It seems the Michael Keaton Batman might be the highest ROI Batman but the Dark Knight is still the best Batman movie.
"Roi" means king in French. So the title works on levels. Where the hell is Olivier?
Garcon means boy.
Vive le roi!
Wait... no, we got rid of that sort of thing years ago. As a Frenchman, I spit on the ROI of ze Batman movie and embrace the solid execution that is Chris Nolan's latest creation (although Bale doesn't really get a chance to shine in The Dark Knight. Most of the real acting gets assigned to Ledger and to some extent Eckhart, which is a shame given Bale's talent.)
For example, I would have liked to see Bruce Wayne completely break down after the loss he suffers in this movie. His sitting in a chair pondering his Batman activities didn't really match the plot super well. Seeing a raw human and vulnerable side of Bruce Wayne would have only reinforced the awesomeness of Batman's stoic demeanor and the sacrifice that comes with it. (Show us the sacrifice and make us feel it instead of having to spell it out in dialog during the final scene.) The armor is more than just there to stop bullets, which is kind of the point, especially in this episode. (Batman Begins being more about the mask.)
Wired has a pretty cool interview of Nolan in which he explains how he insisted on using as little CG as possible, especially during action sequences. When you see Batman standing on top of the Sears Tower, it's really Christian Bale, not a stunt double. Batman flying around the city is filmed with two helicopters and a dude hanging from a cable. Whether we consciously realize it or now, the fact that the action is "real" adds a certain texture of realism to the movie that adds to its quality. Pitch the non-CG rule to the Spiderman, Hulk and even Ironman franchises and see what happens. (No matter how solid the movies may be, some superheroes look real and others don't. Nuff said.)
It's going to seem like I am contradicting myself by saying this but there is CGI and there is CGI. The medium works for certain types of applications better than others. Dinosaurs and Spartan environments, yes. Superheroes and cow-wrangling jedi, not so much. As much as I like the realism of The Dark Knight, let's not forget that Frank Miller penned the Dark Knight series and his vision isn't quite as literal as Nolan's. Although a Zach Snider-directed Dark Knight would have been a CG funhouse, it would also been a work of art - for reasons other than Heath ledger's stunning talent. Case in point: Sitting through Snider's "Watchmen" trailer ahead of Batman almost gave me wood. So while I'm a little worried about "Watchmen" from a plot perspective, it is going to be a visual masterpiece in a way that Nolan's Batman movies are not (imax or not).
Still though, yes, The Dark Knight is the best Batman movie so far. Nothing even comes close. And if Spiderman had taken the same approach to making the main character look like a real person, it would have been even better.
Clarification on my CG/CGI point:
Zach Snider's CG is more about creatures and environments. The actors are real. That makes the use of CGI tasty.
Spiderman, Hulk, The Matrix and anything George Lucas touches create CG versions of characters. Replacing real people with computerized alter-egos looks fake, and that always sucks. (Why? Because in the back of your mind, you know it's fake, and it gets between the story and your emotional response to it.)
When I am watching The Matrix Reloaded, I want to see Keanu kick ass, not some CG version of Keanu. When Superman stops the 747 from crashing into a baseball field, I want to see Superman hold up the nose of the plane, not some CG cartoon. And don't even get me started on the horrendous CGI in Episodes I, II and III, where Lucas tried to piece action sequences and environments together without having given much thought to how he was going to do it until principal shooting was wrapped. The guy needs an editor who has the balls to say "George, I'm not going to do this because it is going to look like crap."
CG characters in real environments: Bad.
Real actors in CGI-enhanced environments (with or without CG creatures): Good.
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