Top Six: modern day Batman movies
This is going to make me sound like a massive dork, but oh well — I just got back from my third viewing of “The Dark Knight,” and while I haven’t seen it in IMAX (I was kindly ushered out of the IMAX theater tonight. Who would’ve thought the tickets for a 10 p.m. Tuesday show would be sold out?), I’m ready to call in a cinematic masterpiece. It’s going to open up so many possibilities for the future of the comic book movie, incorporating a level of realism that no film in the genre has ever even attempted, let alone achieved.
Before my rant about how great “The Dark Knight” is gets into overdrive, let me move on. If you’ve been reading Movie Chutzpah for a while, you’ll know that every week I do a Top Six column. I usually pick something that’s semi-relevant to the news coming from the Movie Universe. Well, there’s nothing more relevant that yet another Batman post, so here we go — my favorite modern day Batman movies (everything from Tim Burton on).
I’ll be honest; this post is pretty difficult, because there are only six movies to choose from, and when one is “Batman and Robin,” this’ll be the first time I don’t actually like something in on of my Top Six columns. I’m not used to ragging on movies here, but I’m really not going to be able to find anything nice to say about that stinker. So here you go, with one choice that I know is going to piss some people off. If you don’t agree with my list, fire back in the comment section.
6. Batman and Robin 1997
Where do I ever start? Basically, the movie is a two-hour long ice, chilly weather pun. “It’s time to kick some ice,” “Tonight, Hell freezes over,” etc., etc, with some less-than-exciting action mixed in. And don’t forget the angsty “But I want to be all grow’d up” story of Robin. Ugh. This movie is bad. Franchise ending bad — oh, wait. That actually happened. Apparently a fifth installment was in the works (tentatively working under the title “Batman: The Dark Knight,” coincidentally), but when the execs saw this trainwreck that actually used good judgment instead of thinking from their wallets: they scrapped the project and closed the book on Gotham City, opening the door for Christopher Nolan and his genius interpretation of the caped crusader eight years later.
5. Batman Returns 1992
I think there’s a lot of people that would put this one higher on the list, but I’m sorry — Danny DeVito as the Penguin isn’t fun to watch or compelling as a villain. He’s just annoying. Like, really annoying. He’s too predictable and unwatchable. Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson, Jim Carrey, etc., they own the screen in their respective villainous roles. With DeVito, I just couldn’t wait until he got off of it.
Plus, it’s really hard to take a movie seriously when, during the big, action-packed climax, the key line is “The penguins are moving in on Gotham Square.” I just can’t get all worked up and excited about penguins strapped with rocket bombs. That’s just too dumb.
4. Batman Forever 1995
Say what you want, but I actually enjoyed this movie. I rewatched it recently to prepare myself to write this column, and I fully expected to hate it completely. But you know what? It’s great for what it is — a campy shoutout to the Batman legacy. Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey work great together. I love the scenes in which they interact, because, even though they both look absolutely ridiculous, both turned in interesting, quirky, and ultimately fun portrayals of their respective villain. And after thinking about all of these Batman movie for the last few days, the villain makes the movie; that’s the conclusion I’ve come to. I like watching these two guys, so I liked the movie. I know a whole lot of you didn’t, so hopefully I don’t lose too much credibility for confessing that.
3. Batman 1989
The Batman film to beat all Batman films. That is, until Nolan, Christian Bale and Heath Ledger came along to completely wipe this movie out of memory. When all is said and done, you really can’t compare this film to “The Dark Knight,” because they are so ridiculously different, especially in the director’s interpretation of The Joker. It comes down to preference; Do you enjoy more serious crime drama, or is a lighter-hearted comedy-ish film what you want from you Batman experience? Jack Nicholson is great for what he has to work with, a Joker that is more grounded in the ridiculous (remember that huge, cartoonish gun he takes the Bat-Plane down with, or the green goop that transforms him into the Joker?) All-in-all, it’s a good film that is unfortunately overshadowed by the Nolan Universe.
2. Batman Begins 2005
Yes, the movie has its flaws, specifically that the action scenes leave something to be desired. But it’s a movie that I completely fell in love with. It’s a comic book movie tackling real issues in a real world — you forget you’re watching a dude in a black latex suit with wings run around town kicking ass, and you appreciate it for what it is. An interesting crime drama. I just love how Nolan looks at Gotham City through the eye of Film Noir. And the fact that he dug deeper into the history of the comic book to find a few villains that had never been featured in a Batman movie and who would actually fit into his more realistic depiction of Gotham City really impressed me. Just a great movie, but not nearly as good as…
1. The Dark Knight 2008
After all the raving I’ve been doing about this movie, is it really a surprise that I picked it as the best of the bunch? Like I said, I’ve already seen it three freaking times, and I promise that I’m not done yet. I’ll have to see it in IMAX at least once before the theatrical run is over. I’ve never seen a movie be so arresting for so long — I mean, I’ve sat with my eyes glued to the screen and my heart pumping for over seven and a half hours watching this movie, and it has yet to cease being as good as the first time I watched it. It’s so in depth, so realistic and so dark and gloomy. I honestly can’t see how a comic book movie could ever or will ever top this artistic achievement. This isn’t just a great comic book movie; It’s a great movie, period, and I honestly don’t see how it won’t be nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year. Holy Crap, I just can’t get over this movie. The only bad part is knowing that the sequel will almost inevitably be a letdown. How are you supposed to follow up the perfect Batman movie?
Entry filed under: Batman, comic book movies, The Dark Knight. Tags: Batman and Robin, Batman Forever, Batman Returns, Christian Bale, Christopher Nolan, Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson, The Joker, Tim Burton.