“What gives you the right? What’s the difference between you and me?” Batman Imitator
“I’m not wearing hockey pads!” The Real Batman
Oh God… save us from oh-so-clever titles and wannabe Blair Witch Project rip offs. Save us from bad fan films that are produced with such puny budgets and resources that it’s just not possible to make anything substantial out of them. Yes, I always admire indies that stretch their meager budgets far beyond what’s humanly possible, but even I have to admit that it is just not possible to make a film with only a camcorder, two friends and about 50 cents. You just can’t. Well… that’s not true. You CAN, but you probably shouldn’t. Either that, or your idea better be divinely inspired or Oscar worthy or some damn thing.
Shorts like The Dark Knight Project are a scary proposition for people like me. First and foremost because it’s made by fans for fans, and usually that’s just another way of saying: “Watch something else Jeremy. Oh look! It’s Fairuza Balk in the Worst Witch!” because 99% of the time fan films are like fan fiction, rubbish. Not to mention that I’m starting to get burned out on superhero stuff. Yes, I liked the original Superman and Batman Begins and X-Men and Iron Man and all that, but dammit, it’s time for people to run a new genre into the ground; and when fanboys jump onto this already tired bandwagon that just makes me sad because I’ve rarely seen a fan film that doesn’t make me wish the people who made it had decided to spend the money on strippers instead.
Sometimes miracles happen. Sometimes you do beat the odds at Monte Carlo. Sometimes being really clever can work. Sometimes fans can be smart enough to let the material speak for itself and not try to lead it around. Sometimes, as is the case with Dark Knight Project, they had and actual budget and money to work with. Sometimes, by God, they have honest talent.
Now, in this review I’ve said some harsh things about fan films, and I sadly mean them. Fan films always try too damn hard to be cool. They’re like porn, except with fistfights replacing sex. Dark Knight Project succeeds specifically because it’s very low key. It’s basically two high school kids walking out at night trying to capture Batman on tape for a school project. The timeframe is a little before Dark Knight when Batman has got all the criminals on edge and the Joker has just begun to make himself known.
Know why else it works? Because it feels real, it feels like what two high school kids living in the actual world of Batman would think and say. Does Batman exist? Maybe he’s just a story the cops cooked up to scare crooks? You never know. The film wisely treats Batman as this intriguing mystery/conspiracy and the thoughts the kids have about him feel genuine.
Tell you what; I’ll give this film the best and most apt compliment I can give it: If this short was an extra on “The Dark Knight” DVD as a real canonical bridge between Begins and Knight, it wouldn’t be out of place at all. It works. There’s great attention to detail here to try and match the mood and pacing of Nolan’s Batman films and it doesn’t feel like some sort of mutated third nipple on a playboy playmate.
So yeah, I almost feel weird saying this, but… I liked it.
Because it uses footage from Dark Knight and Batman Begins, this will obviously never ever see the light of day on a proper DVD release, but I’m sure it can be found if you look hard enough (EDIT: Or not hard at all it seems. Just go to the film’s IMDB page and the whole short can be viewed there. – Knox) and unlike a lot of things online it’s actually worth going out of your way to check out. Sure, you’ll miss out on 15 minutes of wanking to Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler”, but don’t worry; she’ll still be naked when you come back.
In the meantime, this will amuse you for an entire 15 minutes. I promise. It’s not as good as wanking, but it’s not bad either.