Archive for the ‘Batman Begins’ Category

THE DARK KNIGHT – Praise Be to Dent

September 16, 2008

If you look at the most successful movies from the past 8 years you’ll see they’re all superhero movies. They capture peoples’ imaginations like no other genre, a genre we here at Grump Factory are keen to focus on with our dopey articles most of the time, because each new superhero flick carries with it a certain amount of weight, of hype and expectation due to familiarity with decades of comic book continuity and because many of the movies, despite their overwhelming success, are so lousy they deserve a proper skewering. For some perspective as to where The Dark Knight sits on the superhero movie scale, it was only two years ago when X-Men 3: The Last Stand made a killing. Now, people are rewarding a good movie and it’s not a feel-good movie. This is a feel-bad movie with one of the saddest endings I’ve seen in a mainstream movie. I’ve heard comparisons to movies as stark and cheerless as Se7en and Requiem for a Dream. I think it was statements as hyperbolic as that that made up a perfect storm of reasons for people to go see the movie, and go again, and again and again: to see if it lived up to the impossible amount of hype, to see the final full-on performance of Heath Ledger, and because the movie’s been in the public conscious in the past two or so years thanks to the most ambitious viral marketing campaign ever perpetrated.

Chances are you’ve seen it, most likely twice, in IMAX, and from here on I’m going to assume you did.

noir noir noir noir noir noir noir noir noir



September 9, 2008

With Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan undoes a decade of damage done by Warner Bros.’ stooges by centering the story around the goddamn Batman. Like Tim Burton, Nolan applies all of his auteurist fetishes to the beloved character, but they’re a far better fit for the “realistic” approach he attempts. Issues of obsession, identity, memory, self-delusion and repetition – favorite themes of his found in more concentrated form in Memento and The Prestige – litter the screenplay, co-written by Nolan himself and Blade Trilogy mastermind David S. Goyer. By bringing the story back to the beginning of Bruce Wayne’s life, and the circumstances of his transformation, a live-action Batman movie, for the first time, has a clear and focused narrative. Everything is explained, but never to the point of exhaustion. The costume, the vehicle, each gadget, every single facet is painstakingly explored so you care more about Bruce Wayne and his plight, so that there is no disconnect between him and his alter-ego Batman. It’s an approach that has become shorthand in Hollywood in recent years for “better movie than we would’ve got in the 90s”, or, the franchise “reboot”. The guys in charge of Iron Man, James Bond, Star Trek and pretty much every other franchise/character out there definitely took note.

Ohmygod what is going on



August 1, 2008

Mystery Science Theater 3000 head writer Mike Nelson writes in his collection of movie reviews, “Movie MegaCheese”:

For those of you who were scared away by the abysmal reviews of Batman & Robin, let me lay to rest some of the prejudices you might have about the film. It’s not the worst movie ever. No, indeed. It’s the worst thing ever. Yes, it’s the single worst thing that we as human beings have ever produced in recorded history. (There may have been a viler clay tablet somewhere in prehistory, but we mustn’t spend time speculating on that.) Batman & Robin is an act of cold cynicism, reckless incompetence, and unbridled hate. It is a story filled with hints of fetishism and pederasty, displayed with a bald-faced contempt for its audience.

But, hey, that George Clooney is easy on the eyes, I’ll tell you that for free!

And that’s really all there is to say at this point. As with Batman Forever, here are my unedited viewing notes and an obscene amount of screenshots of a really bad, really stupid movie.


BATMAN FOREVER – Thankfully Not Forever

July 25, 2008

Despite Burton’s hang-ups with plot, pacing and remote-controlled penguins the director helped catapult Batman into the mainstream consciousness as a serious comic book icon, a badass, kind of psychotic, and relevant, because nothing is relevant unless it’s rendered in live-action cinema. When Joel “Lost Boys” Schumacher took the franchise reins from Burton, who held on as a “producer” (whatever that means), Batman’s newfound reputation as a fearsome crusader was dashed to the rocks, replaced by an insufferable neon-lit homo eroticism. How WB allowed this to happen to their superhero cash cow is nothing short of bewildering. Obviously no one gave a damn. The only thing that mattered at this point were the Burger King tie-ins, the action figures and toys and the shitty Super Nintendo game. Clearly, across the board, no one was attempting a modicum of quality control because no one gave a shit. And we allowed it to happen! Batman Forever made a ton of money in 1995 yet even as a kid I knew something was wrong. Mainly I was embarrassed by Jim Carrey’s canoodling. And all that neon rubber? The stupid new theme music?! What, was Danny Elfman’s too good?

I won’t go into a full-detail analysis because I just don’t have it in me to put every codpiece-covered inch of Batman Forever under the grumposcope. It is exactly the type of 1990s clueless studio manipulated trash that deserves to be mocked and shamed, useful for only the occasional ironic laugh. Instead I’ve provided my unedited notes I took while watching the movie, and there are the usual screenshots.



