Any frequent reader of movie blogs might be under the impression that The Dark Knight is the only movie coming out within the next six months. It's seemingly the only thing any moviegoer, blogger or even critic wants to talk about, now that Wall-E has impressed us all and we're left waiting for the next thing to be, perhaps erroneously, dubbed a masterpiece.
Now that early reviews are trickling in, it seems that The Dark Knight might actually be capable of living up to the massive hype. The Hollywood Reporter calls it "pure adrenaline," and Variety chimes in and calls it an "enthralling second installment of [director Christopher Nolan's] bold, bracing and altogether heroic reinvention of the iconic franchise." Plus, the movie gets fanboy cred, with a handful of movie blogs predictably going nuts for the dark superhero epic.
So, with the July 18 release date growing nearer, what exactly are we looking at here? Humongous box-office grosses aren't really in doubt-- The Dark Knight seems likely to play to even the slightest of comic-book movie fans, and given the glut of superheroes in the last decade, who isn't one? But with Oscar talk for Heath Ledger swirling everywhere-- and some Oscar-centric blogs predicting even more awards love for the movie-- The Dark Knight has the potential to be the kind of gigantic populist entertainment the likes of which we haven't see since Titanic.
No, seriously. Of course there have been gigantic blockbusters that virtually everyone has seen this decade-- the Spider-Mans, the Pirates, at least the first two Shreks. But nearly all of them feel disposable, even now, and especially after third installments of all three franchises tarnished the reputations. It's been a long time since a movie immediately pole-vaulted its way into the canon through sheer ubiquity, the kind of movie that both mom and grandma are willing to see and aren't embarrassed to adore. There was a time when romantic epics or movie musicals filled the niche; though the 2000's have been dedicated to superhero movies to an almost overwhelming degree, not a one of them has truly managed that crossover.
Yes, I realize this post is just part of a crazy tailwind left by the endless hype and hyperventilating reviews that are anticipating The Dark Knight as some kind of second coming. But it's undeniably exciting when something like this hits everyone-- not just because of promotion or name recognition, but what seems to be genuine attention and craft in a movie where much, much less could suffice. In a way, Christopher Nolan is doing the same thing the Pixar geniuses have done over and over again-- giving us the kind of broad-appeal entertainment we deserve, and not just what we'll settle for. If Nolan and company pull off what Pixar did with Wall-E, maybe we can remember this summer as the one when the blockbusters actually gave us something worth seeing, and were justly rewarded for their effort.