Well obviously I’m not Batman, that legendary title goes to Bruce Wayne who was reborn following the murder of his parents ultimately becoming Batman aka The Caped Crusader aka The Dark Knight, the creature that lurks in the shadows of Gotham City terrifying the criminal underworld.
I am a huge fan of Batman, and I have been ever since I started watching Batman The Animated Series, the character is just so cool, and his impressive array of gadgets basically means that anyone could be Batman, providing they have access of billions of dollars, a loyal butler and an overwhelming desire to help strangers that is.
The Caped Crusader has had many incarnations from Adam West’s version…
To Michael Keaton donning the outfit…
Then Val Kilmer took over…
Unfortunately then George Clooney got the part…
Christian Bale stepped into the Dark Knight’s costume for the reboot…
And finally Ben Affleck is going to take over for the eagerly anticipated Batman Vs. Superman Dawn of Justice.
In this section I am going to talk about all things Batman, that will include the big screen adaptations (starting with Batman in 1989 – I haven’t seen any of the Adam West shows or film) and is also going to include the animated films that I have seen and really want to talk about.
Some of these adaptations have been great, some awesome, and some…absolutely atrocious…here they will receive that TAC Reviews… treatment. So, without further ado lets dive into the heart of the Gotham City underworld and see exactly why a man dressed like a Bat is making criminals run in fear.
I have done various articles on different Batman media and you'll find the list below:
Batman & Robin
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Assault on Arkham
Batman Vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Date Posted: 18/08/15
The criminals of Gotham City are running scared from a giant bat, however, the police don’t acknowledge that the Bat even exists. Gotham City’s criminal problems are about to get a whole lot worse when Jack Napier, a vicious criminal, is transformed into the Joker after a chemical bath, and sets about making the City burn.
Before watching this film I was familiar with The Animated Series but had never seen any previous Batman media with the exception of the odd episode of the 60s show starring Adam West. I am pretty sure that I initially caught this film on TV and after the opening sequence I was immediately hooked on the story of Batman.
After my review then I’m sure you will be too…
A father, son and mother are leaving the theatre and take a short cut through an alleyway (…when is that ever a good idea, seriously?...). The family are mugged by a pair of men who knock out the father, steal money before running into the night, above them an ominous shadow looms, and tracks the two muggers. The pair are attacked by a giant bat-like creature that gets up after being shot in the chest and still beats them both senseless. In his terror one asks “What are you?” to which the creature relies “I’m Batman”. Naturally the authorities dismiss the story; however, reporter Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) believes that the Bat actually exists and despite being constantly ridiculed by his colleagues sets about to prove the Bat is real. He is later assisted by photo-journalist Vikki Vale (Kim Basinger) who has come to Gotham because she too is intrigued by the story of the giant Bat terrorising the criminals of the city.
Meanwhile, crime boss Carl Grissom (Jack Palance) learns that his ‘number one guy’ Jack Napier (Jack Nicolson) has been having an affair with his mistress and sends him to raid Axis Chemicals Plant before tipping off the police hoping Jack will be killed by a corrupt cop Grissom has in his employ.
The police arrive at the Plant and so does the Batman. It is here that Commissioner Gordon (Pat Hingle) spots Batman as he takes down one member of Napier’s gang after another before the police can be injured. It is during a confrontation between Napier and Batman that Napier tumbles over a ledge and even as Batman tries to rescue him he falls into a vat of chemicals below.
The chemical bath drives him insane, stains him skin and changes the colour of his hair. He is reborn as the psychotic criminal known as the Joker. The criminals of the city are being terrorised by the “Winged Freak” namely Batman and Joker sets about taking over the criminal underworld himself and destroying the mysterious Batman.
Following the camp 60s version of the Batman, Tim Burton takes the reins with this gritty adaptation of the comic book superhero.
Tim Burton directs his cast flawlessly against the backdrop of a gothic city dripping with corrupted officials, dirty streets and a criminal element that is driving the city into further ruin. Gotham City is dark and polluted, and the prospect that there might be something supernatural about the Batman works to terrify the criminal underworld who are used to doing as they please.
Burton does his own take on the Batman universe, and some of the comic book fans might be annoyed by some of the changes. The most notable being that in the film, Wayne’s parents were murdered by Jack Napier, whereas in the comics they were killed during a mugging by a random petty criminal. This does seem to provoke some of Bruce Wayne’s final motivations when he realises that the Joker and the man who murdered his parents are one and the same. The other big difference is that Batman actually kills people; friends of my skin sack have argued this point with me but the fact remains that there is a moment when Batman grips a criminal around the neck with his legs before throwing him down a flight of stairs to certain death. Plus it is not made entirely clear if he deliberately drops Napier into the vat of chemicals or if he simply loses his grip and Napier falls by accident.
Michael Keaton and Jack Nicolson are perfectly cast as Batman and Joker.
Before this Keaton was mainly known for comedy roles. Here he does not spend much of his time out of his Batsuit and when he does he is brooding over the loss of his parents. His own life is consumed by his alter-ego and even though he does start a relationship with Vikki Vale it is his mission as Batman that motivates him. Wayne Enterprises does not feature and it is a little unclear how Wayne has his massive fortune. We learn about his parents murder through flashbacks, and all of Batman’s equipment is so badass especially the Batmobile.
One of my favourite moments in this film is when Batman rescues Vikki Vale and tells her to “Get in the car” to which she replies “Which one?” the camera cuts to reveal…
THAT one Vikki!!!
Plus Jack Nicolson’s performance as the Joker defined the character in film, gone are the campy days of the 60s series in which the Joker was a parody type character. Here the Joker is brutally violent, vicious, and has a single minded determination to bring chaos and destruction to Gotham. He uses various clown gadgets to dispatch his enemies including an electrified hand buzzer…if he offers to shake your hand then trust me refuse.
Basinger is the screaming damsel in distress that gets in trouble fairly frequently and is also Joker’s romantic interest. She has a relationship with Wayne, and struggles to understand why he asked her out only to disappear when she tries to get close to him. It is basically through her that we learn of his parents murder and why he decided to do everything he could to make sure such a thing never happens to anyone else in his city.
