In addition to going to Siren Festival, this weekend was also the weekend of “The Dark Knight” in IMAX (and a bonus field trip… more on this tomorrow).

We had tickets for a 10 a.m. showing and were at the theatre by 9:15; as I expected, there was already a line. But we were there in plenty of time to have a good position in line – and since a member of our party is Preggers McGee, it was good to have some choice in seating. My friend’s husband performed a superhero-like leap over some rows of chairs to claim our seats while we trudged up the stairs. It was entertaining.

I will tell you what I think about the movie (the post title sums it up briefly) while keeping it spoiler-free. Or trying very very hard.

All that talk about Heath Ledger’s performance being Oscar-worthy and amazing? Well, I don’t know if I’d run out and say he should definitely be granted a posthumous Academy Award (I haven’t seen everyone else who’d be a possible candidate) but he should most certainly be taken under consideration.

It would’ve been quite easy for someone to take that role, turn it into “scarycrazyclown” and create something that would be as embarrassing in retrospect as Jack Nicholson’s take on the Joker appears to us now. That wasn’t the road that Ledger and Nolan took in crafting this portrayal of the Joker. Nope – he might be psychopath, but he’s not crazy (there is a big distinction). He’s a personification of anarchy and amorality (not immorality – big distinction here, too); the “rules” and “codes” don’t apply to anyone or anything, including the Joker himself (in both self-preserving and self-destructive ways). His mission is to prove that these codes don’t exist; that they’re constructs society creates to feel safe, but that they’re very fragile when it comes down to it – and he totally gets his jollies by playing people against their morals and performing a sort “moral profiling” (I think of criminal profiling) and then seeing if they’ll actually do what he thinks they’ll do.

I was talking with a friend at lunch and she said that some DJ on the radio said that Ledger’s  Joker would absolutely terrify children in 8-9 range. I don’t think so – unless they’re really really scared of clowns with poor makeup. The things that make him scary aren’t things that most children are going to be perceptive enough to pick up on, in my opinion. It’s a more subtle psychological and behavioral “terror.” He’s creepy. He makes sense (albeit about twisted stuff). He’s funny as hell. This doesn’t look like a role that would drive a man crazy, though… but perhaps his performance was just that strong.

In short: he’s definitely worth watching. Multiple times, even.

Christian Bale is no slouch either; his Bruce Wayne/Batman also displays some of the trademarks of a psychopath that the Joker has (grandiose sense of self-worth, superficial charm, criminal versatility, reckless disregard for the safety of self or others, impulse control problems) and these parallels are not lost on anyone, methinks. But Batman/Bruce Wayne is a little bit tired and a little less brooding in this film and that sense of spiritual exhaustion is a major part of what is at stake.

Aaron Eckhart did well, as did Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. Maggie Gyllenhaal, while lovely, didn’t have much with which to work. Same with Gary Oldman – the dramatic scenes they both got were a little on the heavy-handed side, but that’s not the fault of these fine actors. There’s just so much darkness and drama going on in this movie (interspersed with well-placed bits of dry wit, sarcasm and gallows humor) that when they have their more obviously pathos-laden moments of drama, they stick out a bit (they said to me, “These scenes are for the ladies – the softer side of darkness. “) I could sum it up in a three-word phrase, but it would be a quasi-spoiler.

Anyway – seeing it in IMAX was definitely the way to go. Action sequences, cityscapes – I felt a twinge of vertigo at one point when I was ‘plummeting’ from a building along with Batman. Just beautifully shot. Nothing hokey, nothing splashy, no special effects that made you cry out with anguish over someone looking like they’re made of rubber. It’s solid. Our group response heading out of the theatre (with huge smiles on our faces): KICK-ASS.

Simply, well done.

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