly, dazzlingly, pulsatingly, wish-Heath-was-still-here good — is it better than ‘Casablanca’ or ‘Lawrence of Arabia?’ ” It’s not an entirely rhetorical question, at least in that the feverish early reviews have swung for some eyebrow-raisingly high fences:
David Poland: “This is not a Batman movie… this is a 2008 version of The Untouchables with The Batman as Elliot Ness, The Joker as Al Capone, much better toys, and, it seems, a topper.”
Peter Travers: “It’s enough to watch Bale chillingly render Batman as a lost warrior, evoking Al Pacino in The Godfather II in his delusion and desolation. It’s enough to see Ledger conjure up the anarchy of the Sex Pistols and A Clockwork Orange as he creates a Joker for the ages.”
Richard Corliss: “In its rethinking and transcending of a schlock source, The Dark Knight is up there with David Cronenberg’s 1986 version of The Fly. It turns pulp into dark poetry.”
Owen Gleiberman at EW has a theory about some awards movies — critics go out of their way to show the love, he says, because of their bitterness at being forced to review studio blockbusters the other 45 weeks of the year. There may be a similar principle at work for the new Batman. Fanboys we knew would love it, but Nolan’s imprimatur makes it acceptable for the arthouse crowd. And the Ledger tragedy makes it a movie that’s not only fashionable to like but downright insensitive not to.
And Lorenzo Semple Jr., who wrote for the original ’60s “Batman” series (NA-NA-na-na-NA-NA-na-na) as well as “The Parallax View” and “Three Days of the Condor,” describes “the circumstances of TV Batman’s birth,” concluding:
The experience of getting TV Batman airborne was pure pleasure, and I hope explains why I disappoint those folks who ask me my opinion of bigscreen Batman, doubtless looking for something juicy. Apples and oranges. Their complex hero is not my innocent, brow knitted as he and Robin dig deep to decipher one of the Riddler’s third-grade-level puzzlers. Who knows? Folks who prefer the new guy may well be right.
[Photo: “The Dark Knight,” Warner Bros. Pictures, 2008]
+ Dawn breaks over a Dark Night (Risky Business Blog)
+ Pulpy Fictions: Batman: Gotham Knight (The House Next Door)
+ Edison and the Dark Knight (Kaiju Shakedown)
+ Requiem for a cheeky ‘Batman’ (Variety)