Yep, that Dark Knight movie sure has collected a lot of hype over the past few weeks. I haven’t seen so many gushing superlatives hurled at a comic book movie since… ever.

Incredibly, the movie totally lived up to the hype. It’s really unbelievable.

I don’t really want to write a whole THING about it, though, seeing as how I’d just be sort of repeating a million other THINGS people have written. Mariah pretty much wrote my review for me, anyway. (Thanks, Mariah!) I honestly can’t imagine there’ll be a better movie this year. What’s coming down the line to even compete? The Road, maybe? Burn After Reading? The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?

I do, however, want to take this moment to do what no other Dark Knight bloggist has yet to do: Congratulate the MPAA on yet another towering triumph in the field of movie ratings.

Sure, I just watched a PG-13 movie in which I was seriously worried I was about to witness a man with half his face-flesh burned off put a bullet in an 8-year-old boy’s skull in front of his crying, screaming family, but thanks to the good people at the MPAA, I had absolutely no fear of any nude female nipples sneaking into the scene. Thank you so much, MPAA. Because of you and your stalwart vigilance on behalf of our nation’s many unspoilt young minds, I can rest assured whenever children go to see crack-y, psychotic clowns stick knives in people’s mouths, those clowns will never, under any circumstances, dare to use the word “fuck.” I doff my hat to you all.

Yeah, the PG-13 rating is a joke. This is a dark, intense film…. Which is, of course, exactly why I loved it. The Dark Knight is a tar-black film about nothing less than the fragility of hope and the allure of chaos – Yes, it’s exactly that pretentious. But – oh my god, are you shitting me – they pulled it off! They really did! Through a combination of actors who take the material seriously, a director who never pulls his punches, 3 writers willing to take a summer blockbuster into places summer blockbusters just do not go… they did it. This is a “Fall prestige picture” disguised as a superhero spectacle and dumped in the middle of July to record crowds.

And god, this thing is brutal. I swear to god, there were moments in the theater when I was genuinely afraid of what I’d have to watch the Joker do. I was uncomfortable. And that kind of thing never happens to me. You can believe the hype. This Joker is one of the best movie villains of all time, Oscar nomination for sure (and not just as some cheap “Sorry to hear you died!” consolation prize, either).

You know those videos you can find on the internet of terrorists sawing people’s heads off with knives and whatnot?* Heath Ledger’s Joker is the guy with the knife. Only instead of a mask, he’s got clown paint smeared all over his mutilated mouth. Oh, and he’s laughing.

(I bet you could show those videos in a PG-13 movie. Y’know, as long as no one says “tits.”)

One more thing before this becomes a THING… Having grown up in Chicago, it was really cool to see where they staged the big car chase in the middle of the movie. Those hellish orange lights along the “lower” streets used to haunt my dreams when I was a kid.


I also enjoyed the hell out of Hellboy 2. (Now THAT was a proper PG-13.) It was just one big, 2-hour-long orgy of the most inspired, imaginative production design you’ve ever seen. Brilliant action choreography, too (miles ahead of the Dark Knight, unfortunately, except for maybe that car chase scene). BUT… I’m not sure I agree with the consensus that Hellboy 2 is such an improvement over Hellboy 1, though. The main villain is definitely more compelling this time around, and there’s frankly just a lot MORE on the screen to appreciate, but I dunno… It seemed like Guillermo Del Toro (one of my favorite-ever guys, if you recall) really upped the SILLY for this one, occasionally venturing dangerously close to Men In Black territory. I’m usually a big proponent of the silly, but in this case, I was a little distracted. The tone just seemed slightly off from what they established the first time around (and miles away from the comics).

And what was going on with Abe Sapien in this new one? He betrays them all toward the end, then just kind of stands around while everyone else fights? What’s going on there, Fish Guy?

These are pretty minor complaints, though. Hellboy 2 is, without question, a beautiful movie full of agonizingly beautiful visuals (The dying elemental! The regenerating army! The rock door guy!), the best action scenes of the year, a note-perfect performance by Ron Perlman, and tons of really nice character animation (that poor, dying tooth fairy…). Also: Johann Krauss is worth the price of admission alone. Family Guy voice and everything.

Y’know, The Dark Knight and Hellboy 2 will make a good double-feature when I have the discs here at home. After two and a half hours of punishing Gotham oppression, maybe I’ll better appreciate the light and silly adventures of the hellborn demon destined to destroy mankind.

It’s been a really cool summer movie season, hasn’t it?


*A friend of mine e-mailed me a link to one of those videos SANS WARNING one time. Luckily, someone told me what it was before I clicked it, but other friends were… not so lucky.