Walking into the theater yesterday to see The Dark Knight Rises was a bit of a surreal experience. I found it impossible to separate Friday morning's theater shooting from my own movie-going experience.
I'll be honest. Part of me was terrified. But I hate the idea of letting one crazy, evil person win, so I determined to enjoy myself.
So we got there early, and I eyed the emergency exits nervously. Then I watched every single person who entered the theater: as they searched for seats, I searched for something suspicious.
I’m happy to report that my trip to the movies was safe.
But still. Surreal. So surreal.
The previews alone were enough to freak me out. The Gangster Squad looks amazing, that much is for sure (Sean Penn as a mobster? Score.), but there's a scene in which people shoot into a theater through a movie screen. I wanted to get up and run.
Instead I took another bite of popcorn, another sip of soda, and slunk down in my chair.
And then the movie started.
And holy ##W%#@, it was amazing. In my opinion, totally amazing. And also...depressing. Sad. Gut-wrenching. It offers a bleak picture of the worst bits of humanity, brought to the forefront of a tortured city by a vengeance-hungry madman.
Look, I've read a number of reviews and spoken to a number of people who complain about the outlandish story, the numerous plot holes. Their concerns are valid.
But me? I was too wrapped up in the individual performances of actors like Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who I have not yet forgiven for being That Annoying Kid in 3rd Rock from the Sun, but who's so freaking good I have to love him) to care about much more.
At least, until Tom Hardy's Bane and his crew marched into the Stock Exchange building and shot up the place. That made me squirm in my chair again, but that was mainly because it felt...so...real. And really effing timely.
Two other scenes really stood out to me, and they surpassed any plot holes or ridiculousness of the rest of the movie.
The first was a fight scene between Batman and Bane. The two madmen (yes, I think Christian Bale's Batman is slightly mad, though I love him dearly) pummeled each other, and suddenly I noticed: the score was shut off. The only sound in the theater were grunts and howls of pain, and the dull thuds of fists hitting flesh. It was...to use a phrase I love...scary and intense.
Then, towards the end, a bunch of unarmed cops faced off against a gazillion of Bane's armed thugs. This was a scene about terrorist uprisings, no doubt, with the thugs waving semi-automatic rifles in the air, firing off into the sky. It...gave me chills. Terrified me. Made me want to cry. Can you even imagine standing and facing that? People do that...every day...it was, well....scary and intese.
Seriously, when the end of the movie came, I didn’t believe it had been almost three hours of movie-time. It flew by, and, for once, left me wanting more.
More! More Batman! Please! (Not to mention more Joseph Gordon-Levitt and more Anne Hathaway - they are freaking amazing.)
I stood up as the crowd headed towards the exit, and I looked around me one last time. We were just a bunch of people, out for a little escapist entertainment, and I know I wasn’t the only one who breathed a sigh of relief.
We are all so lucky to have been together, and safe. But I never quite stopped thinking about those who weren't as lucky as me. And I won't stop thinking about them anytime soon, great movie and all.