BATMAN RETURNS – Beginning of the End

July 23, 2008

Before X-Men, Blade, Spider-Man and Harry Potter and Hellboy, studios and filmmakers didn’t really have a clue how to do sequels or the whole franchise thing. Sure, there was Wrath of Khan and Empire Strikes Back and Godfather Part II but there was also Batman Returns. The first Batman was a huge success so naturally WB wanted Tim Burton to trot out another movie. Problem was no one decided to keep a leash on the guy and he ended up laying down the groundwork for what would become one of the most colossal fuck-ups in film history. Everything in Batman Returns is amplified tenfold in Batman Forever then a hundredthousandfold in Batman & Robin. “Escalation” is right, Gordon.

I understand the movie has its fans. If you like completely unrestrained grotesque production design, sophomoric dialogue that consists entirely of sexual euphemisms, cat and penguin puns, nonsensical monologues that stretch on forever and say nothing, midgets in penguin costumes with mind control devices connected to their skulls and rockets on their backs, then, yeah, you will love all two excruciating hours of Batman Returns.

So call a doctor. QUICK.



BATMAN – Party Like It’s 1989

July 15, 2008

I can’t pinpoint the specific moment I became aware of the superhero Batman. Amidst the Captain Ns, Super Marios and Transformers of the muddled late 80s/early 90s culturescape I knew about the Batman comic books because my dad had a ton of them. I was semi-aware of the movie when I rented the Nintendo game. I also had Joker and Batman action figures, but I didn’t care about the flick, or any movies, until much later. It was toys and video games for me, and that’s the way it went for a while. I didn’t know about Batman‘s initial impact on pop culture at large, nor was I aware I was actually an important part of it.


The movie was only a very small part of the now-commonplace merchandising juggernaut, something Jack Nicholson took into account when he made his payment deal. Besides top billing (over the title character, Michael Keaton!) Nicholson got a large percentage of the royalties, raking in one of the biggest paydays for an actor in history. Considering the Joker’s climactic parade scene, where he throws millions of dollars to a rabid Gotham populace, to the tune of Prince’s “Trust”, it kind of makes you wonder. The Prince CD, Danny Elfman’s soundtrack, the action figures, the Batmobile and Batwing toys, all prominently displayed in their live-action late-80s glory for kids to nag their parents to buy. In the decade that followed, marketing and toy tie-ins was all Warner Bros. cared about when it came to their lucrative little whore of a Bat-franchise. Quality movies? Who wants those? But we’ll get to WB’s dark dealings in later articles. It’s not like Batman is the first or last cash cow then or now. I remember owning Aliens toys too and I didn’t see that movie until years later.

So it’s weird now, looking at Batman after the sequels, the reboot, the animated shows, the comic books … In Kevin Smith’s Evening With DVD, the director of Dogma and Jersey Girl recalls the time he mustered the ire of Tim Burton because of the finale of his Planet of the Apes remake. Smith jokingly accused Burton of cribbing the ending from a comic book he did. Burton’s alleged response was “Anybody that knows me knows that I would never read a comic book.”

“Which, to me,” Smith says, “explains fuckin’ Batman.”

and here we GO

Gotham Knight – Batmanime ^_^

July 5, 2008

Short version: Gotham Knight sucks.

Long, painful version: Gotham Knight is the latest direct-to-DVD release to sport the DC Universe Animated Original Movie label. Yeah, a real mouthful. Universe Animated Original…blah. Too many vowels. The label bears no relation, continuity-wise, to the DC animated universe (or DCAU) established by animators Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Glen Murakami and others. So these flicks have nothing to do with the stories told in Batman Beyond or Justice League Unlimited.

It’s a nifty idea to keep the enormous roster of DC characters and stories alive in animation but limited run times, inferior writing and some just plain bad voice work keep these alternate universe movies – just Superman: Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier so far – from being anything more than a rental.

Gotham Knight is the latest stab at this DC character cartoon thing. Besides it’s obvious cross-market tie-in with The Dark Knight the biggest thing about Gotham Knight is the anime aesthetic. It consists of six short cartoons done in the anime style from various animation studios, written by bonafide comic book authors like Josh Olson (A History of Violence), Greg Rucka (Queen and Country, Batman: Death and the Maidens) and Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets, a heavy-handed run of Superman with artist Jim Lee). Listening to the guys behind the project talk about it you’d think they were on to something momentous. Indeed, the potential for a “Batmanime” is vast. (The potential is usually vast for animation – budget and imagination is your limit. So it’s a wonder why, considering the tons of work it takes to make an animated production, so much of it is so bad.) They set out their goals: Bring Batman into anime, bring anime to a whole new audience, explore all new creative possibilities! And the names involved. Bruce Timm, one of the DCAU founding fathers, returns in a vague “executive producer” role. The voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, returns to bring the Bat to life once more. The back of the box claims “6 Interlocking Stories. 6 Acclaimed Directors. One Groundbreaking Masterpiece.”

Hoo boy, well, forgive me for being disappointed.