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Plot holes of the Dark Knight
December 9, 2009 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Batman is confused
posted by philip-random (199 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ha! So well done. I don't think all of the plot points they talk about were actually holes, but the song is so funny I'll overlook that.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:46 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I disagree with quite a few things, but regardless, this was awesome.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 9:50 AM on December 9, 2009


The dependability of the Joker's henchmen annoyed me a bit too, but it's probably not any more implausible than much else.

I think one of the things that annoyed me most about The Dark Knight was the people I had to explain it to. A incredible amount of people missed simple details like the fact that the Joker switched Dent and Rachel's locations and assumed Batman was saving Dent on purpose. It might have been the voice, come to think of it.

The whole two boats with explosives/hospital things really annoyed me too. It felt like I was in Intro to Philosophy of Ethics again being presented with incredibly simplified ethical dilemmas. So many people accepting the Joker's word as presented just seemed implausible. It reminded me a bit of the Architect scene in the Matrix sequels (if there had had been Matrix sequels, I mean). Why the fuck are you listening to the antagonist let alone trusting him?

Actually, I think the guy behind me who exclaimed "Holy cow!" any time anything exciting happened was probably the most annoying part of The Dark Knight.
posted by ODiV at 9:54 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why the fuck are you listening to the antagonist let alone trusting him?

Perspective problem. Nobody realizes they're in a movie.
posted by rokusan at 9:59 AM on December 9, 2009 [18 favorites]


I'm glad I'm not the only person who left the theatre asking why Lucius Fox was totally jake with aiding and abetting Bruce Wayne in kidnapping and extraditing a foreign national from halfway around the world, but then completely can't handle the awesome power of Batman having sonar.
posted by Shepherd at 10:00 AM on December 9, 2009 [13 favorites]


I'd love to see a song about major plot holes from numerous movies. The Matrix is probably one of the worst offenders, because the entire series is built upon a glaring plot hole: why would machines using people as living batteries waste the electrical output, circuitry, time and energy to create an entire virtual world, when they could simply lobotomize them at birth? Machines, even sentient ones, would not create some virtual world - they'd go for the most efficient solution. If you absolutely had to keep the virtual world angle, simply put an evil genius human and/or alien behind the whole thing. And then there's The Chipmunks movie ...
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:01 AM on December 9, 2009 [6 favorites]


leapfrog is unimpressed.
posted by leapfrog at 10:05 AM on December 9, 2009


Perspective problem. Nobody realizes they're in a movie.

I had written "this joker" but had to change it to something because it was repetitive. Maybe "this asshole" "this fuckhead" "this psychopath"? Obviously those in the movie don't realize he's the antagonist.
posted by ODiV at 10:07 AM on December 9, 2009


why would machines using people as living batteries

Who said they were used as living batteries?
posted by ODiV at 10:09 AM on December 9, 2009


Needs more bi-curiosity.
posted by hermitosis at 10:11 AM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Half-assed beanplatery.

Marisa, how about: Brains were used as distributed computers in the Matrix? That's my take, anyway.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:11 AM on December 9, 2009


I think one of the things that annoyed me most about The Dark Knight was the people I had to explain it to.

One of the things that annoyed me about The Dark Knight was that fans who learn I am indifferent towards the movie tell me I Just Didn't Get It. No, I understood it fine and I still didn't think much of it. It was an overlong, overloud, subpar movie with one impressive performance and a whole lot of twaddle, but as with Pink Floyd or The Matrix or Scientology, enthusiasts tell me that anyone who does not express admiration for it does so through ignorance.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:11 AM on December 9, 2009 [15 favorites]


Who said they were used as living batteries?

Lawrence Fishburn's character did, I think. If there was some other use for their bodies I must have missed it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:12 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would totally pay nine bucks to see Batman vs The Fuckhead.
posted by rokusan at 10:12 AM on December 9, 2009 [6 favorites]


Marisa, how about: Brains were used as distributed computers in the Matrix? That's my take, anyway.

Ah, I could buy that, sure.

One of the things that annoyed me about The Dark Knight was that fans who learn I am indifferent towards the movie tell me I Just Didn't Get It.

It's neat how easily you can wield this counter with just about any art form. I use it pretty frequently myself, albeit not in any seriousness.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:14 AM on December 9, 2009


The Matrix is probably one of the worst offenders, because the entire series is built upon a glaring plot hole: why would machines using people as living batteries waste the electrical output, circuitry, time and energy to create an entire virtual world, when they could simply lobotomize them at birth? Machines, even sentient ones, would not create some virtual world - they'd go for the most efficient solution.

I remember reading someplace that the original Matrix plot was going to be that the machines were using human brains for their computing power--think server farm rather than power plant. They changed it because they thought it would be too hard to explain to the audience.
posted by JDHarper at 10:16 AM on December 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


Note to self: preview more.
posted by JDHarper at 10:18 AM on December 9, 2009


Hah. This video expresses my feeling towards the Dark Knight after giving it some deeper thought. I was pretty happy with the movie upon seeing it the first time, but it definitely hasn't held up to closer scrutiny.

Heath Ledger really saved that movie.
posted by codacorolla at 10:24 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think one of the things that annoyed me most about The Dark Knight was the people I had to explain it to.

One of the things that annoyed me about The Dark Knight was that fans who learn I am indifferent towards the movie tell me I Just Didn't Get It.


I don't really care for it that much either. I tried to watch it again last month and only got about half an hour in before turning it off. I don't know why you thought I was a fan trying to explain it to non-fans.

After my initial viewing I talked to several people about the movie who held various opinions of it, but who all somehow missed simple things (like the Joker switching Dent and Rachel's locations). This seemed to happen moreso with The Dark Knight than other films (or maybe it's confirmation bias) and I think it might have something to do with the Batman voice.
posted by ODiV at 10:27 AM on December 9, 2009


You know, as I think of the "their brains were the computer" theory, the virtual world still makes no sense. A lobotomy does not remove the brain, but severs connections between the prefrontal lobes and the anterior of the frontal lobes. You could still make your human servers completely pliant and obedient without wasting the energy on a virtual world. In fact, you could make it even more chilling - how about severing the spinal column, or messing with the brain in some other way, inducing total paralysis, so that they're aware of what's going on, but are physically powerless to do anything about it?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:27 AM on December 9, 2009


Who said they were used as living batteries?

Lawrence Fishburn's character did, I think. If there was some other use for their bodies I must have missed it.


Yep. Morpheus says they're used as living batteries. And that's why they call Neo "coppertop" on at least one occasion.
posted by The World Famous at 10:28 AM on December 9, 2009


And that's why they call Neo "coppertop" on at least one occasion.

It wasn't because of his red hair? :(
posted by owtytrof at 10:32 AM on December 9, 2009


The Matrix is probably one of the worst offenders, because the entire series is built upon a glaring plot hole: why would machines using people as living batteries waste the electrical output, circuitry, time and energy to create an entire virtual world, when they could simply lobotomize them at birth?

Why not just burn the fucking food you're feeding everyone, use the heat generated to drive steam turbines, and get rid of the inefficient biothermal devices (the people, I mean) altogether?
posted by mr_roboto at 10:33 AM on December 9, 2009 [7 favorites]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "You know, as I think of the "their brains were the computer" theory, the virtual world still makes no sense. A lobotomy does not remove the brain, but severs connections between the prefrontal lobes and the anterior of the frontal lobes. You could still make your human servers completely pliant and obedient without wasting the energy on a virtual world. In fact, you could make it even more chilling - how about severing the spinal column, or messing with the brain in some other way, inducing total paralysis, so that they're aware of what's going on, but are physically powerless to do anything about it?"

And the fact that all of the android cyber dudes look completely awesome? Like polished killing machines? like at some point in time they'd have to throw E_NOTSHINY and report to a service bay for buffing and polishing. And why red lights for eyes, when infrared/ultraviolet wouldn't let humans see you at all. I dunno. I dunno. It's like, you believe in things, and then you have an epiphany, and all that belief is just misplaced.

Anyway, we're gonna go to the mall and get some jelly bracelets.
posted by boo_radley at 10:35 AM on December 9, 2009 [9 favorites]


Yeah, Morpheus says they're being used as batteries, but we don't really get that from any outside sources, as far as I know. It feels to me like they're all stumbling around in the dark, cobbling together whatever theories and myths they can so that they can explain things.

For all we know the idea of putting humans in a virtual world was programed into the machines. Some world power or mad scientist was trying to create a perfect world and this was the result.

All we really know for sure is that humanity's enslaved and we need to learn Kung-fu!

I think it holds together pretty well. Don't mention the sequels though.
posted by ODiV at 10:35 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ehhhh... I think that the first Matrix was a good popcorn movie, and that the next two were regrettable with brief moments of entertainment, so I don't really feel the need to stan for the series, but I'll offer my own take.

The movie goes through great lengths to show how human choice in the otherwise deterministic universe of the machines is a great strength, and the key factor in Neo's ultimate victory (let's just keep this within the first movie). If the machines were to lobotimize the humans, and keep them as a linked processors in a data-center, then they would also be losing out on the human brain's ability to improvise. An active human brain, even with the occasional hic-cup of self awareness, is a more powerful and adaptive processor than a machine.

Plus you could also say that the machines lose their principal purpose if they no longer have humans. Humanity gives the machines a project that they would otherwise lack, and therefore, a reason to exist apart from just a means of existence.

If I had to overthink the Matrix's storyline, that's what I would say.

Unfortunately the movie never really addresses these ideas, and leaves it up to the audience to decide. I don't think this is an intentional act to force the audience to ask questions about determinism vrs free will, or how antagonistic relationships can give meaning to a life... I think it's just the lazy writing that lead the Wachowski brothers to make V for Vendetta into a movie about how great Democracy is.
posted by codacorolla at 10:37 AM on December 9, 2009


I love Metafilter. That whole humans as batteries thing totally escaped me in the Matrix. I guess I was too distracted by Keanu Reeves' "acting" and Lawrence Fishburne's sartorial splendour.
posted by Go Banana at 10:37 AM on December 9, 2009


Human battery explanation.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:38 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


All we really know for sure is that humanity's enslaved and we need to learn Kung-fu!

When they finally prove that we're all living in a simulation right now, I'll probably be mad, too.

I'll need guns. A lot of guns.
posted by rokusan at 10:39 AM on December 9, 2009


And The Matrix is just a sexed up metaphor for your mental model that you live in instead of opening yourself up to the outside world. Don't overthink it.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:43 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan: "Human battery explanation. "

yeahbut: once you get to "combined with a form of fusion" it's like, what are we doing with these dudes in sacs? Cause fusion, man. Fusion.
posted by boo_radley at 10:43 AM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


After my initial viewing I talked to several people about the movie who held various opinions of it, but who all somehow missed simple things (like the Joker switching Dent and Rachel's locations). This seemed to happen moreso with The Dark Knight than other films (or maybe it's confirmation bias) and I think it might have something to do with the Batman voice.

I dunno if it is a request by the director or a choice by performer, but Batman's "gargle-with-Ajax" voice is affected and grating. As I mentioned once before on MeFi, people praise Ledger's performance but when the guy you share most of your big scenes with covers everything but about eight square inches of his lower face and mutters his lines in a gravelly monotone, it is not hard to upstage him.

Buy yes, I agree that a lot of audience members seem confused by pretty straightforward twists. What I am more bafled by is the recollections of people who saw scenes that were not there in The Dark Knight. I had more than one fan take issue with my assertion that story arcs in TDK are not so much concluded as abandoned (specifically, my mention that the most interesting character is left hanging upside down on a rope) by hotly pointing to the next scene, of Joker's arrest. There is no such scene: after the final shot of the fuckhead, we see a brief shot that could be from anywhere in the movie or even pulled out of another movie altogether of some cops advancing towards the camera -- presumably Joker's point of view. That is not exactly resolution.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:44 AM on December 9, 2009


Why the fuck are you listening to the antagonist let alone trusting him?

Perspective problem. Nobody realizes they're in a movie.


Do you really think that, in order for Batman to figure out that the Joker is the villain, he would have to realize that he is in a movie? I got the impression from the movie that Batman does, in fact, realize that the Joker is the antagonist, but that Batman also, for some reason, believes that everything the Joker says is 100% true.
posted by The World Famous at 10:44 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't overthink it....

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
posted by rokusan at 10:44 AM on December 9, 2009


You know, as I think of the "their brains were the computer" theory, the virtual world still makes no sense.

Unless the virtual world were itself a contagious, collective hallucination, a parasite or symbiote of the imagination rather than a simple virus like the Ring or Snowcrash. It would need people to actively imagine it as much as it needed them to transmit it.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:45 AM on December 9, 2009


Wow, did this thread get derailed quickly.
posted by octothorpe at 10:49 AM on December 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


The only bit in The Dark Knight which really didn't seem to make any sense at all was Gordon pretending to be dead, and this song doesn't even mention that. I'm going to complain vociferously about this to someone right now.
posted by dng at 10:50 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


"It totally makes sense if you make up huge sections of it!" == Movie Stockholm Syndrome.
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on December 9, 2009 [10 favorites]


Unfortunately the movie never really addresses these ideas, and leaves it up to the audience to decide. I don't think this is an intentional act to force the audience to ask questions about determinism vrs free will, or how antagonistic relationships can give meaning to a life... I think it's just the lazy writing that lead the Wachowski brothers to make V for Vendetta into a movie about how great Democracy is.