Burton’s strength is in making everyone in the film as ‘real’ as possible. It seems that superheroes and supervillains are made in similar ways and some become heroes and some become villains. Gotham could be a real city, and the actors are all just regular people. It is a bit of a shame that we don’t really get to see more of Bruce Wayne but if we’re honest we’re here to see Batman not Bruce Wayne so that small niggle can be easily forgiven.
Batman comes from a time when the origin stories were not the beginnings of the franchise, Wayne has already established the Batcave, Batmobile, and has a lot of fully developed equipment. His existence is still a mystery so it is not clear exactly how long he has been running around the streets of Gotham dressed as Batman. In addition we also do not ever find out how Bruce Wayne went from being orphaned to dressing up in a cape with pointed ears to battle crime under the cloak of darkness.
As far as I am concerned this film has not dated and is still great, Batman and Joker are perfectly suited for one another. This is a dark gritty, and violent portrayal of the Dark Knight and is one of the best superhero movies ever made. It should come as no surprise to anyone that my Thumb is Up because this is a great movie and is as great now as it was when it came out in 1989.
8/10 - Great gothic take on Batman, Burton moves the Dark Knight away from the campy 60s version of the character delivering magnificent performances from both Keaton and of course Nicolson as Batman and Joker respectively.
Date Posted: 18/08/15
Gotham streets are still awash with crime and the police force is relying on Batman to deal with the criminal element. Keaton dons the cape again with Tim Burton directing, and this time he is joined by Danny DeVito as Oswald Cobblepot aka the Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as Salina Kyle aka Catwoman. Plus Christopher Walken as Max Shreck.
You know how a lot of sequel just suck balls??
The first film establishes the world, characters, and gives struggles for our heroes to overcome plus makes a fuck-ton of money. More often than not producers see that something was successful and simply bash out a quick follow up that adds nothing more to the lore, the characters and is designed to do nothing more than make more money…did Batman Returns fall into this trap??
Let’s take a look…
A deformed child is dumped into the sewers by his horrified parents, where he is rescued and raised by penguins (…it could happen…) it is here that he spends his life and grows up to become the Penguin (DeVito) a man who knows nothing about who he truly is.
Cut to 33 years later, it is Christmas and during an attack on the Christmas tree lighting ceremony the Penguin decides that he has been in the sewers for too long so he kidnaps corrupt businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) and blackmails him into helping him discover who is real parents were.
After “rescuing” the Mayor’s baby the Penguin emerges from the sewers. As the Penguin’s tragic story begins to make him a media celebrity and his desire to uncover who he is even makes Bruce Wayne (Keaton) sympathise with him, later he is pressured by Shreck into running for Mayor. In spite of his claims of innocently looking for his identity Bruce Wayne starts to believe that he might have been behind the attack on the tree lighting ceremony, could have engineered the kidnapping of the Mayor’s baby to make himself a celebrity and believes him and his gang to be responsible for the murders of several children.
Meanwhile, Shreck pushes his secretary Salina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) out of a window after she discovers that his new power plant will be draining power from Gotham instead of producing it. She is somehow resuscitated by cats and after returning home creates a costume in order to become Catwoman so that she can seek revenge against Shreck for trying to kill her.
Matters for the Dark Knight become increasingly complicated when Catwoman and Penguin team up to rid Gotham City of Batman for good.
Sequels seem to be bashed out soon after a film has comes out if that film has done well. It tends to be the trend that the studio is just interested in cashing in and have little to no concern about the story or character development. The Nightmare on Elm Street films or all the American Pie sequels (especially the ones which didn’t contain the stars from the original film with the exception of Jim’s Dad) are good examples.
Batman Returns reunited Michael Keaton as Batman and Tim Burton directing. As before Burton knows exactly what he wants to do with the characters and has cast actors that are perfect for their roles. Keaton is still the brooding hero, this time romancing the sexy Salina Kyle. Wayne makes a reference to Vikki Vale from Batman but it is not revealed where she is or why they aren’t together but it is implied that Wayne’s life as Batman was the reason their relationship did not last. DeVito is also well suited to play the grotesque Penguin, who chomps down raw fish, and has a variety of weapons that look like his trademark umbrella. Once again the realism of the characters in the gothic Gotham City is what makes Batman Returns so enjoyable to watch.
Being familiar with The Animated Series I was curious to know how well these two characters would transmit onto the big screen, would it be possible to make the Penguin and Catwoman appear in the gothic Gotham that Burton created or would they look completely out of place…take a look and judge for yourself…
Pfeiffer’s portrayal of both Salina Kyle and Catwoman shows the audience the struggle between her normal life as she questions why she runs around the city at night, and her desire to get revenge on Batman and Shreck (both of whom killed her). She also looks very attractive in the skin-tight cat suit. However, in the comics Catwoman was a cat-burglar, and was something of a grey area, with her sometimes helping Batman and sometimes hindering him. Here she is portrayed as a woman out for revenge which might set the comic book fans against her. However, once more Burton seems to be concerned with his own take on the Batman universe rather than following the comics.
Whilst the Penguin does not have the sheer madness of the Joker, DeVito still proves to be a match for the Dark Knight and has schemes that are a little more downplayed but no less sinister than the Joker. I love the line in which the Penguin says to Batman that “You’re just jealous because I’m a genuine freak, and you have to wear a mask!” Another dark, and gritty criminal to share the familiar streets of the dark and depressing Gotham City that Batman works tirelessly to save.
Both Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon (Michael Gough and Pat Hingle reprising their roles) feature again. Alfred once again serving as Batman’s ally, and this time Gordon is seen to have a rapport with Batman.
The overall feel of the film, along with the reoccurring locations and vehicles (Batman has the same Batmobile seen in the first film), allows the audience to believe that this is the same Batman seen in the first film. He may have partially dealt with his personal demons (namely Jack Napier/Joker) in Batman but he is going to continue to protect his city as his masked alter-ego.
Whilst I don’t consider this to be as good as 1989’s Batman it is still pretty damn good and serves as a reminder that film sequels don’t have to be shit, if a decent amount of time and effort is put into them then they can be great in their own right. I am giving Batman Returns a Thumbs Up because whilst prior knowledge of this Batman world is useful it is not essential plus this carries on the more adult themed Dark Knight that has not really been seen since.
