Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Big Picture: "Batman Revisited: Part I"

Today's show is about Batman movies.

The next three shows will also be about Batman movies. It's Batman Month(s). Because Batman.


Andy Warth said...

I felt this episode horribly short and that´s a compliment Bob.

Anonymous said...

good episode; short but but full of info. I just cannot wait for the last two episode.. I will defend to the death that Uma Thurman was smoking as Poison Ivy, and until she opened her mouth she WAS Poison Ivy.

..then the dialogue started, bat credit cards came out, and Batgirl pounced onto the scene. Sigh.

No comment on the Prince in Batman?

Blue Highwind said...



I've been doing a text-only Batman Movie Batdown for weeks now! How dare thee! RRRRRR!!


I think the only solution for this conflict is a duel at dawn. Who will be your second?

B.L.C. Agnew said...

Batman was a childhood staple of mine, but when I revisited it around the end of 2004/beginning of 2005, I came to the same conclusion - it's not a great movie.

In fact, I'd go so far as to claim that it's not even that good.

The fact that it's largely a formulaic 80's action movie is actually one of its biggest shortcomings, as it's a POOR EXAMPLE of an 80's action movie. Going back to some of the legends of that decade like Raiders, Aliens, Predator, Lethal Weapon, and Die Hard (which all hold up amazingly well) and comparing them to Burton's film makes it come up staggeringly short. The pacing is terrible, the action is weak, and the plot is a mess.

Even the acting is problematic. Jack Nicholson is fun as the Joker, but mostly because he's playing Jack in make-up. Comparing him to Mark Hamill or Heath Ledger as the iconic villain makes his turn almost embarrassing.

The film skates by on its impressive design and imagery, two things that Burton has both excelled and used increasingly as a crutch in the last two decades.

Mask of the Phantasm on the other hand, holds up damn near perfectly. <3

Joshua the Anarchist said...

I find it fascinating to compare the 1989 movie with the Nolan era, because while I think that Batman Begins & The Dark Knight are technically better movies, Batman 1989 is a better BATMAN movie. BB & TDK aren't Batman movies at all, they're crime thrillers with a guy named Batman in them. Sure, Batman 1989 definitely has problems (it REALLY falls apart in the 3rd act), but it clearly understood Batman & his universe. It perfectly replicated the over-the-top, melodramatic pulp noir fantasy that is the world of Batman. Nolan, meanwhile tried to cram the character into a more realistic setting that the character just feels out of place in. Plus, Burton understood that Batman is only interesting if he's at least slightly insane. Nolan took him completely at face value, and made him utterly uncompelling as a result.

Chris Cesarano said...

I still enjoy watching the original movie, but that's about the only one. It's not perfect, but it is fun, which is all some movies need to be.

Watching Batman Forever recently was insightful, in a sense. Originally I had thought setting up The Joker as the first villain set up a bad precedent for theatrical villains, and the portrayal of The Penguin in Returns didn't help that matter at all. However, aside from the theatricality, Schumacher was very much trying to combine Burton's goth sensibilities with the nature of the old Adam West show.

With that in mind, it makes me wonder if a director's commentary might be worth it just to see what Joel was thinking and looking to accomplish.

ram said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ram said...

Really enjoyed this video. Interesting though, how little Mask of the Phantasm ages in comparison to the Burton film.

Phil said...

@B.L.C. Agnew

The action is NOT weak in Batman '89. That is especially so when you compare it to Nolan's movies where he is either horrible at action (Batman Begins) or just bad (The Dark Knight).

Batman '89 actually contains, sadly, the best official live action fight scene of all Batman movies. The reason I write "sadly" is because it was with no one special as it was just with one of Joker's goons. It's the fight scene Batman is having while Joker is dancing with Vale at the end. It really is an underrated fight scene. Good fight choreography, great editing and very nice direction. It's damn near one of the only times any Hollywood film maker has even been in the ballpark of the greatness of Hong Kong action film making in terms of "getting" action. A shame Burton never tried his hand at more action movies.

As for the rest of the movie, I feel it's style over substance. And despite some claiming otherwise those movies were not closer to the comics than Nolan's films.

TheDVDGrouch said...

Still no love for Bane huh Movieob. That's OK some days I feel like I'm the only one who likes him.

I'm sure people have told you this million times before but read Gail Simmone's Secret Six. It reinvents Bane in a lot of cool ways mostly in getting to see him kick his venom habit & become a father figure.

That being said I'm sure the version I love wont be showing up in the new Nolan movie anyway :(

ram said...

@ Phil

'horrible' action scenes in BB and TDK? really?

A case can be made for Batman Begin's shaky cam fight scenes, but the action in TDK is dam good. What are you looking for, Batman vs sword wielding goons?

Anonymous said...

Its nice to see Bob giving TDKR some credit for it probably being good.

KevinCV said...

This must've been that Batman episode you mentioned that you had in the pipeline when you were on Media Sandwich, Bob. You're absolutely right, btw. The influence felt by the first "Batman" was staggering. God, I wanna re-watch the animated series now. Can't wait for the next one! XD

@Joshua I see your point on BB and TDK, but I feel the opposite. I feel that Nolan gleaned a lot of story elements for both movies from various highly regarded Batman stories, like "The Long Halloween" and "The Killing Joke".

In that sense, you could say that Nolan's movies are faithful to the comics from a thematic standpoint than the Burton/Schumacher movies ever were. In fact, I'll bet they didn't even bother looking at the comics for story ideas following the first Burton film.

Oh, and this is just a really geeky thing for me, but I have to give this last little notch in favor of the Nolan films: In the TDK, there's a scene where Bruce pours his champagne over the side of the building where his penthouse is. It was a subtle acknowledgment of the fact that in the comics, he's a teetotaler. It's not something everyone knows about Batman, and the fact that they acknowledged it so subtly shows that Nolan and co. certainly did their homework.

Phil said...

I didn't say that the action in The Dark Knight was "horrible". That's what I said the action in Batman Begins was. I said The Dark Knight's action was "bad". So it was an improvement.

And what I'm looking for is a proper understanding of action film making. You can rarely find that in Hollywood anyway but Nolan is near the bottom of the barrel. Then again, he isn't that great of a director (screenwriting is where he's true talent is at) so it's very unlikely he is never actually going to understand action film making. The fight scene I mentioned in Batman '89 is the closest to a great fight scene in any live action Batman movie.

Sanunes said...

Generally I can sum my issues with Batman into two catagories: Tim Burton and the "suit". I think Tim Burton is a decent director, but when I look back and rewatch Batman '89 I feel he struggled with the action parts of the movie and didn't know where to place his style into the movie. Now with the suit, I find it has always impacted the Batman franchise negatively for you will hear the actors talk about how hard it was to move in and I think that is what hurts the action sequences. With the last two Nolan movies you compounded the heavy leather suit with armor to make it more realistic and even harder for the actor in an action sequence.

Anonymous said...


I think that Nolan is a very good director he knows how to pick a good cast and at the same time he is also very good at picking his crew.

Anonymous said...

Bane isn't just a 'crappy uninteresting 90's villain'. He's actually one of the few Batman villains who isn't just a raging psychopath. He's also a very interesting character.