EDITORIALS

Christopher Campbell's The Moviegoer - Bigger Knight Better Than Oscar Night

by
January 26, 2009

All it Needs is a Little Push

The Academy had their say, that The Dark Knight isn't one of the five "Best Picture" candidates for 2008. But who cares? Sure, you can't enjoy the Batman sequel as part of AMC's annual marathon of top Oscar contenders, but then again you can't see any of those five films in IMAX either. What would you prefer? Personally, I haven't decided if I like any of the Best Picture nominees any better than The Dark Knight. But I do personally prefer to see a movie as big as possible, as long as that movie is appropriate for such viewing. And not only is The Dark Knight appropriate for the size, but it was partially filmed for it. So, rather than see any of those other movies a second time, I chose to see The Dark Knight again, in IMAX.

One of the factors of my choice, however, is that I never had the chance to see the movie in IMAX the first time around. I had to settle for a regular-size multiplex screen, mostly because only one IMAX theater for all the 8 million people in New York City meant it was hard getting a ticket for awhile. Fortunately, Warner Brothers re-released The Dark Knight this past Friday, and fortunately, my city has gotten two more IMAX locations since the movie opened the first time. And yes, I know both screens, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn, were unveiled while the movie was still in theaters, but by that time I had already seen The Dark Knight once and wasn't immediately interested in seeing it again. The obvious verdict, which nobody should refute, is that much, much bigger is much, much better.

But did I see The Dark Knight as big as possible? Curious about when the new Manhattan IMAX screen opened, I visited Cinema Treasures, a great website devoted to discussing and reviewing the world's movie theaters, and in the comments section for the AMC Empire 25 page, I read that its new screen is smaller than the older IMAX screen at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13. I needed to know for sure that this is true, but neither Cinema Treasures nor AMC's website appeared to have actual screen dimensions available. The one thing I could determine online, though, is that the Lincoln Square theater actually charges more for their IMAX tickets. So, I called that theater to find out why, and of course it was revealed to me that their IMAX screen is bigger. Man, was I disappointed.

Here I was, intending to write about how the Academy's snub is worthless since most voters likely watched a screener DVD or, at best, a normal-sized theatrical print of The Dark Knight, and yet even I failed to see the film in the greatest proportions. So maybe I'm not the one to defend its optimum size and format as being such. I may have gone from merely liking The Dark Knight in regular size to loving it in a minimal IMAX size, but maybe if I'd seen it at Lincoln Square or, better yet, on a 12,000 square-foot screen in Mumbai, The Dark Knight would have become my favorite film of all time (okay, that's doubtful, but I'm being hypothetical for a point). And maybe if the Academy voters had also seen it so big, we'd have seen a different crop of Best Picture nominees.

However, my other intent with this week's column was to simply shrug off the Oscars, because the main thing that I realized with my second viewing of The Dark Knight is that Oscar nominee or not (even if the film hadn't received its 8 nominations), the movie still makes for a damn good moviegoing experience, and fortunately the Academy can't take that away from us. It's not like the Best Picture selections determine what we are able to see in a theater. It's not like the foreign category, which is often made up of films that would never acquire US distribution without the Academy's recognition. So it doesn't matter if the Academy deems The Dark Knight one of the best, nor does it matter if you consider it the best or at least better than those five other films. It shouldn't affect whether or not you enjoyed it. Just as not seeing the movie in its greatest capacity doesn't lessen the fact that I had a great moviegoing experience anyway.

