Yesterday my wife and I finally saw The Dark Knight. We had been meaning to go for quite some time now, but the summer months were extremely packed with work, studying, trips, and other things that ultimately took precedence over going to a movie. But yesterday we made the short trek to the local AMC Mondo-Plex and sat down for a matinee showing of Christopher Nolan's comic book epic. And what a movie it was.
Imagine a continuum in which Arnold Schwarzenegger's Commando is on one end, and Francis Ford Coppola's* The Godfather is on the other. The former is two hours of sheer bombast and cheese--Arnold waves guns around like fourth of July sparklers, shooting anything that moves, be it animal, vegetable, or terrorist. The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, and a direct line can be drawn from the opening premise (all bad guys must die) to the closing credits (all bad guys are now dead). The other end of the continuum, occupied by Coppola's opus, is awash in moral complexities, violence is a necessary means to an end, the hero becomes the villain, and very little is clearly laid out for the viewers.
Most action films would fall somewhere in the middle, or closer to Commando. Most have a hero who knows what to do, and set about doing it. The girl is kidnapped? Go save her. The city is going to be blown up? Find the weapons and destroy them. The country is in danger? Kill the terrorists. And this mold has been extremely successful over the years, resulting in scores of John MacLanes, Jack Bauers, Indiana Jones-es, and others like them. And I certainly enjoy these types of blow-'em-up fests.
But The Dark Knight is far different: its villains are complex, its heroes are tragic, and its messages of morality and justice are far more complicated than "do the right thing." It is a film, albeit with a hefty share of explosions and a body count that approaches three dozen much more in line with its spiritual predecessor, The Godfather. Heath Ledger's Joker is at once the most transparent and yet the most complicated villain to appear onscreen in many years. District Attorney Harvey Dent, played by Aaron Eckhart (minus the ginormous Fu-Man-Chu from Erin Brockovich), wants only to do good, and punish all those who do evil. But even this polar view of morality gets twisted to the point where he ultimately becomes the antitheses of the man he once was. And Batman, played to near-perfection by Christian Bale, is a haunted protagonist who does what has to be done, no matter the personal cost, even if it goes directly against what he wants to do.
Suffice it to say, The Dark Knight is an amazing character study masquerading as a summer blow-em-up fest. And that is a mighty good thing.
All that aside, last night when our friends Jon and Sarah were over, we were surfing YouTube and found this video of a restaurant that serves a 14-pound pizza for $50. If two people can eat the whole thing in an hour, they get $100. In college my friends and I used to take the Stuffed Crust Challenge, by seeing who could eat the most Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust Pizza in one sitting of Wayne's World...but I doubt any of us could tackle this beast: