Bat-mania: The Dark Knight IMAX Experience

Why So Serious?
Warner Bros

Guest Post

I’m sitting here on my lunch break eating store brand beef ravioli which, from my understanding is genuine hardboiled noir cop food. Canned and cheap, it even resembles chili very nicely when served up in a two quart bowl. Having been up since 5AM and it is now 4:50PM. I am only halfway through my shift which means plenty of black organic high test will be flowing and I don’t mean sweet crude, but coffee, another staple of the noir detective’s diet.

Over nine hours earlier, I was riding in the back of a Chrysler 300C, a bold shouldered, elegant and luxurious muscle saloon. Since my $5000 Subaru was having brake issues I was in no room to argue being escorted in style in this high speed boulevardier. Factory dressed in Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl with tasteful chrome accents, the vehicle has enough accentuation to differentiate it from the numerous lesser 300 models, many of which do not possess the 340HP Hemi motor.

Intimidating style. Power. Purposeful handling. Luxury. Excellent view from the front or the back seat. This seems like the kind of car Bruce Wayne would get carted around in or not hesitate twice to man handle by the big fat wheel if he were nowhere near as filthy rich. But it is a start and is one of the finest automobiles I have ever ridden in and I felt a little, but not much, like Wayne in riding in the commodious rear seat. After all, one of the recent comic book Batmobile’s had featured a big 300-like chrome grill.

There we have it. With my lunch, I had my Lt Jim Gordon diet and with my ride to the IMAX to see The Dark Knight, the closest semblance to the Bruce Wayne fantasy that I may ever see. Our showing was at 9AM and thankfully I bought tickets last Wednesday since all subsequent showings were sold out.

For those of you who do not drink coffee, this movie provides a more than substantial jolt in the morning to get you up and alert. From the first shotgun blast, which I will spoil for you and say that it comes quite early, my caffeine addled brain was in “put on seatbelt” mode. Intense and brutal, Knight is the best Batman movie ever. IMAX allowed for full peering down tens of stories into the steel, concrete and asphalt jungles of Gotham (Chicago) and really makes you aware of how crazy Batman is by jumping off of rooftops and ledges. Wally Pfister’s cinematography was beautifully gloomy and with the near monochromatic color palettes reminded me of Alex Nepomniaschy’s work on the ultra low budget 2002 noir thriller Narc.

“Why so serious,” reads the Joker’s infamous tag line and one that proliferates much of the film’s promotion.

And if you do not know who plays him, let me tell you this much: Vincent Price did not die in vain. Ledger, whose scarred and mutilated face combined with hair triggered reactions make for a genuinely scary portrayal of Batman’s arch nemesis and his quote permeates the tone of the movie. The scenes between Batman (Christian Bale) and the Joker are played in a very end all like manner and reminded me of The Killing Joke, which I reviewed a few weeks ago. Their duel is one that is rooted in madness between one man determined to never kill and one man who has no goal and incorporates killing as method of passing time.

No kidding, there is not much sunlight to be seen during the feature, metaphorical or otherwise. DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) attempts to shine some of it on the smoldering city amidst threats on his life with his hard on criminals policies and million-watt smile. New to the team of Lt James Gordon (a great Gary Oldman) and Batman, they collectively struggle the duration of the film to keep crime under control all the while the Joker, who has no problem whacking or blowing up whom and whatever, has been let lose by resident head mafioso Sal Maroni (played very smarmily by Eric Roberts).

That is an essential outline of the plot and by now, everyone has seen it already, so lets get down to the nitpicky crap, which as usual, consists of superficial things for me. I thought I’d have a problem with the suit, which standing still looks like another four letter word that begins with “s” and ends with “t” but doesn’t matter since Batman is mostly bashing heads in the whole time and you don’t ever really see it. Who cares. The use of the double sided coin later in the film was incorporated as best as possible given staying true to the source material but still came off as a little trite, to no one’s fault as it was executed to the best of everyone’s ability, as was the rest of Knight.

With more moxie than Iron Man and despite Tony Stark’s moral implications and obligations as a dealer of WMD’s, it is Batman who really feels like he matters. I am not sure if anyone could have predicted how great The Dark Knight turned out to be, but the team behind Batman Begins put their focus into overdrive and with a much better script than the first in their series, bolstered by another excellent cast, have made Batman even more serious and deadly than Burton’s first classic. Do yourself a favor and go see it again, this time in IMAX.