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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Batman Returns: 1992

Initial release date: June 16, 1992
Director: Tim Burton
DVD release date: April 29, 1997
Rating: PG-13 (USA)
Music: Danny Elfman

   Tim Burton's gone batty once again, to take on the sequel to the Batman film that set the record straight on how a story about a man wearing spandex and a cape, can be dark, edgy, and deep with character fleshing.  This was the real Batman film, until 1992 when The Dark Knight's curtain was drawn wide open.  The question that remained, was if people could handle what they would see on the other side...Christopher Nolan and Joel Schumacher  would have their chance, but tonight we're riding down @#!*% 's highway in the Batmobile, where it has gotten significantly colder for our main hero and villains, The Bat, The Cat, and The Penguin.  Tonight is when the underworld freezes over.  This is Batman Returns!

   It's hard to believe that the Batman franchise is still running strong.  New arrivals of comics are becoming welcomed editions of the  B-Man universe, and hopefully Batman will continue to leave audiences in shock on the big screen.  I'm witting these words in light of the third and final Batman film by director Christopher Nolan.  It feels to me like an end of an era, and in some ways that's a good thing.  The sad truth for the caped crusader is rearing its ugly head:  Batman won't be here forever.  But, I don't claim to know anything, because nothing is absolute.  I'm just curious as too how many adventures a human male can go through, and not show any signs of aging.  At this rate Bruce Wayne must fight criminals every second of his existence!  I suppose it is just a comic, but that's what happens man.  That's what happens when Batman is the majority of your reading matter checked out from the library.  It was...intoxicating...Anyway, on with the review!

   In every conceivable fashion, "Batman Returns" is the most depressing Batman film created.  That's my opinion, granted, however I do have very good reason to believe this.  Tim Burton's first Batman film received allot of praise, so as a reward Burton was granted a sequel, AND given complete control of the film.  Perhaps maybe too much control.  Remember, Batman was targeted to children and adults (mostly adults), but this new film was much different.  I can safely say that Batman Returns is not a children's film.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that this movie strays from its predecessor.  In fact, Batman Returns is Batman 2.0.  Everything is improved on.  The characters have more back-story, there's more action, it's much darker, and there are more villains.  In fact, the villains are the best part about Batman in my opinion.  And their origins are even cooler.

   Our two villains in this film are Catwoman and The Penguin.  Both of these characters have very depressing origins.  The Penguin (Danny DeVito), whose real name is Oswald Cobblepot, was abandoned as a child by his neglectful parents who could not endure his disfigured body resembling a small bird.  This scene is shown at the very start of the film, and the opening credits role as little baby Cobblepot is thrown into the river inside of a bassinet by his parents.  As the baby travels into the sewers to be confined to a world of misunderstanding, our story begins.  This, I thought was a very Burton-esc way of starting a film, and because of this I did enjoy it.  However, it did raise a couple of questions, such as why penguins were living underground and if Paul Reubens' appearance as Mr. Cobblepot was meant to be a cameo.  But now lets talk about Catwoman.  Vicky Vale is nowhere to be found in this new film.  In her place we have Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer).  I like this character so much, and I also prefer her origin over The Penguin's.  Single Selina Kyle, lives alone in her apartment with only her cats to keep her company.  Her answering machine constantly spews bad new out at her:  Her mother's criticisms, missed opportunities for vacationing, and beauty product advertisements.  She is mistreated by her boss, Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) and after stumbling upon a shady business deal between him and Oswald things take a turn for the worst.  Watch the movie, and you'll know what I mean.

   Our villains do a fantastic job of keeping our hero busy, and setting an even darker tone than the last film.  Like I said before, it may be too dark for some audiences, which was the main reason why Tim Burton was booted off the Batman franchise for good.  But boy, did he leave an impact.  Comics would become darker than ever, and that lust for Batman was back!  So, it's a mixed opinion sort of thing.  Some people don't care for how bitter the ending left fans, and others just didn't like the extreme style Tim Burton used for the film.  However im on the other end of the scale, and I love this movie.  At the time that I saw the first Batman film, I would have been terrified.  But today, It's the perfect Batman film (for a Tim Burton fan).  Just keep that in mind.


Watch the Trailer Here 
 The Terminator:  1984   

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Batman: 1989

Release date: June 23, 1989 (USA)
Director: Tim Burton
DVD release date: March 25, 1997
Rating: PG-13 (USA)
Screenplay: Warren Skaaren, Sam Hamm

   Batman:  The Caped Crusader, The Dark Knight, and even in some cases, The Dynamic Duo.  Bob Kane's creation of Batman has done nothing but evolve since Detective Comics had Batman appear for the first time in 1939 with the release of their 27th issue.  It featured Bruce Wayne as Batman against a Chemical Crime Syndicate, and it blew up in everyone's faces!  They had to know more.  However, today only a couple of copies of these very early Batman Comics still exist today, and we wouldn't see this darker side of Batman until much later.  In my opinion, these were Batman's best days, when not just crooks, but cops were afraid of Batman, and nobody could touch him besides the super crime lords that were as crazy as him.  In a sense, Batman first started out as an anti-hero, and I believe the new movie, "The Dark Knight Rises" will bring Batman's legacy full circle.  So in light of that, I have decided to review the Batman films by Tim Burton first, because this was technically the first feature-length film of Batman, with the darkest far.

