This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, instead of doing a full list of films from a series at once I thought it would be fun to do individual reviews for every film in a series, just one at a time. One of my all time favorite superheroes ever is Batman, he’s the only DC comic book character that I find fascinating. Unlike Spider-man or the X-Men, Batman has a fun chain of different movie adaptations, all with their own unique style and that makes this series of films more fun to review. I’ve done Batman related posts in the past, but now I’m really going to dig it. I’m going to be giving 9 individual reviews on all 9 of the theatrical released Batman movies, ending with a new review for “The Dark Knight Rises”. I won’t look at the silent movies of the 20’s (“The Bat”, “The Bat Whispers” or “The Man Who Laughs”), I won’t go into the serials from the 30’s (“Batman” or “Batman and Robin”), I won’t be reviewing any of the direct to video films or TV movies like “Batman Under the Red Hood” or “Return to the Bat Cave” and finally I won’t get into any of the TV shows like the live action 60’s show or the 90’s animated TV show, they will be mentioned, just not reviewed.
So with all that said, let’s get this mini Batman marathon started with the very first theatrical Batman film in 1966, “Batman: The Movie”.
The live action Batman TV show of the 60's was a huge hit, it had a total of 120 episodes over the cores of three seasons. It was successful enough to have a theatrical film adaption which could be interpreted as one of the worst or one of the greatest entries in the series. The movie hit theaters between the first and second seasons in 1966. A lot of people like to ignore this one because they think it ruins the awesome, gothic and believable tone that Batman has been known for. I definitely prefer the darker, more realistic Batman but this is a completely different style and should be looked at differently from the others. I’d be lying if I said this wasn't an entertaining film. It’s very self aware and it does an excellent job turning campy antics into an art form. You can tell everyone is having a blast with every over the top, tongue-in-cheek gag, and you really have to be in the right mind set to enjoy it.
The movie begins with colorful, comic book style opening, with Batman and Robin running through alleyways, the villains are sneaking in and out of different colored locations and it perfectly sets the tone for a film that’s not meant to be taken seriously. The look of this film is enjoyably ridicules, Gotham City looks like a vacation spot in Florida, all the bat vehicles look like toys or rides that came from “Chuck E. Cheese” and the bat cave reminds me of “Jimmy Neutrons” basement. Throughout the whole movie, you constantly see bat themed objects ranging from Bat vehicles to Bat microphones, it almost reminds of “Spaceballs”, and all the Spaceball themed merchandise that would be seen throughout the film. We get all the classic vehicles including the Bat mobile, the Bat motorcycle, the bat boat and my favorite by far, the bat helicopter, it looks great, in that cheese kind of way. One thing I didn’t like was that they have to drive to an airport hanger (or something like that) to pick it up, common, shouldn’t it be in the bat cave with the rest of the vehicles.
Now at last, the most celebrated villain of all is The Joker played by Cesar Romero. Of course the Joker will go on to become the biggest, most recurring villain of all the Batman villains and one of the all time baddest bad guys in film and this is the guy who started it all. There’s nothing dark or menacing about this Joker, he’s just an over the top goofball but he is still a lot of fun to watch. According to Adam West, Romero was also starring in another show, where he needed his prized mustache. So he refused to shave it off and as a result, you can clearly see it under all his makeup, that’s hilarious. Now you’d think that Batman’s most famous foe, would get a big part in this film but he’s constantly upstaged by the other villains and he doesn’t even fight Batman, instead he’s stuck fighting Robin, what’s up with that?
The movie resolves with a silly little climax featuring everyone getting into a big fight on the top of a submerging, it's actually very amusing and a rare case in which we see Batman fighting out in the day time. Another famous trade mark that came into play here are the comic book style words like “BAM” and “POW” that would show up whenever Batman hits someone. This is also the only time we see Batman fighting with a sword, no joke, he and the Penguin get into a final showdown with swords.
The ending is the worst part, it’s not triumphant, happy or sad, it's just really odd and leaves me feeling bitter sweet, plus the closing shot is just Batman and Robin climbing down a building as the credits roll over it. There was no sequel but in 2003 there was a TV made movie called “Return to the Bat-Cave” which reunited most of the cast. Overall, this is a movie that isn’t meant to be taken seriously, it’s where you geek out and let that young child hood state of mind run wild. It’s not high class entertainment but it is still a fun film to watch, that is if you’re in the right mood and if you can accept the campiness. I give “Batman: The Movie” 2 ½ stars.
Stay tuned for part 2, Tim Burtons Batman is up next.
P.S. What’s up with this closing credit that say’s “The Living End...?” I just don’t get it?