Since the experience of watching a movie and the movie itself are such different things, I have separated my review of The Dark Knight from this, a collection of thoughts on the night itself. Just read the review if you find your eyes glazing over.
The last time I attended a midnight opening, it was a specially arranged showing of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for a bunch of well-behaved, Christian homeschoolers. Sure, we whooped and hollered a little like any excited crowd, but if one asks oneself what Jesus would do in a movie theater, one would be forced to conclude that he would NOT disrupt the watching of the film. And we were all good little WWJD disciples that night.
For this reason, I was a little apprehensive about the midnight showing of The Dark Knight. The mall and theater lobby were crowded, and the first hitch came around fairly quick; it was soon discovered that the Fandango machines which were supposed to print out our pre-paid tickets wasn’t recognizing anyone’s credit cards. This was soon fixed, though, after we’d all waited at the box office to pick up our tickets the old-fashioned way.
Excitement mounted all around us; costumes were uncommon, though I caught sight of a Joker, two Batmen, a Robin, and a Harvey Dent. With eight screens sold out, the odds of seeing any of them again were fairly slim; however, we did have all but the Joker.
I’d brought a notepad – very Roger Ebert – and as soon as I sat down, I began scrawling down my thoughts. “I have renewed my resolution to throttle anyone who talks during the Watchmen trailer. I’m serious about this.” As it happened, I needn’t have worried. But more on that later.
The theater was fairly packed. At about half-past eleven, they brought in a concessions cart – something I hadn’t seen in a while. Given the rather long lines outside, it was some people’s only chance to get popcorn and still return to their seats on time. The ubiquitous “Regal First Look” kicked in soon afterwards, and we were treated to all the same previews we’d seen the night before at Hellboy II.
By the way, I’m sorry to slap TNT in the face like this, but I simply do not buy that Saving Grace and The Closer are different shows. I honestly don’t think I could distinguish between Holly Hunter and Kyra Sedgewick in a lineup. Also, the symbolism of that promo for The Cleaner is a bit heavy. Just a bit.
When the trailers kicked in, I was downright jittery. You see, as previously mentioned, a trailer for Zack Snyder’s Watchmen was scheduled to play in front of The Dark Knight showings. As a die-hard fan of Alan Moore’s original graphic novel, I couldn’t wait to see how it was turning out. I even avoided watching the trailer online first, so I could see it in all its wide screen glory.
A trailer for some forgettable Ridley Scott feature slid by, followed by the teaser for McG’s Terminator Salvation. I held my breath.
The DC logo went by. This was it!
For the first few shots, I thought it actually was. All around, people were shushing each other…could it be that they were big Watchmen fans too? But when I saw the abundance of clown masks, I realized something: this was The Dark Knight. There would be no Watchmen trailer today.
I’m still a little angry, honestly.
But I needn’t have worried about people’s behavior. Save one or two gasps and shouts, plus a girl in the back who yelled “OH MY GOD!!!!” at anything even remotely startling, people were quiet. They had dragged themselves out to the theater at midnight, and by God they were going to hear every word.
This was no Batman Begins – it was something far, far greater. And we all knew it.