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Wanted and Dark Knight
July 23, 2008, 6:51 pm
Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , ,

About 3 weeks ago I saw Wanted.  It was a fluke.  I would never have gone to see it of my own accord.  The trailer didn’t make it seem like my kind of movie.  But when other plans fell through, and seeing Wanted was deemed the replacement, I went along with it.

I was absolutely pummeled by it.  Watching it was a physical experience.  It was packed with perfectly stylized  violence from beginning to end.  I kept looking over to my friends, mouthing the words “can you believe that just happened?!?”  I’ve never seen an action movie so perfectly executed in all of its aspects.  I left the theatre singing the movie’s praises.

But, upon reflection, I’m now strongly inclined to think of it as decadent cultural trash–a pathetic sign of our cultural decline.  

Isn’t there something unseemly about the kind of people (like me) who delight in viewing such over the top violence?  I’m strongly inclined to think so, but I’m not sure.

 

Last Friday I saw Dark Knight.  It was opening night so the wife and I had to buy our tickets hours in advance and arrive an hour and a half early.  It was a better movie than Wanted in just about every way.  Everyone’s been raving about Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker.  Here’s three words for you: believe the hype.  See the movie for this reason only.  

For nearly 3 hours the movie never let up.  The tension began high and kept rising and rising.  There were times I was so horrified by the Joker that I had to turn my head and cover my face with my hands.  I’ve never done this before.  Other times I was laughing out loud.

I could feel the sheer fragility of society with my body.  It was palpable, physical experience.  I was struck by the feeling that we’re only about 3 decisions and 3 minutes away from utter societal breakdown.  I felt unsafe.  I felt the sheer terror of untamed evil.  It was obvious to me that the Joker was a kind of Satan figure, inspiring evil and laughing as the evil destroy each other. 

 

Ever notice how right wing Batman is?  He’s a wealthy captain of industry.  His big concern is blue collar street crime and government corruption.  He gains power by winning a kind of arms race with criminals.  After all, if criminals had Bat-suits and other technology like his, Batman wouldn’t be much help, would he? He’s doesn’t seem much interested in social justice.   He’s more concerned with taking back the streets and exacting a satisfying revenge, right?

 

BTW – the movie is PG 13, but it ought to be rated R.  It is too scary for kids.  Even they don’t scare easy, I’m pretty sure the meaning of the violence will still be over their heads.  The movie is not a celebration of violence.  Quite the opposite.  I just doubt that kids (or even many teens?) will understand this.  This is NOT a kids movie.

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