I caught The X Files: I Want to Believe at the drive-in last night and – after it was over, turned my chair around to watch the last 40 minutes (or so) of The Dark Knight. Mild spoilers follow.
A few impressions:
– I love the way Chris Carter didn’t feel pressure to make the next big summer blockbuster. In an established universe where alien invaders could land at any moment, he chose instead to make movie that was remarkably intimate – almost a character sketch of the two leads.
– X-Files was dripping with spiritual questions. Is God out there? Why does he allow suffering? Are there limits to who he will forgive? If not, how does he act to redeem the worst among us? How is it that the people who claim to be God’s followers can often be the most harsh of all?
– “Lets get away from the darkness.” Scully says. Mulder’s reply: “I don’t think that’s how it works. I think the darkness finds you.” Yet, somehow, they come to this realization without despair. One of the subtleties that makes this franchise work so well for me.
– The montage behind the closing credits of X-Files was just beautiful.
– In the meantime, the moments I caught from The Dark Knight were really good, but it floundered a couple of places for me: two face was completely uninspiring (and predictable), and Batman’s speech about the “goodness” in people was unnecessary cliche – the audience can “get” the point of this scene without the Caped Crusader’s sanctimony. But…
– I think that superhero movies are made or broken by their supporting cast. What makes for good film is not the hero himself/herself, who is already well known – but the way everyone else plays off of the hero. Speaking of which…
– Heath Ledger’s performance was sheer genius. I could see him winning a posthumous Oscar. He manages to make the Joker repulsive and yet funny, insightful and yet insane, all at once. (I almost hate to say this, because Jack Nicholson is a great actor, but he makes Nicholson’s effort at the same character look pretty weak.)
– “We are destined to do this forever” Joker tells Batman (or something to that effect). There is a certain mythological feel to that observation that is weighed down with truth. Its still stuck in my mind.
– I also love the way the last few scenes of Knight were not typical of Summer blockbusters. Instead, the creators went for a tighter, more personal approach – and it really worked for me. I hope filmmakers learn from this: you can make a really good action/drama without blowing lots of stuff up at the end.