All Batman Movies Quick Thoughts

I must confess- Batman and I have a rather troubled relationship.  You know how some people just don’t get Star Wars and why everyone loves it?  Well, that’s what Batman is for me.  Out of all of the versions of Batman I only really love 1 of them. Only 1 would make my top 200 favorite movies list.

That’s not to say that I hate them. In fact, most of them I find watchable and even enjoy, but it’s just not my fandom.My biggest problem with most Batman movies is that Batman gets sidelined in favor of the villains.  I like my superhero movies to be about heroes not villains.

That said, I’m going into this week’s Batman v Superman with an open mind and perhaps less insane expectations than the fanboys.  I hope I will like it!

Nevertheless, it had been years since I had seen most of the Batman films so I gave them all a rewatch.  I decided to do kind of a Hit Me with Your Best Shot treatment to all these movies and picked one shot that I think captures the movie best and then add a few thoughts on each film:

(For my thoughts on all the Superman movies click here)

Batman 1966- charming and completely ridiculous. Wears out its welcome at nearly 2 hours but the villains are silly fun and Adam West is very dapper as Batman. I like how everything is labeled. That cracks me up. Batman 1966-2This is my favorite example of the labeling I will just add because I think it is so funny.  They label the entrance to the bat cave and Dick and Bruce’s poles.

batcaveBatman 1989- I didn’t like it. People talk about Michael Keaton being so great, but he’s hardly in the movie. Next time you watch it pay attention to how much dialogue and screen time Keaton actually has and it will surprise you.   Jack Nicholson as the Joker just shouts a lot.  I mean there’s a long unnecessary Prince musical number in the middle?  I don’t get the appeal to be honest. Even the makeup I don’t really like. batman 1989-2Batman Returns- Starts strong and Penguin/Catwoman are creepy and memorable. But  it gets too fetishy for my taste. Almost no Batman in this film- like seriously there are long segments with the villains and then Batman/Bruce Wayne appears briefly. Cinematography and art design is cool and feels like a Tim Burton movie, so at least it has that going for it.  The Penguin running for office plotline is a snoozefest. It scared me as a little girl and definitely has some horror elements but now it feels more icky than scary for a good chunk of movie.Batman REturns2Batman Forever- Jim Carrey is fun as Riddler but Tommy Lee Jones is awful. For a movie meant for children it earns its PG-13 rating with violence and sensuality. Plan by Riddler to overtake all the brains in Gotham with his TV device sure gets implemented quickly and is very silly. It needed to be developed more but instead we get lots of shouting, lame action and Nicole Kidman spouting 90s era pop psychology. The whole movie is silly and special effects look really bad. Batman forever2Batman and Robin- Some so bad its good appeal. Unfortunately even that is marred by a surprising amount of male erotica (and female) for a film made to sell children’s toys.  The action is ridiculous with characters defying gravity and having powers that don’t make sense. The one liners are groan inducing especially from Arnold and Uma Thurman is so bad. Careers were ruined all over the place. Batman and Robin2Batman: Mask of Phantasm- Love it. My favorite Batman movie.  I love the animation, and I love the relationship between Bruce and Andrea Beaumont. It’s a Batman movie actually about Batman! Imagine that! The script is so good.  I particularly love the conversation at the end with Alfred and Bruce about walking the line between good and evil.  Mark Hamil is fantastic as the Joker and he is used more sparingly than Dark Knight. Great Shirley Walker score. (I’ll do a full review of this one of these days)mask of phantasm2Batman Begins- Overlong  but I like it because it is about Batman. I think the cinematography is good and I like that it embraces comic book sensibilities a little bit more than other Nolan films (microwave emitter and all). Liam Nieson is good as Ra’s al Ghul and one of the more complex Batman villains.batman beings33Dark Knight- I’m not as high on this as everyone else but it is well done. Heath Ledger is great. I’m just not that into crime dramas and think the movie suffers when Joker is off screen. Plus, Harvey Dent’s transformation is so sudden from renegade DA to threatening to kill a child. I needed more time with him and Rachel to buy their relationship and the drastic change. Batman/Bruce Wayne is lost a bit because Joker is so strong. But I totally get why you love it so don’t kill me.Dark Knight222Dark Knight Rises I like the more hopeful tone and Anne Hathaway is great. Bane’s Marxist revolution and the focus on manipulating the masses is interesting. More focus on Batman/Bruce Wayne than Dark Knight. I like my Batman movies to be about Batman! There is too much of Bruce watching the action instead of participating and Marion Cotillard character is weak.  However, as with all the Nolan films, it looks great and is well done.  It was better than I expected it to be (I saw for first time a few weeks ago).Dark knight rises battleIn general, I guess I’m just not that big of a Batman girl but we’ll see how Batman v Superman does. Maybe it can win me over? Here’s hoping! batman v superman11Can any of you relate to my feelings on any of these films?  What do you think of them? I would love to hear your thoughts.

