Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Movies IN ONE GO! - "Batman" Film Anthology (1989-1997)

Welcome to the very first episode of a new monthly segment on this blog where we'll talk about movie franchises IN ONE GO..

Today is officially BATMAN DAY (July 23) and what better way to celebrate than to discuss the movie franchise that defined the term blockbuster and redefined superhero movies both good and bad..

So it turns out back when the first film of the series has yet to start production, there were already several scripts and treatments written that the studio too cheesy and campy. Why so? It was mainly because of the success of the more darker Batman comic books, specifically The Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke. Director Tim Burton was never really a comic book fan and the casting of comedian Michael Keaton for the lead role has stirred some controversy among fans. See? reactions like these existed even before the internet.

So how did the movie turned out? Well let's find out..

Batman (1989)

You can imagine that the pressure was high on this one, but believe me it did deliver. While it isn't the most quintessential representation of Batman, Director Tim Burton perfectly captures the feel and tone of the Batman comic books at that time. It was dark, brooding, has that twisted feel from every Tim Burton movie, but not too much like you'd expect. Michael Keaton, at that time, was great as Batman. People can argue he didn't have the built, but it was his performance that won the hearts of many to make them believe that he is Batman, and believe me when he is Batman, he IS Batman. Even as Bruce Wayne he did a great job of portraying. But it's undeniable that it was Jack Nicholson's performance as The Joker that dominated this movie, even as far as overshadowing Batman. It was mainly because of how mysteriously Batman was written, keeping his origin story in flashbacks and giving us the impression of the less you know about him, the better. Overall, it was the Batman movie everyone needed and everyone deserved in 1989. Also, that Danny Elfman's score? Stunning and timeless. But please, those Prince songs are just whimsical. 

Score: B

Batman Returns (1992)

Judging by the title, I'm guessing you already have an idea what this movie is about. This film marks as the last time Michael Keaton ever put on the cap and cowl on the big screen, also serving as Director Tim Burton's farewell to the franchise, why? We'll get more into that, or perhaps I should say it right now. This is straight out a Tim Burton movie. From the set pieces, the production value, the performances, the writing, the score, you can definitely tell Burton had more confidence of adapting to his style more in this film than the last one. Everything is just dark, brooding and silly through and through. Even the film terribly slowed down somewhere in the middle. But nevertheless, performances by Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfieffer and Danny DeVito as Batman, Catwoman and Penguin respectively, are all phenomenal. All of them perfectly capturing Tim Burton's vision of those characters, which to me is the downside of those characters. This may not be the least faithful to the comics in the franchise, but when you're someone who knows the Batman mythos from the comics in a heartbeat, chances are, it will be hard for you to swallow this movie. But it's not a bad movie after all, just not the movie you'd expect to love. 

Score: C+

Batman Forever (1995)

Well, as Owl City said once in his..
"..this is the beginning, this isn't the end"
Beginning of what? This franchise' doomsday, that's what. So Michael Keaton's out, what a bummer. Danny Elfman's out, what? C'mon! Tim Burton's out, well maybe this means we'll have a better Batman movie, well sorry to burst your bubbles, the studio hiring Director Joel Schumacher to helm the project should have given it away for you. This is like a Tim Burton movie added with Crayola..

Well not really like that movie, but imagine Batman Returns added with bright majestic colors, both literally and figuratively. This film almost felt like Joel was trying to rip-off Tim Burton and has no idea about Batman except the 60's TV series and just made a very 90's version of it. This movie is like a Batman Saturday morning cartoon with ADHD. The filmmakers of this film must be ashamed that a cartoon (Batman: The Animated Series) is doing an overall better job on telling a quintessential Batman story than they ever did, but considering the fact that this movie is a success at the box office, I don't really think they do. Keaton's replacement Val Kilmer's performance as the Cape Crusader is the best thing about this movie. Everything else is just silly. Tommy Lee Jones' Two-Face is dumb, Jim Carrey's The Riddler is silly, Chris O'Donnell's Dick Grayson/Robin is annoying, everything is just off. This is Batman dumb down to fit into the 90's, and believe me that's not the worst. 

Score: E+

Batman & Robin (1997)

It's early in the morning here, you can tell my brain just turned into a mashed potato at this point. So basically that means I am now officially as dumb as this movie. I'm not going from head to toe about this movie, WE ALL KNOW IT'S BAD. So I'm just going to post these two videos I found on YouTube that I thought you'd like to see in light of our topic.

If that's enough for you, good. If not, well here's my quick thoughts.

Director Joel Schumacher was pressured by the studio to make this movie like cooking hot-dog. And, on a perspective this isn't entirely his fault, he was pressured by everyone and in that way he didn't have enough thought process. That act of greediness just exploded into a cinematic atrocity. The story is dumb, the visuals is eye-soar, the acting is just simply hilariously pathetic. This is the definition of rock bottom, and thank goodness Christopher Nolan saved this franchise. But seriously, Bat-nipples? Bat-credit card!? REALLY!?

Score: F

This film franchise has undeniably made a HUGE impact on it's genre. It has covered everything from how to make a good movie to how to make a bad movie. Truly it's out dated, but without these movies Batman would never be the same. 

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