March 7, 2014

Going Batty!

I like the Batman movies. Really. Go ahead and name a Batman movie and I'll tell you what I like about it. The only one that has really left me feeling as if I missed something is Batman Begins. I don't know what it is about that one, but for some reason, even though I've watched it numerous times (including just today), I cannot recall a single thing about it.

Oh, wait. It had Liam Neeson in it. There. Now I have something for that one.

Anyway, I like the movies, from 1966's Batman: The Movie to Tim Burton's series of increasingly stupid (but still fun) movies, all the way up to Chris Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. Hell, if they had made a movie called Ernest Saves Batman, I would have probably gone and seen that, too.

Each of these films has something to offer. For instance, Batman: The Movie has the classic scene where the incredibly entertaining Adam West tries to find a place to dispose of a cartoonish explosive that the bad guys had left in their hideout on the wharf. After several tries, he stops and, conveying the kind of exasperation one might encounter in such a situation, announces to nobody in particular, "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!" Seriously. Here, have a look for yourself:



The whole movie is like that. Even better, if you get the DVD and listen to the commentary by Adam West and Burt Ward (Robin), you get to hear things like "Hey, look! It's a movie!" and "Catwoman, you are causing curious stirrings in my utility belt!" Totally worth the price.

Then there's 1989's Batman, which was directed by Tim Burton. Of course, when it was announced that Michael Keaton was cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman, the comics community had a collective aneurysm. According to them, there could not have been a worse choice to play the Dark Knight himself!

"You're gonna miss me when I'm gone!"

"Whatevs! LOL!"

"Dear God...Did he eat Robin?"

If I had one complaint about Batman, it would be that it seemed as if Burton was making every effort to make this film hard to see. There is almost no light in the film. Was Warner Brothers behind on their electricity bill? The whole film seems to have been shot using the light from a dying flashlight and a few old birthday candles someone found in a kitchen junk drawer.

Bask in the vibrant colors!

Burton and Keaton returned for Batman Returns, which went out of its way to give us the most unpleasant characters ever.

And Danny DeVito.

The story revolved around Oswald Cobblepot, who was born deformed and violent, and his wealthy parents deal with this in the same manner any nurturing parents would: They stick him in a basket and drop him in a river. Some time later, he is living in the sewers of Gotham City, being pale and stuffing raw fish into his gaping maw. It is every bit as appealing to see on the big screen as you might imagine it to be.

At some point, someone must have said something to Burton about how utterly unpleasant every character in the film is, so they cast Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and encased her in skin-tight vinyl.

Best. Movie. EVER.

It ends (SPOILERS!) with Michelle Pfeiffer sharing a three-way kiss with Christopher Walken and an early version of a Tazer, which is the best way to kiss Christopher Walken.

Tim Burton, probably busy finding new and unusual ways to be photographed with kooky hair, did not have time to direct the next film, Batman Forever (This is a misnomer; it only feels that long), and handed the reins over to his dark henchperson, Joel Schumacher.

Michael Keaton had also had enough and decided to pass. Val Kilmer stepped in and offered up the most bland performance he could muster, which was matched only by the performances of Chris O'Donnell as Robin and Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian. You may have picked the wrong stars for your action movie when Tommy Lee goddamn Jones puts in a more energetic performance.

Simmer down, big fella...

Now, I have a few problems with this film. The one I really want to talk about is the Batcave's security system. Not once, but twice, someone managed to infiltrate Batman's secret lair. Dick Grayson did it by doing acrobatics at it, and ended up sliding down the stairs on his ass. Later in the film, the Riddler (Jim Carrey) finds the door and, with the push of a single button on his staff, gains immediate access.

Okay, I can see the need for these two things to happen in order to move the story along. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief long enough to accept this. The real problem is what happens when unauthorized people get in there. Let's go to the video, shall we?



Now, the security system has clearly decided something isn't right. You can tell because it starts yelling, "Intruder alert! Intruder alert!"

Oh, and it also turns on all the computer systems (this is more obvious when Dick first gets in there, as it shows the monitors at Batman's workstation turning on) and brings the Batmobile out of its hiding spot, putting it on display for any would-be thief that might want to go for a spin. You would think, what with Bruce Wayne being a billionaire who wants to hide his secret superhero lair, he might drop a few extra bucks on the deluxe system that won't give any intruders access to all of your cool toys.

Suspension of disbelief is only going to take you so far.

Still, while the film has its share of problems, it's pretty entertaining. It doesn't take itself too seriously.

Little did we, the viewing public, realize that this was just Schumacher trying to soften us up for Batman and Robin, with George Clooney stepping in to replace Val Kilmer as Bruce Wayne/Batman. O'Donnell returned to continue being bland and uninteresting as Dick Grayson/Robin.

New characters are introduced, such as Barbara/Batgirl, who is, inexplicably, Bruce's butler Alfred's niece, as opposed to being Commissioner Gordon's daughter, like she has been since...um...forever.

And, of course, there are new bad guys, including Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) and Bane (???). But don't get too excited, because two of those characters are portrayed by known actors, although you would never know it by watching their performances in this flick.

        No.                                No.                         And, again, no. 

I have no idea who the third character, Bane, is played by, but I did recognize the scientist who created him. It's none other than John Glover, who played Brice Cummings in the Bill Murray Christmas flick Scrooged. In this film, however, they made him look like a post-apocalyptic Dr. Forrester from Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Frank? It's time to get into the Thunderdome! Frank?

Of course, much has been made about the nipples on Batman's and Robin's suits. There's no need to rehash all that. But I don't recall hearing anything about the Bat-Ass:

Batman was an early adopter of Yoga pants.

Or Batgirl's Bat-Rack:

Are those upside down bird beaks? WHAT THE HELL
AM I LOOKING AT?

Or, forgive me, the Bat-Batch:

WARNING: Chafing danger!

I...I just...WHY, JOEL SCHUMACHER? WHY?

Okay. That's it for now. I can't take this anymore. Besides, I really don't have much to say about the Dark Knight flicks, other than, hey, maybe go watch them. They're pretty good. And Liam Neeson's in one of them. I think.

And for those of you traumatized by Bat-Junk, allow me to help clear your mind of this horribleness by offering up something from a simpler time...



All the best,
Derek and Bosco