7.5/10 - The excellent cast make Batman Returns a worth addition to the franchise and was the last gothic film (and realistic) adaptation before Joel Schumacher was given directing responsibilities. It is a shame that we don’t have as diabolical a bad guy as the Joker but DeVito portrays a more humane villain that ultimately turns on humanity after he is rejected by them just as he was rejected by his parents.
Date Posted: 18/08/15
Gotham City’s criminals just don’t get the message that if they conduct their crimes in the Batman’s town then he is going to foil them. Harvey Two-Face and the Riddler join forces in order to bring down the Dark Knight once and for all. This time the dark and gritty realism of the Gotham City under Tim Burton’s direction has been replaced by a brighter and more colourful portrayal that seems to have been lifted from the pages of a comic book, although, not a comic book I’ve ever read.
Despite being a pretty decent sequel Batman Returns did not make as much money as the original Batman, and so Tim Burton was to be restricted to producer for the sequel. This basically led to Keaton leaving the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman and to cut a long story short lead to Joel Schumacher taking over directing.
I wasn’t against the change in style, I have occasionally wanted to say to Tim Burton “Okay, you like gothic stuff, we get it”, so perhaps a new tone would give the audience something we hadn’t seen before. I didn’t really know much about Val Kilmer so did not have an issue with him stepping into the titular role…however, before we get into the analysis, how’s life treating the Dark Knight??
Not surprisingly Batman (Val Kilmer) is still waging his war on crime and attempts to stop former District Attorney Harvey ‘Two-Face’ Dent (Tommy Lee Jones) during a hostage situation where he is briefly confronted by Dr Chase (Nicole Kidman). The lawman turned insane criminal is seeking to…guess what…yup…destroy Batman. During the high rise battle Two-Face is able to escape, fortunately Batman is able to rescue the hostages without loss of life.
Meanwhile Edward Nigma (Jim Carrey), an employee at Wayne Enterprises, has developed a device that allows signals to be transmitted directly into the human brain. He is completely obsessed with Bruce Wayne and approaches him to share his invention but Wayne rejects the invention telling NIgma that ‘it raises too many questions’. Nigma is heartbroken and after murdering his boss, he forges a suicide note and resigns vowing vengeance against Wayne.
Wayne goes to meet Meridian Chase after a riddle is left at his office then house (by Nigma) and after a brief conversation invites her on a date to the circus. During the date Two-Face crashes the show and attempts to get the elite of Gotham to reveal Batman’s true identity by threatening to detonate a massive bomb, Wayne tries to offer himself up, but in the panic and confusion caused by the bomb, no one hears his confession.
The Flying Grayson acrobatics team try to get to the bomb. But it is their youngest member Dick (Chris O’Donnell) that manages to get the bomb out of the building, and throws it into the river where it safely detonates. Unfortunately Two-Face lashes out in anger and kills his family leaving Dick as the only survivor.
Nigma reinvents himself as the villain Riddler as together with Two-Face works to uncover the true identity of Batman. Wayne offers an olive branch to Dick, inviting him to stay with him at Wayne Manor until he can get back on his feet. During his time at the Manor, Dick accidently discovers that the man who is trying to help him following his parent’s death is none other than the Dark Knight himself.
The transition from Returns to Forever was not exactly the smoothest in the world, and after the gothic style of Burton it was probably inevitable that the following director would try to put his own stamp on the franchise by completely changing the style. The previous Gotham City could have been a real place, but here all of the characters as well as the city itself are all larger-than-life. There is no way in the hell that any of these people or this place actually exists but this is a fictional movie so we can forgive the realism, or lack thereof, because a fictional world can be anything it wants to be.
Gotham no longer resembles any city and is designed to make it appear as though it has been lifted from the pages of a comic book. The effect of this gives the film a greater appeal to younger audiences because as we know if something isn’t bright and colourful then American audiences can not focus on it…that was unfair…I’m not saying Americans are stupid you are just not as advanced as the rest of us, but then nothing on this planet is as advanced as me so we all have our flaws.
Anyway, apparently Warner Brothers felt that the previous version were too violent so did not have as much appeal as a more child friendly film would have, therefore the change in the look was done to gain a wider audience but also robs the film of its realism.
Val Kilmer takes over from Michael Keaton as Batman, and in this film he is obsessing about a red book that has something to do with his parents’ death. It seemed that Wayne has found peace with himself regarding his parent’s death but obviously he wasn’t brooding enough so the filmmakers pulled a red book out of their asses to give him a reason to obsess. He seeks help from psychiatrist Dr. Chase Meridian who is fascinated by the psyche of Batman, and believes that whoever Batman is then he is ultimately torturing himself and is forced to be the Dark Knight not because he wants to but because he feels he has to. Do we think that she will ultimately discover Bruce Wayne’s true identity?? Well, considering every love interest Wayne has had in the previous films has ultimately discovered who he really is it should come as no surprise that Chase finds out by the end.
Both Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon (Michael Gough and Pat Hingle returning to their roles from the previous films) are present as Batman’s allies. The presence of the two of them indicates to me that this is considered to be part of the same canon as Batman and Batman Returns because if it is not then why have these two actors returned rather than being recast??
Whilst Kilmer is decent enough as Batman, and Kidman is certainly attractive enough to be the film’s eye candy, it is the portrayal of Two-Face and Riddler by Tommy-Lee Jones and Jim Carrey that makes Batman Forever worth watching.
The presence of both costumed villains is a little excessive and unlike Batman Returns in which the film could deal with having both Penguin and Catwoman and tell both of their stories. Batman Forever would not have suffered if only one of the two villains was portrayed instead of cramming them both in. It is obvious that neither of these actors are taking their roles especially seriously and are determined to have as much fun as possible playing the over the top villains, but that is absolutely fine here. The film is tongue-in-cheek so it makes sense for the actors playing the villains to be equally tongue-in-cheek and as over the top as everything else in the film.
Seriously though how real life were they supposed to be when they look like this…??
