erik lundegaard


Wednesday July 23, 2008

How far?

The Dark Knight, somewhat ironically given Batmanís origin, is no orphan as to who or what is responsible for its massive success. A lot of fathers out there. To me, yes, itís the Batman brand, plus itís the fact that the film is a sequel to a well-made movie, plus itís the buzz that the new one was even better. Plus it opened in more theaters than any movie in history. That never hurts.

Now the question: How far will it go? In pure dollar terms ó that is, unadjusted for inflation ó it may have already passed Batman Begins (at $205 million domestic). It will surely pass Tim Burtonís original Batman ($250 million) this weekend, maybe even before, making it the most successful Batman movie ever. Then, in terms of superhero movies, it has these guys lying ahead of it:

1.† †Spider-Man† †$403 million†
2. †Spider-Man 2 †$373 million
3. †Spider-Man 3 †$336 million
4. †Iron Man †$314 million
5. †The Incredibles †$261 million

The fact that The Dark Knight took in $24 million on a Monday is a good sign. $24 million is a good weekend for most movies. For the curious, Spider-Manís $403 million is no. 7 on the unadjusted domestic gross list. The No. 1 movie is Titanic at $600 million. When TDK passes Spidey, weíll talk.

In the meantime, one of the better descriptions of Heath Ledgerís performance comes to us from someone, David Denby at The New Yorker, who didnít even like the film. Proof, if we needed it (and some of us obviously do), that itís worth reading past your opinions:

Christian Bale has been effective in some films, but heís a placid Bruce Wayne, a swank gent in Armani suits, with every hair in place. Heís more urgent as Batman, but he delivers all his lines in a hoarse voice, with an unvarying inflection. Itís a dogged but uninteresting performance, upstaged by the great Ledger, who shambles and slides into a room, bending his knees and twisting his neck and suddenly surging into someoneís face like a deep-sea creature coming up for air. Ledger has a fright wig of ragged hair; thick, running gobs of white makeup; scarlet lips; and dark-shadowed eyes. Heís part freaky clown, part Alice Cooper the morning after, and all actor. Heís mesmerizing in every scene. His voice is not sludgy and slow, as it was in ďBrokeback Mountain.Ē Itís a little higher and faster, but with odd, devastating pauses and saturnine shades of mockery. At times, I was reminded of Marlon Brando at his most feline and insinuating. When Ledger wields a knife, he is thoroughly terrifying (do not, despite the PG-13 rating, bring the children), and, as youíre watching him, you canít help wonderingóin a response that admittedly lies outside film criticismóhow badly he messed himself up in order to play the role this way. His performance is a heroic, unsettling final act: this young actor looked into the abyss.
Posted at 07:49 AM on Wednesday July 23, 2008 in category Movies