My Family Movie Night youtube review of Batman 1966

Advertisements

Blindspot 3: Dark Knight Rises

dark knight risesThis month I am taking care of my Blindspot entry early.  This is the series where we watch a classic we have never seen before and give our thoughts on it.  I have already done Blade Runner, Tron and now we look at The Dark Knight Rises.  Yes my friends, today I saw Dark Knight Rises for the first time.  I’m probably one of the few Americans who can say that!

The reason why I was hesitant to see it was because I didn’t really care for Dark Knight (I know shock. Ah, horrors, I have no taste!).  It was too cynical, violent and frankly creepy for me.  It was dominated by a mesmerizing villain and I don’t like stories about villains.  I like stories about heroes.  So I was reticent to see the final installment and then the Colorado Shooting happened and it put me over the edge.  You can read my thoughts on that day here.

I quoted my cousin who said:

“How about the very movie that was showing in the theater where the shooting took place?! I know The Dark Knight Rises is the movie of the Summer, but I walked out because of how intensely violent I felt it was and the ruthless killer Bane was dark and evil. After 20 minutes I went back in because I didn’t want to feel left out… (wish i would have chosen differently now.) i know its bold to say, but we cannot keep watching this violence on screen and expect to be exempt from it in real life!”

I admit I have become a bit more immune to these things than back then but the violence in Dark Knight still bothered me when watching it a few weeks ago.

dark knight rises5

So that’s all kind of background to my viewing experience today.  And…

I have to be honest- I liked The Dark Knight Rises a lot more than I thought I would.  Why?  Well, at its core is a message of hope that a city can rise up and confront evil.  In the Dark Knight, on the other hand, the most noble soul turns into the villain.  It’s the opposite message.  Everyone, even Batman has an angle and isn’t that different from the Joker after all.

That’s not to say it is perfect but I did enjoy the viewing experience a lot more.  I know I’m unique in that but I’m not writing these reviews to tell you what you want to hear but what I truly believe.

So basically the plot in Dark Knight Rises is Bruce Wayne is blamed for the death of Harvey Dent, who is looked at as a hero.  He goes into hiding for 8 years.  Bane, a masked beast of a man, played by Tom Hardy is on a mission to remove corruption from Gotham by removing what he see’s as injustice. Injustice with the government, wealth, commerce and everything else.

dark knight rises2

Bane is trained by Ra’s al Ghul from Batman Begins (who trained Batman) and he is also on a mission to kill Batman who killed Ra.  Bane tricks Catwoman Selina Kyle to get Bruce Wayne’s fingerprints and he stages a takedown of the stock exchange destroying Bruce and Wayne Enterprises.

The plot does get pretty convoluted at that point but Alfred resigns (and is missing most of the movie), Lucius becomes involved, Commissioner Gordon is hunting down Bane as best he can and we get to meet John Blake who is essentially a Robin-type story.  There is also Wayne Board Member Miranda Tate played by Marion Cotillard who wants to see a fusion reactor produced for energy but Bruce fears it could get into the hands of people like Bane.

Bane tries to stage a type of Marxist revolution killing off the powerful and rich while manipulating the common people with fear.  This is in the end is not effective when many people fight back (literally in a type of battle) and Batman pays the ultimate price.  The film leaves us with the message “a hero can be anyone”

dark knight rises4

One of the things that bothers me about most Batman movies is Batman is always the most boring person in the film.  Dark Knight Rises is an interesting situation because he is not really the lead character.  The City of Gotham is the lead, and its transformation is what is compelling.So basically Batman Begins is about Bruce becoming Batman.  Dark Knight is about the Joker and the power of evil and corruption.  Dark Knight Rises is about the City of Gotham and it finding its hope again.

That’s not to say there aren’t problems in the film.  Batman is in the film too little and there are probably too many scenes of Bruce watching the action in prison.  Also it can be difficult to understand what Tom Hardy is saying with that mask on.  There are also other plotholes like his speedy recovery with a leg brace from a debilitating injury but it’s a comic book movie.  I guess I expect that kind of heroics in a comic book movie.  I don’t watch this genre for gritty realism. And in reality there are plotholes in Dark Knight whether people chose to acknowledge them or not.

