Featured: Remembering The Dark Knight
As you may know, this weekend on Episode 209, we’ll be continuing our year-by-year retrospective series by diving into the films of 2008. As we noted last week on the show, our featured review for #209 will be Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, a film that would go on to mark that specific year in some major ways. It was the highest grossing film of 2008, nearly hitting the $1 billion mark, a milestone it probably would’ve hit by today’s standards. Nolan’s second Batman film was also critically praised in ways that few other comic-book adaptations had ever seen at the time. It currently sits at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and even more impressively at 82% on Metacritic. More than any of that, and what is perhaps the most surprising, the film was received very positively by The Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences. Genre films, especially superheros, haven’t been held historically in high regard by The Academy. There are exceptions of course. However, The Dark Knight changed things significantly. Famously, the film forced The Academy to expand their Best Picture nominees from five to a potential ten (which arguably has been more of a detriment than a positive), as a way of being more open-minded to genre films. Even though it didn’t get a Best Picture nod, The Dark Knight still received eight Oscar nominations, with two wins, including a Best Supporting Actor victory for the late-great Heath Ledger. No matter how you look at it, this Batman/Joker tug-of-war film was a massive success.
Now that we have all of that out of the way, I want to talk about The Dark Knight‘s opening night. The film opened up in theaters on July 18th, 2008 nationwide. For obvious reasons, it was one of the most hyped up films to come out that year, and I was just as excited as anyone else. For context, I was living in Bowling Green, OH at the time, just one month away from graduating with my BA in Communications. I was also poor, as many college students tend to be. I’ve always been a fan of film and art, but growing up it was rare if we ever made it to the actual theaters. College was no different. So, getting to see The Dark Knight in theaters on its debut was a big deal for me at the time. We arrived at the theater, to see a massive line that literally curved around to the back of the building. Per the aforementioned statement, I missed all of the prequel Star Wars openings, so I had never seen anything like it before. And what I found most interesting was how it drew in so many different people. Clearly, the nerd-verse was deeper than I knew it to be. We waited in line for what felt like two hours. To be honest, I’m not even sure how long it took, I was just excited to be there. And it was the summer, so it was nice outside.
Once inside, we found our way to the theater which was massively packed by the time we got there. I was with a group of four, so finding that many seats together was going to be impossible. However, we did find a grouping of three seats together, which we felt was going to be our best bet for most of the group to stay together. Guess who got the short straw? I was a bit disheartened at first, mostly because it was a rare treat to be in the theater at the time, and to not be with my friends wasn’t ideal. But I was determined to not let that ruin the experience for me. Instead, I sat up started to pay attention to all of the chatter around me before the film started. It was chaos, but I was compelled by everyone’s anticipation. Once the film started, in unison we all quieted down and enjoyed the movie.
Once the film was over, people in our crowd stood up and cheered in excitement. I immediately found my friends and the first thing out of my mouth was, “Heath Ledger is going to win an Oscar for his performance.” At the time it sounded crazy since comic-book movies didn’t win awards, but there was no doubt his performance was awards worthy. The film as a whole was awards worthy frankly. I loved the film then, I love it now and seeing it in theaters was an unforgettable experience for me.
I look forward to discussing it this weekend on the show. And I look forward to hearing from you all reading this. What do you think of The Dark Knight? Leave a comment in the comment section below or hit us up on twitter.
Speaking of theater experiences, here’s what you can see this weekend in theaters:
A Cure for Wellness
The Great Wall
A United Kingdom (expanding)
Everybody Loves Somebody (limited)
Land of Mine (limited)