June 17, 2005

Interested in the new Christopher Nolan film?

I haven't gone to the movies in a long time, but I'm slightly tempted to go see "Batman Begins." It's not that I love Batman, though I did like the first Tim Burton Batman movie well enough. It's that I like Christopher Nolan, who directs the new film. That is, I loved his film "Memento." "Memento" -- unlike virtually every other movie of the last twenty years -- did not underestimate your intelligence.

But one thing is bugging the hell out of me about the new Batman. As usual, they've redesigned his outfit. Superhero outfits are always ridiculous if you think about them rationally. You'll spoil the fun if you're distracted into thinking, why would that help? But the new Batman cape is so expansive and volumnious that it would be a hazard to wear if Batman were just tinkering around the stately mansion. But in a fight? Wouldn't he get all twisted up in it? Wouldn't his opponent use it as a weapon against him? And now I'm distracted into thinking that all superhero capes are counterproductive. The new Batman helmet extends rigidly around his neck and hits his shoulders. How can he even turn his head? Just sneak up alongside him. He'll never see you. And now I'm distracted into thinking that no one should ever want to wear a mask in a fight.

(One time, at a big children's party at a famous ad agency where I used to work, "Spiderman" got the kids riled up, and one of them grabbed his headgear. I was just looking on, laughing at the hijinks, when Spiderman came lumbering over to me, begging for help. I backed away. Horse around with the kids. Don't come at me. But eventually I got the message that the poor man really needed help. He couldn't see and the kids were scaring him. I straightened out the eyeholes and saved Spiderman.)

Anyway, maybe I'll overcome my distractability and give Nolan's movie a chance.

Here's a piece by Caryn James in today's NYT about the film that tries to make some political points and to compare it to the current "Star Wars" effort:
The [two] films' conflicts are not simply about good guys and bad guys, or even good versus evil, always the elements of broadly framed fantasies. With spiritual overtones, and an emphasis on an eternal struggle between equally matched forces of darkness and light, the films suggest a kind of pop-culture Manichaeism. And as crowd-pleasing movies so often do, they reflect what's in the air, a climate in which the president speaks in terms of good and evil, and religion is increasingly part of the country's social and political conversation.

Well, maybe I'll have something to say about all of that. Re Batman, at least. But I'm not going to suffer through "Star Wars" just to get into a position to make a comparison and pontificate about politics. Not that I wouldn't. I just can't put up with the experience of sitting through it.

Did you see the NYT op-ed about “Star Wars” by Neal Stephenson? I just wrote about that for GlennReynolds.com, ending my week of guest-blogging over there. If you have any comments about that, feel free to use the comments section of this post.


Ann Althouse said...

Thom: Thanks. I haven't seen "The Incredibles." I'll bet many comedians have made this cape point before, actually.

Leland: "Following" is one of the many DVDs that I've bought but not watched. Maybe I should just stay home and watch it.

Contributors said...

America's not in decline. Hollywood is. At $10 a pop it doesn't take 5% of the country to make "Sith" a so-called "hit."

Sequels, remakes, movies from TV shows, and in the case of Batman -- a hybrid of all 3.

Let me guess about the new Batman movie: Uhm, his parents die and he becomes a rich brooding playboy superhero vigilante with cool gadgets and an English butler. *yawn*

Nolan's a genius. Memento and Insomnia were superb. And we know he's a genius because he actually restrained two of the biggest hams in film: Robin Williams and Pacino -- but 5 Batman movies in 15 years is too much, too unoriginal, and to see a completely played story for new action scenes? Uh, no.

Ann, your post hits the nail on the head. My wife gets free FREE movie passes from her job. We must have 10 of them. It's not even tempting to use them.

P.S. "Following" is all potential but sloooowwww... and not a good slow -- a slow slow. Worth a look only to see how far he came with the brilliant Memento -- the most impressively complex and entertaining screenplay since Groundhog Day.

Ron said...

Ugh, I can't stand memento...more gimmicky than M. Night, and twice as dull.

relying on movies to stimulate your intelligence is like relying on academic lectures to stimulate you sexually...maybe it'll happen, but I ain't bettin' on it...

hat said...

I don't know about anyone else, but I got bored after a paragraph or two of bill's post. Sorry.

As far as the mask goes, I think this is actually the first movie mask where he CAN turn his head, as opposed to the earlier ones. Not only does it protect his identity, and his face, it also contains communication and monitoring equipment.

As far as the cape goes, the major reason he gets it (which is actually covered in the movie) is because of a scene in which he leaps of a building only to smack into the next one over and fall down several layers of fire escape. He uses to cape for gliding.

Dreth, knows more than he should about this.

Ann Althouse said...

Kathleen: Too late! I've seen it. My comments are in a new post.

Ann Althouse said...

CraigC: "Sixth Sense" is a great movie, but nowhere near as intellectually challenging as "Memento." "Sixth Sense" had one key twist, and I guessed what it was in the first scene where Bruce Willis appears to the boy. I spent the movie confirming my theory but also looking for the real twist I'd heard about, since the one I'd already guessed was too easy to be the one everybody was so thrilled by.

Ron said...

CraigC: Sorry, I don't even find Momento a mediocre film. To me it's like calling "Timecode" a great film because it has a gimmicky approach to filmmaking. The acting? It was putting me to sleep! If he had told his story conventionally, would I have cared about it? Nope. To each his own.

I,like Ann, caught the "Sixth Sense" twist right off, and was thus not as impressed, and it even seems kind of heavy-handed in how he does it! The fact that he keeps repeating himself in each subsequent film hasn't increased my like for him.

Ron said...

Mea culpa on the typo title: "Momento"

Maybe I was thinking of its tearjerker prequel, "Momento by Momento." ;-)

Ron said...

would a prequel to Memento (or even Momento!) really be... a sequel?

ah, the Meta-ness of it all...