Monday, July 21, 2008

Oochie mamma, it was really that good...

"I will bend a certain part of your anatomy just as I have bent this fork thingy." (pic from Hancock)

Look, I like summer movies, but enough already with men blowing each other up, fighting and causing mass destruction. I've just had it, especially after seeing Hancock. You've had plenty of time to see this mediocre movie by now, so here's a big spoiler - (just close your eyes if you don't want to know and then move your eyeballs down the page before opening them again, you should be safe) - not only is Will Smith's character a god-like super being with crazy powers but Charlize Theron is one too AND she's more powerful than him in every way. She's super strong, can fly AND controls the weather. You know what she does with her time even after she's outed? She's a stay at home mom and supports her husband's idealistic non-profit PR company. No shit. At the end of the movie Will Smith is perched on some New York rooftop with his eagle sidekick and Charlize is at an 'effing carnival in the Valley, eating cotton candy with her family. It just pisses me off frankly and that is the main reason why I refused to by into the super-macho super hero comic book bull crap by insisting that my husband and I see Mamma Mia this weekend instead of Dark Knight. I've made a little place in my heart for Abba after many years of just being oddly confused by their existence and I wanted to celebrate the joys of life, music and love with my husband instead of watching yet another bleak week in Gotham. So what?

Ah, being a lady is so awesome. Let's drink some white wine and speak wisely about all the men in our lives and how we never really needed them in the first place. (pic from Mamma Mia!)

OK, I'm totally joking of course. Yes, I think the whole Hancock crap is bullshit, but they couldn't exactly figure out how to write the second half of the movie, I'm not surprised they didn't know what to do with the female lead. Mamma Mia! looks like the biggest piece of cinematic tripe I've ever seen a preview for. I am embarrassed for everyone in it even though they are all prettier and have more money than me. And it looks like enough women (and their gay best friends) were interested in seeing other women dance around and sing songs that loosely relate to the plot and helped the film to bring in $27.6M this weekend. But a certain film featuring a certain deceased Australian actor raked in $155.34M this weekend and is expected to reach $200M by week's end. That's a record for a comic book adaptation. No wonder no one wants to use original scripts any more.

I love that Bale's Bruce Wayne is not without a little Patrick Bateman; just the jerk part not the psychopathic serial killer Phil Collins enthusiast.

I cannot fathom how difficult it is to make a film that appeals to fanboys, frat/sorority types, douches and dweebs, ages 13-100, dems and repubs, hipsters, office slaves, and everyone else. It seems Chris Nolan and his bro Jon took as much care with the characters and dialogue as they did with the intricate action sequences that actually exist to move the plot forward and not just because fire is cool. Heath Ledger's Joker is every bit as enthralling and frightening as the critics are saying. This time The Joker breaks the comic book villain archetype with his passion for chaos, lack of a criminal code of honor and ability to truly surprise everyone. He's also funny, but in a way that makes one feel a little evil and then shameful after a giggle slips out.

The Joker: I'm a dog chasing cars. I don't have plans. I just do things. I'm not a schemer.

The most upsetting type of violence is the random kind. Without a plan to rule the world, The Joker's unpredictability is his most dangerous attribute. It seems he's on the other side of humanity somehow and that has given him the ability to manipulate and anticipate what good people would do with a frightening accuracy.

Visions of the movie made appearances in my dreams last night, a telling sign that Chris Nolan's world was complete enough to continue living many hours after I lifted my now sticky sandals from the theater floor. They weren't nightmares, but glimpses into dark alleyways, sky high views of intimidating skyscrapers and a scarred man with greasy green hair, not to mention the crackling clown make up. Nolan's Gotham is so rich and complete - all the good parts of Chicago and New York melded into one super American city. It breaths and is a character as much as any human in the film. This is just so rare, especially in a time when movies are made completely against green screens (see lame preview for yet another Frank Miller product - The Spirit).

As usual, Batman has some pretty cool toys and actually gets to do a little undercover work as Bruce Wayne, which is nice though little of this crime stopping is done shirtless. Oh, and this bat bike that looks kind of stupid in all the previews - husband and I were glad to find out there's a very good reason it looks that way. Along with Bruce Wayne's lack of adequate shirtless screen time, another disappointment is Maggie Gyllenhaal. Her talent and quirkiness (code for not as classically pretty as other not as talented actresses) is wasted and honestly, she's not quite right for the part. I wish I knew why this always happens with super hero love interests. These ladies are often just boring and underdeveloped. They didn't give Maggie a whole lot to work with, and though she does have a few moments of bravery, I challenge any viewer to give her a second thought when she's not on screen. Luckily the rest of the supporting cast are treated a bit better. Aaron Eckhart does not disappoint as Gotham's DA Harvey Dent and Gary Oldman's Gordon continues to give that character a depth previously untapped in past incarnations of the franchise. Admittedly, I was surprised to see Eric Roberts (in an actual movie made for theaters) as an Italian mob boss.

Bruce/Batman is so clear as to his mission and has actually convinced himself that he understands they way criminals think, and The Joker plays off that beautifully. The ending of the film makes Batman Begins look downright cheerful, though Dark Knight is not without an uplifting moment. The film as a whole illustrates how it's only after someone has committed to something for awhile before the futility of their most altruistic efforts is fully realized. There's always a chance some crazy nut job clown is going to be always one step ahead.