The 20th July has finally arrived. To celebrate the concluding part of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy finally making its way into cinemas across the globe today, I’m taking a look at Batman’s long love affair with cinema.
- BATMAN (1966) (Leslie H. Martinson) 6/10 Though not technically cinema’s first encounter with The Caped Crusader, as the earlier serials would still have being shown in theatres, (along with a Looney Tunes cartoon and a Movietone newsreel, no doubt), this is a classic adaptation of the popular TV series. For all of its campness and faults, Adam West and Bert Wards, Batman and Robin was good fun and is still worth a watch today. The film, which I must admit, I haven’t seen in something like twenty years, was equally so, if my memory serves. But, as long as you don’t expect Citizen Kane, then you won’t be disappointed.
- BATMAN (1989) (Tim Burton) 9/10 Re-inventing Batman as The Dark Knight which we all know so well, Tim Burton created cinematic gold here. Jack Nicholson’s turn as The Joker is still one of the best and Keaton’s, Bruce Wayne/Batman is good too. The Gothic feel and dark Burton sense of humour, all work well to create a phenomenon at the time, and a classic comic book adaptation which must surly still stand as one of the best ever made.
- BATMAN RETURNS (1992) (Tim Burton) 7/10 Burton dropped the ball a bit with this one as far as I’m concerned. Following in the Gothic style of Edward Scissorhands, which was made the year after Batman, the production design was excellent, though too dark and morbid for a superhero film. DeVito’s, Penguin was simply too depressing but Michelle Pfeiffer’s, Catwoman has endured and has become legendary in her own right. But Michael Keaton was still sidelined here and is never given the credit that he deserves.
- BATMAN FOREVER (1995) (Joel Schumacher) 5/10 The darkest chapters begin here, ironically with neon lights and comic book production designs which took the franchise from one extreme to another. But that’s not say that there weren’t some high, or at least, higher points, such as Jim Carey’s, Riddler, who wasn’t bad. But Val Kilmer as Batman; No thanks and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two Face were just too much to bear! But there was nothing about the Schumacher years which would serve the legacy but it was still a Box Office success and this led to…
- BATMAN & ROBIN (1997) (Joel Schumacher) 3/10 …The END of the Batman saga, couldn’t have been any more destructive to the franchise than this. Dubbed “Neon and Nipples”, Batman & Robin went all out, with Schwarzenegger, Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman’s, Poison Ivy, which was probably the best character in the film and the introduction of Alecia Silverstone’s, Batgirl. Oh dear… This finished Batman more effectively than any villain ever could, and this may well stand as one of the worst films ever made.
- BATMAN BEGINS (2005) (Christopher Nolan) 10/10 My feelings on Christopher Nolan’s reboot are well documented. Currently number 4 on my Top Ten, This is the first film to take a solid interest in Bruce Wayne, establishing a realistic world and identifiable motivations for his crusade. First rate but the this masterwork was about to be trumped.
- THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) (Christopher Nolan) 10/10 Now to number 3 on my Top Ten, this was Batman meets Michael Mann’s, Heat. A crime thriller at heart, Nolan had taken this a far away from comic book frivolousness as possible, instead turning into an epic melodrama, were action serves a purpose and the plotting is complex, from characters to diabolical schemes. The villains are believable and the Batman is a symbol that we can all get behind.
- THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012) (Christopher Nolan) 10/10 The juries out… Expect my review next week.
So, with the prospect of another reboot in the next few years with the proposed Justice League movie, in response to Marvel’s successful Avenger Assemble, I doubt that we’ve seen the last of Batman, but even if Nolan’s finale isn’t all that I’d hoped, there’s no doubt that his universe is the best to date, certainly as were film is concerned, but lets not forget the impact of Tim Burton’s Batman. Without it, the superhero movie scene would be somewhat different today…