alright. alright. alright. since courtland bought me the box set of the batman movie anthology, i have been steadily working my way through all of them. as most people living in north america are aware, the last two batman movies of this strain, batman forever and batman and robin, were terrible. i feel it is time for me to do some long over due movie reviews of these cinematic embarassments, but first of all, i feel that it is necessary to provide the readers with some background information. much of this information is going to be steeped in the opinions of a lifetime batman fanatic, but let me say that all of the things i am trying to present as fact i cannot source. i read them in things like the paper or magazines and such during the production, promotion, and release times of these movies, and that was quite a while ago. anyway, after i provide you with this information, i will then move to post my reviews seperately, in the spirit of being organized, and to save you, dear reader, from a ridiculously long post.
so, here we go. in the beginning, there was tim burton. and tim burton was with batman, and batman was with him. ok, so thats not exactly how this story goes. in the beginning, there was tim burton, who was the appropriate choice for directing the original batman movie (or perhaps making the movie was his own idea and he pitched it to warner brothers, i dont rightly know), since he was and still is the hollywood poster child for eccentric and darksome directing. this is the kind of director who would bring the right kind of creativity to the set of batman. he was able to capture the dark and serious nature of the batman mythology, while still maintaining a surreal, yet believable, comic book feel. tim burton knew what he was doing, and i doubt there is a batman fan around who was disappointed with his work. that said, the movie was also exceedingly well cast. i have heard people say that they cannot and even do not want to envision the joker as anyone other than jack nicholson. (i myself am not of that opinion. jack is the man but the joker is too, and there are endless tantalizing possibilities for actors to bring something new and different to the part). anyway, so the original batman movie was well recieved. what do we do when movies about comic books are well recieved? we make another! of course! there isnt a fan alive who has a problem with that. but, we, as fans, do worry that the next movie wont be as good as the first. not to worry, batman returns was even darker than the first. i remember i was eight when the movie came out, and i was too terrified to watch it on video. the penguin biting the nose thing. as an adult, i can say that tim burton didnt let anyone down with batman returns. relatively true to the mythology, consistent with the first movie, and just the right amount of that tim burton flavah that made the first movie everyones favourite. BUT here is where the trouble begins. i wasnt the only eight year old who was in love with batman but squirming and covering my eyes and not being able to watch the movie in its entirety. no, dear readers, the very thing that made batman returns as great as it is was also the undoing of tim burtons beautiful monopoly on the batman movie niche. it was too scary. children were running, hiding, crying. they were afraid of the movie, and they were afraid of their hero, batman. (not this child, by the way. it was the PENGUIN i was afraid of.. and im willing to bet christopher walken freaked me out. but i never lost faith in batman dont you worry). anyway, upon the final crunching of numbers after the release of batman returns, the bigwigs up in hollywood realised that they had taken a serious demographic hit and lost a huge chunk of their child audience. not to mention mum and dad who would be taking jimmy and all his little batman wannabe buddies to the matinée. so, the bigwigs said "tim burton! your movie was too scary! we cant have you directing like this! not only that, we want you to make a NEW batman movie that gets these children back! make it more kid friendly! no scary stuff! use mcdonalds to help you promote it! children love mcdonalds, and we love money!"
now, here is where i start speculating. i would like to think that tim burton said something like, "hollywood bigwigs, i realise that we have lost our child demographic because my movie is too scary. and i realise that has cost you some money. but the batman books arent intended for children, so i never tailored my movies to children. and there is a group of real batman fans, people who read the books and know the mythology, who were very happy with my movie"
and then hollywood bigwigs said something like "we dont care! that group of obsessive freaks can go rot. its children who make movie money. not only in the box office but the toys! the products! now, get out of here and go make a kid friendly movie. why not try something like adam west did? kids love his batman show"
and then i would liek to think tim burton said "but adam west's show is explicitly a satire. kids like it, but most of them dont get that. you want me to make a movie satirizing batman that follows from batman returns? thats idiotic"
and then tehy said "no of course not. we just mean use teh same kind of fun TONE for the movie. now, off with you."
and tim burton sighed, and shook his head, and realised he would have to get another director to do this movie, and thus the wheels were in motion for the complete and utter degradation of what was shaping up to be one of the greatest series of comic book movies ever made.