Well, now that I'm home and really have time to gather my thoughts about Ryan Miller, most of my thoughts have already been written by someone else. dave in Rocha pretty well covers how I feel about the hockey side of things (teams have to make choices and and the Sabres let Briere and Campbell walk in anticipation of this day) and Kate totally nails the emotional side (as dumb as it might seem, it's really sweet when an athlete says he loves the same place you love and makes a commitment to stick around for a while).
It's weird because while I like Ryan Miller and am pretty comfortable with him being the starter for the next handful of years, I don't feel that emotional connection to him that you feel to your favorite players. I love Henrik Tallinder. I love Jochen Hecht. I might even love Derek Roy. I like Ryan Miller. I was totally caught off-guard by how genuinely excited I was when I first heard he had officially re-signed. I think it was partly the emotional component. After constantly being told no one wants to play in Buffalo it's nice to see that someone does like us. I think it was partly the "I told you so" element. He's going to Detroit when? I think it was partly just knowing that it was important for the team - on the ice and off - to get this contract done. I don't know. Whatever the reason, I'm really, really happy.
I think the terms are pretty good too. I'm not sure what will happen if Jhonas Enroth turns out to be as good as he's supposed to be, but that's certainly a question for another day and let's face it, "We have two good goalies!" is not a bad problem to have. It's a lot of money, but it's a fair price based on the market. Honestly, I was expecting the cap hit to be closer to $7 million than $6 million. So yeah. I'll take it.
Since Ryan Miller has been pretty much covered, let's move on to the next important thing. The Dark Knight. I'm not really going to go into any plot spoilers, but I am assuming basic comic book knowledge. If you don't know what happens to Harvey Dent eventually, you might want to skip out and just trust me, the movie is awesome and worth your money.
Let me preface this little review with a brief note of explanation. We're comic book geeks at my house with Batman being a personal favorite. Batman is the reason Mark and I met in the first place. Our Batman is not the Batman of the 60's TV show, all shiny and happy. Our Batman is dark and brooding, carefully straddling the line of good and evil, right and wrong. The Dark Knight? Pretty much the perfect Batman movie for us.
Mark and I had a long discussion about some of the comparisons we'd read of this movie to others and we decided that Empire Strikes Back really works for a couple of reasons. One, it tops the movie that preceded it which was already pretty darn good. Two, it's much darker and well, quite frankly pretty unhappy. Batman Begins, like A New Hope ends on a fairly optimistic note. Things aren't perfect, but they just might be okay in the future. In Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight, everything goes to hell. Relationships are tested, things done with the best of intentions go wrong, terrible things happen and no one really gets a happy ending.
Harvey Dent/Two-Face is my very favorite villain in all of comicdom. The only show/movie to ever get him right however is Batman: The Animated Series. (And that's not meant as an insult. B:TAS kicks ass.) I was pretty irate over the Two-Face that appeared in Batman Forever because there's no backstory. Two-Face just shows up as this stupid, comical character who flips a coin. It's terrible. (Like most comic geeks, I feel very strongly that Joel Schumacher is the worst thing to happen to Batman ever.) Two-Face is a deeply tragic character and the reason he is that is because of Harvey, his former position as Gotham City District Attorney and his pre-existing relationships with Batman and Jim Gordon. If you skip all that, you really short-change the character so I was so, so glad to see The Dark Knight really take the time to develop Harvey Dent. I love Harvey Dent. I knew roughly what was going to happen - things go down a little differently than they do in his comic origin - and I was still a total mess. And we're not talking delicate tears streaming quietly down my face. We're talking full-body sobs. Am I lame? Totally. But that's how I roll, yo.
I'll say three things about Heath Ledger as Joker. One, he somehow manages to be both hilarious and terrifying, usually at the same time. More than once he said something that was so funny I really wanted to laugh, but it's in the middle of a brutal scene and I was kind of uncomfortable with laughing. Two, if I didn't know that was Heath Ledger, I wouldn't know it was Heath Ledger. He totally disappears in the role. If you're at all worried about how weird it'll be to watch him, knowing it's one of his last roles - or maybe his last depending on what Terry Gilliam can salvage from the movie they were shooting at the time of his death - I wouldn't worry about it. You'll forget it's him after a few minutes. And three, if Ledger gets a posthumous Oscar nomination, it won't be a sympathy vote. It'll be because he's THAT GOOD. I've spent a lot of time ribbing Mark about how he doubted Robert Downey, Jr. would be a good fit for Iron Man. I told him he was crazy, RDJ was practically born for Tony Stark. He reminded me today that when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker it was me who had doubts and him who was saying, "No, I think it might be cool." I'll gladly eat crow. I was wrong about Heath Ledger as the Joker. He is amazing and absolutely deserving of all the raves he's getting.
I hate to be all cheesy and say, "This movie is so much more than just a comic book movie!" but... this movie is so much more than just a comic book movie. There are special effects and chase scenes and lots of things blow up. But that stuff never overshadows the characters and the story those characters are telling. There are a lot of pretty serious themes going on: What's good, what's evil, how thin the line between the two is, and how hard that line is to define and how easy it is to cross. It's a fantastic movie. Not a fun one per se - tough to watch at times and not all that happy - but pretty darn interesting and so well-done. The writing, directing and acting are all top notch. See it. But if you see it and don't like it, keep it to yourself because I will think less of you and probably question our friendship.
(Please don't take your small children.)