Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm afraid my condition has left me cold to your pleas of mercy.

Ryan posted a nice little reminder of a certain Batman movie that wasn't directed by Christopher Nolan or Tim Burton. That got me thinking more and more about something I thought while I watched The Dark Knight this weekend: a movie like Batman Begins or The Dark Knight would have never been made twenty years ago.

I'm not so sure I'd say that Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman and Robin were sacrificial lambs, but they seem to be with a lot of Batman nuts. I always liked '89's Batman and saw it multiple times on VHS and TV. I proceeded to see the three sequels in the theater, but did not watch them again. It wasn't for any particular reason; I just didn't feel compelled to watch them again. I didn't have that strong of a negative reaction; I just thought they were entertaining. Course, by the time Batman and Robin came out, I started hearing more and more about people being ultra-harsh, mean-spirited, and super-picky, all in a vocal way. It's something I deal with on an almost daily basis.

So it's strange to see what seems like even more people going out to see a denser, darker, and more engaging Batman story. This is a mass appeal movie, right? Twenty years ago, the mere thought of a two-and-a-half-hour movie scaling the depths of Batman's darkness would have been shot down immediately in a pitch session. I find it inspiring that Nolan's Batman movies go for so much more than standard, formulaic moviemaking. There's enough of a mass appeal in the stories, but the movies don't stay in safe zones. You can't pull that off with most movies, but Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are what they are.

For me, I want to see Nolan's Batman movies again and again. Re-watching Nolan's still-incredible-and-fresh Memento again, I realized how there's so much to digest in his movies that you have to rewatch them. You're rewarded if you pay attention, and the rewards pay off with each repeat viewing.

What a difference twenty years makes

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