Monday, July 21, 2008

Best. Movie. Ever?

You know what the single greatest cinematic achievement by latest Batman blockbuster, "The Dark Knight" is? It's not the record breaking opening weekend. It's not the across the board acclaim from both critics and moviegoers. It's not the fact that it somehow managed to live up to and quite possibly exceed the outrageous hype and expectations of even the franchise's most devoted fans. Nor, will it be how it has transcended the genre and raised the bar for future superhero movies. It's not the early Oscar buzz for Heath Ledger's iconic portrayal of the Joker. It won't even be the rare posthumous Oscar if he ends up wining.

All of those achievements are well and good, but director Christopher Nolan and crew should take pride in the fact that they crafted a film that actually made me anticipate going to see it at the movies. Now, before you write that off, if you know me, that fact is nothing to sneeze at. Despite my love of cinema and pop culture, it takes a lot for me to actually get excited for a new movie to come out. When it comes to films I have an exceptional amount of patience (or perhaps apathy) and for about 95% of the stuff Hollywood throw out at me, I can easily just wait until they make their long, inevitable journey to TBS or TNT. The last film I actually had to see the opening weekend was in the summer of my senior year of high school: "Rush Hour 2" (I thought that trailer looked hilarious). In the seven years since that film, despite some of the biggest movies of all time coming out (Spiderman series, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, The Harry Potter Movies, a couple of Star Wars prequels), nothing really got me excited until the "Dark Knight."

I'm not sure what it was, but something about the disturbing reimagining of the Joker and the unique, unsettling tone I got from the previews seem to indicate to me that this was going to distinguish itself from the standard explosive summer fare. I was so eager to see it that rather then waiting for a time to see it with friends materialize, or for finals to end, I embraced my love of solo movie watching and went out to the nearest theater I could find and caught the Sunday morning matinée. And like "Rush Hour 2", I was not disappointed. It was exciting, it was entertaining, surprisingly tragic, and it met all my expectations for a quality blockbuster, running just a few steps back from an overall masterpiece. Some of the secondary character could have been flushed out more, a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief was necessary at times, and I thought the film went on a little longer then it could have; but overall the positives far outweighed the negatives. Unless you have something against excitement and suspense in your summer blockbusters, this movie will not disappoint.

As good as the film was, I certainly think its current NUMBER 1 ranking on IMDB is completely insane. I've frequented the IMDB long enough to know that their top 250 list far from the most definitive, objective measure of a movie's greatness. It's got a strong populist lean and despite its complex clandestine balancing system; good, crowd pleasing, but ultimately hollow films will get artificially high rankings ("The Prestige" at 88? "Sin City" at 82? "Fight Club" at 24?). New movies tend to enter the list high and eventually recede. I think at one point "The Return of the King" was once in the Top 5. However, the top spot rank of "Dark Knight" is a shocking development. Since the dawn of internet "The Godfather" and "The Shawshank Redemption" reigned high above the top 250, forever solidly locked atop looking down at the sometimes chaotic nature at the rest of the list. Blockbusters came and went but the top remained the same. Even when the "Dark Knight" shot up to number 4 after its first midnight showings, I figured this was all just sort itself out. However when I checked again last night, it had already claimed the #1 spot with an average score of 9.5 to Godfather's 9.1.

After this game changing debut, I can only speculate as to the future of the Top 250. I would have originally said it would probably just fall back down to earth in the coming weeks, but now I don't know what to think. Maybe this shake up will destroy the legitimacy of the Top 250 and throw the list into a wild, unpredictable state of flux like the Bottom 100 got into after "Manos: The Hands of Fate" got dethroned. Maybe this is the proper mandate of the people and films with this sort of across the board success is what the Top 250 is all about. Maybe this is all just the work of obsessive fanboys, circumventing democracy. Maybe "Step Brothers" will be the new #1 next week.

In any case, "Dark Knight" was still a pretty awesome movie.


  1. The Prestige is at least 60 slots too low, you charlatan

  2. Great film. Though your picture made me wonder who the next villain could possibly be? Nolan says he won't do the Penguin. All that is left is try to "serious up" one of the equally campy villains from the old series. I'm crossing my fingers for King Tut...

  3. I'm holding out for Vincent Price's Egghead.

    Now that would truly be egg-cellent.

  4. Fight Club deserves its spot on the Top 250, I believe.