Now that aspect I liked a lot about The Matrix. But when Morpheus talks about the human batteries, I remember very clearly having a "what" moment. I still think the virtual world makes more sense if there were an evil living entity with a power trip behind the whole thing; sort of "chances are we are all living in a virtual world" theory turned real, and in the hands of some sadist. But yes, the overall message of The Matrix, that was pretty cool.

But V for Vendetta's "message" was about as subtle as being slapped about the face with a copy of 1984.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:52 AM on December 9, 2009


Unless the virtual world were itself a contagious, collective hallucination, a parasite or symbiote of the imagination rather than a simple virus like the Ring or Snowcrash. It would need people to actively imagine it as much as it needed them to transmit it.
Huh.. I'd never thought of that before. Maybe in a better-written Matrix there are three parties: the humans, the machines, and the parasitic collective delusion of the imagined world.
posted by codacorolla at 10:54 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm glad I'm not the only person who left the theatre asking why Lucius Fox was totally jake with aiding and abetting Bruce Wayne in kidnapping and extraditing a foreign national from halfway around the world, but then completely can't handle the awesome power of Batman having sonar.

Wasn't he listening to everyone's conversation at once? In essence, he had unlimited phone tapping power, becoming a singular Big Brother. Bringing a known criminal across country lines is nothing in comparison (also: he beats up a lot of bad guys, which is not allowed by police standards, from what I've learned by watching movies and TV).

When it comes to Sci-Fi (and fiction in general), I've come up with something I call the Invisible Zombie Standard, based off of a discussion I had with a friend about House of the Dead 2. If you can accept the fact that a work of fiction has some unreal element (zombies), then you can't complain about anything else that is unreal (invisible zombies).
posted by filthy light thief at 10:55 AM on December 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


octothorpe: "Wow, did this thread get derailed quickly."
So the batman video -- one guy did all three characters. Not bad.
posted by boo_radley at 10:55 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


yeahbut: once you get to "combined with a form of fusion" it's like, what are we doing with these dudes in sacs? Cause fusion, man. Fusion.

The oyster sauce really helps with the vat-grown flesh. We'll do lunch sometime. I know a place.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:55 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


People, people, people... The human battery explanation for the Matrix is just window dressing for the much darker truth. The vats were giant human farms to feed insatiable computer lust for man meat caused by people's use of the internet to download pornography. The simulation created a fatter human calf ala veal.
posted by drezdn at 10:58 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


My favourite takedown of The Dark Knight's various implausibilities* can be found here, courtesy of richochet biscuit.

* Don't get me wrong, I more or less enjoyed the film on a popcorn level, but when I started reading stuff about how it was the best movie of the decade and had all sorts of super-deep shit to say about the human condition and the WAR ON TERROR I wasn't buying it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:58 AM on December 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


Unless the virtual world were itself... like the Ring or Snowcrash...

Why doesn't anyone ever listen to Hiro Protagonist?
posted by rokusan at 10:59 AM on December 9, 2009


SOLID rhyme and meter.* But it's the voice acting that really makes this awesome. A funny BaleBatman "swear to meeeee" voice is absolutely prerequisite, but the pitch-perfect additions of CockneyAlfred and Joker were like unexpected Christmas presents that were just what I didn't know I'd always wanted from a Batman parody video. They made me so very happy. A+++ WOULD CLICK AGAIN

* I swear, my kingdom for a Greasemonkey script that will analyze these factors BEFORE I click on the next goddamned "here's a rap i made about my hometown" video. Barf.
posted by unregistered_animagus at 11:00 AM on December 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


And also? Could, like, batman take an agent?
posted by boo_radley at 11:00 AM on December 9, 2009


The Dark Knight is okay, but it's no Batman: The Animated Series.
posted by Artw at 11:01 AM on December 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


Like, for a coffee?
posted by ODiV at 11:01 AM on December 9, 2009


...also, what boo_radley said. One guy! For real! ((applauds, watches it again))
posted by unregistered_animagus at 11:02 AM on December 9, 2009


I'm glad I'm not the only person who left the theatre asking why Lucius Fox was totally jake with aiding and abetting Bruce Wayne in kidnapping and extraditing a foreign national from halfway around the world, but then completely can't handle the awesome power of Batman having sonar.

Sonar? I thought the disagreement was that Bruce/Batman wanted to wiretap the entire city, with a heavy implication that it might not be temporary, as a relatively ham-fisted reference to then-President Bush.

Kidnapping and extraditing a foreign national? Why should he be worried about that? The dude was known guilty, but he was out of the jurisdiction of the judicial system. That's precisely what vigilantes (read: Batmen) do, right wrongs that the law cannot otherwise touch or catch. It's not like he grabbed the Queen of England on a hunch.

Snagging a known villain who is thumbing his nose at the law by crossing national boundaries and wiretapping an entire city and invading the privacy of innocent civilians are two entirely different moral situations. It didn't seem like a plot-hole at all.
posted by explosion at 11:03 AM on December 9, 2009 [8 favorites]


Wow, did this thread get derailed quickly.
posted by octothorpe


I prefer these nerdy derails over the politically charged angry ones. They both end in tears, but it's funnier sadder funnier when it's over Matrix instead of, say, Israel.

For what it's worth, the guy doing Joker's voice is absolutely spot on with his impersonation.
posted by slimepuppy at 11:05 AM on December 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Card Cheat, the screenplay had a lot of buzz even before Ledger's unfortunate publicity angle. It's hard to separate what I know now from what I knew then, but if I recall correctly it was because the structure was unexpectedly tight (despite the running time) and it was even darker than expected. I do remember, too, that it was presented to me as "it's about relentlessness." which is hard to get out of my head when seeing the film now. I'm not sure I agree, but it's in my head now.

The War on Terror buzz was because at the time, it was seen in some circles as unusually brave/crazy to attack or mock the USA's illegal surveillance apparatus: the movie shoved the wrongness of it at the audience by having one of America's Most Trusted Voices™ tell us how wrong it was. Big Budget Hollywood hadn't taken an anti-government stance much in recent times. This was unusual, and I think a lot of folks anticipating a "comic book" story didn't expect it.

Yes, it came off as heavy-handed, but that was the source of some of the (pre-release, pre-Ledger) buzz, anyway.
posted by rokusan at 11:05 AM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's not like he grabbed the Queen of England on a hunch.

No, that was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Or perhaps Team Venture.
posted by rokusan at 11:07 AM on December 9, 2009


The existence of humans in the Matrix movies makes no sense whatsoever. The batteries line? Preposterous. Need distributed computing? Build more computers. The only thing that makes a tiny bit of sense is if the humans are also all simulations, and the whole "real world/Zion" thing is a release valve designed to capture those who figure out the simulation, somehow (although why you wouldn't just delete them and edit the rest to make it like they were never there is beyond me). This is supported by Neo's ability in the second movie to fuck up the Sentinels in the real world, which is handwaved away by the Oracle's line, "The power of the One extends beyond the Matrix." wtf. Purpose of the simulation? Who knows. None of this shit is in the movies, and the second and third (the third most egregiously) squandered the potential of the first.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:07 AM on December 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


filthy light thief: "If you can accept the fact that a work of fiction has some unreal element (zombies), then you can't complain about anything else that is unreal (invisible zombies)."

Not the same. Zombies and invisible zombies are both fantastical elements, and yeah, you have to accept both if you accept one. Lucius Fox's reaction is an emotional element, which always needs to be believable (which I think it was).
posted by Roman Graves at 11:08 AM on December 9, 2009


Actually, one thing that would make a little (movie/SF) sense is if the computers aren't actually conscious and need the human "machines" to add that certain je ne sais quoi to their operation.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:09 AM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I kept waiting for the Matrix secret to be that humans were necessary as 'batteries' in order to provide imagination, whose random firings and illogical leaps couldn't be simulated by computers.

Maybe it'll be there in the Disney remake.
posted by rokusan at 11:10 AM on December 9, 2009


The original plot of the Matrix was pretty close to the server farm idea, but it was not the server farm idea because it was that the "Architect's name was GOD, the "Oracle" was called THE HOLY SPIRIT, and "Neo" was called JESUS CHRIST. And the both the server farm and battery ideas are these things called METAPHORS for the fact that, powerful as they may be, supernatural entities are created by humans and depend on human attention and belief in order to exist themselves.

Now there were a lot of different stories told about these three characters starting a couple of thousand years ago, and the particular story told in The Matrix isn't the one everybody knows today. In this version there is a nifty solution to the plot hole called THE PROBLEM OF EVIL which plagues the more popular version; in The Matrix it is observed that the Universe is full of evil because GOD is either EVIL or INSANE. (The Matrix is kind of middling on this distinction.) In this story GOD has trapped us in a cruel illusion called the MatrixBLACK IRON PRISON, and the goal of spiritual development is to escape from the limitations forced upon us by this illusion.

Versions of Christianity which took this tack were called GNOSTICISM. They also tended to emphasize that you can only escape the Black Iron Prison by meeting the Oraclebeing touched by the Holy Spirit firsthand, an event they called the GNOSIS. YOU CAN'T BE TOLD ABOUT THE MATRIXGNOSIS, YOU MUST EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF. Imagine that.

So to me the only really glaring plot hole in the Matrix is that they CHANGED THE ENDING, because in the original version JESUS OBVIOUSLY FAILED, because we are all still trapped in the Matrix and very few of us know it. And that's the problem with audiences today, they get all pissy when you give 'em a sad ending even when it's more artistically appropriate.
posted by localroger at 11:10 AM on December 9, 2009 [43 favorites]


If you can accept the fact that a work of fiction has some unreal element (zombies), then you can't complain about anything else that is unreal (invisible zombies).

This is bogus logic. All good fiction, speculative or otherwise, requires that its writer weave various "untrue" elements toward a whole that is "believable" within its own inherent rules. Magicians call this "sleight of hand". If the writer starts lobbing exploding penguins into the scenario (or whatever) because they somehow help him resolve some narrative strands regardless of their "what-the-fuck!" factor, then he's a hack.
posted by philip-random at 11:13 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


So what you're saying, localroger, is that Philip K Dick wrote the first draft of the Matrix?
posted by drezdn at 11:16 AM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is also quite funny
posted by criticalbill at 11:17 AM on December 9, 2009


Yes, they were batteries. BUT NOT ELECTRICAL BATTERIES.

Think about it!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:19 AM on December 9, 2009


I loved The Matrix. When I saw the second movie, I did not like it very much. It ended with Neo stopping those machines with his mind outside the matrix. I think they called them "sentinels" or something. Anyway, he stopped them and then collapsed.

At the end of the movie I thought, "Fantastic! He is able to stop them with his mind because he is in another matrix! This reality that Morpheus and Neo think they are in is really just another matrix!" I thought this would raise the question: How can they ever know if they are not just in another matrix? I wondered how many levels of the matrix there might be. I was pretty excited about the third movie.

However, I knew there was a chance that Neo stopped those things not because it was another level of the matrix that he had figured out, but because he was a Jesus-like figure.

Needless to say, I hated the third movie.
posted by flarbuse at 11:22 AM on December 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


Joker: "Do I really look like a guy with a plan?"

Then he demonstrates roughly 75 intricate plans.
posted by notmydesk at 11:25 AM on December 9, 2009 [6 favorites]


MetaFilter: regrettable with brief moments of entertainment.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:26 AM on December 9, 2009


Batman jamming on an electric guitar atop a cathedral. Awesome.
posted by bstreep at 11:28 AM on December 9, 2009


Here is the problem with The Matrix.

NEO: This is fantastic! We're super-strong here...we can fly...we can do kung-fu!

MORPHEUS: Yes. We're leaving.

TRINITY: Blowin' this pop stand, baby.

THAT GUY WHO WAS ON THE SOPRANOS: Totes.

NEO: Wh...what? WHY? We can do ANYTHING here! Yeah, the agents are a drag, but you guys all just saw me kick their ass. I kicked their ass!

MORPHEUS: But none of it is REAL, Neo.

NEO: It feels pretty real, actually.

MORPHEUS: No. When you have experienced REAL reality, Neo, you will never look back.

NEO: You guys must do something pretty amazing there, if it beats this.

TRINITY: We hang out with hippies and go to raves.

MORPHEUS: And we live on a cramped spaceship.

MOUSE: It smells like crap! You're gonna love it!

NEO: Uh...wow, guys, that all sounds awesome, but couldn't we also do those things in the Matrix, as well as things that are actually kinda cool?

THE END
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:29 AM on December 9, 2009 [18 favorites]


Yes, they were batteries. BUT NOT ELECTRICAL BATTERIES.

Exactly. They were one giant drum kit. Which the Joker played. Because he had no plan. Except for his plan. Or something.
posted by The World Famous at 11:31 AM on December 9, 2009


drezdn: So what you're saying, localroger, is that Philip K Dick wrote the first draft of the Matrix?