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  • Tim "Cloverfield"
    Good job Chris!
  • thejoker
    Let's put a smile on the Academy http://www.requiemweb.com.ar/joke.jpg
  • adrian
    I find it really funny that people are still talking about this. The movie was good, damn good, a great movie going experience... but so was Die Hard... and Terminator 2. It had it's faults, many of them actually, but somehow people seem dead set on ignoring them, all they talk about is Heath(rightfully so) but that really isn't enough to justify a best picture nom. I think Doubt is the best example of this. The film itself isn't anything special. It's the performances themselves that make it so spellbinding. And I think this year many of the best pic noms were dictated by the powerful performances they boasted, The Reader, Frost/Nixon, & Milk all got so much attention because of the performances.
  • Darunia
    More TDK? Really? Some people reeeaaallly need to move on and get over it. Jesus Christ.
  • jimmy
    holy crap, you guys don't see that many movies eh? I wish Heath Ledger was still alive to help fix your blindness
  • Will S.
    A normal IMAX screen is 5 stories tall, 6 stories wide if I recall correctly. Honestly, if it's not in the standard size, it's probably not worth going to simply because the resolution just looks funky on anything but the standard. It's like seeing a 35mm film on the IMAX screen. It looks terrible to be honest. @3 The Reader was a terrible film. I thought it was sub-par and I actually don't have the seething hatred of period films that most film bloggers seem to possess. The multiple timelines didn't feel natural, we weren't given any real reason for the two's affair, and to be quite frank the first 1/3 of the film is just porn. It felt choppier than Australia, and that's saying something. If the film had cut the last few scenes with Ralph Fiennes, whose character's timeline was in a weird spot of being vital and useless to the plot simultaneously. Frost/Nixon was another film that was only nominated because of Hollywood politics. I'm not arguing whether or not politics should play into film selections, because Milk is the best example of a political game at work. But Frost/Nixon wasn't one of the 5 best films of the year. If it were up to me, I'd remove Ben Button, The Reader, and Frost/Nixon and replace them with Wall-E, The Wrestler (Which is the biggest snub of the year in my opinion) and TDK. I don't agree with the fanboy backlash about TDK, but honestly it was leaps and bounds better than Ben Button or The Reader. It wouldn't have won and shouldn't have won, but it at least deserved recognition for being one of the best films of the year.
  • ha1rball
    to will s. a normal IMAX screen is actually bigger then that, the one in the springs is one of the smaller ones. I have seen it on both that one and a bigger and it looked amazing on the bigger one.
  • marty#21
    Ok are you guys joking. first off The Dark Knight is the second highest grossing movie in FILM history. I'll say that again IN FILM HISTORYYYYYY!!! and for all you lames who don't get what that means what ever movie you bring up hasn't touched this movie. as much as i hate to say it " aside from Titanic". all the movies that are voted for best picture, were blowin out by at least $300 million. If anybody can tell me what was missing form TDK i'll give you a cookie.
  • marty#21
    Whats the point of Best Picture of the year if the best picture doesn't win
  • Dave
    #8 - TDK is the 2nd highest-grossing film in history only if you don't adjust for inflation. When you do, it ranks behind "Thunderball." Would you say that deserved a Best Picture Oscar in 1965? Hell, the #19 all-time film is Episode One! By your logic, Jar-Jar should have been raking in the statuettes.
  • Darunia
    Hey number 8. Ghost Rider made more money than Slumdog Millionaire ever will. It's a better movie too right? That's some really sound logic there genius. And i can't wait to see how the next Batman does, with no tragic deaths to fuel the hype campaign, it will be really interesting to see it do way under TDK, and have some of the fanboys try to explain why such thing happened.
  • curiouscaseofredbutton
    I loved THunderball! Ghost Rider, not so much. Same with S.Dog, not so much.
  • Shige
    Dont understand how people make the box office intakes as an argument here. Please look at the inflation and realize the itotal gross was not spectacular at all.
  • Cody
    yeah I am with #4 stfu with this movie already, half the reason anyones still even talking about it is because ledger died and it wouldnt be "right" to not like this movie. Honestly I thought the action sucked but any time i say that in a conversation people jump down my throat. also word to #3 it was ledger and eckhart made that movie what it is if you ask me not the special effects nor the imax.
  • Will S.
    Yeah, the Dark Knight isn't the best movie of all time. I just think it's pretty funny how hating on it is now the cool thing to do on the internet.
  • Rob Oh
  • dan
