Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Tale of Two Foxes

The Dark Knight has been making all manners of records at the box office since it made its debut two weekends ago. At the rate it's going, it's projected that it would smash the record of the highest grossed movies of all time, one that has been held by Titantic for more than ten years.

Its popularity also means that watching it has become a dicey proposition, what with the current weather pattern in Tampa now that is reeked with daily afternoon showers. Our first two attempts were derailed by untimely downpour. Honestly, I wasn't sold on the movie prior to watching it, despite the glowing reviews splashing across the papers and Internet, and by word of mouth, especially one from CY, who said that she plans to watch it again, this time on IMAX.

Part of my less than salutary view of the movie was the makeup of the Joker seen in the movie trailer, which did not make a favorable impression on me. My view then was Jack Nicholson would not be dislodged by the late Heath Ledger as my favorite Joker.

On the other hand, I have been a X-files fan, not die-hard, but one who would like to see Mulder and Scully going beyond being mere good friends, just for old time sake.

The family was planning to watch The Dark Knight on IMAX at Channelside last weekend. But the afternoon deluge (though by screen time it had dwindled to a slight drizzle) coupled with my lackadaisical attitude toward the movie put paid to that venture and I was able to divert them to watch I Want to Believe at MUVICO that's closer to home, even though right up to the time at the ticket booth these other dissenting members of my entourage were still undecided whether we were actually going to watch the X-files.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the wise cracks from Mulder and Scully's ability to rattle off medical terms with no loss of fluidity and fluency despite the intervening years. And more. This time though, the threats were entirely terrestrial in origin but perpetrated by earthly aliens, a term reserved for anybody who is from outside US in the parlance of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. I shall skimp on the more part but let's just say I declared it to be the best movie in my list, thus far. My family members, though, have their reservations.

So after two abortive attempts, we made it to the Channelside way ahead of time: about 45 min before the scheduled screening time of 3pm. We joined the meandering queue at 2.20pm, a scene not unlike the waiting line in DisneyWorld, Orlando, except here they were more expectant adults than wide-eyed kids. To a collective sigh of relief from the waiting crowd, the door opened at 2.40pm, and the patrons started filing into the cinema, its interior seemingly dwarfed by the 8-storey high screen.

Because we made the right decision to appear well ahead of time, we were able to secure good and contiguous seats (second row from the back). It was a packed hall, and those who came late, especially in groups, were forced to split up or sat on the very first row (I can't imagine how one could actually enjoy the movie from that proximally disadvantaged seating location by having to swivel the head not only from side to side but to raise and to lower it continuously in order to get a full view of the action.) CE said she saw a party of late-comers comprising some kids in tow leaving the hall after making a brief survey upon entering, presumably to ask for a refund or exchange the tickets for a later show.

There was only one trailer shown, presumably not many movies are made with IMAX screening in mind. So for those who are used to seeing six or seven trailers being shown at a time, like Wify, they might not have realized that the feature presentation has actually started.

Anyway, the movie started with a group of masked men executing a bank robbery, and I was instantly taken in by the panoramic view seemingly giving it the depth dimension, and the rhythmic accompaniment of the background music.

When Batman was surveying the cityscape of skyscrapers in a night scene from the top of the Sears Tower (I learned later that most of the scenes were shot in Chicago), the acrophobic reaction elicited from the audience, at least in my case, was quite real. There was much explosion, but the carnage was implied rather than sensationally exhibited. The closest the movie got to something bordering on the macabre was the splitting of the mouths of unsuspecting victims by a small knife wielded by the Joker, who had a fetish for knives and made a case for using them as opposed to guns in the movie the details of which now escape me. He also made similar analogies for schemers, and rule followers, both of whom he was not, and human nature when stripped down to the basest elements: each man for himself.

I was pleasantly surprised by the sterling performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker, especially the way he swiveled his tongue ostensibly while talking, augmenting the maniac dimension of this dark character.

Oh yeah, there were moments of levity too, such as when the joker uttered a familiar line from Jerry Maguire (1996) that made me burst into spontaneous laughter, along with others as well.

There were some spontaneous applause from the audience in the course of the movie, the loudest of which was at the end from a patently appreciative audience for a cinematic experience well-delivered. By the time I stepped out of the cinema, the X-files' reign at the top of my movie list has been rendered a really short one, a week to be exact. Now the Dark Knight stays on top, a feat no doubt partially enabled by the IMAX experience. But so was the plot, the underlying human interest angle, the performance of the cast, etc. All conspire to make a believer of the movie's appeal out of an erstwhile cynical me.

There may be a teeny weeny bit of giveaway, aka plot spoiler, in the next paragraph, so please be forewarned.

To most, obviously the Dark Knight refers to Batman, in dark suit, and being nocturnal. But I have a different take, prompted by the white knight, Harvey Dent, the D.A. played by Aaron Eckhart. The “white” as used here refers to his open identity as opposed to the concealed, or dark, identity of Batman. In the movie, Dent's dark side was successfully unleashed by the Joker, the master manipulator of human emotions, thus earning Dent the moniker, the Dark Knight, in my reckoning.

Supposedly Dent was chosen to be the Joker's target because he was the strongest, over Batman and the police chief Gordon played by Gary Oldman. Eventually by saving the day for everyone and by taking the fall for the dastardly acts of the changed Dent, Batman turned out to be the strongest for he is strong to live long enough to become the villain so that people like Dent would die as a hero.

As for the tale of the two foxes, the fox in the X-files is self-explanatory while the fox in the Dark Knight is Lucius Fox played by Morgan Freeman.


Kitty Girl said...

Dad... You are so corny. "A Tale of Two Foxes" with the title explained at the end? Oh, dear. :)

Initially I really wanted to see the X-Files movie, but I think I'll wait for it come out on DVD.

Wasn't Heath Ledger's performance stunning? It was so unbelievable. He totally stole the show. Batman's voice was a little overkill; I kept expecting Morgan Freeman's character to be like "SHUT UP!!!!! I KNOW IT'S YOU, YOU IDIOT!!!! USE YOUR NORMAL VOICE FOR CHRIST'S SAKE!!!" @_@

Say Lee said...

Must be the age thing.

Anyway, whose voice is that? Did the previous Batman speak with a different voice from Bruce Wayne?