In the Absence of Serious American Drama, A New Movie About Batman Captures the Heart of a Nation

by robbiefreeling
July 21, 2008 6:11 AM
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AP, Sunday, 12:32 a.m.

Christopher Nolan's new movie about Batman and Big Themes, like Duality, The Dark Knight took the nation's movie houses and film critics by storm this weekend. Words like "operatic" and "Shakespearean" were bandied about by moviegoers and online film writers whose background in opera and Shakespeare is limited at best, but who prefer their "classical, serious" films with a dose of cool gadgets. When asked about the success of the latest film in the franchise which transformed him from a mediocre, strictly technical indie actor to a mediocre, strictly technical Hollywood star, reclusive Christian Bale responded in a gruff, gravely, very masculine voice not unlike that of the muppet Dr. Teeth, "I think moviegoers were just really hungry for something that would challenge their preconceived notions of good and evil, right and wrong, all that stuff; but they prefer to have that message delivered by a comic book superhero that they've admired since they were children." Cinema-lovers have responded in droves, especially males, who have already helped catapult Nolan's sequel to the much coveted number one spot of all-time movies on the IMDb top 250 films list—not bad for a film that has been in general release for only three days. Especially pleased with the success of the film are all those adult Americans who have never seen a film made outside of this country and who have never attended the theater. When asked the source of the film's magic, superfan Jim Cherrystone, of Somerville, MA, responded, "I think people are just relieved that there's still serious films being made. I haven't been this excited about true art since reading about Harry Potter and his little witch friends casting spells. With JK Rowling's last Potter installment, books may be over, but it looks like movies got a stay of execution." Film critics were just as jazzed as the film's makers and its boyish fans, even proud to consider themselves part of the film's creation, in a way. "I think it's the critic's duty to tell people how awesome this movie is," said Insert-Pullquote Pete, of the Toulane Tribune. "Thank God there's finally a movie that audiences and critics can agree on, cause it makes our job so much easier."

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More: Newsflash


  • uga | March 25, 2009 4:26 AMReply


  • gokinsmen | July 23, 2008 10:36 AMReply

    Haha, are you serious? Now you know what sort of movies I watch? You act as if I've never heard of or seen any of those films -- your snobbery has reached the bottom of the barrel.

    But thanks for your recommendations, Robbie! Let me return the favor -- I really recommend this guy Godard. Also check out Naruse, Fassbinder, Bresson, and Paradjanov. It'll really help your career as a film critic!

  • Travis Hoover | July 23, 2008 6:42 AMReply

    Yes, gokinsmen. Stoke that hatred. Tell your friends. Raise a posse and arm yourself to the teeth. Christ, I want those Kex bars!

  • robbiefreeling | July 23, 2008 5:35 AMReply

    I love you, Gokinsmen! Movies you could be seeing and thinking about right now other than "Batman 6": The Order of Myths, Baghead, Man on Wire, Boy A, Before I Forget, The Last Mistress, Chris & Don: A Love Story, WALL*E, The Exiles, A Jihad for Love . . .

  • gokinsmen | July 23, 2008 1:24 AMReply

    Well, first of all, I was basing my response on the sneering drivel that you wrote -- I'm sorry if I didn't read every comment (considering the first one has to do with Streisand).

    What you don't seem to understand is that the very existence of your pointless "social"/cultural diatribe is what I find disconcerting. Why would you even publish a slam piece on a film that is separate from a formal review? And of course you have the hypocritical gall to deride my off-handed remark abut The Village because I didn't back it up with a critical analysis...oh, you mean like this Dark Knight blog post of yours?

    Don't you hate it when your own logic bites you in your conceited ass? You may censor this comment.

  • gokinsmen | July 22, 2008 9:35 AMReply

    Instead of taking easy potshots at vague targets and using TDK as an opportunity to "bemoan the state of American cinema," how about the brilliant minds at Reverse Shot actually critique the film itself? I know. It's a shocking proposition.

    More and more, it seems like most of your constipated intellectual energy is focused on deciding which film du jour should be declared "overrated." And this from the publication that ranked the unintentionally hilarious "The Village" amongst the year's best. Can't you at least be consistent in your blind snobbery?