During the film Dick Grayson naturally discovers who Bruce Wayne is, in possibly the most retarded way…he falls through a movable cabinet landing in the Batcave…but hey-ho and decides to become his costumed partner so he can avenge the death of his family by becoming Robin in honour of his parents. Apparently at some point in the past Dick’s brother’s line broke and Dick flew in “like a robin” and saved him. Personally I would rather fly in like an Eagle, or a Condor, but okay…flew in like a robin so naturally Dick decides to adopt the name for his alter-ego. Dick Grayson was a child in the comics, but fortunately, he is not portrayed by a child in the film which for me at least would have been a step too far. His original costume even fits in with the outfit worn by the Boy Wonder in the comics before becoming a little more badass for the finale against Two-Face and Riddler.
On the whole Batman Forever is as different from Batman and Batman Returns as it could possibly be. It is the sheer joy and enthusiasm that Jones and Carrey bring to their roles that makes this film a delight. But the fans of the gothic Tim Burton films will not be happy about the fact that Gotham doesn’t look real, the classic Batmobile has been redesigned, and Batman himself is more of a pantomime hero than the tortured hero Keaton portrayed.
I still like this film though and whilst it is not as good as Batman or Batman Returns it has enough fun and energy running through it for me to give it a Thumbs Up.
7/10 - Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey make this film; both are obviously enjoying themselves, and make Batman Forever effectively a live action comic that will appeal to younger audiences but might make older fans wish it has stuck to the gothic style of the previous two.
Date Posted: 18/08/15
Gotham City’s resident heroes Batman and Robin are fighting the Ice Cold Villian Mr Freeze. Their problems escalate when Poison Ivy, who literally has a kiss of death, and can control men through use of pheromones, arrives in Gotham. Once again Joel Schumacher returns to direct, George Clooney takes over from Val Kilmer, who is apparently very difficult to work with in Hollywood, and Chris O’Donnell returns to reprise the role as the rather old Boy Wonder.
Following on from Batman Forever which abandoned the gothic style of Burton we step once more into the world of Batman as created by Schumacher. The world is over the top and the villains even more so…the Dynamic Duo have to contend with a wealth of problems and not just from the villains in the story but also because this film is totally and utterly SHIT!!!!!!!!!
How was this concept so royally fucked??
Allow me to explain…
Batman (Clooney) and Robin (O’Donnell) are hot on the trail of Mr Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger). The Frosty Villain is stealing diamonds to power the suit that keeps his mutated body at the required sub-zero temperature in order to keep him alive. His robbery is foiled but he is able to escape after freezing Robin and Batman must remain behind to thaw him out, and the subsequent search for Mr Freeze goes cold.
At the same time in South America, Pamela Isley (Uma Thurman) is working under Dr. Jason Woodrue (John Glover), experimenting with a drug called Venom. She witnesses him giving it to a man to create the huge monster ‘Bane’ (Jeep Swenson). Pamela and Woodrue argue and Woodrue attempts to kill her by throwing a shelf load of various toxins over her, this naturally doesn’t kill her, it instead transforms her into a "seductive" femme fatale named Poison Ivy.
Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Gough returning again) is dying of the same disease that Mr Freeze’s cryogenically frozen wife had, when without warning Alfred’s niece Barbara Wilson (Alicia Silverstone) arrives from England for a surprise visit.
The rest of the film involves Barbara’s discovery of Batman’s true identity, trying to find a cure for Alfred and Poison Ivy teaming up with Mr Freeze as they try to destroy the dynamic duo.
You may have noticed that I have not really spent much time discussing the story as I did in the previous reviews and that is because there is very little actually story here, and the plot is a complete mess anyway. Two villains teaming up to take on Batman and Robin, blah, blah, blah. There is some treachery and the two heroes must overcome conflicts in order to save the day and so on…
Like its predecessor this was designed to be kid-friendly and yet surprisingly it does something that no Batman film to date has been able to do…it actually kills Batman, that’s right, this is the film in which Batman dies…
Now sadly I don’t mean that this film actually kill him off because that could have been epic if done right, no, this film is so Bad, so Terrible, so unimaginably Shit that it kills the franchise that had been going for almost ten years since 1989 with Tim Burton’s film.
The blame for this utter GARBAGE comes down on to director Joel Schumacher’s shoulders who stopped the Batman franchise dead in its tracks. Up until this point the Batman films had gone from being gothic under Tim Burton’s direction, to more comic book with Batman Forever, which I'll remind you, Schumacher also directed. To be fair that was entertaining enough to have mass appeal. However this is without a shadow of a doubt the worst Batman film ever, worse than the cheesy 60s show, and not worthy to lick the shit off the original Batman’s boots.
How is this so bad you say, well, let me sum it up for you with this image…
Can you see it??
Well aside from the fact that the two leads look completely gormless, both of their suits have nipples. Yes nipples. Why the fuck have their suits been designed so that they include nipples, what possible purpose does it serve?? It just looks so stupid. Are we supposed to believe that the suits are merely covering the torsos of our heroes and that their own nipples are poking through?? Who the hell was going to believe that?? What the donkey-bollocking hell was Schumacher thinking of when he approved of both the Batsuit, Robin’s costume and later Batgirl’s outfit coming complete with nipples?? I was amongst many who saw this film and absolutely hated the design of the suits because it looks so stupid and serves absolutely no purpose.
This is just one example of the many, many, many things that Schumacher should NEVER have been allowed to do.
There is a scene in the film in which Batman and Robin attend a charity event, yes, a charity event. Batman is supposed to be the Dark Knight, a figure shrouded in darkness and mystery, not turning up at charity events. Bruce Wayne attends (or hosts) charity events, Batman doesn’t attend them, not ever...EVER. The event is auctioning off people for charity and people are bidding on the Dynamic Duo. I feel sorry for whoever gets Robin, they couldn’t get Batman so they get lumbered with the Boy Wonder. It is also during this sequence that Poison Ivy makes her appearance in Gotham and using a pheromone to hypnotise the men in the audience actually gets Batman and Robin to bid on her. In the comics Batman has an iron will that protects him from her influence so again why are we seeing him lose control and offer millions of dollars for Poison Ivy?? After he does this, is NO-ONE questioning how Batman could possibly afford to pay millions of dollars for her...did none of them ask who in Gotham has that kind of money and the motivation to become a crime fighter?? Would their thoughts have travelled to Bruce Wayne?? Although I supposed that would indicate anyone in this film has a brain and could think for themselves, which obviously none of them have.
