Monday, July 30, 2012
Revisiting Batman (1989) & Batman Returns (1992)!
I have no intentions of providing any form of story synopsis for either movie. If you haven't seen them, stop reading and earn your "genre-enthusiast credentials" and go watch them...and then return.
During the summer of 1989 I worked at a movie theatre and had the pleasure of seeing Batman some thirty or more times. In fact the joys of being a theatre employee meant I saw the movie a day before the masses. The added bonus was my good friend was the projectionist so he hooked the movie up so that both he and I had an entire theatre to watch it alone (kind of like a giant living room) while the rest of the employees were all drunk and rowdy somewhere else. Batman did it's job. It returned respect and greatness to the superhero franchise, something that had been utterly destroyed because of Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Audiences and expecatations were sky high for Batman and the movie solidly delivered. Even today watching it on my lousy VHS copy, I was entertained.
The only real issues I have with 1989's Batman are the characters of Alexander Knox and Vicki Vale. Knox (or more appropriately Robery Wuhl) is just annoying. Nothing made me happier than when he was written out of any sequels. Vicki Vale is shallow, goes immediately for millionaire Bruce Wayne and spend far too much time screaming or "oohing"...I lost count around twenty times! My other main issue with the movie is the sets. Clearly Gotham City is on a soundstage. No matter how scenes are filmed...it feels tight. The Batmobile drives by the same locales too often and there are times where I felt clautrophobia. There's something to be said about taking the time to film scenes outside...it adds dimension. Finally, even though Batman looks cool...watching it today you can see how heavy and clunky that costume is. No way is anyone fighting crime wearing that cumbersome outfit.
The only real plus with Batman Returns is that Tim Burton progressed as a director. The camera is more fluid which makes all of the action sequences more interesting. Batman is allowed to do more in his fights/chases as well...and the suit seems a bit more mobile (sorta).
Of course with the one plus out of the way, the rest is all negative. The sets issues are still present as Gotham City feels more confined than ever and we don't even get one or two landscape shots to show us what the place looks like as a whole. The lines that the characters delivers are horrible! Everyone is fighting to have a funny quip, even Batman - "Eat floor! High fiber!" It gets exhausting to listen to, much like reading a Dan Slott comic book where the only motivation for every character is to be funnier than the previous character. When this happens there is no gravity to the plot or world that the characters engage in. An hour into watching Batman Returns I felt my patience dying off...by the end I was thankful when the credits rolled. And before I'm labeled a "hater" let me say that I wanted to like this movie! Every time I see it and Keaton first stands up in front of the Bat-Signal, I'm ready to be taken on a thrill ride...unfortunately much like the Penguin's self-built Batmobile Ride, this ride only makes me sick to my stomach. My grade for Batman Returns back in 1992 was a "C-". Today I would rank this movie an "F"...but since I know Batman & Robin is still around the corner I'll push it up to a "D".