Of course. But the working title was Radio Free Albemuth.
posted by localroger at 11:32 AM on December 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


However, I knew there was a chance that Neo stopped those things not because it was another level of the matrix that he had figured out, but because he was a Jesus-like figure.

Quite awhile back, I was working on some ideas that were partly intended for a D&D campaign and partly for generating some fiction potential. In the D&D vein, my group was getting more and more interested in extreme high-level characters (we normally liked things pretty modest – nothing about 6th or 7th at most). I started thinking about how high-level characters might be, in one way or another, pretty fucked up. Maybe the cleric thinks of life and death as completely negotiable. The paladin starts having god delusions. And I wondered about an illusionist who started being able to “disbelieve” things that weren’t obviously illusions. Maybe not break the rules exactly, but bend them. I was just getting around to working out how this implicated the universe as simply an illusion cast by a vastly-high-level caster when the Matrix came out. Bah.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:32 AM on December 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


If you can accept the fact that a work of fiction has some unreal element (zombies), then you can't complain about anything else that is unreal (invisible zombies).

Every work of fiction has some unreal element; that's the very criterion which distinguishes "fiction" from "non-fiction"!

On the other hand, I'm not necessarily disagreeing with your thesis. Titanic would have been much better if they'd added zombies. And Forrest Gump would have gained a wonderful new sense of urgency for "Run, Forrest, run!!!"
posted by roystgnr at 11:32 AM on December 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


Batman jamming on an electric guitar atop a cathedral.

Actually you missed a great in-joke there. It's not a cathedral. It's Arkham Manor from the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game (which is made entirely of batarangs and awesome).
posted by The Bellman at 11:36 AM on December 9, 2009


philip-random just dissed Batman Returns and Tim Burton.

Well deservedly, too.
posted by ooga_booga at 11:36 AM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I dunno if it is a request by the director or a choice by performer, but Batman's "gargle-with-Ajax" voice is affected and grating.
posted by ricochet biscuit


I must defend the gargle. I cannot claim it is not grating, as that is a personal preference. But I am so pleased that he spoke in ANY voice besides "Bruce Wayne." It is INCREDIBLY rare to see any movie put any effort at all in disguising the main character's voice when they are supposed to be concealing their identity, and that is FAR more frustrating than a gargle. Also the claim that it is "affected" I don't quite understand because... um... it should be affected? It's Bruce Wayne putting on a voice to disguise himself. Batman is a character inside the movie, so he is literally putting on an affectation to hide his true identity.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:38 AM on December 9, 2009 [10 favorites]


GNOSIS

Wait, why are we talking about The Da Vinci Code now?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:41 AM on December 9, 2009


The thing that really annoyed me about The Dark Knight, was that "the kid in peril" is Gordon's son. Gordon's daughter doesn't even get a name. The hell? Who cares about Gordon's son?
posted by nooneyouknow at 11:43 AM on December 9, 2009


Remember the Simpsons episode where Lisa fears she has the Simpson gene that makes everyone in her family dumb? And all the male Simpsons are outside cheering each other as two of them charge at each other with pots on their heads?

That was pretty much the final fight scene in the last Matrix movie.
posted by Zaximus at 11:43 AM on December 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


What I liked best about the Matrix was when Mr. Smith explains to Neo that the Matrix was first constructed as a perfect paradise, but people couldn't handle it. They just couldn't wrap their brains around (literally and figuratively) the concept of a perfect world.

And that the traitor wants to be plugged back in, and be rich, and eat steak instead of the gruel that they have in real life, also rings true.

Because the problem with the perfect world is there is no schadenfreude, and there is no sense of superiority. We need to know that if we are suffering, someone else has it worse. Sad, but true.
posted by misha at 11:47 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


The thing that really annoyed me about The Dark Knight, was that "the kid in peril" is Gordon's son. Gordon's daughter doesn't even get a name. The hell? Who cares about Gordon's son?

Yeah, that made no sense to me. Isn't she Barbara? Isn't she going to be Batgirl one day?
posted by misha at 11:48 AM on December 9, 2009


That was pretty much the final fight scene in the last Matrix movie.

Haven't even seen Matrix-3 (or 2 for that matter) ... but now I almost want to.
posted by philip-random at 11:49 AM on December 9, 2009


I loved The Dark Knight and I loved this, too.
posted by Nattie at 11:53 AM on December 9, 2009


Haven't even seen Matrix-3 (or 2 for that matter) ... but now I almost want to.
posted by philip-random


Trust me, you don't. You're WAY better off. Though I guess I sortof like the first one more by comparison. So there's that.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:54 AM on December 9, 2009


Wasn't he listening to everyone's conversation at once? In essence, he had unlimited phone tapping power, becoming a singular Big Brother. Bringing a known criminal across country lines is nothing in comparison (also: he beats up a lot of bad guys, which is not allowed by police standards, from what I've learned by watching movies and TV).

Actually, he was (to my recollection) using some sort of feedback from all the phones and cell phones in the city to create images of what was around them -- basically, he turned every phone in the city into a huge sonar array that patched into his helmet. Which stemmed from Super Crazy Wiretap Power, but was a pretty big leap forward from it.

It's not Fox's reaction to Batman having Super Crazy Wiretap Power that I objected to, as much as the bizarre scaling of trust in Wayne's decision-making powers: yes, I trust you with a tank, yes, I trust you enough to equip you with gear and let you decide on a person-by-person basis who to beat the living shit out of based on nothing but your instincts, yes, I trust you to violate international law, blow up a building and kidnap a man, yes, I trust you enough not to turn you in when there's compelling evidence you've murdered somebody, and yes, I trust you to watch as you blow a billion dollars on a psychotic one-man "war on crime" using funds that could have bought Gotham, razed it to the ground and built a nicer city in its place, but holy shit, wiretapping? A BRIDGE TOO FAR, WAYNE!
posted by Shepherd at 12:01 PM on December 9, 2009 [12 favorites]


I think that the first Matrix movie is absurdly over-rated, but it's a work of genius compared to the sequels.
posted by brundlefly at 12:08 PM on December 9, 2009


You people keep this up and Warner will release a "Batman Vs. The Matrix" prequel (they do own both franchises).
posted by Burhanistan at 12:13 PM on December 9, 2009


"A incredible amount of people missed simple details like the fact that the Joker switched Dent and Rachel's locations"

Whereas I totally missed that they had switched Rachels. "Oh, that's the same character?"
posted by Eideteker at 12:18 PM on December 9, 2009


You people keep this up and Warner will release a "Batman Vs. The Matrix" prequel (they do own both franchises).

D-:
posted by adamdschneider at 12:22 PM on December 9, 2009


Actually, now that I think about it, a Batman vs Matrix prequel could be really good (relatively speaking). Years before Neo, Batman starts unraveling a conspiracy that leads him right up to the edge of discovering the Matrix and the truth about human existence, after a solid 90 minutes of ass-kicking, of course. It could play on long standing themes about Batman's self-made status versus Neo being "chosen", and how that will ultimately limit just how far Batman can see into the Matrix. Eventually, it would end with Batman making the decision to keep quiet about the Matrix since he is so bound to his identity as both a billionaire and a dark superhero that he can't bring himself to wake up.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:23 PM on December 9, 2009


All rights reserved.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:23 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just want to say something to the henchmen standing there while the Joker is there talking about whatever in front of the big pile of money. SHOOT HIM IN THE BACK!
posted by ODiV at 12:26 PM on December 9, 2009


Years before Neo, Batman starts unraveling a conspiracy that leads him right up to the edge of discovering the Matrix and the truth about human existence, after a solid 90 minutes of ass-kicking, of course. It could play on long standing themes about Batman's self-made status versus Neo being "chosen", and how that will ultimately limit just how far Batman can see into the Matrix. Eventually, it would end with Batman making the decision to keep quiet about the Matrix since he is so bound to his identity as both a billionaire and a dark superhero that he can't bring himself to wake up.

... and it turns out Batman was a ghost - he was dead the entire time!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:27 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


You people keep this up and Warner will release a "Batman Vs. The Matrix" prequel (they do own both franchises).

It's actually going to be a pre-prequel, which takes place in a time before Bruce Wayne's parents were killed and before the Matrix was created. It will be a re-make of Gone With The Wind, but it will be called "The BatMatrix 0.25: Atlanta Burning" starring Christian Bale as Suellen and Keanu Reeves as Jor-El. There will, of course, be a giant mechanical spider with flame throwers, which will be played by a CGI version of Michael Caine.
posted by The World Famous at 12:27 PM on December 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


Burhanistan: You people keep this up and Warner will release a "Batman Vs. The Matrix" prequel (they do own both franchises).

I totally see this happening. It will be set in a jumpstarted alternate reality version of the Terminator universe.
posted by localroger at 12:31 PM on December 9, 2009


Whereas I totally missed that they had switched Rachels. "Oh, that's the same character?"

If you pay attention, there's this scene at the beginning that is basically Bruce watching Rachel (new actress) on a computer monitor. Alfred shows up and says something like, "Who is that? Are you keeping tabs on RACHEL DAWES?" And then Bruce says,"Why yes, I am. I am watching RACHEL DAWES right now. There she is. It's RACHEL DAWES."

Or pretty close to that, at least. I'm convinced that whole point of that was to show that they had, in fact, gotten a new Rachel.



Which brings me to my question about the Joker switch Rachel and Dent's locations. Wasn't the whole reason Harvey Dent went on his crazy Two Face killing spree because he was upset that Batman saved him instead of Rachel? It's like the whole second half of the movie could have been avoided if Bruce would have just grumbled at Dent "Oh, hey Harvey. Fancy seeing you here...the Joker said Rachel was here. Thought you'd want me to get her first, you know."
posted by niles at 12:36 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whereas I totally missed that they had switched Rachels. "Oh, that's the same character?"
posted by Eideteker


And co-starring, Anyonebutkatieholmes!

Seriously, I looked at the first DVD box and it doesn't even mention she's in it.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:38 PM on December 9, 2009


haveanicesummer: And co-starring, Anyonebutkatieholmes!

Come to think of it, Tom Cruise would make a pretty good Hush.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:43 PM on December 9, 2009


The Joker always had a plan. Every time he ever shows up he's got an overly complex plan. He intentionally cultivates an image of someone who doesn't have a plan, a happy go-lucky madman, but really, his madness has always seemed to me an obsessive-compulsive brand of psychopathy.

Why not just burn the fucking food you're feeding everyone, use the heat generated to drive steam turbines, and get rid of the inefficient biothermal devices (the people, I mean) altogether?

Cells are not inefficient biothermal devices. People are or aren't, depending on their output. If the machines were really harvesting their brain activity though, I think it would be unfair to call them inefficient as well.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 12:52 PM on December 9, 2009


FFS, you can yammer on about the Matrix and batteries and stuff over here.

As for this video, it's just self-indulgent wankery. I agree that the ferry setup required a significant suspension of disbelief, but so many of their gripes are easily addressed:

Batman's voice: He's either doing it himself, or (more likely) using an electronic box hidden in the neck of his cowl to disguise it. Otherwise you've got a masked vigilante who sounds an awful lot like one of Gotham's most famous residents.

Batman taking the blame for the murders: This was one of the major themes of the movie. Were you even paying attention? Harvey Dent was the "White Knight", seen as an unimpeachable force of good. The public never knew him as Two-Face. Better, in Batman's view, to preserve his memory that way to give Gotham a hero (even a dead one) to look up to. From a logic standpoint, you can make the case for pinning the murders on the Joker, but thematically it makes perfect sense.

Lucius Fox resigning: As others have noted, he was objecting to having the ability to tap into every civilian's phone line. You can easily make the argument that he's OK with the various vehicles and gadgets because they only involve Batman, criminals, and people he's trying to save. The surveillance/sonar gambit essentially roped in the entire city without the knowledge, much less will.

Harvey Dent turning evil: I dunno, 3rd-Degree burns on your face might lead to some brain damage, and he was enraged by the fact that all the best efforts of the city could not save Rachel because of a simple twist.

(I thought The Dark Knight was the best comic book movie of the past decade)
posted by mkultra at 1:01 PM on December 9, 2009 [6 favorites]


I liked the second two Matrix movies, flawed as they were - particularly the Architect's speech. I mean, come on that was ballsy.

I think this guy nails what the Bro's were trying to do - much as localroger outlines above.

They just didn't quite have the film-making chops to make it into two movies that were as entertaining as the first.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:03 PM on December 9, 2009


Or any ability to make movies quite as entertaining as their first two. It's all a bit of a shame really.
posted by Artw at 1:07 PM on December 9, 2009


I've come up with something I call the Invisible Zombie Standard

The IZS is kind of wrong though. I think it may have been Chekhov (the playwright, you nerds) who said "You may ask your audience to believe the impossible, but not the merely improbable."

The only thing that makes a tiny bit of sense is if the humans are also all simulations, and the whole "real world/Zion" thing is a release valve designed to capture those who figure out the simulation, somehow

That was always my theory. They're always talking about control; Zion is just another layer of control, allowing those who always have to rebel a place to do so that doesn't affect the machines' plans (if the machines are real, and they're not just some boogeyman dreamed up by the Evil Genius who created the whole simulation).
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:09 PM on December 9, 2009


Batman taking the blame for the murders: This was one of the major themes of the movie. Were you even paying attention? Harvey Dent was the "White Knight", seen as an unimpeachable force of good. The public never knew him as Two-Face. Better, in Batman's view, to preserve his memory that way to give Gotham a hero (even a dead one) to look up to. From a logic standpoint, you can make the case for pinning the murders on the Joker, but thematically it makes perfect sense.

