The Dark Knight Rises – Review

Apologies for the late review, this film needed to be seen a few times for me so I could happily pass judgement. Christopher Nolan’s epic run of Batman films ends with The Dark Knight Rises.

It’s been 8 years since Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent’s murder and the police of Gotham, thanks to the ‘Dent Act’, have cleaned up the streets from crime. Until a ruthless mercinary named  Bane attacks Gotham. His plans promt Batman to return to the city who, in the last film, wanted him dead. But some of the police still hold those feelings for the caped crusader and their attempts to stop him allow Bane to continue his plans for Gotham City.

This film is epic and on a grand scale. If you see it in a cinema with good bass it is simply incredible.

Christopher Nolan expertly co-writes and directs again as usual. He brings in some of his actors from Inception, Tom Hardy (as Bane) Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as Gotham City PD officer, John Blake) and Marion Cotillard (as Miranda Tate) as well as some more famous faces like Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.

Old favourites return to the series aswell. Christian Bale is again, Bruce Wayne / Batman, Micheal Caine steals the show as Alfred Pennyworth. Morgan Freeman plays the President of  Wayne Enterprises, Lucis Fox. Gary Oldman as Commissioner James Gordon. There are also some nice little cameos from the other films you might find pretty cool.

As I said before Michael Caine was the stand out performance for me. He really conveyed the emotion that Alfred felt throughout these troubling times for Bruce and Gotham.

The music fills the cinema perfectly and Zimmer’s use of silence in key scenes is so captivating. You find the chanting in the film very hard to get out of your head. But why would you want it to?

I had so much fun watching this film. Both times it excites you, frightens you, makes you feel the dispair and anguish of the people of Gotham. I really don’t want to say all that much more about this film but it ends the trilogy very nicely perfectly. I was a bit suspicious the first time the film ended as a big fan of Batman lore. But after the second viewing… All that went away.

4.5 Stars

The Dark Knight Rises is in cinemas now. AND YOU NEED TO SEE IT!

Batman: Mask of The Phantasm – Review

PART FIVE: Batman: Mask of The Phantasm

Directed By: Eric Radomski & Bruce W. Timm

Written By: Bob Kane and Alan Burnett

Starring: Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner, Stacy Keach, Abe Vigoda, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Mark Hamill

Gross: $5,617,391

Production Co: Warner Bros. Animation

Release Date: 25 December 1993

Runtime: 76 min

Batman, the costumed crime-fighter who prowls the night skies in Gotham City, soon finds there’s another vigilante in town knocking off prominent mob figures. Despite the scythe-like blade for a hand, a mechanical voice and the cloud of smoke that follows the figure wherever it goes, the police and outraged officials mistake the homicidal crusader for Batman himself and demand that the city’s longtime hero be brought to justice. Meanwhile, Andrea Beaumont returns to town. She is the lost love of Bruce Wayne, the billionaire playboy who is Batman’s alter ego, and was an integral part of Wayne’s decision ten years earlier to don the cape and cowl. Now, she is back in his life and is no less a disruption than the return of his old archenemy, The Joker, who has a stake in seeing the annihilation of this new vigilante, whoever it proves to be.

This animated Batman movie did something for the franchise that the live-action movies didn’t. The tension and mystery surrounding The Phantasm coupled with the fact that most of Gotham City were turning on their once beloved caped crusader makes this a brilliant movie. In my point of view many elements of this movie as well as other Batman graphic novels, such as Batman: Year One, were vital in creating the new direction of Batman in the more recent Nolan films. The Mask of The Phantasm was dark like the animated series and yet it was very effective in portraying a story and some backstory as well. For example what Bruce Wayne did as a vigilante before he donned the disguise of Batman. There are many other animated Batman films and TV series out there but this is by far one of the best.

3 Stars

Batman: The Mask of The Phantasm is available on DVD in all good DVD stores.

