I speak specifically about Iron Man, The Dark Knight and Wall*E. Three very good, very entertaining movies. Iron Man was just the right balance of fun, action and drama and Wall*E brought American animated storytelling back to an art form. And then there's The Dark Knight, the movie that made a whole lot of people act pretty kooky. First there was the pre-Oscar buzz of Heath Ledger. Then there were the initial reviews where some called it without a doubt, the best and most important picture of the year and one compared it to The Godfather Part 2.
No doubt The Dark Knight is a good film. A very good film. I've already been down the Heath Ledger road here, so I won't trace those steps again. But in reflecting upon the Summer, it's impossible not to talk about the reactions to the film. To me, comparing The Dark Knight to The Godfather Part 2 is a testament to the state of cinema in general. Has the bar sunk so low that we lay praise like this to the first thing that surprises and delights us? I remember as a child I attended a Mannheim Steamroller Christmas concert with my parents. As a kid I enjoyed the music and when the concert ended, most of the audience stood and applauded. Caught in the moment, I did as well. One of the people who did not stand was my father. I asked him about it after the concert and he told me that if we stand for that, how do we praise the next Mozart? That statement stuck with me and I have been very thoughtful with my accolades ever since. In short, The Godfather Part 2 is Mozart and The Dark Knight is not his second coming.
What The Dark Knight is, is one hell of a Summer Blockbuster. In fact, it is what a Summer Blockbuster should be. Over the years we've been inundated with so much crap from Michael Bay and George Lucas and Will Smith that we've forgotten true quality when we see it. We've mistaken Blockbuster to be defined as a bad film with lots of explosions that makes a lot of money. Lest we forget, the first Blockbuster ever was Jaws. The story was excellent, the direction fantastic and the performances spot on. It handled all the elements of a Blockbuster and gave each its due without pandering too much to one or the other. The same could be said of The Dark Knight. But you would never find me putting either one alongside The Godfather Part 2.
There's such a divide in what Hollywood produces. There are those films that are great and those that are dreck. And the dreck pile just gets bigger and bigger while the great films pile seems to only gets smaller. I don't blame the guy who said that The Dark Knight is as good as The Godfather Part 2. I don't question his taste. I just think he's guilty of coveting a little nugget he found in this big pile of poo that is the Summer movie season.