It was a major theme that seriously makes no sense. You're explaining it perfectly. And it makes no sense.

The surveillance/sonar gambit essentially roped in the entire city without the knowledge, much less will.

It was a ham-fisted critique of Post-9/11 America that didn't work very well.
posted by The World Famous at 1:10 PM on December 9, 2009


niles, I'm taking full responsibility. I couldn't remember the character's name. They said RACHEL RACHEL RACHEL like it was an episode of friends, but I kept going, "Who the fuck is Rachel and why am I supposed to know her?" Until I had my epiphany. I could've done my geek-homework, but the movie was so hyped that I wanted to stay away from any and all information about it. I was expecting Katie Holmes (not that I knew her name before this thread... so THAT's the chick who married Tom Cruise!) to be, y'know, Katie Holmes.

As for Neo stopping the Sentinels, I thought it meant that he had not just accessed the Matrix programming, but the control network for The Machines.
posted by Eideteker at 1:13 PM on December 9, 2009


Lanna Wachowski (formerly Larry) does seem to have used his Matrix monies to perfect a mid-90s Riot Grrl look though. I'm pretty sure the whole inability-to-make-decent-movies-anymore thing doesn't bother them too much.
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on December 9, 2009


If the writer starts lobbing exploding penguins into the scenario

So, uh, what exactly do we have against Prinnies?
posted by explosion at 1:18 PM on December 9, 2009


I'm not sure what's up with all the hipster hate in here for The Dark Knight and The Matrix. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was blown away by both movies when I saw them and I have now read 2 dozen comments about minute details of the plot that have had absolutaly no impact on how refreashing each of these films felt. Both of these are easily a head above a mediocre film and a head, neck, torso, and crotch above many of the bad films i've seen.

The Matrix is one of the best 5-10 best movies of the 90s and began for me what has become a decade long love of sci-fi. The Dark Knight is easily the best comic book/superhero film I've ever seen and is probably the closest i've ever seen a film come to the natural flow of a graphic novel with its multiple climaxs and resolutions.

Now perhaps its annoying for you to hear people naming the film as the best of the year or the decade or whatever. But that likely says more about you than it does the film. I've never understood the annoyance that comes with films that attempt to bring a level of depth to what would otherwise just be blockbuster film. Personally I would rather that people raise the bar on what is standard fare at the movieplace than make an incredibly deep and poignent film that less than 50,000 people see worldwide. Eventually that leads to people desiring more complex/dark/compelling stories being fed to the masses which would push the bar even higher and throw more money at artists doing the best work in the industry.
posted by trojanhorse at 1:19 PM on December 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


> On the other hand, I'm not necessarily disagreeing with your thesis. Titanic would have been much better if they'd added zombies. And Forrest Gump would have gained a wonderful new sense of urgency for "Run, Forrest, run!!!"

They did have zombies. Invisible zombies.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 1:24 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I, too, have been told that I Just Didn't GET It because I didn't think The Dark Knight was anything special. Though I performed the additional heresy of not thinking much of Heath Ledger's Joker either.
posted by Legomancer at 1:26 PM on December 9, 2009


Actually, now that I think about it, a Batman vs Matrix prequel could be really good (relatively speaking).

I'd argue that they already did it, and it was good.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:26 PM on December 9, 2009


One of the things that annoyed me about The Dark Knight Starship Troopers was that fans who learn I am indifferent towards the movie tell me I Just Didn't Get It. No, I understood it fine and I still didn't think much of it. It was an overlong, overloud, subpar movie with one impressive performance and a whole lot of twaddle, but as with Pink Floyd or The Matrix or Scientology, enthusiasts tell me that anyone who does not express admiration for it does so through ignorance.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:26 PM on December 9, 2009


There's a pretty easy answer to the whole Matrix human-battery thing, as long as you don't mind augmenting the trilogy's handwavy philosophizing about the nature of free will and the human soul. What the machines really discovered was the physical nature of the soul.

Modern science operates under the assumption that human behavior is just an overwhelmingly complex series of chemical reactions... but religions and philosophy refer to a stimulus beyond that, an entity ("soul") that receives our sensory inputs and reactively guides those chemical processes in a way we describe as "choice".

But if the soul can actually affect chemical processes, it must do so with the input of energy. Since we don't currently have the vocabulary to even describe the soul thermodynamically (let alone quantify it), it's well within fictional possibility that it operates at near-perfect efficiency or even violates the laws of thermodynamics and acts as a net energy input to our universe.

This theory kinda gets borne out by Colonel Sanders Basil Exposition the Architect in the second movie. The Architect does not understand the nature of the soul, so he believed he could tap the net energy output of "choice" in its entirety. Creating a perfect matrix where people are blissful and thus have no choice caused a systemic collapse. It took the Oracle to realize that the soul needed some choice or else it would reject its fusion with the matrix, "even if they were only aware of the choice on a near-unconscious level". Essentially, the Architect was able to isolate the energy output of the soul, but the Oracle ("an intuitive program... created to investigate certain aspects of the human psyche") was the one able to utilize and optimize that energy. Essentially, every soul in the matrix was given only one choice through their entire life, though most were unaware of it: should they take the red pill, or the blue pill?

Thus, the machines were able to reallocate "soul energy" on a person-by-person basis. However, the nature of that rebalancing led to a small minority of redpills (Zion), and one ultimate outlier in each iteration of the matrix: the anomaly known as the One. Whereas redpills would be able to maintain various levels of control over their own souls even within the matrix, there would be an inevitable probability of an individual with phenomenally high soul utility, a result of "the equation rebalancing itself". This individual would singlehandedly offset the millions or billions of humans with almost no use of their soul, bringing the mean soul usage back to non-matrix levels.

This individual would consequently be a net energy loss for the machines, which is why his or her ascension would herald the end of any particular iteration of the matrix. It's also possible (but even more speculative than the rest of this claptrap) that Neo was able to manipulate that role into being almost a wireless antenna for soul-based energy. He could be inside the simulacra even when unplugged (such as in the train station), and he could act as a "ground" for soul energy employed by machines in the real world (destroying sentinels, though enacting a high physiological toll on himself in the process), and he could develop sensitivity to that energy beyond his normal senses (seeing Smith instead of Bane once he was blinded).

That explanation contradicts Morpheus's reference to the bioenergy output of the human body, but that's easily dismissed as part of the misinformation strategy employed by the machines through the Oracle (who may have had the best intentions for humanity but was nonetheless a part of The System and bound to obey her programming). They certainly wouldn't want humans to know the true nature of the machines' continued existence, since the humans might be able to deduce the rest of it (previous Zions, the One) and use that information to break the cycle once and for all.

So that's my beanplating. I'm with the rest of the planet in thinking the first movie was the best of the three... it was the most original, and didn't require nearly as many mental gymnastics to defend it. However, I think the philosophy of the trilogy as a whole is pretty close to solid.

Plus, there are explosions and evil twins who can walk through walls and bullet-time and Monica Bellucci in preposterously revealing outfits. So there's that.

Any discussion of The Dark Knight's plot holes that doesn't mention WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED AT DENT'S FUNDRAISER ONCE BATMAN JUMPED OFF THE BUILDING? WHAT, DID THE JOKER JUST GIVE UP LOOKING FOR DENT? WHAT. THE. FUCK. NOLANS is not a good coverage of the topic.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:27 PM on December 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


Can someone clear up this nagging idea in my head that supposedly the second Matrix was supposed to be a prequel, but the execs told the Wachowskis that they had to use the same star power as the first one. Which would make no sense in a prequel. So instead we got a second movie with a nerfed Neo who has long drawn out fights and a chase scene that lasts half the movie. What we did get was a couple of short animations. True, false? Links? Anyone?
posted by P.o.B. at 1:35 PM on December 9, 2009


Titanic would have been much better if they'd added zombies. And Forrest Gump

I AM A ZOMBIE AND I LOVED THOSE MOVIES.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:36 PM on December 9, 2009


When I first heard they were making two more, P.o.B. I heard that one was to be a prequel and one a sequel. I can't remember where I got it from though, but it sounds like we had the same information.
posted by ODiV at 1:37 PM on December 9, 2009


"What the machines really discovered was the physical nature of the soul."

EJECT! EJECT!
posted by Artw at 1:42 PM on December 9, 2009


The biggest plothole in Batman is where does he get those wonderful toys?
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:49 PM on December 9, 2009


It was a major theme that seriously makes no sense. You're explaining it perfectly. And it makes no sense.

It does, actually. Gotham went to shit sometime before Bruce's return in Batman Begins. Bruce, Lucius and Alfred (kind of) create the Batman persona in order to combat this, which works, kind of, but has the unintended side effect of inspiring people to take up costumes and vigilanteism themselves, or else costumes and villainy. Harvey Dent shows up, brilliant and spotless and also pretty thirsty for the limelight, and is able to do much more good than Batman can, and also do it out in the open. The Joker is basically successful at exploiting the secret-identity aspect of Batman, which is kind of a problem.

So when Harvey becomes Two-Face, and subsequently dies after a few murders without anyone really making the connection, it makes sense for Bruce to decide that the image of the man who gave Gotham hope of fighting crime out in the open and through legitimate means is more important than the symbol of the character who was fighting through vigilante methods in the shadows and causing a lot of unintended consequences while doing so. Batman can still be effective even if people see him as a villain - perhaps more so, and it's not like it harms Bruce Wayne any. What Harvey Dent was doing before snapping falls to pieces once the truth about Two-Face gets out. That's why it ended the way it did.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:49 PM on December 9, 2009 [8 favorites]


P.o.b. you just took a perfectly good comment and ruined it by replacing The Dark Knight (an over-raved-about okay movie) with Starship Troopers, one of the great undervalued sci-fi epics ever. If it didn't deeply creep you out with it's have-it-both-ways satirical fascism at the same time it was wowing you with its awe inspiring action + explosions, then ... ummm, you're not me.

.... and while I'm at it, I must take issue with:

but as with Pink Floyd or The Matrix or Scientology, enthusiasts tell me that anyone who does not express admiration for it does so through ignorance.

If the Pink Floyd being referred to here includes their Syd Barrett-through-Meddle era, the commenter really is ignorant and probably could use a Free Personality Test.
posted by philip-random at 1:52 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what's up with all the hipster hate in here for The Dark Knight and The Matrix. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was blown away by both movies when I saw them and I have now read 2 dozen comments about minute details of the plot that have had absolutaly no impact on how refreashing each of these films felt.

I know I'm about to blow your mind here, but some people, whom you apparently call "hipsters," can actually enjoy and appreciate a movie as a well-crafted piece of engaging entertainment, and identify structural or logical flaws in the movie they enjoyed, and engage in active conversations about those flaws, taking contrary positions.

They gather, like tiny floating flowers, these discrete things -- enjoyment of the film, interest in its flaws, the desire to discuss these flaws -- they gather them and can hold them simultaneously. These rarified and glorious beings, these "hipsters," are gloriously capable of both liking a movie and disparaging its excesses at the same time.

Who dares raise their fist to the heavens and say "I can both enjoy an experience, and examine its flaws without diminishing my enjoyment of that experience, and in fact enjoy that dissection?" Who rides that mental lightning, quicksilver-quick between the exultation of fandom and the grinding ardor of the pedant? Who boldly plunges one fist into the red-hot sands of appreciation, and the other into the ice-cold waters of analysis?

This is the power of the "hipster" you speak of. That is their blessing. That is their curse.

Fear the "hipster," and hold it in awe, for the "hipster" contains multitudes.
posted by Shepherd at 1:53 PM on December 9, 2009 [14 favorites]


I'm not sure what's up with all the hipster hate in here for The Dark Knight and The Matrix.

Why is it necessarily "hipster" hate? What does this even mean?

Now perhaps its annoying for you to hear people naming the film as the best of the year or the decade or whatever. But that likely says more about you than it does the film. I've never understood the annoyance that comes with films that attempt to bring a level of depth to what would otherwise just be blockbuster film.

What annoyed me, personally, wasn't a minor plot point by any means. And as I said, I found it visually stunning and liked the overall message. I do think, though, that when a movie aspires to be something and fails at it, it can and does inspire annoyance. I don't understand your confusion. If a movie tried to be funny, but was juvenile; if it tried to be touching, but was saccharine; and yes, if it tried to be deep, but was just confused and half-baked, then people are rightly going to be irked by these movies.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:56 PM on December 9, 2009


This is the power of the "hipster" you speak of. That is their blessing. That is their curse.

I'm not so sure about that. Wouldn't a hipster do the opposite of what you're talking about and have nothing but positive things to say about something he hates?

Or something?
posted by ODiV at 1:59 PM on December 9, 2009


"Hipster" is more and more becoming the canvas upon which we paint people that bug us. I don't even think you need to wear hightop Reeboks anymore to qualify.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:02 PM on December 9, 2009


I'm not so sure about that. Wouldn't a hipster do the opposite of what you're talking about and have nothing but positive things to say about something he hates?