I’m not saying Dark Knight Rises is a masterpiece. I don’t know if I feel that way about any superhero movie outside of The Incredibles; although there are many I enjoy.  I’m just saying I appreciated the change in tone from the previous installment.

dark knight rises3I also loved Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle.  She was confident, sexy, and smart.  Her performance certainly wipes the bad taste out of my mouth from Halle Berry’s Catwoman.  That’s for sure!  I thought she was really entertaining.

dark knight rises6Miranda Tate while fine was more of an average character, and I don’t know that I completely buy her big reveal at the end.  It feels a little cheap to me.  Nolan didn’t need to make everything in all 3 movies tie up in a perfect bow.  We even see Scarecrow in a cameo during the sentencing scene.  That wasn’t really needed.

Also  many of the other characters are relegated to bit roles.  Alfred has very powerful moments but then is missing for most of the movie.  Gordon we don’t see enough of , as well as a number of other characters.

dark knight rises8As far as Bane goes I found his political motivations to ‘share the wealth’ kind of interesting but like I said he is tough to understand at times and is a little one-note.  The fight scenes are intense but perhaps because I wasn’t as creeped out by Bane as Joker they didn’t bother me as much as the violence in Dark Knight.

If I’m honest you do kind of tell this was the B storyline that they had to use with Heath Ledger’s passing but I still think it turned out very well.

Dark Knight Rises feels like a comic book movie and not a crime drama.  That said, having seen how the story ends I do appreciate the Dark Knight much more than I did before (it might not sound like it but it is true).  I can now see the story as a true trilogy and the hopeful ending does make the middle violence a little more palatable. It is almost better to think of the 3 films as one long movie and not 3 separate stories.  dark knight trilogyOf course the direction is well done by Nolan with beautiful cinematography from Wally Pfister and terrific score from Hans Zimmer.  I don’t think Nolan has made a technically bad movie yet.

You could definitely make an argument that Dark Knight Rises is self-indulgent at its 165 minute time and there are definitely lags but over all I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.  Chop this one up to low expectations if you want.

There’s hope for Gotham and that makes me happy!

Overall Grade- B

Dark Knight Thoughts and Going Against the Grain

dark knight2Everyone has one.  I know you do.  That movie that everyone else seemingly adores and you just don’t gel with.  I’d like you to think about that movie while reading this post.  Most likely you can see why that movie is highly regarded by other people.  Perhaps the performances are good or the cinematography or whatever.  You can appreciate it but it just isn’t your favorite movie.  Well, my friends I confess The Dark Knight is that movie for me.

…..Don’t hate me!

I acknowledge The Dark Knight is an exceptionally made film.  The acting is great especially by Heath Ledger as The Joker.  It is also very well shot by Christopher Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister.  It is a masterpiece in filmmaking in that regard.  No doubt about it.

I have a few issues with the pacing and the middle does sag a bit when they are going to Hong Kong and building details about the mob.  Basically when the Joker is off screen it isn’t quite as exciting.

Partly this is a problem with Batman in general.  Aside from Mask of the Phantasm Batman is always less interesting than the villains.  You can make an argument that Batman Begins is the only live action film that is actually about Batman’s journey but the rest of them the villains have all the personality, charisma and character development.  People complain about Marvel villains.  I’d way rather have interesting heroes than villains but that’s just me.

Anyway, Dark Knight is a great movie.  I just don’t like watching it very much. My main problem is the film is very violent and with the darker tone it rams that violence in without many breaths of hope.  That’s just not the kind of movie I like.  Clearly most people do and that’s cool, but variety is the spice of life! Just the opening scene at the bank robbery has 6 or 7 people shot point blank in close contact and that’s not nearly the most violent scene of the movie.

Just to prove my point a little visual. On screenit.com the violent content for The Dark Knight has to be microscopic to fit onto a screenshot.

dark knight3In contrast 1989’s Batman is much shorter and therefore much easier to read!

batman 1989We all have our sensitivities and while I can usually handle battle or historic violence when it gets close and people are shot or pencils are shoved down people’s face that bothers me.  It just does.  I’m sorry but it does.   The truth is The Dark Knight is not a comic book movie.  It’s a crime drama told with a few mildly comic book characters.  It’s all about a battle between criminals and authorities- a crime drama. Nothing wrong with that but those have never been my favorite films.

Sometimes I feel like people expect me to lie and say I like it when I don’t.  Like my being bothered by the violence somehow effects their enjoyment of the film.  There was a time when I did pass a bit of judgement over those that liked the movie but that was only because I felt so judged for not liking it.  It’s a vicious circle!  The fact is I totally get why you love it.  I just have a personal sensitivity when it comes to violence and particularly violence with a dark tone to it.  Not everyone has those sensitivities, and that’s ok!

I don’t judge anyone for having different tastes than I do.  That’s awesome!

So the Dark Knight will never be a favorite of mine but it is a very well made movie.

What movies are like that for you?  Classics you feel a bit judged over for not being super into?  Share in the comments section. And don’t make me turn off the comments on this.  Trolls go away!!!