Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dark Knight of My Soul (spoiler free)

Due to a curious turn of events, I saw the big movie twice this weekend.  Son #2 had been counting down the days to the release for a few months, and a couple of weeks back he talked me into being the chaperon for him and a couple of friends for the midnight showing on opening night (or rather, morning).  So we bought four tickets online, and I went to pick them up at the local megaplex.  In the meantime, the afore-mentioned son went on a trip to Honduras with our church where they distributed lots of care packages, did puppet shows for the kids, and had their own worldviews expanded.  (I do hope that the Hondurans benefited from the trip, but it is no secret that the massive short-term missions movement of this generation has a bigger effect on those who go than on those to whom they are going.   I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't go, just that we're cognizant and realistic about the effects (as an aside to this aside, my fine department has one of the premier scholars of such things; you can find his web presence here)).  On their way back, at a layover in Miami, he called and said, "Dad, I think I'm supposed to go to church camp next week."  He hadn't planned to go to camp, because he already missed a week of "voluntary" (read: you'd better choose to be here if you want us to think you take this seriously) soccer practices because of the Honduras trip.  The next week was the team camp portion of the voluntary summer practices.  So I say on the phone in my best counting-the-cost-voice, "OK, you do remember that soccer camp is next week?"  He was ready for that: "Yes I know, but Jesus is more important that soccer."  Parents can't help but be proud when their kids come to such conclusions on their own--even if "on their own" in this case means "in the middle of a bunch of other kids who are exerting positive peer pressure on each other".  So he got home that night, wrote an explanatory email to his coach (which was never acknowledged), and left the next morning for camp.  Sometime at Cedar Point the next day (which was somehow part of the "Jesus" that was more important than soccer camp), he realized that the cost of this decision included missing the midnight showing of Batman.  I got another call.  Not much to be done at that point.  I assured him that I wouldn't charge his friends for the tickets.

Since my wife had absolutely no interest in going to the movie, and all my kids were at camp, I asked my brother-in-law and his two sons if they'd like to go.  They jumped at the chance, because that is the sort of thing that we're all conditioned to jump at.  The account of my evening more properly belongs as another example in Farmer Lenny's very fine blog posting here on cultural peer pressure.  It is certainly the culturally cool thing to go to the midnight opening of this week's event of the decade.  We met there at 11:15, and the entire parking lot was already full.  The moving was showing on eight screens  (maybe more).  We couldn't find even two seats together in the comfortable viewing zones of the theatre, so the four of us sat together in the second row in front of this massive screen, clear on the right side (next to the speaker that the baby crying comes out of during the public service announcement about not adding your own sound track to the movie).  There was a very large human in the seat next to me (not one of my relatives) who took more than his share of our common armrest, and throughout the night he perpetually bounced his legs with sufficient force to impart enough momentum to our row of seats that if harnessed could have equaled the power output of the fusion generator in the movie.  Previews these days are edited into a chaotic stream of half-second shots with a thumping soundtrack; when seen from my viewing angle and heard primarily through the right-front floor speaker, the twenty-five minutes of these gave me a good dose of vertigo.  The last midnight opening I went to was The Return of the King.  I actually dozed off in that one somewhere around hour three.  So this time before leaving home I brewed a pot of coffee and took it with me in a thermal mug.  In the excitement of the build up before the movie started, I drained the whole thing.  By about an hour and a half into the movie, my bladder was talking to me.  I didn't want to leave to answer it, because I was already slightly confused by the story line (mostly since I couldn't understand much of Bane's dialog through the one-channel speaker system).  I guess the upside of that is that either the caffeine or the need to relieve myself kept me awake just fine.  My other strategy for staying awake was to snack on something throughout the movie.  I brought a sandwich baggie full of my homemade trail mix of peanuts, raisins, and chocolate chips.  (Technically, I suppose this is against the policy of the cinema (as was the coffee), but I promise you that it didn't cost them any money since there is no way that I'd be paying movie prices for my snacks.)  Unfortunately the chocolate chips melted into a sticky mass.  After the movie, my nephews were sure we should wait until the end of the credits because there would probably be some secret message or hilarious hidden scene (like superheros sitting in a diner eating sandwiches together).  There wasn't.  And that delayed us sufficiently to be stuck in the parking lot traffic for thirty minutes with the hordes of people who couldn't wait to get away from what was the greatest experience of their lives.  At home I climbed in bed and watched the clock flip to 4:00am.  The coffee and adrenaline kept me pretty well awake until the sun started to come up.

Was it worth it? I can say that I was among the very first to see the movie. But now the "very first" are "almost everyone". What used to be an exclusive midnight event that came with bragging rights, has now become the expectation. My boys got home the next day and wanted to go see the movie. I took them, and said we better get there early so we get decent seats. We didn't make it as early as I thought we needed to. We only got to the door of the theatre 30 minutes before showtime, on the Friday night opening at 7:05 pm, which I figured would be among the most popular show times. There were only four other people there. By opening night, everyone had already seen it. It was yesterday's news (or rather, this morning's news).

If anyone still cares in a day or two, I'll write up what I actually thought about the movie.


D.C. Cramer said...
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D.C. Cramer said...

Are you kidding me: bragging rights for seeing it midnight EASTERN (US) TIME? If you want bragging rights, you need to fly to Northern Ireland (for one of those trips that supposedly does more good for the travelers than the locals but--in the case of Northern Ireland--might do equally as little good for both (if we are to be completely honest)) and then make evangelistic posters somehow related to a theme or character in the movie to hold while standing in line for the midnight showing while others in line look at you as though you are in some cult based on the quasi-religion of the movie and then watch the movie six hours before anyone in the US (other than movie executives and other Hollywood elites) and then take a picture in front of the movie billboard while flashing fake gang signs and hardcore faces. Now that, my friend, would be worth bragging about.

Look forward to seeing you this week.

J. B. Stump said...

Now David, wasn't it on that trip that the seeds of your egalitarianism were sown? That was some good wasn't it?