Maybe in 2007, but "hipster" now seems to be shorthand for "people that say smart stuff I don't like," so I've basically given up trying to figure out what it means, and now I just mock the shit out of people that use the term.

On preview, what MStPT said.
posted by Shepherd at 2:05 PM on December 9, 2009


Creepy have-it-both-ways satirical fascism is fucking awesome!
posted by Artw at 2:08 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I believe the same thing happened with The Matrix as happened with Star Wars: it was a one-off movie, and when the studios backed a dumptruck of money up to their house, they said "Sure I can make a sequel! In fact, I can make a trilogy." There are too many inconsistencies between the individual movies for me to believe that they were conceived as a trilogy from the get-go.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:08 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


There were only two Matrix movies, the good one and the bad one. The "sequels" were written and shot at the same time, and it shows. It's one long muddle.
posted by rokusan at 2:18 PM on December 9, 2009


Say what you want about The Dark Knight: it's still orders of magnitude better than Batman Begins. That's what happens when you let David Goyer near a screenplay, people.
posted by Amanojaku at 2:37 PM on December 9, 2009


Dark Knight: The image of Harvey as the hero was important, since early in the film, we see the people inspired by Batman: losers with hockey pads toting shotguns. Batman was inspiring Gotham, yes, but with lots of negative baggage. The city, on the other hand "believed in Harvey Dent." Gotham had a symbol to live up to, someone who was making the city better in the way it should be made better (within the law, nonviolently, etc, etc), rather than Batman's ridiculous way of violating every right imaginable. If kids look up to Batman, rather than Harvey Dent, recess is going to get a lot uglier, to say the least.

As for Harvey going Two-Face, well, he was a freaking psychopath. It's shown in the movie that underneath the smile and charm, he held some pretty vile views. It's not the first time a public servant adored by many turns out to be a creep. As he said, in a melodramatic way a touch excessive for the first time you meet someone, you die a hero or live long enough to become the villain, or in other words, you live long enough for people to realize you're actually a shitty person. He was pretty far gone, then Rachel died, and he was pretty horribly messed up. It's not like it came out of the blue.

The bat-voice was a conscious decision by Nolan, and not a good one. Bale growled, then they went back and used all sorts of software to modify the voice. While I am T-Pain is a great app, I'd love an I am Batman app. You could call it "You're SCUM WHO KILLS FOR MONEY." It'd sell millions. HONEY, I JUST CALLED TO REMIND YOU TO GET SOME EGGS. WHERE"S HARVEY DENT?

In the Matrix, the Architect does say that the humans as batteries "alive" in the Matrix are a better source of power than lobotomized humans. When Neo says that the machines need humans to live, the Architect says something along the lines of "There are levels of survival we are willing to accept," which I took to mean that the Machines, in order to deal with the problem in their equation, would take less power, as long as it meant the equation was finally free of error.

As for burning the 'food' for the people for energy, the people were the food. The people who died were ground up, liquified, and fed to other inhabitants of the Matrix. You could probably argue that the battery thing used people up fast enough to use corpses as a ready supply of food.

Nerd rage almost spent, hold on:

Neo can stop things in the 'real' world because he's from the machine world. All of the Ones are sent from the machine world into the Matrix, deposited into a body. It's to balance out the equation (whatever that was supposed to mean, really). That's why we had the subplot with Sati. She's the new 'One' with the power to alter the Matrix. We meet her as she's being shuttled by her parents (programs) to the Matrix to occupy a real body. The same thing happened to Neo and, apparently, six or seven others. Hence the ability to stop the sentinels, to see computers and programs in the dark, but not Trinity as she lay dying.

Could it have been handled better? Oh, hell yes. I was just willing to listen to suspend my disbelief, but probably because I was being charitable. I liked the first movie so much, I wanted to like (and to some extent, do like) the sequels, so I was willing to accept the story I was being told.

Plus, up until District 9, the Matrix sequels had the hands down best robot-armor suits ever shown in a live action film. I remember seeing the previews for the sequels and seeing the APC's, and damn, if that wasn't nerd-heroin.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:44 PM on December 9, 2009


I'm going to have to watch the architect speech again (damn), but when I saw it the first time it seriously came off as some asshole feeding Neo a bunch of bullshit so he didn't get ripped apart.

I should probably give The Dark Knight another watch too.
posted by ODiV at 2:57 PM on December 9, 2009


The Architect scene. The only thing that really strikes me about it is that it seems marginally less pompous than it did when I originally saw it in a crowded theater.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:00 PM on December 9, 2009


Apparently 'hipster' is now the slur to replace 'academic' and 'elitist'.
posted by Think_Long at 3:09 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Architect Scene is a terrible scene, but Zion rave scenes are the worst scenes in Matrix sequels ever.
posted by Artw at 3:10 PM on December 9, 2009


I don't understand at all why the Rastafarian space colony - possibly the least inventive thing in Neuromancer - was so shamelessly ripped from Neuromancer. It's like breaking into a mansion to steal all the left foot socks.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:24 PM on December 9, 2009 [9 favorites]


And it was called Zion in Neuromancer too.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:25 PM on December 9, 2009


Batman also, for some reason, believes that everything the Joker says is 100% true.

Any fan of Super Friends knows that this superpower actually belongs to the Riddler, of course. It's amazing that he never left a clue indicating that his secret fortress was in the heart of an active volcano.
posted by EarBucket at 3:29 PM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


It wasn't like some hateful underground version of burning man in Neuromancer though.

Diamond Age has an underwater hippy gang-bang, when they film that it will be awesome.
posted by Artw at 3:30 PM on December 9, 2009


He wouldn't be called The Riddler if he did that. He'd be called The Utter Cock.
posted by Artw at 3:31 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Say what you want about The Dark Knight: it's still orders of magnitude better than Batman Begins.

What was great about Batman Begins was that the two villains were nothing but Batman's own demons - Ghoul's relentless pursuit of perfect justice, and Crane's Sleepy Hollows act, his grip on fear and psychosis. Batman might have become either one at any moment, had he stepped over some invisible line. Sure, the Joker does a better job of goading him to cross it, but only the first movie illustrates what he'd have become if he'd done so.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:37 PM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Creepy have-it-both-ways satirical fascism
posted by crayz at 4:27 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


My biggest Batproblem with The Dark Knight was it didn't live up to the Batstandard set by Batman & Robin.
posted by haveanicesummer at 4:42 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


One way that Batman Begins was better: It was set in Gotham. I'm not sure when Batman moved to Chicago, but the decision to abandon the world they created in the first movie was quite jarring, especially since unless you count the Skyway, there is no bridge and tunnel crowd in Chicago. And the ferries go to Michigan...
posted by Ghidorah at 4:46 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Holey rusty metal!

Oh, wait, that was Batman Forever. That one was not quite so bad, I guess.
posted by Artw at 4:47 PM on December 9, 2009


You know what would be awesome? If Bruce Timm did a feature length animantion in the style of this B:TAS Dark Knight Returns section.
posted by Artw at 4:51 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


What was great about Batman Begins was that the two villains were nothing but Batman's own demons - Ghoul's relentless pursuit of perfect justice, and Crane's Sleepy Hollows act, his grip on fear and psychosis. Batman might have become either one at any moment, had he stepped over some invisible line. Sure, the Joker does a better job of goading him to cross it, but only the first movie illustrates what he'd have become if he'd done so.

I'd practically written an essay saying the same when I saw this on preview; yours is better and more succinct. In large part because of the contrast/similarity established between Batman and his nemeses, Batman Begins and Dark Knight have emerged as much more than just superhero action flicks. I've read the Riddler will be in the next film and given that relationship the franchise may get darker yet.

That man's Michael Caine is spot on. I was listening to a podcast in which Stephen Fry, David Morissey and Mark Kermode were attempting to do Caine, none were as good as this guy.
posted by Partario at 4:52 PM on December 9, 2009


See also this abridged screenplay for TDK.
posted by milquetoast at 5:06 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


As for burning the 'food' for the people for energy, the people were the food. The people who died were ground up, liquified, and fed to other inhabitants of the Matrix.
Unfortunately, cannibalism is not a sustainable agricultural policy.

I mostly enjoyed The Dark Knight while watching it, but the Joker seemed less like a villain than a looney-tune. I actually started to have to suppress laughing as he got "darker" or whatever, because he was doing a live-action inversion of the road runner cartoon, where this time the coyote would magically turn out to be exactly where the road runner was speeding off to, each time with an ever more elaborate machine of death already set up.

What really bothered me was thinking about the movie afterwards. Here we had a completely motiveless, insane terrorist who can't be reasoned with, understood, or even predicted. He can pull off the most ludicrously impossible attacks more or less single-handedly (sometimes he had an army of infinitely replenishable goons, but I vaguely recall he filled an entire hospital with exploding drums on his own --undetected). The only way to stop him is to go to the dark side, and spy on everyone (seriously, that made no fucking sense). And the one guy who wanted to just use the normal laws to deal with everything? He was a coward and a psycho who in the end was just as bad as the terrorist himself. Ten years ago, I wouldn't care, but I feel like I live in a world where most people think The Dark Knight was a fucking documentary, and it bothers me.
posted by Humanzee at 5:08 PM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Roman Graves: Not the same. Zombies and invisible zombies are both fantastical elements, and yeah, you have to accept both if you accept one. Lucius Fox's reaction is an emotional element, which always needs to be believable (which I think it was).

I didn't mean that the IZS applied to Lucius Fox's reaction, but to the nitpicking of details once you've accepted the impossible.

dirtynumbangelboy: The IZS is kind of wrong though. I think it may have been Chekhov (the playwright, you nerds) who said "You may ask your audience to believe the impossible, but not the merely improbable."

In some instances, I agree with you. At other times, I would suggest you let go. IZS second level: the Earth Girl Arjuna Nuclear Reactor Standard. If you have accepted that a character can die, come back to life, and get all sorts of magical powers, don't complain that the nuclear reactor shouldn't blow up like that in the real world. Sure, in real life, there are safety mechanisms that would prevent a catastrophic explosion as in this series, but she frickin flies. (Some of my feelings on this matter are in response to this very question being outlined in detail.)

I embrace critical review of movies, I enjoy them, and I will chime in with my own nit-picking, but I'll be laughing the whole time. If the point of the fiction was to seem non-fictional, pick away. But once there is enough fantasy in the fiction, I'll let it all go. Reality in an action-packed comic book remake? Throw it out the window! If you distract me while I'm watching the movie, great. Mission accomplished. If someone points out that a whole series of events are put together in a highly shoddy way, yet I didn't notice it on the first go, I'll laugh at the movie on the second viewing, enjoying it on another level. Action movies aren't built to stand in reality, but to take you out of it.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:14 PM on December 9, 2009


And the one guy who wanted to just use the normal laws to deal with everything? He was a coward and a psycho who in the end was just as bad as the terrorist himself. Ten years ago, I wouldn't care, but I feel like I live in a world where most people think The Dark Knight was a fucking documentary, and it bothers me.

You've really gotta suspend pretty much everything (belief, common sense, morality) to make Batman work. He's a fascist who lives in a world where fascism works. The fact that he's so popular says so much about us and pretty much nothing about the character because the character is so one-dimensional that there's no hidden depths to plumb. Hell, there aren't even any unhidden depths. We love Batman because he represents a dark part in the back of our minds that really wishes we could dole out justice the way Batman does. That so many people don't consider that part of their mind particularly dark anymore says something awful about us, but Batman's always been Batman.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 5:17 PM on December 9, 2009


Saw Dark Knight with high hopes. Found it less lovable than the Tim Burton one, even if it was more faithful to the comics. I know, I'm a sentimental sap. I missed the Danny Elfman score, the surreal production design, the old Alfred, and the witty jokes in Batman '89. I didn't care for the new one's two-note Hans Zimmer score, the cop show feel, or Aaron Eckhart, or the warrantless wiretapping analogies, or pencils in people's eyes. But I guess I will try watching it a second time.
posted by Kirklander at 5:18 PM on December 9, 2009


If I've learned anything from this video, it's that I would absolutely watch an MST3K episode with Alfred, Batman, and Joker doing the riffing.
posted by greenland at 5:23 PM on December 9, 2009


The first thing you need to know about Batman is, The Batman is insane.
The second thing you need to know about Batman is, The Batman is insane.
The third thing... well you probably get the idea.

The first thing you need to know about the Matrix is, The Architect is insane.
The second thing... well, you probably get the idea.

It is easy to mistake the well-done portrayal of an insane character as poor plotting. The problem with insane people is that they don't do things that make sense, that's what makes them insane. And what is so compelling about insane characters is that this lack of sense is so readily accessible to us all. There but for the grace of the collapse of the state vector might any of us go.