Plus I absolutely loathed of Thurman’s portrayal of Poison Ivy, check this out…
So we have costumes for our heroes that come complete with nipples, and yet the best the costume designers could come up with for the beautiful, seductive and sexy as hell Poison Ivy was that.
Why exactly could the outfit not have looked more like this…??
There are literally thousands of pictures on the internet that show women dressed as Poison Ivy and so many of them just ooze sex appeal. Okay, you could argue that this film is intended for younger audiences so having a scantily clad woman on screen might let the little whippersnappers wonder what happens if Poison Ivy used those pheromones of hers to make men do something a little more interesting to her than just get them to follow her around aimlessly. Poison Ivy is supposed to be beautiful and seductive but Uma Thurman doesn’t really seem to be especially interested in her character, she doesn’t play her with the same over-the-top relish that Tommy-Lee Jones and Jim Carrey put into their portrayals of Two-Face and Riddler respectively and she is obviously just going through the motions. If Poison Ivy was not going to be a given a more adult treatment then why include her in the film at all, there are plenty of other Batman villains that could have been chosen instead.
Mr Freeze is played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and even for him the one liners in this film are just terrible and each one is more ridiculous than the last. I am a huge fan of Arnie and God bless him because everyone knows that Arnie has had some bad one liners in his time, but these take the biscuit. "All right, everyone Chill!" and "The Iceman Cometh" are the better ones, and if they are the better ones then imagine what the bad ones are like. His motivations for being evil are rooted in trying to cure his wife of a terminal illness but everything about him, from his look, to his costume, is like the rest of the outfits, it is ridiculous and stupid.
I mean just look at that outfit…how could anyone have possible thought that it would look good on the big screen??
Perhaps it would be hard to make Mr Freeze look badass but they managed to do just that in Batman Arkham City, which admittedly was a game, but again if they couldn’t do justice to the character on film then why include him??
Clooney looks gormless as Batman and is not even a shadow of the brooding Batman Keaton or even Kilmer played. Chris O’Donnell spends the majority of his time complaining about being in Batman’s shadow all the time. Alicia Silverstone is given the duel identity of Batgirl (a character that was played by Commissioner Gordon’s daughter in the comics) and Barbara Wilson but even before she dons Batgirl’s skin tight outfit she races motor bikes in another skin tight leather outfit. Aside from throwing her in for fan service what is the point of her presence?? Besides if it was done for fan’s service then why was it done in such a half-assed and shockingly bad way that takes the character of Batgirl and fucks up her back story??
Obviously Thurman and Silverstone are supposed to be the eye candy but neither of them get to grips with the characters they are playing. This is a film that really doesn’t have anything going for it, and whilst Alfred and Commissioner Gordon are present and still being played by Gough and Hingle they probably wish they had bowed out after Batman Forever when the franchise still had some dignity
Joel Schumacher effectively did what no super villain has been able to do…he…killed…Batman.
Considering that Batman was one of the most realistic portrayals of a superhero giving us a great brooding hero and a psychotic villain that was one of the best superhero films to date, this is one of the worst films ever made. None of the cast seem to be interested in the characters that they are playing. Clooney looks bored and a complete idiot in the suit, O’Donnell is just a whiny bitch, Thurman is not in the least bit sexy or seductive, Silverstone is just there, and I honestly think that Schwarzenegger is at least trying but whilst he is capable of going toe-to-toe with a Predator or a T-1000 here he is powerless to do anything to save this insult to Batman fans young and old.
People often compare boring or tedious things to being about as fun as watching paint dry, in this case, instead of watching Batman & Robin, paint a wall and watch it dry or slice your own heart out with a spoon because it’ll be less painful and a better way to spend a couple of hours of your time.
My Thumb is so far Down that it is in danger of burrowing its way into the centre of the Earth, Batman & Robin is just complete and utter garbage from the opening second to the closing one. Schumacher should have been dragged out into the street and publically executed on Hollywood Boulevard for subjecting Batman fans to this atrocity. He should also just be grateful this film wasn’t showed to the inhabitants of Brian, because if it had been then a public execution would have been the least of Schumacher’s worries.
In fact a single Thumb Down is not a strong enough rating, so this film gets a very rare 2 Thumbs Down because it is just that bad and I hate to see an icon being portrayed this way by Hollywood.
1/10 – Not just one of the worst superhero adaptations of all time, this is one of the worst films of all time. There is literally no reason to actually watch it unless you are really into self-harming and want something that will cut deeply into your very soul…maybe that was too dark…the point is the film is shit and no one should watch it…did that come across??
Date Posted: 25/09/16
The film was released in 2016 and is based upon the DC Comic of the same name, Batman The Killing Joke sees Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill returning to voice Batman and the Joker respectively. Other characters from The Animated Series also return to voice their previous characters, namely Tara Strong as Barbara Gordon with Ray Wise as Commissioner Gordon.
Let me ask you a question: What turns someone into a monster??
Perhaps monsters aren’t made over years, perhaps all it takes to transform an ordinary person into a monster is one really rotten day. A day in which everything bad that could possibly happen, happens, the worst that life can throw at someone, all heaped into a person in a single moment that causes them to buckle under the strain, causes them to snap, and ultimately transforms them into something else entirely…something other than a human…
It seems that I am starting to get ahead of myself and look at some of the ideas of the film before we have looked at the film itself, so let me bring things back to the beginning, and tell you a little about The Killing Joke…
Batgirl (Tara Strong) is on patrol and manages to apprehend a criminal with some help from Batman (Conroy) whilst the other members of the gang escape. The mastermind behind the crime, Paris Franz, is one of the ones who gets away and seems to be developing an obsession with Batgirl, to the point where he starts sending her messages. Concerned about her safety Batman orders her off the case (without explaining to her why he wants her out of the way), leaving Batgirl feeling outraged and angry, she ignores Batman’s instructions and continues trying to apprehend Franz. Batman again warns her off saying that she is in more danger than she realises, Batgirl is outraged by the way he is treating her, and things ultimately come to a head between them that makes their relationship a lot more complicated.
