The word on the street is that the next Batman movie is going to be filmed right here in my hometown of Pittsburgh.
My advice to the producers: don't bother.
After what seems years of hearing that The Dark Knight is a must-see movie, one of the classics of the fantasy/action genre, a gritty, atmospheric mood piece anchored by Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning performance as the Joker, I finally saw the thing on DVD.
My reaction: yawn.
I'll freely admit I've never been a fan of "the Batman" (as those who are serious about this drivel refer to him). I never read the comics; I watched the TV series but was too young and, I guess, too straight to catch the camp; I found the Tim Burton films (with Pittsburgh's own Michael Keaton) pleasantly silly but nothing more; and I find the Frank Miller Dark Knight hooey utterly pretentious and preposterous. So maybe I'm not the best person to ask about this particular film.
But come on! The whole Batman mythos is built around the idea that a guy who wears a costume and engages in vigilante justice is somehow making a profound statement about LIFE. In reality, though, the philosophy of the dark knight boils down to sophomoric propositions anyone over the age of ten could tell you. Like: GOOD PEOPLE SOMETIMES DO BAD THINGS! Wow. Deep. Or: LIFE IS UNPREDICTABLE AND RANDOM. Really? I didn't know that. Or my favorite: THERE IS GOOD AND EVIL IN ALL OF US!!!!! Now that one I'll have to think about for a while.
Putting one guy in a bat suit and another in clown make-up to "represent" these obvious, simplistic truths does not make them any more interesting. It merely illustrates how banal these truths truly are.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love lots of trashy fantasy films: Jurassic Park, War of the Worlds, Dragonheart, Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans. I just don't get all serious about them and think they hold the answers to life.
I also happen to think there are many fantasy films that are eminently worth discussion as works of art: Alien, Blade Runner, 12 Monkeys, and so on. Such films are both stylistically daring and thematically rich.
The Batman films, alas, are neither.
But maybe I'm being unkind. After all, in The Dark Knight, there's a character, Harvey Dent (aka Two-Face), who gets badly burned so that one half of his face is skeletal while the other is strikingly handsome. This represents the fact that THERE IS GOOD AND EVIL IN ALL OF US!!!!
Yep, there's one that'll keep me up nights.