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Posts Tagged ‘Robin

Back In Black…. And Yellow

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76 years. 76 years of Batman punching bad guys, brooding, having shitloads of cool gadgets and general bad-assery. It is hard to find a figure that had endured as long in popular culture as The Dark Knight. We’re all very familiar with the story by now. Young child, Bruce Wayne accompanies his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne to a screening of  The Mask of Zorro. They leave the theater and are gunned down by one of Gotham’s many criminals. The young Bruce vows to clean up his city and trains to become the ever present, ever vigilant silent guardian of Gotham CityBatman. And now he’s back in cinemas, in Lego form!

I’m going to put this out there. This is, in my humble opinion, the best Batman movie since The Dark Knight. The movie opens in hilarious fashion with Batman (a hilarious  Will Arnett) narrating what we can see, “Black. All good, serious films start with black. And music, ominous, scary music…..” “This movie is brought to you by DC. The house that Batman built. You heard me Superman, come at me bro!!” There’s your tone for the whole movie. An affectionate, self referential addition to the Batman franchise.

There is so much to love in this movie. As mentioned already, Will Arnett nails the role of our big eared, narcissistic hero. And this is the crux of the story, and essentially the heart at the core of the movie. Batman is a loner, a strong entity that feels he can get by on his own without anyone’s help. The movie joyously sends up the much used image of Batman being a brooding, quiet loner and a gruff hero, ultimately a man’s man who just does what he has to do. Preferably on his own.

The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) tries to take over Gotham. And as is his wont, Batman shows up and puts a stop to his plan. In a glorious showdown, our two leads meet after a huge battle (of which there are many, which all utilize the wonder of building Lego to achieve master builds) and Joker decries Batman for being his “number one enemy” and that “he needs him, because we need each other.” Batman responds in typical bravado, “I don’t have a number one enemy. I fight a lot of villians, I like to fight around.” Joker is morally offended and upset and does not get the validation he needs. So he surrenders freely and this leaves Batman at a loose end and needing to focus on more important things.

Mainly the orphan, Dick Grayson (a charming turn by Michael Cera) who Bruce Wayne unwittingly adopts and invites himself to become Robin. This is where the movie hits a small dip. Overall the story is quite heartening and ultimately it shows a character grow while all the time not changing dramatically. And ultimately sends out a message of the importance of family and indeed friendship. A strong 40 minutes, a weak twenty and then a lovely bright finish.

There are numerous references to the Batman franchise. Visually, aurally and there are lovely nods to the different actors who played The Dark Knight. This movie is aimed at kids but it is an adult’s movie. Very clever, bright and loud and as a love letter to the franchise, it is a valuable addition. And if you’ve forgotten, a character in the movie reminds us, well me specifically how much Batman means to people, when he roars lovingly, “Hey, Batman. I love you more than my kids!”

4.5 / 5

 

Written by thepanch

February 6, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Ice To See You

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“Criminals are a terror. Hearts of the night. I must disguise my terror. Criminals are cowardly. A superstitious terrible omen. A cowardly lot. My disguise must strike terror. I must be black. Terrible. Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot. I must be a creature. I must be a creature of the night. Mommy’s dead. Daddy’s dead. Brucie’s dead. I shall become a bat.”

Batman, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth (Morrison & McKean)

As my esteemed colleague has given you a potted yet concise history of The Bat, The Dark Knight, Batman, I will give you a history of my love affair of all things Bat. It all began when I picked up a copy of Year One by Frank Miller. Year One is an origin story for the Batman, and in my opinion the definitive. And it served as an inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s interpretation in Batman Begins. From the comics, I started to follow the reruns of the 1960’s T television show, which by the way are still being rerun on ITV4. I still love them, and then I turned my attention to the films, beginning with Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns which are both excellent films. And the latter saw me developing my first famous person crush on Michelle Pfeiffer as Selena Kyle / Catwoman. Meow. Batman Forever came next with Val Kilmer as the Batman. This was before he got all fat and weird, and he was surprisingly good. Then we were given the film in the dock this month, Batman And Robin.

I saw it in the cinema, I loved it then and I still love it now. All initial reservations point to me hating the film as a Batman fan, cheesy dialogue (mostly from Mr. Freeze, more to come later), dodgy looking sets, weak main actor, terrible supporting actors and Bat gadgets up the wazoo. But I bought it all, hook line and Bat sinker, I feel that it is an absolute joy of a film. And all the reasons I should hate it are the reasons I love it. It was made with that intent, to be fun. Now I know Batman is broody and probably doesn’t watch YouTube videos of cats talking, but I found it impossible not to smile while watching it, and I still do.

The studio insisted on Schumacher lightening the mood for this one and he does not disappoint. The whole film is bright, retina burning bright. The cowl is filled this time by George Clooney, who was fresh off his turn as the ludicrously handsome, yet very clean Dr. Ross in ER. He was hot property and to be fair, he’s easy on the eyes. So, what did the studio decide, let’s go with George. He is terrible to be fair, but this is not the film’s fault. He sleepwalks his way through the film, again I feel this is the sign of a lazy actor and he is to blame here.

His sidekicks, the Boy Wonder Robin is played by Chris O’ Donnell. Yes, your man from that historical documentary of 50’s Oireland, Circle of Friends. I know, you’re trying to think of what else he did. He was Al Pacino’s foil in Scent of A Woman. He, despite a lashing from critics and fan boys gives a very gung ho performance, and he nailed the brash, cocky attitude Dick Grayson was blessed with. He is great at what he does, but you want to slap his smug face. Alicia Silverstone plays Barbara, Alfred’s niece. Look, she wears a skin tight PVC outfit, put your academia away and enjoy her for what she is, the eye candy.

Now, the villains, I knew they were villains from the inspired poster campaigns. There was one for the “Heroes” and one for the “villains.” They need to make a comeback…. Fast. Anyway, there’s Poison Ivy, played by Uma Thurman. Ivy has always been for me a very good character who like Catwoman oozes danger and sexuality. Thurman does a pretty stellar job here. She is accompanied by Bane, a hulking monster who is basically her lackey. Here he is portrayed as a mindless thug, not too far removed, but they toned down his violence, understandable enough given the target audience, and I enjoyed it as part of the overall film.

The main villain is Mr. Freeze, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is a scientist who is trying to find a cure for the disease killing his cryogenically frozen wife, Nora. And Arnie is having a blast playing him. He is such a stereotypical villain it is hard not to love him. As I mentioned before, he has some of the cheesiest and best lines. Nearly all his dialogue is puns or quips based around ice. My personal favourites are as follows:

• “You’re not sending me to the cooler!”
• “Mercy? I’m afraid my condition has left me cold to your pleas of mercy.”
• “Ice to see you!”
• “What killed the dinosaurs? The Ice Age!”
• “If revenge is a dish best served cold, then put on your Sunday finest. It’s time to feast!”
• “Allow me to break the ice. My name is Freeze. Learn it well. For it’s the chilling sound of your doom.”

Arnie, we hardly knew ye!
To sum up, this is a very enjoyable film. And that’s exactly what they set out to do, make a fun film. It didn’t ruin Batman as some critics would have you believe. If it did, would we have the magnificent Batman Begins and all that has since followed? No, the franchise would have died with Mr. Freeze. Instead it was given new life by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. Right, I’m going to go and rewatch the movie now. Altogether now, “Let’s kick some ice!!”

Written by thepanch

April 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Film Reviews

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