Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bat Week Part 1: The Bat-tening

Ok, I'm not gonna lie, I've been waiting a long time to do this. My hit count since this blog's creation is...OVER NINE THOUSAND!!!

Ok I'm done.

Tonight me and Jon started Bat Week off with a Tim Burton and a Joel Shumacher because we wanted to mix things up and also we realized that we would potentially go violently insane if we watched the two Shumacher batmans in a row. So tonight was the original Batman from 1989 and Batman Forever. Next will be Batman Begins and Batman Returns, because it's a funny title combo and then lastly the best will go head to head with the worst and we'll watch The Dark Knight and Batman and Robin.

Also, we realized that while it was easy to say that the Schumacher films were the worst, it was harder to elucidate which good Batman movies were better. Sure Batman Begins is epic, but the original Batman is also really really really good. So we devised an individual ratings system, which goes by the following: Batman himself, Music, Gotham City, Villains, Gadgets, Ladies, Secondary, Characters, Batmobile, and Sheer WTF-ery. Let's begin with Batman circa 1989 and one of the last Tim Burton films to not have a pale Johnny Depp in them.

This was the first revival of Batman from the world of cheesy schlock to being all cool and mysterious and spooky. Burton was the man to do it too, Gotham is dreary and dark, the batsuit is simplistic, and the general tone is one of despair and just a general meh sort of feeling. Michael Keaton plays one of the most fleshed out Bruce Wayne's and of course, there is Jack Nicholson's iconic role as the Joker. Amazing as Heath Ledger's performance was, Jack will always be the Joker. But we all know the plot and general whatnot (if not then go watch it. Now. Seriously, what's wrong with you?) Let's get to the specifics!

Batman: Batman is dark and mysterious, very less is more. Bruce Wayne is actually sort of quietly comedic and a bit socially awkward, which makes sense, really. Keaton plays Bruce not like a overblown facade but like a real, vulnerable dude who happens to spend his leisure hours dressed in a rubber costume.

Music: Danny Elfman, bitches. This score is so amazing they literally just pasted it over the opening to the cartoon series without changing a thing. Very orchestral and moody, at times it can be a bit too bombastic and over-the-top but generally it fits the scene just right and helps bring the movie to life

Gotham City: I LOVE the style Burton made Gotham city in. It's very forties, very gangster noir kinda thing but still acknowledging that it's the eighties. Gotham seems to be a melding of the modern world with a Depression era atmosphere and it's never jarring but flows together very nicely like some kind of alternate timeline. The only bad thing is that some sets do not stand the test of time and are obviously fake backdrops

Jon: " really fake"

Me: "It's only a model!"

Villains: Dude, it's the freaking Joker! Not only is he insanely quotable: "Wait til they get a load of me!" "This town needs an enema!" "Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?" "Never rub another man's rhubarb!", he's just so psychotically awesome with his acid posies, his joy buzzers of DEATH and his status as a "homicidal artist." Yeah, Dark Knight Joker stabs a dude with a pencil, Batman Joker does with a pen. A QUILL PEN.

Gadgets: Nothing ostentatious, mostly just grappling hooks, which is believable.

Ladies: Vicki Vale, the hot nerd, played by Kim Basinger. Of all the Batman ladies she probably gets the most fleshing out of character. She has a back story, a personality and she also puts out on the first date with Bruce. Way to be a gold digger, Vicki. She's an interesting character and you get to know her well enough that you actually care about what happens to her. But she's a screamer. And it gets old really fast. Also she's a dirty liar.

(Batman is attaching Vicki to some grapple-y thing)

Batman: "How much do you weigh?"

Vicki: "About 108"


Secondary Characters: Again, lots of time spent on them, Harvey Dent, played inexplicably by Lando Calrissian, the mayor, Joker's boss and Vicki's partner at the newspaper, Knox, all feel like fairly full characters. Knox especially, played earnestly by Robert Wuhl, who is adorable (in this case anyway). He and Basinger actually have better chemistry than her and Keaton, and unfortunately, it shows. I always end up wishing that Vicki decided not to be with Bruce and ended up with Knox.

Batmobile: Again, simplistically elegant. But that doesn't stop it from looking like a penis

sleek and horrifyingly pointy one

Sheer WTF-ery: Joker and Prince, not the most obvious pairing:

Then there's the fact that this Bruce Wayne actually sleeps upside down, the occurrence of MIME CRIME, and the one bat in the batcave that is for some reason in a birdcage (He's Bruce's favorite and his name is Fluffles).

On the whole, it's a classic movie with great dialogue and well-developed characters. Some bits are a bit dated and it definitely starts to drag near the end but that doesn't stop it from being awesome. My only question: it's great that Batman gave Commissioner Gordon a bat signal, but what happens when someone commits a crime in the daytime? Are they just shit out of luck?

Four and a half bats out five (Ew, half a bat)

And this has nothing to do with anything, but isn't this picture just great?

I smell a sitcom!

So that's plenty for one post I think, and anyway I need to space this out to a week, so you'll get Batman Forever tomorrow because it's 1am and I need to go to bed. So look forward to Dick Grayson, Boy Whiner, the Neon-facepaint gangsters and a revelation about The Riddler and Two-Face that everyone saw coming. SO MUCH BATMAN.

"I have given a name to my pain, and it is Batman" -Joker



    I had to.

  2. The first Batman we agree on. Part 2 was also good, Danny Devito plays bad really well, though their version of the Penguin was kind of lame. Jack Palance being in the first one rules as well. Love me some Jack. Though number 1 is definitely a 5 out of 5 bats. Maybe even a 5 1/2. Oh well.

  3. Simon: >.<

    Rich: The only thing that kept it from that perfect five out of five is the fact that it really does drag near the end, and also it's filled with vicki vale screams, which are like nails on some sort of chalkboard. Otherwise, perfecto!

  4. i love the word elucidate ...Panty Puddin!

  5. I will never get used to Robert Wuhl being in this movie. Every time he pops up it takes me right out of the scene. They may as well have cast Weird Al.

    Also, that pic of the two of them is hilarious. I definitely get an Odd Couple vibe off of them. Is it to much to hope that footage exists of that photo shoot? "OK Michael, now roll your eyes at Jack like he forgot to use a coaster. Great!"

  6. I wish. "Joker, clean the living room, the boss is coming for dinner!"

    And then Joker shows up in his underwear

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