   Being the fact that I have not yet expressed my admiration for Tim Burton, this review should be a deal lengthier than my previous reviews.  Let me start off by saying that Tim Burton is the strangest director I know, and has created by far the most films where you, as a viewer, shift uncomfortably in your seat, of run out of the theater screaming because he broke your mind, or you haven't been able to look away because his style is incredibly original, and unlike anything you have seen.  His visual style is sublime, his directing...strange to say the least, and a homage payer to many old horror films, and films in general.  The first of Tim Burton's works that I had reviewed, called "Vincent", was a great character study for Tim Burton, and if you know a great deal about him, you realize that Vincent, is really just Tim as a child.  But, if at this point in the review your asking why "Vincent" isn't posted on the site yet, it's because terrible things happen to reviews if you leave your computer on while the auto-save function temporarily glitches.  I suppose these things happen...

   However, I am prepared to write about some of the less appealing aspects that Tim Burton possesses.  "Batman" is a wonderful example of how Tim Burton can take an idea already thought up, and put his own spin on it.  Now, Tim has done this with the majority of the films he's directed, and as such he has been dubbed "The Remake King"...which isn't necessarily a good thing.  But don't worry, because "Batman" is an example of how an idea can  be made into a film, and not feel like it's been overused.  I'm not sure, but I think that this Batman film was one of the first of its kind to be made into a motion picture.  But there was a difference between this film, and the ones made before it.  This Batman film was made more for adults than for kids.  I believe this heightened ticket sales, as well as creating a wider audience to discover the Batman universe in, since Batman just began to convert to slightly darker story lines in the comics with the arrival of new artists.

  Batman teamed up with this kind of a director was a godsend to the film industry, as well as Batman fans.  The film presented a very dark setting (but not too dark), and this was one of Burton's specialties.  The city of Gotham was as stylistic as it was strange, but I suppose it had to be because Bat's and Clown's would be fighting in it.  Speaking of which, The Joker is an interesting character in this film.  Consider the scene with Vicky Vale (Kim Basinger) hostage to the clown.  Joker (Jack Nicholson) explains that more of an artistic one.  It's not so much as doing something because you can, rather sending a message through abstract destruction...because you can.  And it is an interesting notion, as well as one that would be plausible to The Joker, because of the deformities created by the mishaps in the Ace Chemical co.  And this is a very interesting foe against foe origin in this film, because if you think about it, they are each the creator of their own alter ego.  Young Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) kills Bruce Wayne's (Michael Keaton) parents causing him to become The Batman, and Batman pushes Jack into the infamous vat of acid, thus transforming him into The Joker.    

   This is truly the plight of Batman.  The idea that he may be creating more villains than he  can take off the streets of Gotham (If he's doing more harm than good).  Many people have touched on this theory, and have understood its significance.  Heck, even the animated series recognized the power within this thought.  This is also the reason why I believe Batman to be more of an anti-hero than a hero, but it fits his character and Gotham and especially this film.  Tim Burton's Batman is a very good movie, and it captures the struggles a crime fighter of this caliber must face.  It's dark and edgy, and brought out, not my likability of the horror genre, more so my...tolerance for it.  There are some campy moments, some funny ones, but at the center you'll find a stone cold flick worth checking out if your any kind of a Batman fan. 


Watch the Trailer Here
Next Review:  Batman Returns  1992  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Singing In the Rain: 1952

Release date: April 11, 1952 (USA)
Directors: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
DVD release date: March 26, 1997
Running time: 103 minutes
Music: Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed

   The Musical is an interesting piece of cinema, isn't it? It can manage to tell a story the traditional way, and still manage to stop time for a moment to emphasis a certain aspect of the film like "their in love" or "these guys really hate each other."  There are good examples of how people can transition into song, and the quality of it, there are some better examples of it, and then there are some down right ROTTEN examples of it.  Fortunately, the film we are looking at today is one of the better examples.  This is the magnum opus of musicals, The piece de resistance of performances, quote on quote, "MGM's Technicolor Musical Treasure," "Singin' in the Rain!"

   What is it that I find irresistible about this film, where I can't leave it alone, and choose to watch it again and again?  Is it the choreography, or the story?  The music, or the characters? Well, it's all of them!  Everything, is top notch, but lets go through everything just to give it a once over.  The story was my main attraction to the film, because that's exactly what it was about!  Making movies, and the transition, as well as strain actors had to go through with the invention of sound in a film.  Every studio was pitted against each other in a mad race to reach the new era of film first.  To create the first talking picture!  And it was this story line that the actors could thrive in.  And thrive they did!  Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and Debbie Reynolds had no trouble carrying this film and it's two Oscar nominations.  The funny thing about the characters in this film is that everyone is where they should be.  Gene Kelly is the main character, Donald O'Connor is the supporting actor, and Debbie Reynolds is the love interest.  However, when they're all together these characters become equal in every way.

   Well, that does it for my review.  As for the rest of the story, I'd have to say it's a very educational experience, for me and film junkies alike.  In fact, this was probably the first film I ever saw that would teach me about the technical hardships of the ever expanding film business.  I learned allot, and I must not have known it, but I was watching the first educational film I'd ever like in a long while.  But aside from engaging story, "Singin' in the Rain" is adorned with amazing songs, choreography, characters, and amazing dance numbers.  There is and incredibly fluent nature with the story that is mirrored through every twirl, tap, and leap throughout the film.  It's a talented experience, with an overwhelming aura of abstraction, especially nearing the end of the film.  Not to mention, "Singin' in the Rain" is an interesting character study for the film industry, and the many attempts to transition in to the world of sound.

Watch Trailer Here (Note:  All songs are in this trailer)
  Next Review:  Batman 1989