Notes from the Manager
Although The Dark Knight's record-setting debut weekend has been making the most headlines, the film's level of violence has been getting a little attention, as well. (Note: there are a few spoilers in the linked article.)
I don't know how many parents I've got reading this juvenile little strip of mine, so I don't really know how much anybody else out there will particularly care about this subject, but the violence in The Dark Knight kind of bothered me. The film was absolutely spectacular, mind you, and, in some ways, it was refreshing to see the Joker be able to cut loose with an appropriate amount of fucked-up insanity for the character, unlike the candy-coated Nicholson version or the relatively family-friendly Batman: The Animated Series version.
The level of violence bothered me not in the context of the film, but in how the film was being marketed. Toys are a hard one to gauge ages for, because adults collect action figures. (I do think MacFarlane Toys' products — while often disturbing — are generally and plainly aimed at older collectors/hobbyists, not children.) But I saw children's picturebooks unquestionably aimed at grade school aged kids at a Borders the other day — not just generic Batman picture books, mind you, but Dark Knight-specific picture books, with a sanitized version of Heath Ledger's Joker — and my soul died a little.
Marketing a film like Dark Knight to kids that young is simply inappropriate. Even though it is (of course) the parents' responsibility to decide if their child is ready for a PG-13 or even R-rated movie, little-kid merchandise gives parents the impression that the movie is appropriate for younger kids, whether that is the case (as in Iron Man) or not (as in DK, in my opinion, anyway).
Of course, you could tell from just the trailers that the Joker was going to be one messed up puppy but you couldn't (SPOILERS) tell that he was going to shove a pencil into a guy's skull or how fucked up Two-Face was going to look… (END SPOILERS).
I don't think Dark Knight should have gotten an R; to say sixteen year olds shouldn't be able to go to Dark Knight without a parent is absurd. But I do think a non-superhero movie from a studio without Warner Brothers' leverage with the MPAA with the exact same level of violence would have been given an R without hesitation. (Most people who have seen This Film Is Not Yet Rated would suspect the same thing.)
But because the studios aren't doing parents any favors by marketing movies like Dark Knight towards kids, they need to be better prepared when they take younger children to the movies — even (shudder) at the expense of spoiling movies for themselves, and so to that end, Parent Previews and Kids in Mind are two of many options to read up on the content of the movies at your local multiplex. (Note: Both links take you to The Dark Knight page at each site, so be ready for spoilers. Very detailed ones.)
Neither of these sites' Dark Knight reviews are quite on the mark, in my opinion (Kids in Mind's rating system has Iron Man's violence/gore rating equal to Dark Knight's which is ridiculous), so I'm not necessarily endorsing them; I'm just saying that they exist, and that parents should find resources they trust to rely upon.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015
This is not as accessible to people who haven’t seen the movie as I like these reviews to be, but if you’re not familiar with The Island or Never Let Me Go at all, the premises are that clones are raised and educated as “spare parts” — which is just plain absurd. (The idea that such a thing would be allowed by any reasonable society made the premise impossible for me to swallow, except as a very far-fetched Twilight Zone-style scenario. At least in The Island, it was secret and illegal.)
An absurd premise isn’t a deal-breaker, though, really. But The Island never lets you go past its implausible premise, because it is constantly trying to explain how it all works in equally stupid ways, further compounded by Bay’s typical disregard for logic and continuity:
- Once Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) learns the truth about their lives, he goes to the apartment of Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johannson) so they can escape. She greets him at the door by saying, “How sweet! You came to see me off” (I’m paraphrasing some of that)… yet their next scene, moments later, she is surprised and exclaims that he isn’t allowed in the female tower (as it’s called). This might be able to be explained away by some contrived explanation, but… the two moments feel completely incongruous.
- The massive underground facility the clones are kept in is maintained by presumably hundreds of normal human employees (including Steve Buscemi, Sean Bean, and Yvette Nicole Brown’s characters) — complete with a showroom for ultra-rich potential clients. Yet Lincoln and Jordan emerge from it into desert with nothing around. No helicopter landing pad, no parking lot… nothing. We even see a helicopter landing pad later in the film, yet it is again nowhere to be seen at the very end of the movie.
- Pursued by mercenaries, Lincoln and Jordan end up in a train station. The mercenaries open fire, killing Steve Buscemi, and a panic ensues inside the station… yet Lincoln and Jordan run onto the train with oblivious workers and passengers milling around calmly — and it then proceeds to leave the station as if no one has just gotten murdered… and arrives some time later in Los Angeles, without incident.
Minor or not, the sheer number of them just keep piling up. sigh
This is the last of the Multiplex Movie Reviews I’ll be sharing here in the Deleted Scenes blog for the near future. I hope you’ve enjoyed them!
Patreon patrons and Kickstarter backers will see more of these in their respective feeds come January — as well as the Multiplex: The Revenge bonus comics, of course. (There may even be a few movie review comics during the semester as time permits, but I can’t really promise anything. I’ve got A LOT of work to do for my thesis!)
EDIT: By the way, I wasn’t familiar with Parts: The Clonus Horror when I did this strip. (I don’t watch MST3K; I can’t bring myself to watch movies that shitty, even if there are incredibly funny motherfuckers talking over them.) But several people have told me about it since. These kinds of things are usually largely coincidental (or unintentional) — different people independently arrive at similar ideas all the time. $130 million movies generally don’t need to rip off obscure B-movie (or book, or comic book) plots when there are thousands of equally good ideas that they can legitimately use for less money than a settlement.
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