Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Holy Twenty Years, Batman!

As it is twenty years today since Tim Burton's Batman film was released (in the States, at least) and it's largely responsible for beginning my interest in all things Dark Knight-y, let's have a quick appraisal of that first run of Bat-films, shall we? You know, the ones before Christopher Nolan came in and made them even grimmer and grittier.

The One Where:- Michael Keaton pouts and Jack Nicholson steals the show.
The Highlights:- The Gothic architecture. The title music (which I now associate with Batman: The Animated Series). And Jack Nicolson hamming it up as The Joker and running off with the film.
The Lowlights:- Kim Basinger's fairly wet and boring as Vicki Vale. Plus killing off Nicholson at the end of the film was a mistake (and set the pattern for the films to follow). Your basic supervillian should always be presumed dead...
Overall:- A good start but definite room for improvement. My second favourite of this run.

Batman Returns
The One Where:- Michelle Pfeiffer wears a PVC catsuit. And some other stuff happens.
The Highlights:- Michelle Pfeiffer in a PVC catsuit (I was 16 - this was a formative experience for me). DeVito's Penguin is suitably grotesque. And the design is dark yet comic-booky again. There's also more of a sense of fun and enjoyment in this one with the more perverse nature of the whole dressing-up-as-a-superhero thing brought to the fore.
The Lowlights:- Killing off villains yet again. And everyone seems to find out who Batman is. He's rubbish at keeping his secret identity a secret (this affliction also seems to plague Peter Parker in the films).
Overall:- Michelle Pfeiffer in a PVC catsuit. Oh wait, did I mention that? No surprise, then, that this is my favourite.

Batman Forever
The One Where:- It all starts to go a bit wrong...
The Highlights:- Jim Carrey is actually quite fun as The Riddler (first time round) and at least Joel Schumacher is trying to make his own imprint on the design, combining the Gothic with a more garishly-coloured side which kind of works.
The Lowlights:- Tommy Lee Jones is playing someone called Two-Face who is completely unrelated to the comic character. Val Kilmer appears to be on valium. And nobody really wanted to see Robin, to be honest. And after a while, Jim Carrey starts to grate.
Overall:- Fun in places but it's starting to lose it now.

Batman And Robin
The One Where:- It's shit.
The Highlights:- None. Its shit.
The Lowlights:- All of it. It's shit.
Overall:- Feel free to hazard a guess. I cannot bear this film. Everything about it poorly judged and executed. Avoid it at all costs.


Kurt said...

I saw it about a dozen times in the theaters including opening night and I was all "HA! This makes the old one look so stupid!" Fast forward 19 years to The Dark Knight. Same sentiment.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

The only good thing about the fourth movie was Alicia Silverstone, as I had a thing for her at the time. But, yeah, that movie is reminiscent of something I find on the paper after a prolonged sit down in the loo.

I guess Tim Burton never read The Killing Joke, where Batman needs the Joker in order to remain Batman. I was never a fan of killing of Nicholson.

Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

Hi Baldy Fella,

I am a fan of the original TV series with Adam West. It will for me be a classic. No movie could ever come close.

Yes, I know its telling about my age. But as a young teen I didn't miss it.


That Baldy Fella said...

Kurt - Yeah, it's surprising how light and cartoony Burton's stuff looks now in comparison.

mjenks - Yeah, I was a fan of hers, too, at the time but even that didn't help. And everyone should read The Killing Joke - it's what properly started me off collecting...

Lady E - Oh, I love the Adam West series, too. It's reflective of a lot of Batman comics around at that time but those weren't the ones I grew up reading - mine were the grim and gritty ones.