Mamma Mia! It’s the Dark Knight.

I’ve seen three movies in the last two weeks. One of them good, one of them wonderfully bad and one of them incoherently bad.

The good one was Hellboy II, which is indeed better than the original which I liked a lot.

But enough about that let’s talk about Mamma Mia! (wonderfully bad) and The Dark Knight (incoherently bad).

Mamma Mia! as Mrs. CollateralDamage put it, “is the Rocky Horror Picture Show of 2008.” I’m expecting sing-alongs, throwing toast and dancers, lots and lots of dancers — many of them in swim trunks and scuba fins. It is to be sure a bad movie. The characters struggle to get to two dimensions despite the valiant efforts of some fine actors. The plot is beyond hokey. The music … well, the music is ABBA. One reviewer said the group’s lyrics were “English-like” and that pretty much nails it. You either hate ABBA or you love them or, like me, both. I laughed throughout. Sometimes even at parts that were meant to be funny.

Pierce Brosnan gives the bravest performance you will see on a movie screen this year. It is also the worst. The man can’t sing, but that doesn’t stop him from trying and I have to admire him for it. He is at his best in Meryl Streep’s Especially Big Number where he is called on to look dashing. He does it superbly.

And now to The Dark Knight. If anyone actually cared about my opinion I would doubtless be pilloried for what I am about to say. It’s a mess. It is not one of the best movies ever made. The only movie I’ve seen this year that falls into that category is WALL*E. It is not even the best superhero movie of this year — I would place both Hellboy and Iron Man (which did a superb job of reminding me why I loved comic books as a kid) in front of it.

Dark Night was too long and too confused. Its reach exceded its grasp. CollateralDamage Jr. said that it should have been batman 2 & batman 3. If they’d just told us what was essentially Harvey Dent’s back story and left it there I would have been happy and it would have made sense. but then came the rest of it which needed a whole additional movie to develop. Emotionally it basically built up to hitting a high C and then held it for an hour. While that is an admirable feat to be able to pull off it isn’t very interesting to watch.

The late Mr. Ledger was great as was the rest of the cast (especially Gary Oldham — you ever see Syd & Nancy?). Mr. Bale had my sympathies because his character really didn’t change in the course of the movie so he got stuck playing someone who starts out as a slightly conflicted superhero only to end up as … a slightly conflicted superhero.

I am glad to see Two-Face finally getting his due. Billie Dee Williams played Dent in the Tim Burton version but they never did anything with him.

Also it had a number of little things that irked me — who has paper money to steal these days?

I enjoyed it on a summer blockbuster level but on substance my superhero pick of the summer is Hellboy with its story of the risks and responsibilities of love and how two creatures from another dimension can make Barry Manilow so essential.

2 thoughts on “Mamma Mia! It’s the Dark Knight.

  1. The Dark Knight is an instant classic. It is Batman and Raging Bull in one film. Could you not see how tempted Batman wanted to throw away his moral code and just wipe the Joker off the planet. Batman went from an ultra idealist that if the guns came a blazing then he would just get bigger guns. Did you not see the end of Batman Begins? He learns that keeping his ethics would not be so easy this time around. It was as if he was trying to fight off the dark side of the force in this film.

    Hell Boy 2 is a nice film and so was Iron Man but they can not compare to the deeply wonderful Dark Knight.

    The Dark Knight is modern mythology at its best and the greatest film produced in this genre.

  2. The only thing Raging Bull and Dark Knight have in common is that they’re both movies. Raging Bull is in the most important sense a true story. Not that it is a documentary but that it had fully realized humans growing and changing in an understandable way. It is a story of actual human darkness.

    Dark Knight is a cartoon of a story. And I mean cartoon in the sense of a parody of the real thing, not in terms of the incredible mix of the fantastic and the real that the best cartoons and animation use to tell a true story. (See Miyazaki, collected works of) Dark Knight is an adolescent’s idea of depth. It is precocious in the worst possible way. It pretends to understand things which it does not. Aside from Dent and Gordon there isn’t a 3 dimensional person in the film. Dark Knight is not a classic it is the kind of angsty, emo stuff that obscures actual depth produced in the super hero genre. (See Watchmen, Top 10, Powers, and/or Astro City for a few examples.) I have been racking my mind trying to come up with a superhero movie that is anything more than light entertainment — and I have nothing against that. So far I have drawn a blank. From what I’ve seen of the trailer for Watchmen I am not hopeful.

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