Saturday, July 19, 2008

More Ryan Miller/The Dark Knight

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.

(I'm kidding.)


(Please don't take your small children.)


Lee Andrew said...

Unfortunately I don't think I'm seeing Dark Knight until next week. :(

B:TAS rocks. Their version of every villain is closest to being the best version. Two-Face, I like their Joker a lot, their Riddler is the best, Clayface, Scarecrow, their Mr. Freeze is a hundred times better, Catwoman is good and they even manage to make the Clock King interesting.

I hope that Heath Ledger gets some Oscar consideration for the whole movie. Christian Bale really needs an Oscar nomination. Over at Rotten Tomatoes 7 of his last 8 movies have gotten a 75 or higher. That's better than Denzel, Hanks, Depp, Dicaprio, Crowe, Clooney, Damon. Next he has a movie about John Dillinger with Johnny Depp, then Terminator, then he might be Robin Hood after that.

Heather B. said...

Mark and I were just debating whether the B:TAS Mr. Freeze would work in a live-action movie or not. It would definitely be a good story but I don't know if a guy who freezes stuff would work in Christopher Nolan's universe. But you're right, that show really did get all the villains right. You can tell the show was created and written by people who have actually picked up a comic book unlike Joel Schumacher who gleefully announced that he doesn't read comic books.

Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart both have more dramatic parts/arcs in this movie, I think, but Christian Bale is definitely underrated here and all-around. I don't always love his Batman whisper - sometimes I have a hard time picking up what he's saying - but he is the only live-action actor to make a concerted effort to separate Bruce Wayne from Batman. His voice changes, his body language changes, his attitude changes. There is no sign of Wayne in his Batman. And just since we're breaking down the cast, I also LOVE Gary Oldman as Gordon.

Mark B said...

Well, since you just covered our earlier discussion about Christian's Bale's very underrated performance :P - I'll just make a couple comments about this glorious movie that is still haunting my thoughts.

TDK is the kind of film that makes your heart ache but your soul rejoice at the same time. It's paints a clear picture about how hard it is to be a hero, about the sacrifices you have to make. Doing the right thing is sometimes hard but that makes it even more noble.

Technically every part of this movie was top notch. As much as Heath Ledger steals every scene he is in (and he is absolutely riveting and becomes the one, true Joker), all the other actors also shine. Christopher Nolan might be the best director out there and a big thumbs up to his brother Jonathan who wrote the screenplay. No "Hi Freeze, I'm Batman" here, my friends. The cinematography was stunning and the score was powerful.

Even if you're not a comic book geek, you need to see this movie. It stands on its own as a classic crime drama. It just happens that it's main protagonist wears a cape and cowl.

God Bless Chris Nolan for knowing that what makes these characters I love work is that they are human and have real emotions and problems.

Oh yeah, Ryan Miller. Still pumped.

Chaz said...

AMEN! I loved this movie, although I will fully admit I've never read the comic books. I also liked the original movies, probably cause I never the comic books, until yesterday. I saw TDK on Saturday and watched the 90's Batman's that were ALL over TV yesterday. Seriously, what was wrong with me? There is no comparison.
Oh and I would have loved to shoot the people that brought young children to this movie. Ummm, it's an action/adventure're 4 yr old isn't going to sleep through it. Did I mention, she probably won't sleep when you get home from seeing this movie? I can not believe some people.