Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sucky bat shit, chuckling

Last night's family ordeal, I mean movie, was the new Batman pic, "The Dark Knight," which my daughter was given for Xmas. Let me tell you, and you can trust me on this, the Batman series is one dead series, at least creatively. Of course that doesn't mean they'll stop making them. I expect we'll see the 23rd installment, "Batman Belches" before too long and it will gross at least $300 million in today's dollars. Artistically though. Dead. Worse than dead. Putrid.

I knew that, but still, I was almost interested in seeing "The Dark Knight" for two reasons: Many people I respect speak well of Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker and a lot of right wing nutcases felt the movie supported their fucked up world view.

As for Ledger's performance, I'm sorry, but unless you are Caesar Romero, how hard can it be to play the Joker? Even the older, washed up Jack Nicholson managed it. You don't have to be a master thespian to pull off a character that wears scary makeup and acts like a total psychopath in every scene. No need for character development or growth. And this iteration didn't even require that the Joker tell jokes, so there was no comedic timing requirement either. I hope they cast Bill Murray in the next remake, but it will be a waste of his talent if they don't get better writers than they had on this one. Or maybe it was some kind of meta joke to have a jokeless Joker? Good concept, perhaps, but it failed in the execution. Failed miserably.

Still, the scenes with the Joker were the only interesting ones in the movie. Homicidal psychopaths wearing makeup are inherently entertaining for the human species. It's an evolutionary thing, I guess. And that explains why the only other remotely watchable Batman movie (that didn't star Adam West) is the other one with the Joker. If the Hollywood Honchos were really smart, they'd find a way to make the Joker a hero and give him his own movie franchise. It shouldn't be that difficult. Homicidal maniacs on insane killing sprees are socially acceptable in the right context. Slap a flag on his ass and send him to Mecca or the like. Blockbuster. Guaranteed.

The Batman character is, as usual, poorly written. They make yet another lazy attempt to portray him as a psychopath instead of a hero, but it comes off as lame as it is half-hearted. Only the real Batman, Adam West, was able to pull of that trick. Michael Keaton didn't do a bad job either. But the Batman in "The Dark Knight" could have been played by an animatronic robot and it wouldn't have mattered a whit. The writing was really that bad.

Why the winguts think the movie supports their idiotic worldview is a bit of a mystery. Yes, there's a scene where a vigilante tortures a defendant while the police watch, and I know that kind of thing turns them on even more than Sarah Palin with a shotgun, but there's also a plot point where people choose to die rather than kill a boatload of African-American criminals, which you'd think would get their liberal hatin dander up. Of course none of it makes any sense. In the end you just have to chalk it up to their penchant for incoherently grasping at imaginary straws cause that's all they got. No reason to expect otherwise.