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Month of Superhero Film Reviews: Batman Forever

Howdy ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Day #24 of my Month of Superhero Film Reviews! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best and worst comic book adapted films. So we’ve covered the Tim Burton Batman films, now let’s talk about the more light-hearted and lesser liked follow-up film slightly controversial sequel in the form of Batman Forever.

Okay now we’re talking about the 90s Batman and this is probably where I started watching Batman in the live-action films when I was a kid. I remember really liking this. For a while I loved this film for its characters, action and kick ass soundtrack, so after a while I grow up and even though I was teenager after the Christopher Nolan films had come out, I still liked watching this film. But now I haven’t seen it in a good few years so now let’s go through this film and see if my thoughts have changed at all.

As for the plot it focuses on Batman trying to stop Two-Face and the Riddler in their villainous scheme to drain information from all the brains in Gotham City. He gains allegiance from a love interest in the form of psychiatrist Dr. Chase Meridian and a young, orphaned circus acrobat named Dick Grayson, who becomes his iconic sidekick Robin.

I thought the plot in this film was alright. There a good few ideas in this film like how Batman questioning his act of vengeance due to what happened to his parents and then there’s Bruce struggling with his dual identity too. We also have the introduction of Dick Grayson and his storyline and Edward Nigma’s plot too which all sounds pretty good on paper too. The problem is that way its done in the film is not nearly as effective as it could have been. Due to the direction by Joel Schumacher, this film adopts a much more child-friendly approach which mean that all the more serious aspects are watered down and it doesn’t help that the script a little on the weak side offering up some half-assed material and stupid coincidences that really shouldn’t be taking place in a Batman film. You know what the film emulates the feel from the Adam West 1960’s TV show, it feels very similar with the colourful villains, crazy situations and levels of campiness.

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Now let’s talk about the cast. In my opinion Val Kilmer makes for a great Bruce Wayne and Batman. I Kilmer’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne and I also like his calm and collected Batman too. As for Nicole Kidman she was good as Dr. Chase Meridian. Firstly she is SUPER gorgeous in this film and she was one of my first film actress crushes. That aside, I liked her character, she was smart and sophisticated and a good love interest for Bruce Wayne thought I wasn’t keen on how obsessed she was with Batman or how she was a damsel in distress in the climax.

Then there’s Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. Somehow Billy Dee Williams disappeared and is replaced by Tommy Lee Jones. I feel like Jones was okay in role but he was far too wacky, over-the-top and was in no way as good as he was in the comics. And then there’s Jim Carrey as Edward Nigma/The Riddler as the second villain in the film. In this film he’s a bit of a sympathetic character and you can understand his a motive for become evil. Even though Jim Carrey is pretty much Jim Carrey in this film which can be frustrating at times, I feel like he’s way better villain because he has better motive and more screen time devoted to his character. These two together are like children stuck in older men’s bodies, they’re so crazy and out of control that its very reminiscent of an episode from Looney Tunes.

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As for Chris O’Donnell as Dick Grayson/Robin, I thought he was alright, thought he did moan a little too much for my liking. He was still decent once he became Robin, but wasn’t as skilful as his comic book counterpart. And lastly Michael Gough is still great as Alfred Pennyworth, he’s still reliable, funny and I like how he’s the faithful family faithful butler and Bruce’s confidant.

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Now let’s talk about the presentation. Visually the film is insanely colourful and way more vivid and bright than Tim Burton’s darker and moody colour palette. Gotham is still a unique and distinctive-looking city, it is way more colourful and accessible to child audiences though it is a bit excessive for me especially with all the additional special effects that’s found in this film. The action in this film is of a pretty extra in this film and is way more in line with the comic book and 1960’s TV show too. As for the soundtrack by Elliot Goldenthal I personally really like it. The score is loud, bombastic and works well with the style of the film. I really like the new main theme for this film, it is one of my favourite themes ever! It’s so epic and heroic, I even had it on CD when I was like 7 years old and played it on repeat. That’s how much I loved this song!