Fiction that allows us to sense this cosmic void at the center of the human condition without actually falling into it is awe inspiring. Both the Dark Knight Batman movies and the Matrix movies (yes, I'll even generously include the sequels, though they're much more impressive through the lens of knowing they're Gnostic gospels) meet this criterion. As does the other unrelated movie I riffed on in the first two grafs.
posted by localroger at 5:33 PM on December 9, 2009


All I have to say is, their end-of-video promotional tactics were successful, because they were hilarious.
posted by ropeladder at 6:00 PM on December 9, 2009


My explanation for The Matrix is that Morpheus had it all wrong. People were not batteries, neither metaphorically or physically.

It's easier to understand if you've watched The Second Renaissance shorts from Animatrix, but the basic idea is that humans and intelligent machines couldn't peacefully coexist. Humanity wanted to exterminate every last machine.

What I guess happened is that the machines realized that if they were to survive, they had to get rid of humanity somehow. So they decided to create a prison - a prison that would house all of mankind. As an additional act of benevolence, they made the prison invisible - by placing people in the Matrix.

Then several hundred years passed, Zion got destroyed and rebuilt dozens of of times, and the original history got lost. Somewhere along the way someone theorized the battery story, and it stuck. Because nobody wants to face the truth that their ancestors were so bad and species-ist that the whole of humanity had to be sent to the world's largest padded cell.
posted by ymgve at 6:08 PM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


“Apparently 'hipster' is now the slur to replace 'academic' and 'elitist'.”

No, no, ‘The Hipster’ is a forgotten Batman villain along with Egghead and Bookworm and Marsha Queen of Diamonds. And then there’s Lucas "Snapper" Carr… but I digress

“You know, as I think of the "their brains were the computer" theory, the virtual world still makes no sense.”

I think they were trying to learn from humans. What it was about humans that kept them going and the Matrix was more or less an experiment along those lines. The flagrant disregard for basic thermodynamics (as mr.roboto says “Why not just burn the fucking food you're feeding everyone, use the heat generated to drive steam turbines, and get rid of the inefficient biothermal devices (the people, I mean) altogether?”) I have no clue on. Not ‘food’ and ‘burn’ specifically but ‘use other more efficient methods of energy production like, say, this ‘fusion’ you mention.”

Although the battery explanation, I like to theorize, is disinformation from the machines. Morpheus just picks it up because human intellectual advancement had, purposefully, stagnated. E.g. no new ships were being built.
Of course, the Joker uses this all the time. And misdirection. Which films have a real hard time with. It’s rare you see anyone lie in a film where you don’t know immediately they’re lying. And indeed, the untrustworthy narrator is a plot twist in and of itself (Memento comes to mind).

“It was a major theme that seriously makes no sense. You're explaining it perfectly. And it makes no sense.”
From the Onion: “FDR: Why Does Our Joyless President Never Dance?”

For the slow – there was essentially a mass agreement, a conspiracy if you will, to show FDR as being healthy, strong, and importantly not, y’know, confined to a wheelchair.
This went on with JFK as well who was a pretty sick man. While there is some selfishness involved in preserving one’s own image – if one is a sort of icon, other folks tend to get on board as well. Actually – it’s pretty common in societies. One of the things said to Audie Murphy while he was struggling with PTSD and contemplating suicide was that he couldn’t do it because of all the kids who look up to him. So even if you're not perfectly selfless, a lot of folks want you to be and will work towards that end.
Me, I f'ing hate any degree of this. I agree with Jessie Ventura (who seems to be habitually sabotaging himself because of this) that having power and/or being looked up to (influence) is as much of a leash as oppression is. So I like a low profile. I like picking up toilet paper at the store and not have anyone look askew at me because my God they didn't realize I actually took craps like a real human being.
Anyone with any reasonable degree of introspection will know that there are so many good and decent people who deserve recognition it feels insulting to single one out much less be the person singled out.
But people still do it. And they mean well for the most part, so it's tough. (Reading the bible is instructive. I tend to get different takes from the religious folks - e.g. yeah there's the humility component of giving freely to people of your time and money, and remaining anonymous. But there's a damn practical side to it too. You don't want to have to live up to that image every moment of every day. Which brings us back to the superhero stuff - )

As for Heath Ledger, he’s the first person to redefine the Joker acceptably in a long while. Nicholson’s performance was Nicholson doing “The Joker.” He’s a great actor. And it was a brilliant performance. But he didn’t really get into the character more than he’s loony and dangerous.

Ledger’s performance worked because there was this absolute desperation coupled with an absolute willingness to throw everything away. You can’t beat a man like that, you can only kill him. And Batman won’t kill (which is good), so – stalemate. At least in the film. And it’s the first film I’ve seen where that psychodrama is fairly solid along those lines.
And villains are far more important than heroes.
Although, much as I liked it, I was frustrated by the fact that it could have been much better and more coherent.
But, meh. I don’t think many folks who didn’t grow up immersed in comics can do a decent job of making a comic movie.

Actually “Ghost World” is oft overlooked in terms of excellent comics films.

So – ok, superhero comics. It’s tough to take those themes seriously if you don’t really get into them. (I’ve actually seriously said to someone: “In this world there is right and there is wrong. And that distinction is not hard to make.” Of course, firearms make any words seem dramatic in the moment, but it did work well.)

And there’s a lot of poor writing in some quarters. But the better work, when it rings true, rings so true. I think cynicism has been the operating paradigm for so many people for so long that they don’t buy into heroism. Or they’re running the J. Jonah Jameson thing.
But there are such people. And even more poignantly, they don’t have billion dollar budgets and aren’t bulletproof (myself excepted of course). And the best work is in exploring that aspect of heroic drama.

I thought the best scene in the Spiderman films was in Spiderman 2 when he saves the train full of people (close second on the New Yorkers pelting the Green Goblin in solidarity – but it was just after 9/11 so – it’s exceptional).
In that moment, everything his uncle told him was validated. And his whole relationship with his uncle was validated. And the nature of it was extended to those folks who then - attempted to - stand up for him.

That’s always been the strength of those stories. Not that they have superpowers or awesome toys (which the vigilantes seek to imitate) but that they evoke that realization of interdependence in the face of danger and horror, even within ourselves and inspire us to greatness, not mere conflict (which, again, the vigilantes fixate on). And indeed, because Batman is such a distraction in terms of being bad-ass, it’s exactly why you need someone inspirational without all the violence, and powers/skills, etc.

…that’s not to say this is always well accomplished technically even when the director does get it.
And of course a “Harvey Dent: The Brief Filing” film – not so dramatic as the brooding violent Byronic hero.

“Thus, the machines were able to reallocate "soul energy" on a person-by-person basis.”

James Brown would have blown their soul collectors’s “fuses.” Not to mention the Hot Pants factor. (I like your speculative claptrap)
posted by Smedleyman at 6:11 PM on December 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


As for Heath Ledger, he’s the first person to redefine the Joker acceptably in a long while. Nicholson’s performance was Nicholson doing “The Joker.” He’s a great actor. And it was a brilliant performance. But he didn’t really get into the character more than he’s loony and dangerous.

I have watched The Dark Knight several times and all I get out of Ledger's performance is that he did a not-very-good Nicholson impression with a darker script to read from. I didn't see any redefining of the character. I think that if Ledger hadn't died, his performance in TDK would have been seen nearly universally as a poor Nicholson impression.
posted by The World Famous at 6:27 PM on December 9, 2009


So, here's my problem with The Matrix:
Near the beginning, Neo meets Trinity, and says, "I thought you were a guy." Her response: "Most guys do."

This read, to me, upon my first viewing, as a HUGE CLUE. A huge clue that, later on, when Morpheus started talking about The One, made me think that The One would be not Neo, but Trinity, and that Trinity would wind up being way more of an ass-kicker than Neo could hope to be.

So when Trinity said that The Oracle told her that she would fall in love with someone, and that guy would be The One... I was pretty disappointed. Still liked it, though.

I consider it not as a great sci-fi movie, but as really raising the bar for kung fu movies. And for some reason, I like the third one better than the second one (but they're both pretty weak sauce).

This is a Batman thread? Oh. Right. Yeah, that video was pretty cool.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:41 PM on December 9, 2009


Mister Moofoo, You overestimate the importance of the line: Almost all hackers are guys. So, when Neo hears about this super-hacker, he assumes that Trinity is a guy too. Nothing more to it.
posted by ymgve at 7:08 PM on December 9, 2009


Oh, sure, I get that. But I still think it would have been a way more interesting ending, and not at all what people expect from a Hollywood action movie.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:16 PM on December 9, 2009


Mr. Moofoo, your problem is expecting Hollywood to deliver something other than what one would expect from a Hollywood action movie.

For something you don't expect, you have to read, so you don't get the committee with the money fucking it all up.

My favorite author is Iain (sometimes with a M.) Banks. He delivers stuff you couldn't possibly film all the time.
posted by localroger at 7:54 PM on December 9, 2009


Hm, it's been about a year and a half since I posted my awesome little theory about the Joker on Metafilter, so I think it's OK to bring it up again.

Along with Animal Man and Psycho-Pirate, the Joker is one of the few characters in the DC Universe who is aware that he lives in a comic book. He knows that we are watching him. Given the Joker's propensity for chaos and violence, one would expect that he would try to extend his influence into the real world.

On the face of it, that doesn't seem possible. Fictional characters can't physically interact with real people. Except... that's not quite true. There are a number of ways that fictional characters can influence us. They can emotionally move us, for instance. We can read about the ideas they express and reflect upon them. Fictional characters can even determine, to some extent, how their creators will depict them in the future. Authors will often claim that the characters write the stories themselves. Sometimes, a fictional personality is so strong that it moves us, rather than the other way around.

It's been established that in the DC Universe the Joker has such a strong personality that he is able to influence other Gothamites by his sheer existence, and there is plenty of precedence for his being willing to exploit that influence. Every other issue contains street gangs wearing Joker masks, clown-wannabe thugs, and copycat killers. These are the type of people that the Joker employs as his henchmen. Their attempts to emulate the Joker drive them into mirthful madness.

So the following premises have been established: the Joker knows that he's in a comic book, he would want to bring his reign of terror into the non-comic-book world, he has the ability to drive others mad by the sheer force of his personality, and fictional characters are able to influence real people through the expression of their personalities and their ideas. Presumably, then, the Joker is already planning a full-scale attack on all of us.

How could one go about this? Here's one way. First, be incredibly entertaining. Become so captivating and watchable that you appear in countless DC comics, and eventually even television shows and movies. Make it so that, like street thugs in Gotham, people will try to emulate you. (They won't be thugs, of course; they'll be actors.) Second, be incredibly dark. Become so psychopathic and malicious the people who try to emulate you -- who try to put themselves into your mindset -- are driven to dark and inscrutable places. Make it so their minds race and they are unable to sleep well or think straight or stay calm and will have to turn to drugs -- too many drugs -- to keep the Joker's thoughts at bay.

This was all part of the Joker's plan.

The Joker killed Heath Ledger.
posted by painquale at 8:48 PM on December 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


You and ten thousand other geeks.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:53 PM on December 9, 2009


Who was making the bullets to go in all those guns getting vomited onto the brutals??
posted by waraw at 9:28 PM on December 9, 2009


“his performance in TDK would have been seen nearly universally as a poor Nicholson impression.”
I disagree. His Joker is motivated. Not by mere psychosis (which is like being driven by terrorism) but hatred of the world, otherness and hypocrisy in the face of nihilism.
His performance ranks with Moore’s interpretation in The Killing Joke as well as Brian Azzarello’s in Joker. Nicholson was a crook and became an evil clown. But he was the same megalomaniac as before.

Ledger makes him an unreliable narrator (manifestly so) and he enjoys the absurdity and chaos that Batman looks to prevent. In that he made the Joker more of a reflection of Batman. That had been done before, but not as attractively. What was genius about that performance was precisely what no one got about the Joker before – how seductive he was. That’s why his henchmen don’t shoot him. He’s not the terrifying spectacle Hannibal Lector was. He’s not unnerving or truly scary. And yet, he will put you there eventually.

Azzarello uses that theme. Johnny Frost never thinks it’s going to be him. And he’s even told by Dent that the Joker will kill him and stand there and laugh. And he even accepts it. And in the end he’s running wild through the streets with the Joker who turns and kills him.
Exactly the same thing in the Dark Night. But of course, we attribute it to Ledger’s charisma. To me though I was not a Ledger fan. So in the film it was just the Joker and he had a weird unreal attractiveness (as a nurse especially) as Bugs Bunny did as a girl bunny. That’s what makes Bugs, and the Joker, so damned dangerous. Because he looks so ‘fun’ and so liberating, perhaps even exploitable (he’ll let you blow stuff up, doesn’t care about money), but he’s got no conscience at all and (like Bugs) he’s completely inconsistent. And when he shoots/stabs/bombs Elmers, they really die. I mean think about it, Bugs is a mean, vicious mofo in the way the cartoons directed by the kid were scary in the movie "Twilight Zone". Except he's just comfortably funny.

Nicholson, by contrast, was complex, interesting, all that, he's a hell of an actor so it was a hell of a performance. But he didn't embody the role. It wasn’t real. It was the way people who aren’t into comics think comic book characters are or should be. Ledger’s Joker was the way the Joker is in that world.

