Thursday, 21 January 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 128 - I'm Batman

458 - Batman - 2 stars
A once great film when I was 12 has been tarnished by the infinitely superior reboots of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
I know that it is wrong to be drawing comparisons when doing these reviews but when you spend your life watching hundreds of films, conciously or subconciously, these are probably going influence and shape your opinions on film in general.
For many people Jack Nicholson's scene stealing clown was the definitive Joker, but then Heath Ledger came along and showed that the Joker could a truly psychotic villain whereas Nicholson shows glimpses of his traditional crazy schtick but has more in common with Cesar Romero.
Which brings me to ask the question; where the hell is the Adam West Batman in the Empire 500 list?
But I must stop with The Dark Knight talk, that is for another review.
The film is completely unbalanced by Nicholson's performance that there isn't much time for anyone else to make a lasting impression. Keaton is OK as Batman but not as Wayne, his romance with Basigner is not engaging and it struggles because it does not involve the audience in how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, with simply a mere glimpse at the back story.
It is not all bad. Danny Elfman's score is still one of the best from a comic book movie.

401 - Batman Returns - 4 stars
A much better film all round, that shows Spider-Man 3 that too many villains don't always spoil the broth.
This film serves to highlight Batman's fatal flaw, that he is a rather dull and boring hero and constantly upstaged by the more colourful villains; The Penguin, Catwoman, and oddly the most clear cut villain Max Schrek, played with wonderful over-the-top menace by Christopher Walken (who is my favourite actor to do impressions of... but I also do a mean Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood).
Aah, Catwoman. As personified by Michelle Pfieffer, she was probably one of my first serious schoolboy crushes and it isn't hard to see why considering she was in that iconic outfit!
There is beautiful interplay between Keaton (more comfortable in the Bruce Wayne role this time around) and Pfieffer as they struggle with their split personalities, leading to a great realisation under the mistletoe. I would love to see this relationship explored in the Nolan universe.
Tim Burton's vision of Batman differs from Christopher Nolan's in that the visual style is more Gothic and based in a fantasy comic book world (the creation of Catwoman and her nine lives are a clear example), while Nolan's Batman exists in a totally realisitic world where everything has a reason for existing and working.

Days remaining - 237 Films remaining - 311

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