Thursday, June 16, 2005

Batman Begins:

Saw it; yes, Batman has redeemed himself from the last movie, which was a lamentable abortion.

A couple of thoughts. First off, the movie is being touted as a "prequel" to the earlier ones. I don't that's an accurate description. I think the movie is really a "reboot." It does not have "continuity" with the earlier movies (which is good, because after that 4th movie, it would be best to make a clean break).

For instance, the first Batman movie (Burton, Keaton, Nicholson) also dealt, at least briefly, with Batman's origins. And this movie differed in some important ways from the first. In the first, Jack Nicholson's pre-Joker character is the one who kills Bruce Wayne's parents. In Batman Begins, like in the comic books, it's "Joe Chill," a petty thief, who does it. Also, expect to see the Joker character "retold" in the next movie (differently than Nicholson's). And expect the Joker not to die in that one.

The earlier Batman series was heavy on "eye-candy." Tim Burton did a good job of balancing the "movie-effects" for Gotham City, with a Frank Miller inspired dark-Batman.

By the time we got to Val Kilmer/ George Clooney, they were still putting a decent effort into bringing us "eye-candy," but the rest of what they did was so abominable, it really didn't matter.

This movie did a complete 180 from the last Batman movie. Very dark, gritty, true to Batman's Miller inspired comic character (the "Batmobile" was right out of The Dark Knight Returns). But the movie also was a little short on the special effects. I think they could have done a little better job, with all of the new movie technology, in creating a Gotham Skyline that "out did" what Burton did in the first Batman movie.

But it's clear that this movie wanted to bring more substance that stylistic glitz. I'd imagine that the budget was fairly modest for a big-blockbuster movie.

Some suggestions for the next movie. Do what Sin City did. Pick out a Frank Miller Batman comic, shoot it right from the book, page for page, panel for panel, and don't change nuthin'. Coming soon, any time now, Frank Miller and Jim Lee are going to "re-tell" Dick Grayson's becoming Robin. Ordinarily, I wouldn't suggest introducing "Robin" which might provide an opportunity to slip into the "campy" Batman TV show direction, as did the previous two Batman movies. However, if they strictly stick to what Miller puts into that series, it will work. Here's what the series is going to be about in Miller's own words: "This is Dick Grayson's initiation and he's dealing with a very stern teacher. Batman is a hard teacher - unforgiving. Brutal."

Update: Oops. Forgot. The next Batman movie is going to be about The Joker, so it would make more sense to keep the Robin story for the 3rd (Gasp! Just like they did in the last run). If they are going to do a page-for-page, panel-for-panel remake of a Joker comic (and one that tells his origin to boot), then obviously they would have to do Alan Moore's and Brian Bolland's classic, The Killing Joke.


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