One can argue degrees of execution and matters of taste of course. But I can cut a lot of slack for failure in performance and other things. Bit like debating Jimi Hendrix vs. Stevie Ray Vaughn or Duane Allman - whatever their respective technical gifts pale in what Hendrix did such that he could have been a lesser musician and still changed things.
Nicholson too - I don’t think Nicholson’s R.P. McMurphy was anything like the character in the book. But he did create R.P. McMurphy in the film as a real person in that film. I mean he embodied the character. So much so that I don't think of a red headed Irishman when I mentally picture the character. It was real, so nothing else mattered as much. It changed things.

Nothing comes to mind as a technically flawed same kind of example. Someone who screwed up a bit but still delivered the role. But I’m not an actor or a critic. Read a lot of comics though. Nicholson wasn’t the Joker. But the first thing I whispered to my buddy when I saw Ledger was “Dude, that’s the f’ing Joker.”
Good, bad, indifferent - whole other story.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:47 PM on December 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


It was the pencil trick that did it for me. When my wife and I saw the film, and the Joker said 'voila, the pencil is gone' we turned to each other in shock. It's a horrifying, brutal moment, yet so causually done, and in it's own way, laughable.

Watching the Joker do it, someone who is insane, unlimited, unhindered, whatever you want to call it, it was stunning. On the other hand, the casual brutality of, say, Inglourious Basterds, or even 2012, I'm starting to find sickening. The filmmakers who make those choices, who decided to linger on close ups of scalps being removed, or having the plane fly unrealistically close to buildings to show people dangling over sudden chasms, they aren't the Joker, they're human beings, and they're making those choices because they think it will be entertaining. That's sick. The Joker, on the other hand, just kind of is.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:57 PM on December 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, the casual brutality of, say, Inglourious Basterds, or even 2012, I'm starting to find sickening.

I haven't discussed Basterds with anybody, but I thought part of the point of it was to make the Nazis sympathetic. That and "Oh? You wanted violence? Here, have some closeups of butchery. It's okay, they're Nazis. ... Disgusting, isn't it?"
posted by Pronoiac at 12:08 AM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah. As someone who was raised Jewish, who has a long, absolutely ridiculous story to tell about being dragged to see a screening of Shoah when I was 8 (borders on child abuse in my book) among other things, yeah, Nazis are bad. Watching Indiana Jones beat the crap out of them is one of the joyful things in life. The thing is, he didn't lower himself to their level. Torturing Nazis is still torturing people, and Tarantino seemed to get a lot of glee out of it. I used to think he was more than what he is, but I don't think he's the kind of filmmaker who would use that to get us to question how we felt. I think he's more the kind of guy who's making the kind of movie he wants to see, the kind of guy who, when he's walking around a mall, thinks about all the cool gun fight scenes you could film there. I think he enjoyed filming those scenes, because it's what he's fed himself on, all of those sadistic 70's films, and now he's trying to make his own. The fucker made me feel sympathy towards Nazi's, but the thing is, I don't imagine he felt anything but glee in making the movie.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:04 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Regarding Basterds: German vengeance in Wagner, Fritz Lang, and in the Niebelungenlied (the German national epic and a Nazi fave) takes the form of a woman who bars all the doors and sets fire to hero and Hun alike.

When the "face of Jewish vengeance" also takes this form, Nazi and Jew have become indistinguishable. So I think the violence in Basterds was calibrated to give the audience more than it could eat, enough shovelfuls of dead Nazis to confront its own bizarre, savage appetite for death.

The last episode of the Sopranos did a similar thing. Phil Leotardo, this odious, ridiculous man, someone whose death was promised and deferred for so long that the audience was seeing red over it, sending in hate mail over it, was killed on camera in one of the most disgusting ways imaginable. This was followed by takes from a chorus of goofy onlookers: one with an almost gleeful "gawwd damn;" someone else vomiting in a puddle, screaming "gross!" Everyone transfixed. There you go, HBO audience! That's you!
posted by kid ichorous at 1:39 AM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ghidorah, Basterds makes so many references to early German cinema (in fact, the English spy is little more than a film critic and does almost nothing but talk about 20th century German film) that I couldn't honestly it was cannibalized from 70s exploitation. He made a Nazi movie about killing Nazis, a polished hook with live human bait, and Americans swallowed it. That you were repulsed is perfectly appropriate. So was I.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:47 AM on December 10, 2009


As for Heath Ledger, he’s the first person to redefine the Joker acceptably in a long while. Nicholson’s performance was Nicholson doing “The Joker.” He’s a great actor. And it was a brilliant performance. But he didn’t really get into the character more than he’s loony and dangerous.

This is because Heath Ledger was capable of range; Jack Nicholson is Jack Nicholson in every film he's in. Jack Nicholson doesn't get cast because he's a Hoffmanesque chameleon. You cast Jack Nicholson because you want Jack Nicholson.

On the other hand, the casual brutality of, say, Inglourious Basterds, or even 2012, I'm starting to find sickening.

I recently saw a review for 2012 that bore the headline "Disaster Porn". I haven't seen the film, but the previews alone pretty much gave me the same feeling.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:17 AM on December 10, 2009


There was a black & gray morality going on, where I wasn't sure if there was anyone to cheer for any more. To leave the movie without a side to cheer for is perverse, & I doubt it's accidental - it's a lot less satisfying, for one. The Germans weren't portrayed as entirely worthless human beings - the soldier who refused to sell out his compatriots to someone invading, despite a messy end looming, for example. The Allies did ... uh, some spoilery stuff... * that was presented in a bad light. Maybe you view it as nihilistic & him subjecting us to sadistic imagery, but I think it was more about, uh, on preview, I'll second kid ichorous' getting the audience to "confront its own bizarre, savage appetite for death." I thought it was unsettling & uncomfortable.

SPOILERS FOLLOW



Oh, yeah, looking for background, I found this:
There's no question that Tarantino wants us to cheer when Shoshanna Dreyfuss and her lover Marcel burn down her movie theater, trapping Hitler and his fellow Nazis inside. There's no question that we're meant to whoop when the Basterds inside the flaming theater shoot SS officers like sitting ducks.

But this is not an uncomplicated victory. ... Her revenge plot ... swallows her whole.

And doesn't it swallow us as well? Consider this: Just before the Nazis get burned, we see them clapping and cheering as they watch a movie about a German sniper who kills vulnerable American soldiers. It's framed as a horrible event. Yet a few moments later, the film puts us in the position of those Nazi moviegoers. If we feel excited to see Hitler and Goebells get assassinated by Basterds, or if we cheer as the Germans on the cinema floor get shot from the balcony, then we are behaving just like the Nazis as they watch their propaganda film.


* How many times was that one Nazi shot, onscreen even? Killing the surrendered. The carving closeup.

Am I the only one who sees the <sup> tag for superscript & reads it as an abbreviated "wassup?"

posted by Pronoiac at 2:20 AM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kid Ichorus, Pronoiac, I see the point you're making, but I guess I'm just not willing to grant Tarantino that level of deviousness anymore. Maybe, years ago, I was, but at this stage, seeing the movies he's put out, I see his filmmaking as sadism, gleeful, but still sadistic. Sure, maybe he's going to try to point out how he wants the audience to squirm, but at the same time, I get the idea that he's filming what he would want to see, and he would love it in a totally unironic, untroubled way. At least that's the way the film comes across, to me. I can see him getting giddy in the editing room, excited about how the blood sprayed just so, making his movie as badass as the ones he grew up on.

And 2012 was disaster porn, and I used to have an affinity for it. I admit to loving the Final Destination series, but because it, and the characters in it are such cartoons, watching it is essentially watching a Rube Goldberg directed episode of Looney Toons. On the other hand, watching 2012, what we are subjected to is the sudden death of billions of people, in horrific ways, and again, I got the feeling that in his editing room, Emerich was pumping his fist in glee that the computer graphics were able to really wow the moviegoers with how that chunk of road shot up, killing those grandmothers, because, y'know, they deserved it, for driving so slow, or all of the people dangling from the edges of overturned buildings being so realistic. It was horrific watching it, knowing that I'm supposed to be feeling the same rush as the rest of the audience members. It's fucked, and it's wrong, and I think this means I need to put on my cardigan, eat my oatmeal, and watch some Matlock. For some reason, Se7en was okay, but 2012 was horrifying.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:46 AM on December 10, 2009


he looks so ‘fun’ and so liberating, perhaps even exploitable (he’ll let you blow stuff up, doesn’t care about money), but he’s got no conscience at all and (like Bugs) he’s completely inconsistent.

I hate getting into discussions of the DK, but this reminds me of a certain sentiment we've seen before though not done as well. Remember in Desperado, Steve Buscemi asks Antonio Banderas early on if he shouldn't just get his friends to help out and he says no, they'd destroy everything and still let Bucho get away? In the Big Gunfight, of course, we see these two in action, and it's obviously meant to be ridiculous -- the guitar case with the machine guns, the other as a rocket launcher. And you think yeah, ok, they're reckless (and it gets them killed -- how did they last so long?). But you never really get the vibe that these guys were dangerous and unpredictable, except in a general way. I don't think Ledger's Joker is everything people make it out to be, but he does pull this off. Imagine calling the Joker in to do, well, anything. Imagine the expressions of your gang as that suggestion is made...
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:25 AM on December 10, 2009


I think that if Ledger hadn't died, his performance in TDK would have been seen nearly universally as a poor Nicholson impression.

I wouldn't go that far, but even speaking as a non-Nicholson-fan, I would enjoy seeing him play the Joker with the DK script (and DK direction). He could muster some intensity. That could be badass. I mean, are people suggesting that Ledger would or could have played the same Joker in a 1980's-styled Tim Burton film?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:35 AM on December 10, 2009


I see the point you're making, but I guess I'm just not willing to grant Tarantino that level of deviousness anymore. [...] I see his filmmaking as sadism, gleeful, but still sadistic.

I don't think you're necessarily wrong that his new films wallow in superficial tackiness, and even in sadism, but I think they remain trickily constructed on other levels, and complicate some of their silliest gestures with sneaky, depth charge subtext. Strip away the corny Shaw Brothers jargon of a "twelve-point palm exploding heart technique," and you're left with the plain fact that Bill dies of (as Bud attests) a broken heart. I think that hits pretty hard precisely because it springs itself on you in the middle of a hilariously bad bit of kung fu. "Do you find me sadistic? Kiddo, this is me at my most masochistic."
posted by kid ichorous at 8:25 AM on December 10, 2009


I thought at least part of the point of Inglorious Basterds was to get us to catch ourselves cheering on suicide bombers.
posted by ODiV at 8:28 AM on December 10, 2009


I saw Tarantino on TV last night and he seems to be going the way of Orson Welles (and I don't mean stylistically).
posted by Burhanistan at 8:30 AM on December 10, 2009


I thought at least part of the point of Inglorious Basterds was to get us to catch ourselves cheering on suicide bombers.

Seriously? Now I think I have to see this to see how well he pulled it off.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:35 AM on December 10, 2009


Re: Basterds, it hit me pretty hard (I thought it was a little over-the-top, even) that the climax of the film shows Adolf Fucking Hilter in a movie theater laughing uproariously at a movie that seems to be just two hours of a Nazi shooting Americans, and then the movie theater audience around me laughed uproariously at Americans shooting Nazis. The movie seemed to be fairly obviously about the dangers of propaganda and dehumanizing our enemies, and the fact that Hitler getting shot in the fact 143,000 times came across as funny seemed particularly damning and intentionally troubling.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:44 AM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


“Imagine calling the Joker in to do, well, anything. Imagine the expressions of your gang as that suggestion is made...”
Yeah, he’s the A-bomb of the underworld. Keyser Soze except in the flesh and standing before you. Although I think that’s direction and environment. The instant extra reaction to the Joker should be “oh no the Joker!” *run like hell *
The ‘origin’ stuff always gets in the way of establishing legitimacy in how terrifying a given character is. Less is much more.
What I don’t get is why the Joker isn’t subject to constant sniper fire and retribution from dead family members. A cop, a fed, anyone in law enforcement really or anyone in any related field, a P.I., a bounty hunter – anyone who, upon seeing the Joker, whips out a gun and kills him in cold blood would probably not be prosecuted. The defense? It’s the Joker. I saw the Joker, so I drew my weapon and fired until I was empty. I reloaded and closed and fired into his head until I emptied the clip. I then reloaded, fired, asked my partner, who had also opened fire, for more ammunition but he was going to the car for the shotgun and… ‘Sir, was the Joker unarmed?’ Unarmed? The Joker? Are you even from Gotham?
It’s next to impossible to pull off that kind of menace without full support of the environment. And I don’t think he had that. And perhaps by design. But I think it’s a mistake to try to ‘establish’ the Joker in a film. In terms of straight performance, no, I don’t think his Joker is one of the best performances of all time. I do think, unlike most other portrayals, he was the Joker. But he didn’t have that ‘Keyser Soze’ mystique given to him by the other actors and the script, etc.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:53 AM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Joker has a similar "always wins" power to Batman*, so if you try sniping him you're going to find that he's previously replaced your rifle with a snake or it actually turns out he's standing right behind you or something.