    Have an open mind. You must have lost your proverbial shit when you heard Arnaud Desplechin loves Almost Famous and That 70s Show.

  • robbiefreeling | July 22, 2008 4:35 AMReply

    Oh, shush. If you read the above comments you'll see a review is on its way. Today, in fact. Until then there are PLENTY of reviews to satiate you around the web that will agree with you. (And the idea that we don't review films in full is...laughable. Take a look around at some films that AREN'T Batman.)

    Your attack of our choice of The Village as one of the best films of...2004...isn't backed by the same evidence we gave it in a considered 3000-word piece. So your sniveling comment means nothing. Thanks for commenting.

  • Manny | July 21, 2008 11:12 AMReply

    Oh, Rifleman... so dark and cynical! Why, you're as deep and harrowing as THE DARK KNIGHT itself.

  • Rifleman | July 21, 2008 10:28 AMReply

    'best American film since Godfather II...'

    I guess Martin Scorsese never made Raging Bull, nor did David Lynch make Mulholland Dr.

    Jarmusch never made Dead Man, and there was no such thing as Pulp Fiction by Tarantino.

    Do the Right Thing was not made by Spike Lee, and there was certainly no Nashville by Robert Altman.

    But we do have The Dark Knight, by the third director of the sixth film of the umpteenth superhero franchise to serve cinema up like cheeseburgers...the illusion of substance backed by cheap filler and sold through shrewd marketing to a hungry viewing public eager to consume.

    And, just like McDonald’s, there’ll be “billions and billions served.”

  • Manny | July 21, 2008 10:24 AMReply

    The reaction to this film makes it clear to me that film as an art form should be retired. Clearly no one will ever exceed the power of this new Batman movie, so what's the point of trying? Let us all move into criticism of wood carving.

  • Lyle | July 21, 2008 8:56 AMReply

    The Dark Knight is the best American film since The Godfather II.
    Said Walter Chaw.

    The amount of repressed sexual energy that this movie has unleashed is enough to reanimate Wilhelm Reich.

  • Travis Hoover | July 21, 2008 8:08 AMReply

    When the resulting flame war levels your apartment, am I allowed to pick through the rubble in search of your Streisand albums?

  • Mark | July 21, 2008 6:43 AMReply

    Ha, this is hilarious. I haven't seen Dark Knight and don't plan to but I got a kick out of this.

  • robbiefreeling | July 21, 2008 6:24 AMReply

    Hi Jorgen. First of all, a real Reverse Shot review's on its way.

    Secondly, this was not meant as a review of the film, just general commentary on the culture surrounding it. For the record, I didn't actually hate this film at all, and nowhere do I say that I do here. Just making a little ol' point. In the meantime, there are plenty of reviews out there on the web waiting to be read, from Keith Uhlich's well-articulated and hysterically excoriated House Next Door write-up to Michael Joshua Rowin's terrific, layered piece on Stop Smiling Online.

  • seanmcavoy | July 21, 2008 5:59 AMReply

    I miss Robert Wuhl.

  • jorgen | July 21, 2008 5:50 AMReply

    That's a great review for the attitude of the moviegoing audience, and possibly of the moviegoers themselves. But I must have missed the part where you gave an opinion on the movie itself...

  • jake | July 21, 2008 4:31 AMReply

    The massive hordes of fanboys who have come out in droves to declare this movie a masterpiece are all too eager to destroy any opposition with relentless anger. It really is kind of lame when very few are truly thinking critically about this movie, instead tossing around aformentioned "big themes" and "duality" as argument settlers. Fanboys will not let anything make this movie seem less than perfect, it is their ticket to being taken seriously.

  • brotherfromanother | July 21, 2008 3:11 AMReply


  • robbiefreeling | July 21, 2008 2:52 AMReply

    Yes! And you can also have my original London cast recording of Oliver!, my copy of Michael Cunningham's The Hours, my stack of refrigerated Swedish "Kex" chocolate bars, and my videotape of Burton's Batman Returns.