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Movie Reviews: Batman Films Revisited

by PapaKennJuly 21, 2012

This week, Papa Kenn looks back on the previous Batman films through the years.

“Batman” (1966)
Director: Leslie H Martinson
Writers: Lorenzo Semple Jr, Bob Kane
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, and Lee Meriwether

“Batman” (1989)
Director: Tim Burton
Writers: Bob Kane, Sam Hamm, Warren Skaaren
Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger

“Batman Returns” (1992)
Director: Tim Burton
Writers: Bob Kane, Sam Hamm, Daniel Waters
Starring: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken

“Batman Forever” (1995)
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writers: Bob Kane, Lee Batchler, Janet Scott Batchler, Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell

“Batman and Robin” (1997)
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writers: Bob Kane, Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone

“Batman Begins” (2005)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Bob Kane, David S Goyer, Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman

“The Dark Knight” (2008)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Bob Kane, Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, David S Goyer
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman

Video Clip:
“The Dark Knight- Joker Interrogation Scene Spoof”
Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2yv8aT0UFc
Created by: Raul of MonkeyAndApple Comedy

http://www.youtube.com/MonkeyandApple

Fair Use:
All copyrighted material used under Fair Use. If you are a copyright holder and believe your material has been used unfairly, please contact me at:
PapaKennMedia@gmail.com

Review Transcript:
With The Dark Knight Rises, part 3 of the Batman trilogy brought to us by Christopher Nolan coming out this week, I thought it might be fun to recap my feelings on the ones that came before it. Not in any great detail of course, because these videos take long enough to edit without making them 10 minutes long or more. Many consider Nolan’s Batman movies to be the best of the best, though they all…well, most of the Batman movies are great in their own right.

There are several movies I can’t talk about because I’ve never seen them for various reasons. The 1943 and 1949 serial films because they came out so long before I was born, and the animated films because…actually I don’t know why I haven’t seen these yet. Maybe I’ll check them out when I have a day off. Except for this one. What’s wrong with his head?

The first Batman movie I remember seeing was the 1966 Adam West film based on the television series. It was fair enough for the time it was made, and actually helped boost the character’s popularity in comics at the time alongside the show. Not to mention it gave the current generation plenty of internet-worthy material.

Tim Burton’s Batman starring Michael Keaton was basically a big middle finger to the ‘66 film, throwing away all the campy silliness, the POW/BAM/BIFFs, and anti-shark repellent (don’t ask). Following a turn to a darker, grim side of Batman in the comics, 1989’s Batman was a game changer for the character thematically. Facing off against Jack Nicholson’s classic portrayal of The Joker, we’re treated to arguably one of the best Batman films ever made. Between Batman’s “toys”, the terrifyingly comical Joker, decent action, and just the right amount of Burton quirkiness to be entertaining (and not oversaturated), it becomes obvious why it has held up as a classic. It has some pacing issues that drag on at times, but that’s really the worst that can be said.

In 1992 Batman Returns came out, with Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito joining in as Catwoman and The Penguin alongside Keaton and Burton returning as director. It’s a pretty solid film, though falls short of its predecessor. The script just isn’t as strong, and The Penguin as a villain isn’t the ideal follow-up to The Joker. Not to mention his little penguin brethren make it a little too cute…in a disturbing way. Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman is a strong point in its favor, but…uh…sorry, I forgot what I was talking about.

Then in 1995 and 1997, Joel Schumacher was put at the helm of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. I’d rather not go into detail on these, as they are my least favorites by far. To summarize: flashy lights and bat-nipples.

After the series had all but been dismissed by Batman fans, Christopher Nolan rebooted the franchise in 2005 with Batman Begins. This movie is, in my opinion, what got the whole “BATMAN IS A BADASS” idea outside of the minds of comic book fans and into pop culture. While not without its flaws, Batman Begins is the origin story that the character has deserved all along, and possibly the definitive superhero origin to date. We experience Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Batman in a way that surpasses possibly every telling (and retelling and re-retelling) in the comics themselves. Not only is the character more hardcore than ever, attacking and dispatching thugs without mercy from the shadows, but the flashy gaudiness of the Schumacher films is completely washed away. Let me put it this way: Liam Neeson, the man that trained Obi-Wan Kenobi; the man that took on an entire drug and sex trafficking ring to save his daughter; the man that could beat the snot out of Chuck Norris any day of the week…trains Bruce Wayne to be a ninja. Correction: a ninja assassin. YEAH.

Finally, in 2008 The Dark Knight was released, a film considered by many to be the best Batman movie ever. Between the powerful screenplay and excellent performances from all of the actors (especially the legendary portrayal of The Joker by Heath Ledger), I can’t help but agree. There are some details that feel skimmed over upon close examination, but as an experience in and of itself, the movie feels close to flawless. It’s everything we could hope for in a Batman movie and more. Dark, serious, well executed action, and in many cases a serious mind-f***. My biggest complaint about the movie has to be the “growl” in Batman’s voice. The growl is there in Batman Begins, but is so annoyingly and exaggeratedly deep in The Dark Knight that I can’t help but believe it has been digitally altered in some way.

Now, in 2012, we are finally getting the last chapter in this epic trilogy, and I couldn’t be more excited. In fact, I’m finishing the script for this while waiting in the theater for The Dark Knight Rises to begin.

Will TDKR rise to the occasion and surpass its legendary predecessors? Will it fall short and disappoint? Will it fall short but still manage to impress? Only time will tell, and I for one can’t wait to tell you exactly what I think about it.

I’m Papa Kenn, and I’ll see you next review.

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