Not long afterwards the Joker (Hamill) escapes from Arkham Asylum once again after Batman tries to convince the person posing as him that they needn’t have to kill one another but sooner or later that is precisely what is going to happen if they carry on as they are. Once he realises Joker’s deception Batman frantically tries to find him and scours Gotham’s underworld but the Joker is nowhere to be found.
Meanwhile the Joker is preparing for something big and is about to try and illustrate his point, that all it takes to create a monster is one really rotten day…
I realise that I have given very little to actually go on regarding what The Killing Joke is about but that is entirely deliberate, I don’t want to give away too much because to do that would be criminal, as this film needs to be seen firsthand.
Mark Hamill is without a doubt the best Joker in animated form. He expertly voiced the character in The Animated Series along with Kevin Conroy as Batman. Apparently the strain of doing the Joker’s voice has taken its toll and Hamill retired from voicing the character after the game Arkham City, however, he mentioned a willingness to return if The Killing Joke comic was made into an animated film. This prompted fans to start a campaign to get the adaptation made, and in 2016 that is exactly what we got. I am not a fan of comics as you know so I don’t know how close this adaptation follows the comic book story as a result I am just going to be looking at the film without looking at its similarities to the comic book.
I have seen a number of animated Batman films and they seem to have the balls to go where the live-action films won’t. Assault on Arkham carried a 15 certificate whereas the Suicide Squad was a child friendly 12 despite the premise of the two films being very similar. On the big screen it seems mass appeal is what studios are going for rather than looking towards a comic-book movie for a more adult audience.
Anyway, the nature of Batman’s character means that he is going to be darker and edgier than the Marvel comic-book films. The Killing Joke also carries a 15 certificate and it is well deserved because the film is pretty brutal. Blood does splatter across the floor and numerous gangsters are murdered. Batgirl is even pushed to the edge a few times by both the criminals and her frustrating regarding her relationship with Batman. Plus, this film shows how truly dangerous and savage the Joker actually is, and who the Joker is can be summarised by the line uttered by a gangster “We may be scared of you [Batman] but we’re terrified of him [the Joker]”. That basically sums him up. The criminals are more afraid of one of their own than they are of the Dark Knight. When scary people are terrified of someone, then you know that person is going to be the stuff of nightmares. The Joker is truly and utterly insane with no regard for human life or even his own. He knows that one day either he is going to succeed in killing Batman or he will leave the Dark Knight with no choice but to kill him instead…and the most frightening thing about it is that he is not bothered about which of those two options happens.
The first half hour is about Batgirl and her clashing with Batman over Franz’s growing obsession with her, this has little to nothing to do with the Joker, it is just about Batman and Batgirl. Whilst it is interesting and serves to show how frustrating it must be to work with someone who is as controlling as Batman must be, it doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of the story, so it could have been cut or part of a separate story and the film wouldn’t have lost anything.
Still, the hype that surrounded The Killing Joke was that it would give an insight into the origins of the Clown Prince of Crime, and whilst it does that it still leave some holes in the story. The man the Joker used to be once had a wife but all it took was that one day in which the world turned on him and he snapped, then he received a chemical bath at the wrong time and the Joker was born. We see in flashbacks what happened to the man that became the Joker but we still don’t learn much more about him, we don’t know his name and as we cut to present day the Joker’s own memories of who he once was have been twisted so that even he isn’t sure about them anymore. I remember one of my skin’s sacks friends (who was into comics) telling me that at one point Batman asked the Joker how he got the scars on his face and the Joker told him that he has lied about their origins so many times that even he cannot remember what the truth is any longer.
The links between Batman’s origins and the Joker is at the forefront as both are driven by their hatred of the other, as all it took to create Batman was the same thing that created the Joker…one rotten day. Why did one go down the path of justice and the other insanity?? Is Batman, in his own way, as insane as the Joker?? He ignores the law, does what he wants, and the police turned a blind eye to it…why is Batman given a free pass when another vigilante would be hunted down and arrested??
According to the Joker everyone is only one bad day away from transforming into him, and honestly I could see his point, if everything that someone held dear was taken from them in a single day. If someone lost hope, if everything that made them human was ripped away, would they ultimately snap only to become a monster that cares about nothing but continuing with their own insanity??
There is also a great moment between Batman and the Joker…I honestly cannot say anything more than that without risking spoiling so I cannot say anything more. Trust me you will know the scene I am talking about and it really shows that both Batman and the Joker are still ultimately human.
The voice cast are all on top form and like I said the film is pretty brutal at times, it is welcome to hear so many actors from The Animated Series reprising their roles. Kevin Conroy is the best Batman hands down and his steely delivery of Batman’s lines bounces superbly of Hamill’s insane Joker.
Whilst the first part of the story which deals with Batgirl is interesting it doesn’t really give anything more to the overall film, still I went into this film with a lot of anticipation, and happily I was not disappointed. The Killing Joke is a great film that reunites a very talented voice cast with excellent animation plus a brutality that the live-action films sadly lack. It should come as no surprise that my Thumb is Up, if you are a fan of Batman then you need to track this film down because it will not disappoint, oh, by the way there is a bit after the credits so stick around for that.
9/10 – A great film that has the stones to be brutal and show how truly dangerous the Joker really is. Forget his recent portrayal in Suicide Squad, this is exactly how the Joker should be, insane, dangerous and a nightmare of criminal and hero alike.
Date Posted: 17/09/17
I have mentioned this film a couple of times during the course of my reviews and discussed it quite heavily when I took a look at Suicide Squad, I said then that sooner of later I’d have to give Assault on Arkham a full review and today is that day. The film was released in 2014 and is an animation that stars (amongst others) Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Killer Frost and other familiars from the Batman line-up.
If you’ve read my Suicide Squad review which I wrote before this one, you may remember that I said this film was awesome, and now I am going to tell you exactly why. However, before I get too far ahead of myself let me bring you up to speed on what is going on…
The film opens with the Riddler being cornered by a SWAT team who have orders to assassinate him but he is later captured alive by Batman. He is arrested and taken to Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
Meanwhile, Amanda Waller (a character that has appeared in animated form in Batman/Superman Public Enemies and live-action in Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad) is looking to recruit convicts for the Suicide Squad, a black-operations group, that are ultimately expendable. She is given authorisation and assembles some of the more and less familiar villains in the Batman roster. As mentioned above amongst them are Harley Quinn, and Deadshot. Each character basically gets around a thirty-second intro, which summarises who they are and what they do. Harley Quinn for example is shown to be in a home for mistreated women, and has her handheld computer toy taken off her by one of the nurses, moments later that same nurse runs from the room and the camera cuts back to Harley showing her spitting out the woman’s ear as she resumes playing her toy.
