Doug Thompson

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Doug Thompson

The new Batman movie’s OK.
Don’t you hate it when some critic lightly praises a popular, critically hailed movie? Don’t you suspect immediately that the guy’s just some hopelessly jaded elitist?
I do.
Therefore, I do not put myself in this situation lightly.
Heath Ledger gives a great performance. That alone makes this movie worth the ticket. The production is very well done. The film’s whole concept is much more ambitious and well written than most Hollywood epics, let alone superhero movies. The sheer scale of “Dark Knight’s” success makes it a cultural event worth seeing for its impact alone. I’m glad I went.
However, “Knife in the Water” it ain’t.
Critical praise of this movie is fulsome. What’s being praised here, however, is the courage of making a blockbuster this dark and conflicted. Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan says this movie: “May be the most hopeless, despairing comic-book movie in memory.”
Hey, Hollywood should be praised for taking risks, especially when they pay off.
Critics make too much of the “moral dilemmas” in this movie, however. A good episode of “Law and Order” has better ones.
The supposedly agonizing choices should have more consequences. Lucius Fox should really have resigned. Another major character really should have died. The major character who did die should have been, well, at least half as upset about it as everybody else.
At least “The Dark Knight” reaffirms that a serious drama can have a leading man who wears a cape. This should not require reaffirmation. “Hamlet” has a ghost. “Macbeth” has witches and ghosts.
And “DK’s” somersaulting tractor-trailer is just cool. I haven’t said “Whoa” aloud during a movie in a very long time.
The ending was great. Sad, tragic and truly heroic, for real heroism requires sacrifice.
Now comes the nitpicking.
Any superhero movie requires some suspension of disbelief. Expecting us to believe that refugees will pack into moving structures and nobody will notice dozens — at least — of barrels of fuel rigged with explosives has more suspension than the Golden Gate Bridge.
The idea that nobody would notice a half a dozen strangers dressed as policemen in a huge fraternal gathering of policemen is laughable.
The whole “us or them” scene with the two ships didn’t leave me in suspense at all. I simply assumed the Joker lied and that the people who pushed the button first would blow themselves up. That would be consistent with his early ruse with the switched prisoners.
That’s about it for the faultfinding, though. As I said, this is a good movie. It’s just not as great as some of the rapturous reviews would indicate.
Speaking of melodramas disguised as fantasy …
A practically complete negative of “Metropolis” has been found, German experts confirmed July 1.
All known copies of the films had been hacked from the original, which ran for three hours and 30 minutes. The longest version was at least 25 minutes shorter than the original.
A complete, old, scratched up but restorable negative was discovered recently in the archives of the Museo del Cine in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
This movie has not been seen uncut in a public showing since 1927. Restoring the movie will be long and painful, apparently. Reuters has an article at: http://www.reuters.com/article/entertainmentNews/idUSL0344303820080703?feedType=RSS&feedName=entertainmentNews. German news accounts say one five-minute scene in which a monk predicts the Apocalypse is still missing.
OK. Why do I care?
Well, clearly, because I’m obsessed. So the question should be: Why should you care?
A work of art — grandiose, melodramatic piffle though it may be — has proven hard to destroy. Now it’s going to be digitally reproduced. It will never be in danger of disappearing again.
This is such a good thing. It’s as if an old manuscript of a long-lost book was found, and now it’s going to be reprinted.
Think of the tragic loss of Heath Ledger that way.
Eighty years from now, he will still be watched. Fantasy endures. Who’s watching the best picture Oscar winner for best picture from 1931? Here’s a hint: Not nearly as many people as those watching Bela Lugosi’s “Dracula.”
And people will still marvel at him.

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