Top Twenty of the Decade #9 & 10

Batman: Do I look like a Cop?!
Joker: I think you and I are destined to do this forever

9 & 10. Batman Begins/The Dark Knight (2005, 2008) – Dir. Christopher Nolan

Okay so, this is another 5 hours of film, but at least I filled up two spots. Two movies made independently of each other that stand alone (even if each one makes the other better) equals two separate spots on the list. I just can’t choose between them, and so it’s a tie.

Some dismiss Begins and others find Knight overrated, but I think they are both great pieces of filmmaking.

Batman Begins reboots the franchise with the origin story. Full disclosure, I love Batman in general and especially the origin story, so this film didn’t have to do a lot to impress me.But it did a lot more than impress, it astounded. Everyone is quick to point out that Nolan took the franchise and grounded it in reality, lending his films a certain gravitas, which is true, but what made them special was his injection of theme to match the action.

Yes it was way cool to watch Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne (great casting throughout both movies by the way) become the Batman. But Nolan also examines ideas about fear and its effect on both individuals and society as a whole, that brought a comic book movie into the realm of great storytelling.

I like to compare Begins to the first Spider-Man movie to illustrate what makes the former better. In Spider-Man, the origin stuff is cool, and takes up half the movie, and then the plot kicks in, Spidey vs. Goblin. The first hour has little to do with the second and is much stronger. In Begins, the training and parents dying stuff directly relates to the final set piece and is just as compelling. It all serves to show the moment when Wayne becomes Batman, overcoming his fears and no longer being some whiny bitch in a suit.  Spider-Man isn’t awful, but it is obvious that Begins operates on a different level.

Also, the Joker card reveal ending gave me one of the best erections in my whole life. So there’s that.

The Dark Knight ups the ante and hits the ground running. Again, associating the symbol of the Batman with bigger themes of fear, terror, chaos, and the thin line between good and evil.

As good as the whole cast is, the late Mr. Ledger steals the movie with his Oscar-winning portrayal of the Joker. The IMAX shots are something to behold on the big screen, towering over the theater, adding an epic feel that I haven’t had since watching Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm. As much as everything in this sequel is bigger and bolder (the score, the title, the batcycle!), I still hold a soft spot for Begins. The predecessor has too many classic moments to dismiss just because the scale of the overall film was smaller than its sequel. Plus, like I said before, The Dark Knight makes Begins better.

To put it crassly, Begins gave me the best erection ever and TDK finished me off with the best orgasm ever. Chicken and egg and all that.

3 responses to “Top Twenty of the Decade #9 & 10

  1. Completely agree. Lots of folks prefer TDK over the first, but I really think they complement each other perfectly. Chicken and egg? Yes. Also, they are vastly different in terms of overall story. Though TDK is a sequel, it barely touches on plot points from Bruce’s origin. It simply moves on past it and continues where they left off. The two movies go so well together and and are such a fantastic one-two punch I’m really curious what themes, characters and events will show up in the next one. The Dark Knight wasn’t very tightly wrapped up and had a bit of an Empire feel to it where the heroes have lost a lot, Batman is on the run, Gordon is a bit broken and nearly every character who didn’t die lost something irreplaceable to the Joker. I’m expecting the 3rd act to be vastly different to the 2nd because that was so different than than the 1st. But it all still works.

  2. Pingback: Top Twenty of the Decade #2 | Shooting the Script

  3. Pingback: Top Twenty Films of the Decade – Recap | Shooting the Script

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