If it's crap ... We'll tell you
How appropriate for the news that Ben Affleck would be playing Batman. Instead of going off on huge tirades, let's talk about the best Batman movie ever made in my opinion, #6 on my list is, of course, The Dark Knight:
Taking one of the most well known superheroes and putting him in a realistic environment is a hard thing to do but god bless the powers of Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer for creating such a universe where Batman could exist in the real world...so, how the hell could you not do that with Superman?
But, I digress. Let's go over the plot for the, what, one of you that hasn't seen this...
Batman (Christian Bale) raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker (the late Heath Ledger).
Really, what more can I say about The Dark Knight that hasn't already been said? It's not just a perfect action movie but it's also a perfect crime thriller as well.
The characters are all memorable, the story is very solid, the interpretations of these characters are well thought out, and there's just so many memorable things about it.
Christian Bale once again shines as Bruce Wayne while his Batman is...ehhhh, not as memorable. I mean, go watch Kevin Conroy when he does the voice of both Bruce Wayne and Batman, you can tell that it's him doing both voices but at the same time, he can split his performance up by at one point, playing Bruce Wayne with a regular voice and when he's Batman, makes his voice sound distinctive and different from Bruce's voice.
Even Michael Keaton did it when he played Batman but when Bale plays Batman, it sounds like he's smoked a pack of Marlboros (and yes, I'm aware that joke has already been made before but hey, that's how I felt).
The rest of the cast is great, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, and Maggie Gyllenhaal all do a great job of making these characters their own.
But the highlight of the movie is of course, Heath Ledger as the Joker. OH...MY...GOD, he just created a whole new image of the Joker that's so terrifying and also interesting to watch.
A lot of people have different points to where the Joker became menacing. Some thought it was when he slammed the pencil into the gangster's eye, some though it was when he tells the stories about his father, but to me, it's just one line that he says before killing somebody and it's not what you think, it's the line before he says "I'm a man of my word." It's this...
Three simple words, that's all that did it for me to realize that this guy was serious business. I literally remember the first time watching the movie, I whispered to myself, "Oh, Shit", and at that point, I was scared of this guy.
You also understand why he does what he does. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is where he burns a huge pile of money, which is insane, but he does it because as he puts it, "It's not about money, it's about sending a message."
But of course, The Joker is not the only major threat in this movie. Aaron Eckhart's Two Face is nowhere near as insane or as menacing as The Joker but he's still a force not to be messed with. The effects on Dent after he becomes Two Face is incredible and I couldn't believe how eerily close they came from capturing the actual look of Two Face. Also, Eckhart's performance is incredible and it totally fits what you'd expect to see from Two Face.
The script does a great job of putting both of these villains in the movie and making one continuously enjoyable story that doesn't feel forced or thrown in just for the hell of it.
I consider Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy on the same level as, and this is probably going to be controversial, the original Star Wars trilogy. In a way, it's not completely false. Both Batman Begins & Star Wars gave us a great introduction to these two worlds creating memorable characters and amazing action scenes. The Dark Knight and The Empire Strikes Back are easily the best films in both series capturing both the memorable characters and awesome action scenes as well as throwing in great twists and turns in every corner. And The Dark Knight Rises and Return Of The Jedi are still good movies but they have a lot of flaws and scenes that make both films the least enjoyable of the series, not to say that they are horrible movies just nowhere near as good as the previous films.
Whatever you may think, The Dark Knight is one of the most perfectly put together movies in recent years, creating new interpretations of memorable characters we've come to know and love, making a great story, throwing in a ton of great action setpieces, and making it all seem very realistic, it's easily the best Batman movie ever made and to try to top it would be impossible to do because of how perfect it is.
It's not only the movie Batman needed but it's the movie that Batman deserves. Because he's not our hero...he's a silent protector...a watchful protector...a Dark Knight.
In a time where spoof movies that mainly focus on referencing pop culture instead of focusing on story are the norm, it only makes spoofs like my #5 movie all the more great, it's my all-time favorite comedy, 1988's The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad:
Yep, this really is my all-time favorite comedy, spoof or not, it's just the most hilarious movie I've ever seen and it still makes me laugh even today.
So, what's the plot?
Frank Drebin (the late Leslie Nielsen) is on the case when his longtime partner and friend Nordberg (O.J. Simpson) ends up in the hospital after a failed heroin bust. Drebin and his captain, Ed Hocken (George Kennedy), find out that this may be part of a bigger case as they believe that notary Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalban) may be in on a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth as she makes an appearance in Los Angeles. At the time, Frank falls for Ludwig's secretary, Ms. Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley), who may or may not be in on Ludwig's plan.
So, what makes this my favorite comedy with so many other great choices out there?
Well, all of the jokes are perfectly executed. This movie has so many great laugh out loud jokes, visual jokes, and just so many great hilarious bits of dialogue and just the way they are presented is so brilliantly done.
This trilogy of films has so many great moments of comedy, I could do a top 10 list of my favorite Naked Gun jokes. Actually, that's a good idea. Excuse me for a minute...
*note to self: Do Top 10 Favorite Naked Gun Jokes list in near future*
Anyway, back to The Naked Gun.
I think why this movie works so well is that even though it's a comedy, the actors are taking it seriously like it's a drama than a comedy. Take for example, the fish scene, which is one of my favorite moments in the first film:
Montalban's taking this seriously and at the same time, this ridiculously over the top situation is happening to Leslie Nielsen and it's so hilarious to watch this because everything is just working where you don't question it.
Leslie Nielsen, in particular, does a terrific job of creating this character and playing him both seriously and for laughs and he makes it work and he looks happy to be doing stuff like this, even though, before these spoofs, he was known as a more dramatic actor.
The rest of the cast also does a great job in this as well.
The music is also really good in this. That's Ira Newborn's music that's played over the film and much like everything else about this film, it's scored as a more dramatic film than a comedic film. He creates this great score by not making it more comedic but more like a cop show or a cop movie.
Not to mention how he handles that great theme song:
That's such a great theme song and especially when you play it over the opening titles, it's a match made in heaven:
Now, you're probably wondering what I thought of the sequels and I do love both Naked Gun 2 1/2 and 33 1/3 but nowhere near as much as I love this first Naked Gun movie.
The first Naked Gun is one of the most perfect comedies ever made in my opinion and it's certainly the best spoof comedy I've ever seen.
It knows what it's spoofing, it knows not to insult the intelligence of its' audience like some other spoof films I can name, it creates great characters we can relate to, there's so many great visual jokes in the foreground and the background, and it's just such a perfect, perfect comedy and my all-time favorite comedy, hands down.
All right, folks, you've waited 12 weeks but next weekend is the moment you've waited all summer, the final 4 of my favorite movies. You'll see #4 & #3 on next Friday as usual but next Sunday, following my posting of The Reviewing Network Preview Special, you will see my top 2 favorite movies as well as a posting with my honorable mentions.
So, a lot of stuff to look forward to next weekend. Check back next weekend to what four movies are my all-time favorites.