The group are taken from wherever they happen to be and awaken in a room, with Waller informing them that they are now working for her, and each one has a bomb in their neck, which will detonate and kill them if they step out of line. KGBeast decides to call her bluff and walks out of the room, only for the explosive to detonate and kill him. Waller informs the survivors that their mission is to infiltrate Arkham Asylum and recover a thumbdrive from the Riddler’s cane. She has arranged for them to stay at the Iceberg Lounge in Gotham City for the night so they can prep and infiltrate the asylum the following night.
Whilst this is happening Batman is tearing up the city searching for a dirty bomb that the Joker has set. The Joker himself is in Arkham, and Deadshot is more than a little worried about Harley being in proximity to her ex.
There are going to be some comparisons to Suicide Squad, simply because this film is what Suicide Squad was trying to be and spectacularly failed. The intros, whilst short immediately tell you everything you need to know about the different villains, some, like Deadshot I was familiar with whilst others like King Shark and Killer Frost, not so much. Still in moments I had some idea of who they were and naturally they are all badass characters.
The film is set in the Arkham-verse (the same universe as the Batman Arkham computer games) so people who have played those will be familiar with some of the Asylum’s layouts as well as the look of several characters. The Penguin looks like his game counterpart and so does his club the Iceberg Lounge, plus the way the characters interact with one another (Harley and Penguin especially) demonstrates that they have met one another before even if we may not have seen it. It gives the world more depth as the villains have crossed paths before and when Harley was with the Joker, she naturally was around when causing mayhem so the Penguin is holding a bit of a grudge towards her even if she and the Joker aren’t together anymore.
Now unlike Suicide Squad in which Harley Quinn was a pointless edition to the group (except as eye candy) in Assault on Arkham she has a purpose. As a former doctor who used to work at the Asylum she has an intimate knowledge of the facility plus numerous pass-codes to help the group get around undetected. The group’s goal is also to find the thumbdrive from the Riddler’s cane, they are not trying to stop the end of the world or any major catastrophe, they have a simple goal: Retrieve the Tumbdrive – plain and simple.
Now things do get a little more complicated later on with Weller having alternate objectives for certain members of the team but I won’t say anything more as I don’t want to spoil.
The group doesn’t want to be under Weller’s thumb and as the film goes on they try to break away from her control.
One of the things I especially liked about this film was that Batman is not in it a huge amount, yes he twigs something is wrong at the Asylum and heads there to check things out, but this is not a story about him. The Joker also appears and there are some cameos from big-Batman villains like Bane, Two-Face, and Poison Ivy but again the focus is on the Task-Force characters and not on anyone else.
Plus at no point in Assault on Arkham do the Suicide Squad of this film become a “family” of sorts like in the live action Suicide Squad, basically they are forced to work together and buy and large they hate one another. A couple of them, like Killer Frost and King Shark do bond, but generally they all rub each other up the wrong way and generally get on one another’s nerves. There is a sequence when Captain Boomerang is trying to infiltrate a facility whilst posing as a morgue worker, Killer Frost is in a body bag and because she has no body temperature when she is scanned appears to be dead. To reiterate the point Boomerang smacks the bag, just to annoy her. Now whilst I am talking about that scene, the morgue worker that opens the bag to reveal the topless Killer Frost inside, smiles in a bit of a necrophilia-type way, as if suggesting that he likes to get freaky with the corpses when everyone else has left. So even the normal humans are a bit creepy but even they show way more personality that anyone in Suicide Squad.
The female characters (with the exception of Waller) are also sexy as hell, Killer Frost and Harley Quinn are everything an adolescent teenager would want, firm bum, big boobs and the whole bad-girl thing as well.
Quinn tries it on with Deadshot a couple of times during the initial meeting, but he rebuffs her advances. But later when she turns up in his bed, and straddles him, totally naked he decides that he might as well give her a good fuck as that is what she clearly wants. Thing is even after they’ve had sex they don’t really give much more of a crap about one another than they did before.
The biggest point in this film’s favour is that the characters stay true to who they are, and whilst Batman does have a larger role in the latter part of the film, the focus stays on the villains. Some of them do end up being killed. When the shit hits the fan they all split up, it is “every man for himself” none of this whole – we have become a family bullshit that Suicide Squad shoved down our throats. To ensure their own escape they will happily throw any one of the others under the bus if it means they get away.
Basically Assault on Arkham is what Suicide Squad wishes it could be. The child friendly 12A of Suicide Squad prevented it from being as sometimes brutal as Assault on Arkham. None of the characters in the animation are pointless when so many of them are in Suicide Squad. The actors portraying these characters (with the possible exception of Margot Robbie) just don’t fit and resulted in Suicide Squad being the jumbled disappointment it was.
Ultimately Assault on Arkham is an awesome film, which portrays the members of the Suicide Squad as they should be and gives them the respect they deserve. I am naturally awarding the film a Thumbs Up and I urge anyone who was disappointed by Suicide Squad to check it out. Watch Assault on Arkham and you will be left wondering why a shot-for-shot live-action version of this film wasn’t made, instead of the shambles that was Suicide Squad
9/10 – One of the best Batman animated films that doesn’t have a huge amount of Batman in it. The characters are all stone cold badasses that put their live-action counterparts to shame.
Date Posted: 11/08/19
Released in 2019 Batman Vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an animated feature film based upon a six-part crossover comic book series by James Tynion IV and Freddy Williams II. This film marks the first collaboration between Warner Bros. and Nickelodeon, plus is the first time Warner Bros. have released a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie since 2007’s TMNT.
