Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dark Knight vs. X-Files: Nerd Without Pity


•Like most people, I loved Dark Knight (despite the troubling fact that Batman-loving six-year-olds probably shouldn’t see it).  It may well come to be regarded as the definitive depiction of two familiar characters (not necessarily Batman himself).  One of many brilliant moments that may not have gotten much attention yet: despite all that darkness, there was still, I think, an homage to the 60s show in the form of that slowly-rotating camera angle on the Joker during his final conversation with Batman.  Made sense in context, made sense psychologically, and made sense as a geek hat-tip.

•As for X-Files: I Want to Believe: I’m left feeling that Chris Carter wasted the last six years if this is the best he can do, much as George Lucas wasted sixteen coming up with Phantom Menace.  I take no joy in saying this — I just feel sad for the people whose careers were quietly dying in front of me while I watched the X-Files movie.

Where’s the humor?  Where are the genuinely awe- and terror-inspiring scenes, like the scene on TV in which lights suddenly appeared over the bridge in that alien abduction two-part episode?  Where’s the weird, surprising thing right near the beginning that makes you love the story from the get-go?

It’s unbelievable that this film takes two hours and accomplishes less than the average ten-minute segment of the original series.  And there’s a bonus shot at the end of the surprisingly low-budget-seeming end credits that might as well be a placard reading “You don’t want to see any more of this ever again, do you?”  So lame.

It doesn’t even rise to the level of fun-but-ridiculous B-movie, since it’s downbeat and drab and has almost nothing in it more mindbending than an episode of Law and Order with a crime-solving psychic thrown in.  I don’t know why this movie was made, and I question the intelligence of everyone involved.

It is in some sense worse than a disaster.  True disasters — like Phantom Menace or Chronicles of Riddick or even Dune — are something you can take a certain amount of pleasure in condemning.  They are glorious failures in that at least they have enough moments of audacity and spectacle to leave you feeling that you can insult them and be assured that they have the strength to fight back, as it were — sort of like telling a Viking that his oil painting is terrible but knowing he will soldier on regardless.

X-Files: I Want to Believe, by contrast, is such a feeble, ineffectual film that it is more like a quietly expiring old woman who must be politely but awkwardly told that she is too smelly to remain seated in the common room.  Just depressing.

In short: I didn’t hate X-Files: I Want to Believe.  I felt sorry for it.

•I stress the fact that I don’t enjoy rendering that verdict on the X-Files movie because I know that we nerds can be merciless in our negative judgments — a side effect of us liking clear-cut rules, as I’ll discuss in tomorrow’s review of the book American Nerd.

In another reminder nerds can be harsh, here’s an anti-religion cartoon some nerd did, depicting Doctor Who, forwarded to me by Michel Evanchik.  You see what I mean — and I say that as an atheist and Doctor Who fan.


jenny said...

chronicles of riddick is one of my favorite terrible sci-fi movies – and one of the few movies that is far more watchable on television than it was in the theater.

it even has an actor connection with batman begins – linus roache, who played the blonde furian and bruce wayne’s father.

Todd Seavey said...

By the way, for the tiny handful who care, the one spoiler worth mentioning from the X-Files movie: to convince Mulder and Scully, who are living together, to investigate the murders in the film, the government drops the charges that were filed against Mulder at the end of the TV series.

So aside from that imminent — but here unmentioned — 2012 alien invasion, our heroes should be fine now. (Or maybe the aliens’ vulnerability to magnetite convinced them to give up on their invasion plans. I give up, in any case.)

T.A.B. said...

I too loved Dark Knight and didn’t even bother to catch X-Files. Speaking of Doctor Who, my girlfriend made these which did, in fact, make me laugh out loud.

Yancey Ward said...

Ah, The X-Files- what a glorious beginning it had! I was an avid fan for about 5 seaons, but the series degraded so badly that I never even watch much of the last two seasons, and felt no particular need to see this movie (whose making was a complete surprise to me). Having read this blog entry, I am sure I will never watch it. I think I will just hang on to the memory of what it once was.

Dee Lightful said...

Dune the David Lynch version is terrible? I haven’t seen enough of it, but it looks good. As for Chronicles of Riddick and Pitch Black, weren’t those fun and good too?

Todd Seavey said...

Lynch himself now calls _Dune_ a disaster and asked to have his name taken off it. Too many minute details were crammed into every throwaway line of dialogue to allow for anything like a normal flowing plot.

_Pitch Black_ was good precisely because it was very sparse and straightforward — its sequel, _Chronicles of Riddick_, had overblown pretensions of being, well, _Dune_ but was as full of choppily-cut fight scenes and dumb, hammy dialogue as any low-budget USA Network barbarian film with Rutger Hauer.

I think you could safely skip all three, really.

Adrienne said...

I knew one of you guys (apparently it was you, Mr. Todd Seavey) would be out there to explain the WTF questions i had floating around in my not nerdy enough brain, since coming home from the second “film.” The only thing that brought me any real satisfaction about this “sequel” was seeing actual proof that Moulder was finally and truly getting some. By the last few seasons, X-Files should have been renamed B-Balls. If you can’t figure out what the capital “B” stands for, you aren’t truly a nerd. (Isn’t that right boys!)

Yay Moulder, tap that a**. Good for you buddy.

Boo to the cock tease that was this movie, I’m sad too . . . I think I now know what all of those Soprano’s fans actually felt in their last moments.

Adrienne said...

Oh, and i apologize for spelling Mulder’s name wrong, twice. Like i said, i’m not a qualified nerd. Just a nerd appreciator! Thanks for all the work you guys do, you get us less dedicated X-Files-Star Wars-Comic Book-Fans, through all the WTF moments of our lives…

(the Real Men of Genuis Song is playing in the background somewhere, if you listen hard enough i’m sure you’ll here it)

Adrienne said...

Sorry, Hear.