Wednesday, July 23, 2008

All Your Bat are Belong to Us

As a writer on Batman: The Animated Series I have a vested interest in ole Bats, so I ought to weigh in on the latest outing, B:TDK. (I'm not using the title in my header, nor here, in my ongoing attempt to avoid pumping up my blog visits by using words a lot of folks are apt to be googling.)

It's an E-ticket ride. Right up there in the top five or six comic book movies ever, lot of action, a gag or two I've never seen before -- an eighteen-wheeler doing a half front flip -- and Ledger's final acting performance is a wonderful scenery-chewing nutso role. What sold it for me was a little bit of business, wherein the Joker, who in this incarnation wears makeup and not the residual coloring from his chemical bath, has scars next to his mouth. Now and then, he sticks out his tongue and licks them. Nice touch.

Don't take your pre-teen children, nor your older ones if they are easily spooked into nightmares, and if your spouse breaks down when Bambi's mother dies, leave him/her home, too.

There is a lot of action, and it opens hard and doesn't ease up. A bit long -- don't drink the big Coke or you'll miss some of the show. It's a tad preachy in spots, but a worthy successor to Bale's last outing in BB, and far and away better than any of the live-action Bats that hit the big screen before. (The Mask of the Phantasm, the animated movie? Still as good as any, save maybe this one. Of course, I'm biased, I have a couple uncredited lines in that one ...)

I don't know how they got a PG-13 rating. If ever a movie needed an R for violence, this is one. Some of it is clever. There is a funny, violent, scene involving the Joker making a pencil disappear, and one involving a Batman wanna-be you won't think is funny at all.
A scene involving a child late in the movie that, while we all know the kid isn't going to die, is over the top for any child that age to watch, and a lot of parents with kids in tow will squirm. Unless your darling has grown up on a steady diet of Grand Theft Auto, these sequences will scare them -- and they ought to make you cringe.

No big surprises. I liked the convict-reversal (with Tiny Lister), but it was easy to see coming. Harvey Dent's make-up is great fun to look at it, if totally silly from a medical viewpoint. (Hint: It has to do with massive infection, which would kill ole Harvey dead PDQ, trust me on this.)

If they do another one -- and anybody who thinks they won't doesn't have a clue how The Biz works -- I'm thinking they'll need to use Mark Hamill as the Joker. Watch the animated show and listen to the voice -- that's him, and he'd be perfect ...

Worth seeing, with the warnings.


Jay said...

Excellent review Steve.
I agree with the 'R' rating suggestion and if it had gone that way it would have been nice to push the Joker a little further. This guy is nuts and really does not care. I point out to people that think I am crazy that in the books, Joker hands out cotton candy that kills. C'mon! Hit me!
Ledger's performance here is the one to beat and while Hamill may have the voice, I am not sure he could pull off the physical. Ledger as Joker outside the hospital, dressed and walking like that! Awesome! That nailed it.

Kai Jones said...

I liked the detail of how his story about getting the scars changed every time he told it.

Carissa said...

I agree, excellent review.

I'm a huge Two-Face fan and was a little wary about how they would pull it off.

I shouldn't have worried. My only disappointment was that there wasn't more of him in his medically-impossible facade (I thought about infections, too, during the movie--and the amount of saline solution required to keep that eye moving).

I adored Hamill as the Joker. He pulled off crazy in voicework very well. Have to agree that I can't quite see him in the physical role, especially after Ledger's performance, but I'd be onboard for his voice talent alone.

I must add that Gary Oldman is spot on as Gordon. I find him scary good as a character actor(The Fifth Element comes to mind, among others) and was surprised he took this role, as it seemed rather subdued. He's nailed it, though, and I can't imagine anyone else in the role. I hope he sticks around for another movie.