* Batmna is slightly more of an movable object than The Joker is an irresistible force.
posted by Artw at 12:04 PM on December 10, 2009


I think the very fact that Basterds has inspired us to have this discussion about the nature and message of its violence answers the question by itself. Tarantino has more than enough credibility to get benefit of the doubt here, that he at least considered his work as a commentary on violent film even if he was primarily making a popcorn flick. And if he considered it, then that consideration would have undoubtedly manifest itself in the film, imbuing it with some level of depth.

Is it enough, though? Tarantino is obviously a guy who grew up enjoying violent movies when they were presented on their own merits, because violence is fucking cool lolol. How do you separate that raw, superficial, and arguably societally-damaging content from the more palatable messages (irony, nostalgia, political commentary)? Is there an objective tipping point at which a Tarantino film does or does not have artistic merit?

Obviously not. Not objectively. I think the only practical solution is to let your standards be your own. Your opinion of Basterds, or 2012, or Saw 6, or Deep Throat is not necessarily a reflection of the movie as much as it is a reflection of you.

I can't remember where I read it, but I vaguely recall Ebert making a point to that effect... film is as much about the experiences of the person watching it as it is about the picture on the screen or the sound in the theater. The best directors know that and make movies that each audience member can view in their own way.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:12 PM on December 10, 2009


Aside from the obvious issue with the quote here, I think the Soze analogy is an excellent one -- how do you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss? The Joker is building a reputation, building terror, as he creates new enemies. Ideally, by the time he has a legion of enemies, encountering him in the flesh, maybe even through a scope, inspires paralyzing fear and doubt. But I agree, as of the DK, he wasn't there yet. And there were a few moments when he seemed agonizingly vulnerable.

With more seasoned but randomly encountered opponents -- cops, etc., I would prefer Artw's explanation. But then another thing Desperado kind of formalized to my eye was a sort of hierarchy of lethality based on stature. If you've earned minor henchman status, you can kill any underling and, with some effort, kill another henchman. If you sacrifice yourself, you can wound a prime antagonist (who can only be killed by the prime protagonist). So you're the plucky kid who had the guts to go in the ring with Christos and, even with just-shattered leg, prove your worth. You can now take out pretty much anyone in the movie except Banderas. A cop in these things is never going to rise above henchman in that kind of hierarchy.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:25 PM on December 10, 2009


I guess I'm failing to see how the batteries bit in The Matrix is any less believable than nine or ten other things in the film. It's a "buy" established early in the film, and the film isn't even close to hard sci-fi.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:27 PM on December 10, 2009


On further thought, there's a pretty big gap between the gore in Basterds and the utter brutality in a movie like Unforgiven. Unforgiven is, like the title, unforgiving. It doesn't let the audience feel good, and there aren't any real victories to be had. When the Scofield Kid realizes the immensity of what he's done, he can't accept it, and has to reject that lifestyle completely. He's not mocked for it, Munny doesn't think less of him for it, perhaps even thinks more highly of him because he can't become the same person Munny is. There is no joy in killing, which seems to be the message of Unforgiven as, at the same time, it tears down the entire concept of the western as a movie with good guys and bad guys.

Where Unforgiven told us, "It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. You take away all he's got, all he's ever going to have." It seems Basterds is saying "It's a helluva a time killing folk. Wait a couple minutes, and we'll kill some more, because damn, this shit is fun!"

I think, to some extent, Tarantino has crossed that point. I think he's relying on the good will he built up with his earliest films, and now he's doing what he wants and thinking we'll still give him credit. I guess the point I'm going for is that while we can talk about how we feel the film is supposed to make us question our reactions, I get that image of Tarantino looking over the dailies, looking at all of the violence he's putting out, writing little notes to himself, saying "You are so cool." I might have more respect for the film if I didn't have that image. In some ways, Death Proof is what did this, to my view of his films. Death Proof, when you strip away the "old bad movies are cool" and "women can be sexist pigs too" motifs, Saw with car chases. Casting Eli Roth in Basterds could be the key glass is half full/half empty part of Basterds. If he's doing it all with a sly wink, saying, hey kids, you said violence was bad, but look at yourself, then casting Roth is part of that wink. On the other hand, Roth's presence could be construed as an endorsement of utter crap like Hostel.

Or, it could be that Tarantino wanted to find a director that's a worse actor than Tarantino.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:57 PM on December 10, 2009


Inglorious Basterds surprised me. I bought my ticket expecting another Kill Bill sort of letdown (all flash and cool presentation, no "believable" drama), yet found myself immersed in something I'd never quite seen (nor felt) the likes of before... including maybe his two best single sequences ever (the cellar of the pub and the finale in the cinema).

Or as I commented a while back in an AskMe ...

Inglorious Basterds, on the other hand, succeeds in every way that the Kill Bills do not (ie: it's a genuinely "meta" work of art that succeeds precisely because Tarantino is using it to unflinchingly examine his deep love of the cinematic art form). Granted, it's proving successful with a fairly wide demographic but I suspect that only a true so-called expert with a firm grasp of cinematic history (both as an art form and a cultural force) "gets" how standalone brilliant it really is ... right up to the last line of dialogue.

The sloppy critical line for Basterds at the time of its release was that Tarantino was " ... re-fighting World War 2." I think his intention (and accomplishment) goes much deeper.; specifically to posit that cinema itself is/was more powerful, more meaningful, more alive than any tyrant and his evil regime could ever be, the most glorious point being where the cinema screen erupted in flames as the projector kept projecting (a hijacked movie it's worth pointing out featuring a hero + heroine both lying dead in the projection room) such that there was no longer any definable boundary between what was real (ie: happening in the theater) and what was fiction (ie: the projected movie, which was a double-layering of propaganda itself; fiction on fiction on fiction).

All kinds of meta ... which I guess is the point, Tarantino being way more interested in weaving his magic than making perfect sense.
posted by philip-random at 2:00 PM on December 10, 2009


Ghidorah: Casting Eli Roth in Basterds could be the key glass is half full/half empty part of Basterds. If he's doing it all with a sly wink, saying, hey kids, you said violence was bad, but look at yourself, then casting Roth is part of that wink. On the other hand, Roth's presence could be construed as an endorsement of utter crap like Hostel.

I haven't seen Basterds yet (it's at the top of my Netflix queue), but I couldn't understand why he'd cast someone with as few acting chops as Eli Roth until I read this thread. I actually thought Hostel was quite good, and even better once you see Hostel Part II, which really nails the "table-turning" view of violence several people have pointed out in IB.

If you haven't seen Hostel Part II, go rent it now. Aside from it being a better-made movie than the first, there is surprisingly little violence- I can only think of three or four acts in the entire movie (though they are quite explicit). What you get instead is a fairly meta-take on the first movie, where you spend half of it following the people who pay to go there and torture people. Roth fucks with your sympathies quite a bit in the same way Tarantino apparently does. And the ending is great.
posted by mkultra at 2:13 PM on December 10, 2009


“A cop in these things is never going to rise above henchman in that kind of hierarchy.”

True. Dramatically, yeah. (‘An ordinary burglar kill the Comedian? Ridiculous.’) I’m just thinking of the attitude the streets tend to have. Even on the side of the law. The police in Mumbai handcuffed and paraded around some thieves recently. The thieves wound up crying because they thought the crowd was going to tear them apart. Last year in New Delhi a mob dragged a murder suspect out of a hospital and beat him until he stopped moving while the police just watched and did nothing. So, real life, it happens. And the streets are even more voracious and cruel on the other side of the fence.
Although the Joker – at least Ledger’s Joker (and Azzarello’s) seem to be the embodiment of the streets. In that regard. There was a saying in my old neighborhood – you ever hear the street burp? No. Because it never stops being hungry. I think someone targeting the Joker, perhaps someone who lost a loved one and is looking for payback, instead of their rifle turning into a snake could be serendipitously belted from behind by someone looking for an in. So ‘hungry’ would work to the Joker’s advantage.
What would make a heroic tale more interesting is a well established villain and a newbie hero. Star Wars comes to mind. There’s zero doubt Vader is the ultimate bad ass seconds after the moment he appears. And that guy was what - body language and a mask and James Earl Jones' voice. So he was completely a tag-team performance.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:05 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The hierarchy of the street theme is I think, dead-on. There was an episode of Batman the Animated Series where a civilian attempted to get back at the Joker. The Joker, of course, turned it around and made it pretty hideous, though still lighthearted as the show went. I imagine trying to get back at the Joker would match the dialogue I recently heard in Arkham Asylum, where you hear a thug on the intercom, apologizing for losing track of Batman (which must be a pretty standard thing), and the Joker keeps insinuating that for the thugs mistake, the Joker will have the guy's wife's legs broken. He keeps saying he's joking, but he keeps going back to it. Of course, after that, you as Batman beat the guy unconcious, so I would imagine the Joker would probably go through with it.

Of course, *WIRE SPOILER*

having Omar get killed by a kid was what made the death so dramatic. He's the high god of badassery, and the assumption is that he can't be killed. The total shock of his death, and the way it impacted the viewer (A kid? Really? That kid? You must be shitting me!) is a masterful subversion of the lackey, thug, underboss, boss journey that we've been trained to expect.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:52 PM on December 10, 2009


True that, Ghirdorah. Huge moment. But then that's art -- knowing the rules well enough to play off them and break them exactly when you want the effect of doing so.

I'm really curious about Inglorious Basterds and will have to see it now, as I caught some movie blurbs in the morning paper (which we don't normally get) and the reviewer raked Tarantino over the coals for pushing violence without a redeeming message which, if some people in this thread are to be believed, is missing the whole thrust of the movie. Will have to see and decide for myself. Back to The Matrix for a moment, it reminds me of how many reviewers utterly failed to understand what they were seeing. I mean at all. One guy, I recall, characterized Neo's forays into the real world as "dream sequences". I suppose these reviews have all been expunged. It was pretty embarassing stuff.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:59 AM on December 11, 2009


...I thought part of the point of it was to make the Nazis sympathetic. That and "Oh? You wanted violence? Here, have some closeups of butchery. It's okay, they're Nazis. ... Disgusting, isn't it?"

Tarantino seems to me to have a little too much fun with that sort of presentation for me to take him seriously as a moral educator.
posted by lodurr at 10:49 AM on December 12, 2009


It reminded me a bit of the Architect scene in the Matrix sequels (if there had had been Matrix sequels, I mean). Why the fuck are you listening to the antagonist let alone trusting him?

What do you think he is -- human!?
posted by lodurr at 5:34 PM on December 12, 2009


BS,F: W.r.t. the big glaring "plot hole" in the Matrix*: Why the fuck would the machines bother?

There's a canonical answer to that question, actually, which I will give and simultaneously ask that you not assume I regard as a good> answer -- I'm just the messenger, and I think it's a crappy explanation, but I am actually pretty sure it's "Matrix canon":

The machines create the matrix by enslaving us and using us to generate power because they fucking hate us. It's all driven by rage and a hunger for revenge. The idea that they'd be efficient because they're machines is a logical error [actually, I buy this part, I don't think there's any fundamental reason sentient machines would be inherently geared toward efficiency].

For support, see The Animatrix, which (again as I understand it) is meant to provide background canon.

From a literary standpoint, I think that's a very interesting idea. I don't think it's well-realized (at all), but it could have some legs in the hands of a better storyteller. Probably already has; if so, I'd love to be pointed to it.


==
*I don't think it's a plot hole so much as a design defect. The plot makes sense in terms of its own logic, but the premises are just goofy as shit.
posted by lodurr at 5:45 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


all I get out of Ledger's performance is that he did a not-very-good Nicholson impression

Always seemed to me like he was channeling Tom Waits rather than Nicholson
posted by Tenuki at 7:24 PM on December 13, 2009


a not-very-good Nicholson impression

That would be putting Christian Slater out of a job!
posted by Artw at 7:29 PM on December 13, 2009


Looking at the DK joker too closely for plot-consistency and plausibility is a literary error, I would say. He's not a plausible character from moment-one; he is, after all, 'not a man but a symbol.' That's the point of the character. He's chaos, personified -- he's the universe's response to the Batman. That's why he's so much more potent than the Burton/Nicholson Joker: Because he's more than human.

Seriously: Why do we make hay with the fact that the joker's minions are both insane and incompetent, and we don't have a problem with Batman materializing inside a bank vault and then disappearing again, without any of the 40 or 50 cops on the scene, several of which are in the narrow vault entrance at the time, seeing him come or go?

People's opinions of actors will always differ. I actually think Ledger's Joker performance bordered on brilliant, and that's not an adjective I use often w.r.t. actors.
posted by lodurr at 7:34 PM on December 13, 2009


Just noticed this up-thread: after the final shot of the fuckhead, we see a brief shot that could be from anywhere in the movie or even pulled out of another movie altogether of some cops advancing towards the camera -- presumably Joker's point of view. That is not exactly resolution.

A writer mentor/friend of mine would ask about this requested scene: What would it contribute to the telling of the story?

My own answer would be "not much." Then I'd cut it. (But yes, I would have written it in the first place.)
posted by lodurr at 7:38 PM on December 13, 2009


Casting Eli Roth in Basterds could be the key glass is half full/half empty part of Basterds.

Mostly I figure it was to generate decades worth of arguments about whether Zachary Quinto was in Inglorious Basterds.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:40 PM on December 14, 2009


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