    Will S., the sad thing is..........hating on EVERYTHING must be the cool thing to do on the internet. just read the comments section on this site every day. it's become less of a comments section and is now 80% hate. my take on the DK situation: i loved it and bought it on blu. i understand some who don't think it was the best movie of the year. that's just comes down to opinion. but for the oscars to not include it in the top 5 best movies of the year? that's nonsense.
  • feohatestheworld
    and just crazy talk! 80% is spot on Dan.
  • max
    Dark Knight is just way too hyped. Heath Ledgers death made it even more hyped. It had a great cast (except Batman himself in my opinion), but the other parts of the movie sucked. Wouldnt be even in my top10 of 2008. The Academy made the right choice in not nminating it for the best picture. Havent seen all of the best picture nominees, but i trust the Academy and their choices.
  • Aravena
    No worries. This time next year they'll be writing about why The Watchmen wasn't nominated for best picture etc etc. Don't get me wrong, I get a hard on when I see the previews but I can't say it'll be outrageous performances (although it looks it.) Still, TDK doesn't deserve best picture because of Bale. Horrible horrible Batman. That alone kills it. Maybe if he just didn't talk the next time... He should use the voice from American Psycho. That'd be awesome. 'Do you like Phil Collins?" But please, let's move on. This is like coming back and hearing about JonBenét Ramsey after years of nothing. It's old, it's done with, settled, let's move on.
  • DogChasingCars
    Will S. -- I can't pass judgment on Ben Button, Reader, or Milk, but I thought Frost/Nixon was a very good film. It had good acting, good drama, some excellent writing, and some nice cinematography. Dark Knight is a good film, but so are the others... and the Academy's always been partly about politics, anyway. Aravena is right -- time to move on. The nominees aren't bad films (it seems they're overall better than the last couple of years have been). (Chris -- I found your post to be very whiny. The Dark Knight has excellent cinematography, regardless of what screen you see it on.)
  • L
    I loved TDK. I loved that it elevated the comic genre yet again (even after Iron Man). I love the action, the sadistic Joker, the realism, the dark comedy, and I can forgive Bale's horrible Batman voice, but his great Bruce Wayne offset. However, it is not the best picture of the year. The more I think about it, the less I think it is qualified. Though it has deserved all of it's other merits in catagories it is nominated in. A terrific addition to my library for sure, but to the academy; not as much.
  • COCKTAR
    Hey # 8 , I know what was missing from TDK...Full frontal nudity !!!
  • Redilicious Buttons
    I am going to cause more hoopla by saying " i enjoyed the batman voice"
  • Lynn
    The Batman voice didn't bother me either Buttons. The only point I didn't care for it was his last encounter with The Joker, while the Joker is hanging upside down. It seems a bit forced there, but after going and seeing it on IMAX this weekend it dawned on me that he was actually forcing it at that point because Batman was having trouble breathing at that moment. Should have known with an actor like Bale it was for a reason. Thats why it was such an amazing film, the actors and everyone involved took the material very very seriously. It was by far the best picture of the year in mine (and more peoples) opinion. I also loved Gran Torino, Milk, In Bruges and Slumdog Millioniare, those would be the 5 films I would have nominated for best picture.
  • Lynn
    @Dan. Your right, there seems to be this ever growing "click" of people online that want to hate The Dark Knight just because almost everyone who seen it, including critis, loved the film. It's sad that the have to hide behind a keyboard and try to shoot down one truly great movie. I'm sure it there was a internet in the 70's these same type of people would have been out saying how awful The Godfather part 2 or A Clockwork Orange were, or in the 60's putting down The Great Escape or In The Heat of the Night...sad sad people aren't they
  • SlashBeast
    For me, the one true test to determine a film’s greatness is the test of time. 10 or more years from now, NOBODY is goint o be watching The Reader but everyone will still remember and talk about WALL-E and The Dark Knight. I would have been nowhere near as angry if tThe Reader was replaced by WALL-E, The Wrestler, Gran Torino or if a director nod was given for Nolan. But that didn’t happen. 2001: A Space Odyssey and Saving Private Ryan lost out in their respective years to Oliver and Shakespeare in Love. Face it, you forgot Oliver even existed until I wrote that. The point is that 2001 and Saving Private Ryan will go on to forever be known as masterpieces in cinema while the winners that year will fade into obscurity. I feel that’s going to happen again this year.
  • Lynn
    Also @ anyone saying the Dark Knight didn't look good, Wally Pfister is the best in the biz, so get off that soap box, that man is a true great in the movie industry. I think even bigger than the best picture or director snub was the best score snub, wow what a haunting score and it didn't even get nominated...a true travesty
  • Lynn