Batman & Robin – Review

PART FOUR: Batman & Robin

Directed By: Joel Schumacher

Written By: Bob Kane and Akiva Goldsman

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone and Michael Gough

Gross: $238,207,122

Production Co: Warner Bros. Pictures(Worldwide)

Release Date: 26 June 1997 (Australia)

Runtime: 125 min

Although, in my opinion not as bad as Batman Forever (story-wise), this movie ultimately failed the Batman franchise and is yet another reason why Joel Schumacher is blamed for so much. Batman & Robin is full of disappointing one-liners and really obvious continuity errors as well as poor acting from almost the entire cast. The film opens with Batman and Robin (George Clooney (who should never have been Batman) and Chris O’Donnell respectively) going toe to toe with Mr. Freeze (played by Arnie), a new villain in Gotham City. Then in a “Meanwhile in South America” type scene the two other villains, Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) and Bane are introduced. After a series of events with Ivy causing the dynamic duo to fight over her affection and Mr. Freeze stealing a vast amount of diamonds, the evil pair team up and plot to freeze Gotham and allow Ivy’s plants to rule the world. Also on the scene is Alfred (Michael Gough) ‘s niece Barbra Wilson (Alicia Silverstone), who becomes Batgirl.

All in all the storyline in this move was better than the one in Batman Forever, however the rest of the movie was rueful. Alicia Silverstone won the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress. For those who don’t know the Golden Raspberry (or the Razzie’s) is an awards organisation for the worst movies of the year. Other nominations at the Razzie Awards included Schumacher (Worst Director), George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell (Worst Screen Couple), Akiva Goldsman (Worst Screenplay), both Chris O’Donnell and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Worst Supporting Actor), Uma Thurman (Worst Supporting Actress), and Billy Corgan (Worst Song for “The End Is the Beginning Is the End”). Batman & Robin also received nominations for Worst Picture, Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Reckless Disregard for Human Life and Public Property. Ultimately, out of 11 nominations, this movie garnered only one Razzie Award, a disappointing feat in it’s own right. Clooney said himself, that he might have killed the franchise and that Batman & Robin was a waste of money.

1.5 Stars

Batman & Robin is available on DVD and BluRay and can also be bought in a Batman Anthology with the other three “80′s & 90′s” Batman Films (Batman, Batman Returns and Batman Forever).

Batman Forever – Review

PART THREE: Batman Forever

Directed By: Joel Schumacher

Written By: Bob Kane, Lee Batchler, Janet Scott Batchler and Akiva Goldsman

Starring: Val Kilmer, Jim Carey, Tommy-Lee Jones, Chris O’Donnell, Michael Gough and Nicole Kidman

Gross: $336,531,112 (Worldwide)

Production Co: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release Date: 29 June 1995(Australia)

Runtime: 121 min

The critic on the back of the DVD of Batman Forever is quoted in saying “The Best ‘Batman’ Yet”… Maybe they put it on the back of the wrong movie? Batman Forever picks up a few years after Batman Returns, the city is now over run with criminals of all shapes and sizes. Now, Batman must battle Two-Face and The Riddler with help of an amourous psychologist and a young circus acrobat who becomes his sidekick, Robin.

Although this film is good in it’s own way and enjoyable, it sadly lacks the qualities that the original films had and I’d say that one of the main qualities was Tim Burton at the helm as director. Schumacher transforms Burton’s Noir-Expressionistic world into a rave-meets-gothic-architecture-type Gotham City. However that’s not the only down point… Although the acting was good from Jim Carey and Tommy-Lee Jones (Riddler and Two-Face respectively)(You maybe thinking ‘but Harvey Dent was in Batman and he was played by Billy Dee Williams’, and you’d be right, you have one man to blame for this… Joel Schmacher (I blame him a lot) Billy Dee Williams was very ready and excited to play Two-Face however Schmacher decided after working with Jones on The Client, replaced the one and only Lando Calrissian… Shame Schumacher, Shame) the characters they played were below par. The dialogue was to stilted and fake and lets not get into the one-liners that start cropping up and end up being (pretty much) the entire script in the next film.

