Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"The Best Batman Movie Yet!"... what I would be saying if The Dark Knight were in fact the best Batman movie yet. Alas, it is not. And if you want to know why? Well... yeah...


I don't particularly care for Tim Burton's original 1989 Batman, but his sequel Batman Returns is just a perfect storm of sorts. Burton's dark gothicism mixed with the extravagance of his Gotham City meets Metropolis, a soundbite-ready screenplay and one of the greatest acting performances of the '90s, which continues to be the best performance in a superhero movie, too. As great as Ledger is, he can't top Michelle Pfeiffer's stunning turn as Catwoman.

The Dark Knight is a very good movie. Great, even. It is not, however, very great. I think the first two acts are very great though (still following me?) There's some amazing stuff going on there, a lot of it to do with Ledger's Joker, Eckhart's Harvey Dent and Michael Caine's butler Alfred. The problems start after my favourite scene (that'd be the hospital sequence between Ledger and Eckhart). Unfortunately from that stage it feels awkward and oddly directed. As if Nolan - and his co-screenwriter brother - didn't quite know how to finish the movie, so they threw together this quite out of the blue scenario with the ferries that feels disconnected to the rest of the movie. And... I don't know. I can't really explain it, actually. Something just didn't feel right. Plus, the hostage situation has been done before - most recently Spike Lee's Inside Man - so if anybody tells you how brilliant it was let them know, okay?

And then there's the issue of Two Face, which is all very hard to discuss without spoilers so pardon me for being incredibly vague, but when Harvey Dent "becomes" Two Face (that's no spoiler, folks) it doesn't actually feel authentic because I don't think they worked the multiple personality thing enough. His loss doesn't feel strong enough to turn him into a psychopath (uuugh, the relationship between Dent and another pivotal character wasn't developed enough, if you've seen the movie I'm sure you can understand who I mean). And then suddenly it's over with a short (very short) series of scenes that, again, feel disconnected from the rest of the movie.

Again, something just didn't quite feel right. Perhaps there just weren't enough penguins?

Batman - C+

Batman Returns - A-

Batman Forever - B-

Batman & Robin - D-

Batman Begins - B

The Dark Knight - B+

/random ramblings


adam k. said...

I can't figure out why everyone loves Batman Returns so much, other than Catwoman. I just think several parts of it fall flat, and Burton's whimsical gothic routine that he always ALWAYS infuses into every movie just feels even more played out in retrospect. It's good, but highly uneven, imo.

I even bought it because I assumed I'd totally love it (without having seen it since '92). And it turns out I don't, and that's annoying.

Kamikaze Camel said...

It does have the same whimsical gothic routine as always, but - as i said - merge that with his black-as-night version of Metropolis and it feels more grand and, I dunno, epic than any any of his other films. Not my favourite Burton film, but probably my favourite looking Burton film.

Stephen said...

I'm with Adam - I don't get this one (although I'm with everyone on Pfeiffer's performance). I think the whole thing is pretty average (aside from the impressive production design).

I'm no rabid fan of The Dark Knight (B+, every once in a while fliriting with a lower level A- just for its pure potency), but I think it's leagues ahead of Batman Returns. And I actually think Ledger's and Pfeiffer's performances are pretty comparably excellent - neither really outshines the other.

So, for what it's worth:

Batman (B)
Batman Returns (B-)
Batman Forever (C)
Batman & Robin (D)
Batman Begins (B)
The Dark Knight (B+)

Anonymous said...

Whoa, being a huge Batman fan I just had to comment. In terms of the Hostage scene in Inside Man compared to The Dark Knight... The tension that takes place within those few minutes is incredible, much like that of the film "Heat". Inside Man didn't grasp me like The Dark Knight scene did. And having Batman Forever receive a B- baffles me... that was a horrible film. Anyway other than that, great post and this is just my opinion so when I disagree I am not taking any personal shots... I just disagree. Anyway I love the blog.

My Ratings

Batman - B+
Batman Returns - B
Batman Forever - D
Batman & Robin - F
Batman Begins - A
The Dark Knight - A+