    @SlashBeast. I saw The Reader and found it be incredibly boring and just all around not as great as some people are saying...I know not many, but still a few saying it was good, so your dead on with that. You are very right, which ever film wins best picture won't be remembered as well as Wall-E or The Dark Knight or even Gran Torino. I haven't had a chance to see The Wrestler yet, very much want to of course. I've seen all the others nominated. I won't remember any of the 5 films nominated but a film like In Bruges will stick with me forever (I even own it on dvd, a great film). Milk is a great bio-pic, I went in not expecting much and thought it was a great film. Benjamin Button was not all that great and I love David Finchers films for the most part, so that was sad that I didn't care for Button much at all.
  • Brady
    So blowing up a movie to ridiculous portions automatically makes the content of the movie way better? That logic is insanely ridiculous. Granted, I wouldn't have minded seeing a Best Picture nomination for TDK, but all of the editorials constantly complaining about it is getting old and tiring. "The movie made so much money - it should have a Best Picture nom!" Then you also warrant giving a Best Picture nomination to Pirates 2, which was a god-awful POS movie. TDK was not the greatest thing ever. It didn't get nominated for Best Picture. Get over it.
  • Shige
    #27 So I remember The Critters, Me My Self and Irene, Weekend at Bernie's. Does that make those flicks top 5 of respective year ? No Btw, I did not remember about Wall-E from the past year untill you wrote the title.
  • Brady, bigger proportions don't make the content better, but it certainly does make the experience better. Would you really enjoy TDK as much on an iPod or TV as you would in IMAX?
  • Movie Fan
    TDK is the best action movie experience since T2, in my opinion, of course.
  • 790
    Marty#21, what was missing in TDK was common sense on the part of the Gotham police. I agree TDK is better than Button or the Reader. Those films just plain suck!
  • SlashBeast
    @ #31 TDK should have been nominated for best picture, best score, best director and a few other noms. This movie is going to be remembered long after most of the other movies nominated this year. Who is going to be calling The Reader a must see in 5 or 10 years? If you remove the fact there is a guy in a batsuit in parts of the movie, this is one of the better crime movies ever made and is every bit as engaging as The Departed. This movie ended up on most critics top 10 lists, so I guess they are all wrong - or they must just all be fanboys too??
  • that guy
    first off i would like to say that The Dark Knight was over rated. it was good but not that good. dragged ass way too long, Harvey Dent should have gotten his own movie and not ridden the joker's coat tails.
  • Glass
    Best picture nod for “The Reader” and best director nod for its maker, Stephen Daldry? Voters still regard any Holocaust movie — be it a short film, documentary or feature — sacrosanct, and that not cherishing these blessed works of instant magnificence is tantamount to blasphemy. Past nominees and winners are abundant and well-known. Some are good, some mediocre. “The Reader” is something else. It’s awful. One of those arthritic historical epics that betrays its appetite for Oscar prestige in every burnished shot, Daldry’s film creaks with calculation, sweats bathos and basks in old-timey fustiness. From the first scene, I recoiled at the movie’s overpowering preciousness. An Oscar? How about a Razzie? Almost nothing for “The Dark Knight,” shot-for-shot the best film of the year. (And I’m not a comics fan. At all.) Hallelujah — Heath Ledger clinched the posthumous best supporting actor nomination that was all but preordained. But slights for best picture, best director and best adapted screenplay are unjust and ill-considered. Oscar voters skew old, and many watch eligible films on DVD on their home televisions. That’s a decisive factor. The rest is the Academy’s allergy to genre pictures stoked by snobbery and ignorance. But recall that “Star Wars” was nominated for best picture and that “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” actually won the top Oscar in 2003, a fact that looks more and more astonishing in hindsight. The Oscar affront, especially for best picture, is a crime of such magnitude, even the Joker would cackle.
  • Dan Zee
    The IMAX folks have gone to digital projection and have shrunk down the size of their screens. They claim the image still looks large because they've moved the seats closer to the screen. But they've cheapened the format and IMAX no longer stands as a symbol of the ultimate in moviegoing. The new IMAX digital format actually has less resolution than a 35mm print! So be careful when you go to an "IMAX theater," because you may not be getting what you paid for.
  • 790
    I wouldn't waste my time with IMAX. Just another gimmick (IMO)
  • lol the fact that it is a *slightly* smaller screen isn't that big a deal. The main features of IMAX is more space on top and bottom, and higher resolution (yes i know its chemical film, but the black flickers from dust on the film is smaller)

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