Warner Bros. wanted to make this film more main stream because Batman Returns was not the box-office success they hoped for and because of this decision and a few others i.e. removing Burton almost completely and telling Schumacher what to film, the movie despite a decent box-office taking (making it the second highest of 1995, Toy Story taking the top spot) received mixed reviews and in my opinion while had some good points was not overly fantastic.

2 Stars

Batman Forever is available on DVD and BluRay and can also be bought in a Batman Anthology with the other three “80′s & 90′s” Batman Films (Batman, Batman Returns, Batman & Robin).

Batman Returns – Review

PART TWO: Batman Returns

Directed By: Tim Burton

Written By: Bob Kane, Sam Hamm and Daniel Waters

Starring: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michael Gough and Michelle Phiffer

Gross: $282,800,000 (Worldwide)

Production Co: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release Date: 19th June 1992 (Australia)

Runtime: 126 min

Batman Returns is more dark, more whimsical and more cartoon like than its predecessor, despite this it is a very good quality movie and definitely worth watching unlike some of the other Batman movies. Danny DeVito plays a very unusual Penguin but a perfect character for the movie. The Penguin plans to make his presence in Gotham City known and masks his true intentions to rule the city with heroic acts that make the city fall in love with him. Meanwhile Media Mogul, Max Shreck’s assistant is murdered and is resurrected by cats and becomes a feline vigilante who brings her own form of justice to Gotham City.

This movie gets closer to the unrealistic and campy form of Batman and unfortunately is probably a reason and the penultimate push that sent the Batman series spiralling in to a world of… wait for it… Joel Schumacher (shudders). Another thing that could have something to do with the downward turn of this movie is Catwoman. To be honest she looked like a character that didn’t really need to be there and again it was a hark back to the 1960’s show where two villains would team up to take down the caped crusader. Her whole existence in the movie seemed, to be honest, a side plot. The imagery in this film is brilliant as Tim Burton turns Gotham City in to his world, a mix of film noir and german expressionism (which are some of my favourite genres and movements) which suits Burton’s Batman so well. Acting is rather alright with the show stolen by Danny DeVito and to an extent, Michael Keaton, who hangs up his cape at the end of this movie to make room for Val Kilmer (but more about him later). Michelle Phiffer… ehh… she was ok and well how could you not love Christopher Walkin? There is just something about him that makes you like him even though he plays the weak Max Shreck.

3.5 Stars

Batman Returns is available on DVD and BluRay and can also be bought in a Batman Anthology with the other three “80′s & 90′s” Batman Films (Batman, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin).

Batman – Review

PART ONE: Batman


Directed By: Tim Burton

Written By: Bob Kane, Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren

Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Michael Gough and Kim Basinger

Gross: $411,348,924 (Worldwide)

Production Co: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release Date: 31st August 1989 (Australia)

Runtime: 126 min

Batman is such a fantastic movie. It was the first movie with a truly gritty Batman. Long gone were the days of Adam West and Burt Ward on the screens as the dynamic duo. Tim Burton, then famous for Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Frankenweenie, was asked to direct a Batman movie by Warner Bros. after the success of the comic books “The Dark Knight Returns” and “The Killing Joke”. Batman got the green light in 1988 after the success of Beetlejuice.

The Batman terrorises the criminal world as a mysterious vigilante until one fateful night when a member of a crime syndicate, Jack Napier is transformed in to the insane Joker, who plots to rule Gotham City. Batman reveals him self to Gotham City during battles between the Joker and the legend of the Dark Knight is born. Meanwhile, millionaire Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne courts photographer Vicki Vale, however both lives cross thanks to the Joker’s interventions.

This movie had just the right amount of darkness as well as a little humour and campy-ness that harks back to the sixty’s adventures of the caped crusader. All in all, this film is really good and masterfully made. It has served as a base for many, maybe even all Batman movies since.

4 Stars

Batman is available on DVD and BluRay and can also be bought in a Batman Anthology with the other three “80’s & 90’s” Batman Films (Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin).