The Dark Knight Experience

August 1st, 2008

I’ve been excited for The Dark Knight for months. Ever since the first Joker cards appeared at Comic-Con last year, I’ve wanted to see this movie. I loved Batman Begins and I just knew Christopher Nolan had it in him to make an even better movie. With all the origin story out of the way, he could focus on some more interesting plot lines and villains, like of course the Joker.

I’m not going to write a full review of this movie. By now you’ve already decided if you want to see The Dark Knight or not, and there are tons of reviews floating around the internet already. Instead I want to share my thoughts on a couple of things, some spoilerish, some not, some not even about the movie itself, but the circumstances in which I saw it. Don’t worry I’ll announce spoiler territory in a big and obvious manner.

Booking Tickets

Here in the UK The Dark Knight came out last Thursday and I had tickets for the IMAX on Friday afternoon. If you tried to book tickets last week, you would have noticed the next four weeks at the Imax are practically sold out. So how did I get such early tickets? I wasn’t lucky or extra alert or anything. Remember my great adventure with The Dark Knight ARG? The plan was to meet-up with all the people participating and see the movie at the IMAX together. A Facebook group was formed and one of the guys called the IMAX to see when the tickets would be released and if it was possible to book for 40/50 people. At the time they said we could, but somehow a day before the ticket release date, they pulled out, claiming they couldn’t do such a large booking. Bullshit, if you ask me. But anyhow, I got a nice reminder on the day itself that the tickets were released. Even then I didn’t book straight away, only to discover two days later that a lot of the tickets for the first four days were already gone. Eek!

Imax Experience

I managed to get tickets for the Friday showing in row L, seats 24 and 25 (check the floor plan here). I had never been to the Imax before, so I thought those seats would be too high up and you would look down on the screen. But they were perfect! We were bang in the middle, staring exactly at the center of the screen. And that wasn’t the only good part of the Imax. Back in January I wrote a post about 10 problems with today’s cinemas: bad projection quality, bad sound, too small relative screen size, just to name a few of the big problems. The Imax actually solves them all. You pay slightly more for a ticket than your average cinema, but it’s completely worth it. The quality you get in return is just so much better. From now on I want to see all the big movies in an IMAX theatre!

Then there’s of course the extra bonus of seeing the IMAX version of The Dark Knight, cause in total 28 minutes of the movie were filmed with IMAX cameras. So… what does that mean? Without getting into too technical terms, parts of the movie were filmed on a larger film, which obviously means a higher resolution and a bigger aspect ratio, but more importantly it actually results in a much better image quality, giving a clearer, crisper image. Those scenes that were shot with IMAX cameras are just plain gorgeous. Because of the different aspect ratio, you did notice when it switched from one to the other. The normal standard film has a letterbox size (2.40:1), while the IMAX scenes used the full screen (1.33:1). At the start of the film, it was a bit obvious; every single aerial view of Gotham City was IMAX, the standard plot and dialogue was letterbox. Later on in the movie though you barely noticed it. Most action sequences were filmed completely in IMAX and you really had the feeling it made a great difference.

Oscar Worthy?

You may have heard a lot of speculation on whether or not The Dark Knight should be nominated for any Oscars. The main buzz is about Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker (for Best Supporting Actor), but there are also some that find the movie itself should be nominated for Best Movie. You know my thoughts on the Oscars; genre movies never do well there and the voters are highly unappreciative of outstanding performances in genre movies, dismissing them almost always (I think Lord of The Rings is the last one that was nominated). Is The Dark Knight worthy of an Oscar? In my humble opinion, yes. But I don’t think it’s likely that it will get a Best Movie nomination; it was good, but I don’t think it will make such an impact (I’d like to be proven wrong though). Nominations for Cinematography, Visual Effects, Score, Make-Up (definitely) are way more likely.

And then we’ve got Heath Ledger. His performance as the Joker is exactly what Oscar voters like; it’s a real role you can disappear into and show that you’re “acting”. Think of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man or Javier Bardem in last year’s No Country For Old Men; those are roles where you can show off your acting chops and become a completely different person. I think the Academy will love Ledger’s Joker and chances are high he’ll get a nomination. Did Ledger’s death have anything to do with it? I’m not sure, I think in part. I think a lot of people who would have previously dismissed this movie, now gave it a chance because it’s Heath Ledger’s last film, and they discovered it was actually good. Would The Dark Knight have been viewed so many times, if Ledger hadn’t died? It’s a ‘What if’ scenario, we’ll never know the answer to.

After the image: beware spoilers!

Argh, here be SPOILERS!

Random Thoughts

Okay, did anyone else think that the scenario with the two boats and two bombs would end differently? I seriously thought that the “normal people” boat would decide to blow up the convicts boat, only to discover pushing the big red button blows their own ship up. After the Joker’s Dent/Rachel mix-trick, it felt as if it would veer that way. It would have fitted with the dark tone of the whole movie, right?

Is Dent dead or not? Yes, there was a memorial service like speech, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is dead. Three possibilities: a) it was a memorial service and Dent is dead, b) that wasn’t a memorial service, but something else, only to make the viewer believe Dent is dead (while he isn’t), and c) that was a memorial service, but Gordon (and Batman) want the people of Gotham City to believe Dent is dead. I think it’s the last option with Dent in somewhere in a cell in Arkham Asylum.

Was the name of ‘Coleman Reese’ chosen for a specific “deeper” meaning? Someone on a message board pointed out that “Mr Reese” is pronounced “misterees” as in “mysteries”. Hmm, a prelude to the Riddler? Or just coincidence?

Next Movie?

As I said in the previous paragraph, I think Dent is alive and I think he’ll be the main villain for the next movie. But seeing how Christopher Nolan rolls (he likes twos), there’ll also be another villain, but who? Following the line of thought from above, my first guess would be The Riddler. The character of Reese seems to be set up here with the potential of a fuller story. Personally I’d love to see the Riddler, but preferably someone else (not Reese, and not that actor). And just imagine what Nolan’s Riddler would be like… 

So people: have you seen The Dark Knight already? And if so, any random thoughts or musings about future movies you want to share with us?