And lastly how does it compare to the comics? As I said before my knowledge mainly comes from the Batman cartoons and research online. Well in this film we have the inclusion of Robin, The Riddler and Two-Face and while some of their character origins are the same, the way they’re depicted that’s questionable and different. Firstly Robin is a hell of a lot older and not a boy at all and he’s whole persona is wrong, then there’s the Riddler who is just a lot comedy-based than usual and then there’s Two-Face, I’m sure he was meant to be more of a serious character but here’s portrayed as a much sillier and campier character which really doesn’t work for the comic book fans.

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So to conclude Batman Forever is a film that I like from a nostalgic stand point and I think it’ll honestly have a special place in my heart. But it obviously isn’t exactly the Batman film that fans were hoping for after the Tim Burton approach and I can say that I don’t like the film nearly as much as I did before. However Batman Forever is still decent, it’s not nearly as painful as some say and I think its WAY more tolerable than its sequel, so if you haven’t watched it and you’re curious, give it a chance.

Rating: 6/10 (Its cheesy, campy and a little silly, but it’s still fun!)

So there’s my review people, only 6 more to go. So have you seen Batman Forever and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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Month of Superhero Film Reviews: Batman Returns

Howdy ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Day #23 of my Month of Superhero Film Reviews! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best and worst comic book adapted films. So we’ve covered the first Batman film, now let’s talk about the slightly controversial sequel in the form of Batman Returns.

So now we return to a film that I remember liking a lot after seeing it the first time. Many Batman fans and critics hate on this film because of its darker, twisted and more Tim Burton-esque style, but honestly I thought that was what made the film so much better than the first film. And that was my frame of mind for the last 2 years, so now that I’ve seen it again with a fresh pair of eyes has my opinion changed at all? Well  read on and find out in this review yo!

Now let’s talk about the plot. In Batman Returns egoistical businessman Max Shreck sets a plot against Gotham City in motion. He is joined by Penguin, a deformed and rather deranged man abandoned at birth by respectable parents. Penguin, backed by hoodlums and real penguins, runs for mayor. The plot is further complicated by Selena, a wronged secretary who transforms into Catwoman, a villain with mixed motives.

I really liked the plot in this film. What is apparent from the outset is how much more of a Tim Burton film this is, from the atmosphere, tone, music, everything screams Tim Burton! It’s tale of misguided characters, deceit, revenge moral and ethical choices. As with any good Batman story there’s a lot more going behind the scenes. I liked how this film connected and referenced things from the previous film and presented situations and stakes that were higher and more complex for the characters involved especially when it comes to Bruce Wayne and his time as Batman. I think one of my favourite aspects of this film was the connection between Bruce and Selina, both are people with issues that different but at the same time are complex. They are like kindred spirits both as normal personas and as their alter egos, its interesting to see how they attract and to see we they differ on morals and ethics. The character’s story that wasn’t as interesting was Penguin, I wasn’t too interested in his back story and his whole time in the public eye, it was only after his life went to shit and he decided to mess up Gotham that he became worthy of my time.

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Now let’s talk about the cast. Firstly let’s take about Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Keaton is still very good as Bruce Wayne offering us a character who is still alone, complicated and dedicated to his life as the dark knight. I like how his character was still getting over Vicki Vale and how he found interest in Selina Kyle. And as Batman he’s still cool, intimidating, if a bit careless at times. Then there’s Danny DeVito as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin. DeVito honestly looks the part and in a lot of ways I couldn’t imagine anyone else in this role and for the most part he was good, psychotic and freaky. But I found his character’s back story and motives to be a bit generic, lame and not nearly as captivating as the Joker, though anyone trying to follow-up the Joker has massive shoes to fill.