Okay, first off in case you don’t know let me give you some background to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, basically they were four ordinary turtles that were exposed to a weird substance known as Ooze which mutated them into humanoid creatures. They were trained to follow the ways of the ninja by their Master and father-figure Splinter, a man who was mutated by the same Ooze turning him into a humanoid rat. They traditionally battle a masked man named Shredder, and his Foot Clan who seek to take over the world. Shredder is sometimes the servant of an inter-dimensional brain-like creature named Krang who has a monstrous fortress called the Technodrome...are you all still with me??
Well, regardless of how you answered I am going to crack on regardless. Now back in the 1990s the Turtles were everywhere, there were live action films, animated series, toys, games and the popularity of the characters even led to them doing talk shows and even a Musical Christmas Special and concerts. Basically you couldn’t move without bumping into something Turtles related, but over time interest faded. The Turtles received something of a revival in 2014 when Michael Bay directed a live action film which I haven’t seen but I can pretty safely say lots of stuff blew up and have virtually no character development. There was a sequel in 2016, which again I didn’t see, but I can pretty safely say a lot of stuff blows up and there was little to no character development.
Personally I haven’t really thought about the Turtles since the 2007 film, however, whilst browsing on Amazon the other day I saw that a new film was out in which Batman meets the pizza-loving turtles (oh yeah, forgot to mention the turtles like pizza and are named after the Renaissance painters Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo). Naturally I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see the Dark Knight going up against the Turtles.
Now recently I have been watching several different animated films starring the Dark Knight, in particular The Son of Batman, Batman Vs Robin and Batman Bad Blood. These three films were linked and featured Bruce Wayne meeting his son Damien, whom he’d had with Talia al Ghul. I think depending on the continuity in some Talia drugged him and had sex with him, in others he willingly had sex with her because he was thinking with his heart rather than his head. The pioit is that those filmswere violent and Damien was struggling to follow the lead of his father, a man who opposes Damien’s beloved Grandfather Ra’s al Ghul. I wonmdered if Batman Vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would try to follow the gritty and bone crunching feel of those films, and how it would successfully do that with the Turtles.
So, the film opens with Barbara Gordon being shown some technology or other when the laboratory is attacked by members of the Foot Clan, who are successful in stealing the tech, but not before a group have leapt in to try and stop them. Barbara believes them to be metahumans and informs Batman.
Batman deduces that the Clan’s next target will be Wayne Enterprises so sets a trap for them, he is able to defeat numerous ninjas, and battles their leader, Shredder. The fight is brutal but the Shredder is able to get the upper hand after delivering a blow to Batman that the Dark Knight has never encountered before. Meanwhile, Batgirl meets the meta humans who identify themselves as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who have come to Gotham to stop Shredder and find out who his new partner is.
Batman and the Turtles encounter one another in an alleyway and fight, both believing that the other is the Shredder’s partner. Batman is the more experienced fighter and is able to defeat the Turtles forcing them to retreat.
Donatello is able to deduce the location of the Batcave and battle Robin as he attempts to defend the cave. Batman joins the fray and both sides realise that they are not enemies, and are both trying to stop Shredder.
Opting to work together Batman, Robin and Batgirl join forces with the Turtles as they determine what Shredder is up to, and who his partner is...
First thing I realised within a couple of minutes of the film beginning is this is definitely not a film that is supposed to be taken seriously, and serves more as a bit of fun for both DC and Nickelodeon.
The personalities of both the Turtles and Batman remain more-or-less the same, with the exception of a speech Leonardo gives the Dark Knight in which he talks about family and such, which provokes Batman into allowing the impulsive Turtles to fight alongside him. Yeah, Batman of Son of Batman, Batman Vs Robin and Batman Bad Blood was a bot of an arse, and no emotional speech would ever convince him that he cannot do things alone because that is kind-of his whole deal. Personally he party-dude Michelangelo was my favourite turtle and he has more than a little hero-worship of Batman. In fact Michelangelo might be the best thing in the film with him basically stealing every scene with his interactions with Alfred plus whilst riding in the Batmobile being particular highlights.
It was also fun to see Batgirl bouncing off Donatello in her dialogue about the Ooze, plus Robin bonds with Raphael as they are both rather impulsive but have the best interests of those around them at heart. I wasn’t sure if this Robin was Damien Wayne as he is never referred to anything other than Robin. However, there is a moment when he refers to Batman as “Father” so presumably this is Damien Wayne. Which after the deadly serious incarnation of him in the other recent animations I’ve seen it was nice to just watch him getting to have some fun being a kid.
The action is pretty decent with Batman and the Turtles bringing their different fighting styles to the table, plus Shredder is quite a formidable opponent that gives even the Dark Knight problems.
The Ooze that transformed the Turtles is also used to mutate various inmates of Arkham Asylum leading to a great moment involving Poison Ivy. Admittedly the film did start to lose me a bit there as the Joker, Mr Freeze, Two-Face and other turn into human-sized animals but this is not supposed to be anything other than a bit of fun so don’t let things like that bug you.
I was expecting the Turtles to have ended up in Gotham through some kind of multi-dimensional shenanigans, but it seems that in this film, the Turtles live in New York battling the Shredder. I don’t know if in the DC Universe any superheroes have claimed New York as their home (unlike Marvel in which basically every superhero lives in the Big Apple) as most heroes seem to have surrogate New York-esque homes like Gotham, Metropolis and so on, so perhaps there is space in DC for the Turtles.
This is a film that is not to be taken seriously, the action is pretty good, the fights well done and the Turtles are able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Dark Knight. Plus the Shredder proves to be a formidable opponent with other Batman villains popping up throughout the proceedings too.
All in all I enjoyed the film, it was fun to see the Turtles with Batman and Co sharing an adventure with the Dark Knight even uttering the Turtles’ catchphrase. Just remember that this is just meant to be a bit of fun, so just enjoy the preposterous spectacle before you as Batman’s straight-man runs alongside the more child friendly and funny Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I am happy to give the film a Thumbs Up because it is good fun and if you are a fan of Batman or the Turtles, or both then you should enjoy this little crossover. For everyone else, check it out anyway, as it is still a decent film with enough action and humour to keep you interested.
7.5/10 – I enjoyed the film once I settled into the grove of just enjoying it for what it was and not expecting it to follow the continuity of the previous films we’ve watched. This is certainly one of the better films I have watched which have starred the lean green fighting machines. By the way, there is a bit after the credits so be sure to stick around to see that.