Talkosphere Part Deux: Fanboys Edition - Taking Batman Seriously, at 12.01 am

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knight_logo.jpgMidnight screenings of blockbusters are a weird phenomena, if not for the dedicated and exorbitant fan frenzy that abruptly appears as every person aged 17-35 sidles out of the woodworks to buy tickets weeks ahead of time, edging out the majority of the general population who were too slow punching in their credit card numbers online, but for the somewhat insane efforts put into being the first in line for the theater of said blockbuster film. This couldn't be more true for the latest installment in the Batman series "The Dark Knight." Having purchased my ticket two weeks in advance from Fandango, I confess that I am one of the eager beavers whose love for 'the Batman' is nearly unmatched thus constituting attendance at the first possible showing; it would not have been tolerable to see it at any other time.  When it comes to Batman, I always find myself becoming irrationally determined to be at the theater before everyone else with my pre-paid ticket. Luckily for me, my roommate Lucy and friend Scott were obsessive equals when it came to seeing this film. Days of suspense finally came to a halt, and on July 17 we trotted a few blocks from our apartment to the theater, skipping giddily and engaging in Batman trivia.

Sigh. We thought we were so smart, stroking the tiny geek inside ourselves by arriving at the theater a few minutes before 10PM and picking up our tickets at the kiosk inside the lobby with such ease. Little did we know, but others were much more invested in the insanity of "The Dark Knight" and beat us to the punch. "Are ya'll here for Batman?" a young Regal Cinema employee asked us, blocking the only escalator leading to the upper floors. We nodded and showed our tickets but just as my roommate Lucy started to ask the young buck which floor to go to, she is served the unfortunate news that the upper levels are already over capacity, thus we will be the first people to start the 2nd line for the screenings. AND, despite the fact that there is plenty of air-conditioned space in the lobby just inside the double-doors, we are instructed that we will begin the line outside the theater, under some scenic scaffolding in some fantastic humidity. I hug Lucy which distracts her from strangling the young man. tunnel.jpg"They started lining up at 7PM," he continued, cautiously glancing up at me as if I seemed less enraged. Surprisingly, my own irritability subsided. "Wow, that's taking it seriously," I tell him. Oddly emboldened at learning of a far more impressive manifestation of Caped Crusader-ism, I rally the troops with some morbid humor ala Heath Ledger and their spirits perk up once we notice a gaggle of Batman devotees gathering behind us within minutes. Lucy parks herself on the pavement and doesn't appreciate my suggestion that we go get a tent to make it fun, "like a camp out!" Concerned my drollery is losing its artifice and I might get slapped, I glance at my phone, it is only 10:08PM, then join Lucy on the sidewalk as my friend Scott informs us that 15 of his friends are said to be coming "soon." I wish him luck in attempting to have them all cut the line, likely pissing off what was becoming close to a line of people 60 strong. If only Christian Bale knew what I was going through in order to drool at his face enlarged on a cinematic screen for 2 1/2 hours: possible physical harm on both ends as well as a strong likelihood of voodoo curses tossed in my direction post-line cutting. My ass becomes numb and the mosquitoes continue to munch away on the human buffet anxiously waiting to find reprieve inside the air-conditioned theater. This is likely the longest I've waited to see a movie in my 24 years, but something told me the experience would be worth it. My inner voice had better be right.

Our collective patience and impatience is rewarded around 11:15PM, as the doors open and we are led up the first couple of floors, enjoying the plentiful cold air and giggling like little girls, only to wait once more at the ticket pedestal. After a few minutes, we make our way into a hallway where a handful of people are seated on the floor, likely the first theater's rejects (losers), who didn't get in fast enough for the first round.  At last! There are people dressed up in costumes, some store-bought, some home-made but all incredibly fierce. Bat fever was hig
h and clearly wasn't affected by the long lines and waiting. Feeling a little beleaguered that it was already past my bedtime, I decided to sit down on someone's left-behind kiddie seat while regressing back to my toddler years of sleep-deprivation induced petulance. Why there was a kiddie seat remained a mystery. author.jpgAfter another half hour, the inevitable cattle call commences as we push our way ahead of the folks rising from their Indian styles on the floor and race toward the theater entrance. Luckily for us, we are part of the first thirty inside and claim some of the best seats in the house.

The lights dim, the crowd murmurs in heightened anticipation, the darkened Warner Brothers logo dissolves, the show begins. Two and a half hours later, Scott extracts my fingernails from his forearm and I sit fixated on the screen as the credits start to roll. Contrary to all my self-imposed predictions, I wasn't sure what I thought at first. Don't get me wrong, the movie was good and Christian Bale was ridiculously good-looking and Heath Ledger's Joker lived up to all the hype and then some. Yet I couldn't help but wonder if the film's predecessor was somehow better or if it was simply that the contrasts between "The Dark Knight" and "Batman Begins" were to
o subtle for me to pinpoint what I felt was lacking. It's difficult for me to admit this since every review, the heavenly sharp-witted Manohla Dargis included, has been nothing but complimentary. Maybe expectations were set too high or maybe I should quit smoking so much tight-ass crack and stop analyzing what went wrong in my mind. Regardless of my mixed emotions, it was still very entertaining and some huge improvements were made this time around, though some were not without a catch.

All the same, Batman commands the box office as Monday's reports indicate the film brought in roughl
y $155.34 million over the three day weekend, besting the record intake of "Spiderman 3" which gives me a personal pleasure beyond column appropriateness. As a young female who enjoys a good action flick and her particular cult obsessions, it was nice to see that Christopher Nolan is still the serious director he's always been and capable of creating a superhero movie that withstands the assumed curse of the sequel and come out beyond what was necessary to compete with the heavy-hitters like Will Smith's "Hancock." It was a pleasant surprise but the mania of Batman had started so early on it would have been nearly impossible for the film to suck. Poor reviews wouldn't have made a difference, it's doubtful that anything was really going to stop the Batman train from overtaking cinemas everywhere.

parade.jpg That night/morning, as I crawled into bed around 3:30AM, I still wondered if my $12.50, 2 hours of waiting and histrionic anticipation had been worth it. I decided to leave it for the morning, concluding that it was too late at night and too early in the morning to ponder such questions. Besides, sleep is a rare commodity in my Gotham and there wasn't anyone to contemplate the intricacies of plot, character development and overall reactions with, aside for my cat Oliver who was more interested in attacking my feet than talking film. After a weekend of pondering and confirmed statistics, however, I'm convinced it was money well-spent by both Warner Brother's and yours truly. They will make back the $183 million spent on the film, perhaps two to three times over and hopefully consider making another one. With Nolan and Bale at the helm, it seems a fair gamble. And we should all give a solid two thumbs up toward the sky for the man of the hour Ledger, for it's somewhat questionable that the film would be as successful without his exquisite performance. After all, it's difficult not to appreciate a guy, good or bad, who ironically poses the question that everyone in the world, specifically those of us furiously rushing the lines at 12:01am on a Thursday for an extremely popular movie, should ask themselves: "Why so serious?"

1 Comment

  • 1

    i enjoyed the batman article and glad there is a female perspective on steve's word-

    caren

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