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And then there’s Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Selina Kyle at first is this timid little secretary who wants to say a lot but doesn’t have the cuts to do it, and she’s also a bit dull and boring. But after her little accident she adopts a much more fiery persona both as herself and as Catwoman. And Holy Christ was she hotness! Catwoman in this film is fierce, seductive and all sorts of crazy, but that’s what I like about her. Sure she was a bit looney and hard to take seriously, but at the same you could see that she was just a little messed up and wanted to get revenge for the people that wronged her beforehand. Christopher Walken as Max Shreck was pretty good, he played this right asshole who was a good guy in the public eye, but behind closes doors he was definitely a bad man with a massive ego and had some funny moments, but I expect nothing less from Christopher Walken. And lastly Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth, he was just around to suggest certain things to Bruce or provide other moments of humour through some good dialogue. Gough just makes for a good and effective Alfred even though his screen time isn’t that big.

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Now let’s talk about the presentation. Visually the film is still cool, Gotham City looks distinctive, dark and creepy and I love the art direction and set design, it really does the comics justice. You can also see that there’s a lot more CGI in this film but luckily it’s used in a very minimal and effect manner. There’s a lot more action in this film with Batman fighting Catwoman and Penguin’s thugs, Catwoman’s athletic scenes and all of the explosions that go down in Gotham, in all makes for some great viewing material. As for the soundtrack by Danny Elfman, it retains the main theme from the last film while incorporating new material into the film. Honestly this soundtrack sounds more in line with Tim Burton’s other films, I was especially getting A Nightmare Before Christmas vibe from this score so I think of it as the precursor to that film.

And lastly how does it compare to the comics? As I said before my knowledge mainly comes from the Batman cartoons and research online. Even though this film was very Tim Burton, there were some aspects taken from the comics and translated into this film pretty well. Batman’s costume still looks awesome as does his vehicles. And feel like Catwoman’s costume was decently crafted with a sleek and leather design. I guess the Penguin looked okay, but I’m used to his black suit and monocle. Character wise I’d say there were a few iffy bits and bobs about Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Penguin, but it’s not stuff I’ll lose sleep over.

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So to conclude Batman Returns is a film I don’t love as much as I did when I first saw it, but is still a film I greatly appreciate in the superhero genre. Sure it is a lot darker, creepier and silly than the previous film and it a bit misguided in the choices it made for the story and its characters. But there are a lot of things to love about the main cast, action and Tim Burton style of direction. Most people dismiss this film as a failure when compared to 1989’s Batman, but I believe Batman Returns is a good piece of work and it deserves some respect.

Rating: 8/10 (A great sequel that’s on par with its predecessor)

So there’s my review people, only 7 more to go. So have you seen Batman Returns and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2013 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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Month of Superhero Film Reviews: Batman

Howdy ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Day #22 of my Month of Superhero Film Reviews! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best and worst comic book adapted films. Alright so we’ve talked a lot Marvel films recently, time to get back to DC films. So for the next few days we’re talking BATMAN! So let’s go back to 1989 with the first live action adaptation of the character with Tim Burton’s Batman.

Wow, didn’t think I’d ever have a reason to watch this film again. Now don’t get me wrong, Tim Burton’s first Batman film was one I watched for the first time around 2 years ago, but I wasn’t overly keen on it and didn’t really see what all the hype was about. And that’s not because I’d seen the Chris Nolan films already, it’s because on a personal level it wasn’t the Batman film that I liked that much. So now we’re in 2013 and I’m watching it again, so have my opinions changed at all? Read on to find out.

The plot summary for this film can be described as the following:

“In Gotham City, a dark knight known as Batman helps to defeat evil and keep the city’s citizens safe. When Jack Napier is transformed into the evil, Joker, he promises to take over Gotham City it is up to Batman to stop him in his tracks before it is too late.”

The story was pretty cool. It’s interesting how in this film we don’t get an origin story, Batman is already out there taking the law into his own hands with street thugs freaking out and the Gotham police trying to figure out if he’s real or not. Then you have Bruce Wayne whose life gets a bit more complicated once Vicki Vale got involved and then there’s the Jack Napier, the bad guy who literally turns into a freak of nature after becoming the Joker and decides to terrorize Gotham just to be noticed. There was a lot of great elements of danger, mystery, corruption and the central theme of two freaks going up against each other as polar opposites. I really liked the script because there are some funny as hell moments in this film, some on purpose and some that are completely random and some of the dialogue written for this film is great especially when it comes from the Joker. I feel like the story dragged at points with there being scenes focused on some irrelevant matters and in final sort of 15-20 minutes of the film I feel like the finale could have been shorter too.

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Now let’s talk about the cast. Michael Keaton does well as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Initially I was never keen on him in the role because he didn’t have the look of Bruce Wayne to me, a while I still believe that, Keaton definitely a handle on the character. Keaton portrays the character as a man who is cool, calm and assertive but with a lot to hide and a complicated life behind the scenes. As Batman he’s pretty cool and thank god he doesn’t have a stupid gruff voice like the Chris Nolan version. Next we have Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier/The Joker. Nicholson has always been a very charismatic actor and his performance in this film just looked like he was having the time of his life. He did emulate a lot of the Joker’s good qualities like his sick sense of humour, maniacal laugh and crazy physical movements and was very similar to the Cesar Romero version from the 1960s TV series. Though at times I couldn’t but see him more as Jack Nicholson playing Jack Nicholson.

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Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale was incredibly pretty and I liked what she did with her character but did scream a lot and when it comes to love interests for Batman I’m not overly interested. Michael Gough was fabulous as Alfred Pennyworth, he really did a good job at having a presence even when he wasn’t the main focus on the screen, his dialogue, mannerisms and actions were cool and sometimes hilarious too.

Robert Wuhl was pretty funny as Alexander Knox, I liked his moments in the film though his character was a little annoying at times. As for Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon and Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent they were both good in the small roles that they had, but I feel like they weren’t around long enough to leave an impression.

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Now let’s talk about the presentation. Visually the film is great, Gotham City is a very stylized, dark and moody place and it is well presented with interesting set design and great lighting. There are some wonderful shot of Batman just standing or moving through barely lit locations and it adds a good level of mystery, creepiness and makes the character look cool and iconic. Though it is clear that some of the special and practical effects are old now and do look very questionable by today’s standards. As for the soundtrack by Danny Elfman, well, this was the soundtrack that won him an Oscar. If that doesn’t tell you something about his skills then I don’t know what will. Elfman crafts a score that is loud, full of epic instruments and know just how to create the right mood for each scene. “The Batman Theme” is pretty epic, though I prefer the reworked version that found its way into the opening credits of Batman: The Animated Series. While I don’t believe its Elfman’s finest work, it is a pretty cracking score on the whole.

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And lastly how does it compare to the comics? When it comes to Batman I’ve only read a few comics, most of my knowledge comes from years of watching Batman cartoons and research online. From what I understand this film took most of the elements from the comics and translated them to live-action pretty well. Batman’s costume is very good as is his vehicles the Batmobile and Batwing. I feel like this film captured the look of Gotham well and the mood and atmosphere was pretty cool too. I’d say the only things that were odd was the fact that Harvey Dent was suddenly black and the annoy way that the Joker had to keep putting on make up to conceal his bleached skin.

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So to conclude Batman is a film I underestimated and is definitely a lot better than the last time I saw it. There are wonderful aspects like the story, cast and presentation that makes this film work not only as an adaptation of the source material but also as a standalone film. The film has definitely aged and there are a good few strange, inconsistent and silly things going on in this film, but I do like it and for comic book fans willing to look a little further into the past this film is worth your time,

Rating: 8/10 (While its ages somewhat, there are still a lot of great things to be found in this film)

So there’s my review people, only 8 more to go. So have you seen Batman and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2013 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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