mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, October 11, 2008

In the name of all that is good and holy, let this be the end of it: Batman and Robin comment commentary, Part Two. 

Well, you knew it was coming, so let's get it over with: more follow-up on the feedback to this "liveblogging" of Batman and Robin.

As noted previously in the comments, director Joel Schumacher was the target of some derision in an episode of the animated Batman series...you can see the brief scene in question right here. Pal Dorian notes

"That scene has always struck me as needlessly mean-spirited, and just over the line into outright homophobia."

And yeah, it's a bit over the top. You know, if it weren't for the kid rubbing the pink feathered boa all over himself, the scene might have been fine as a swipe at Schumacher. But having him posing with the boa makes the scene read like "oh, and Schumacher is totally gay, too...let's laugh at that!" It's pretty crass.

Matt adds

"...The gay-bashing in that scene was totally uncalled for, especially because it tarnishes what is otherwise one of the best episodes in the animated series."

What he said. It's just this ugly little thing in the middle of some clever adaptations of Batman stories and styles, and it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Tim ponders

"I'm still a little surprised this film hasn't become more popular with fans of bad films. Is it possible that it crosses the line from so-bad-it's-good into so-bad-it's-simply-unwatchable?"

Well, there was one fella I pointed out yesterday who enjoyed the film strictly for its comedic value. And I suspect there are more than a few people who'll watch the film just for the sheer ridiculous slow-down-for-the-car-wreck feel of it.

CW asks, slightly off the B&R topic:

"Thirty-two responses? Mike, is that a record for your blog? I don't ever remember seeing that many before, but I could be wrong."

Oh, no, I've had several posts with far more than that. But I don't tend to get a whole lot of comments, usually. Not like my internet chum Chris who can post "I farted," and immediately get, like, 60 responses. Of course, some of those comments will be "why didn't you sneeze instead" or "I liked your old farts better" or "why do you hate Strangers in Paradise," so there you go.

Ah, insular humor for fellow webloggers. The snake is eating its own tail, friends. Let's move on.

Rob says

"There is one thing that made Batman and Robin wonderful. It killed the comic movie franchise for a couple of years and made Hollywood take a long and serious look about how comic movies should NOT be made."

There's certainly something to that...Batman and Robin pushed things about as far as they can go, re: goofiness and "camp," and by and large, everyone said "no, thank you, sirs" and rejected the film. So having reached the goofy ceiling, there's nowhere to go but down. At least, that's what we can hope.

Suedenim writes

"I actually think Schwarzenegger gets something of a bum rap for this movie... if only because I can't imagine *anyone* doing much with the abominable material they give his character."

Yeah...that's why I'm willing to give Clooney a pass, too. There's only so much you can do with what you're given. But they did have their moments...after Arnie and Clooney have their final confrontation, with Batman simply talking to him...as I said previously, that was a reasonably solid scene from both actors aside from Arnie's terrible "take two of these" line read. But Uma...she was trying to do "over-the-top sexy cartoon vamp," and only succeeded in making me wish that almost anything else was on my sceen at those moments.

Jay V is trying to kill me:

"Mr Freeze lines that didn't make it into the movie.

'I'm hungry, lets have some chili.'
'I'm freezed to meet you.'
'You might say Batman and I are polar opposites.'
'Don't like the temperature in my hideout? Are you some sort of brrrly-man?'

"I'm freezed to meet you." Oh, Jay.

And now, because things aren't confusing enough...a couple of comments on comments for my post about comments.

First up is M.A., who says three things

"A) By posting on comments and allowing further comments on that post, you've proven that Batman and Robin is a perpetual blogging engine."

Oh, God, let's hope not.

"B) I think we can all agree that the third film, which introduced Robin, should have had the Batman and Robin title, while the fourth should have been Batman 4ever."

That does seem like a bit of a missed opportunity. I remember people wondering about the "Forever" name ("for the 3rd film? Really?") at the time the third film came out.

"C) The theater I saw it in was packed, and remained so. The movie didn't make over 100 million (1997) dollars from elves, you know."

...to which he adds that he isn't arguing the movie's good, just that it wasn't entirely the unpopular flop people remember. And that's a fair point...Batman still had enough draw to get people's butts in seats, and it does amuse me slightly that so many people actually sat through this film. And depresses me that so many of them would likely never read a comic. Or certainly won't after seeing this film.

Aqualad Knox strikes again:

"When we were in the theater watching Batman and Robin,my friends and I alternated between cringing in embarrassment and guffawing at the ineptitude up there on the screen."

And that's the other thing, perhaps tying into why, as Tim above wondered, this film didn't become some classic of bad cinema. Perhaps the cringe quotient was just too high to allow for an enjoyable "bad movie" experience. That "burning shame" feeling for viewers on behalf of the film doesn't sound like too much fun to me!

And finally, because I gotta stop at some point, Mercury727 has this to say:

"Comments on a blog post devoted to comments, how meta!"

Not the first time this sort of thing has happened here, and likely not the last time. BLOGGING EATS ITSELF.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mike finally gets around to responding to your Batman and Robin comments: Part One. 

"Oh, God, part one?" Yeah, I know, sorry...I got a late start on this post, since I've been busy working on a new webpage for the store, and...boy, you folks really did have a lot to say! And apparently I have a lot to say back to you.

Well, let me get cracking on the first half of the comments from that Batman and Robin post:

Aqualad Knox has a couple of comments:

"I liked that Robin's costume looked like Nightwing's from the comic."

And yeah, it wasn't a terrible costume, all things considered...and by "all things" I mean "rubber molded nipples." Which reminds me...I seem to remember that, when Robin got a new costume in the comics (finally got rid of the short pants, etc.), it was at the urging of director Tim Burton so that he'd have something a little more usable for film. However, a quick Googling turned up an excerpt from a 1991 comics magazine reprinted at the bottom of this page, where then Bat-editor Denny O'Neil reveals:

"'I don't know if it [the costume] was influenced [by the movie's],' says O'Neil, "but that probably played some part in the designer's thinking. We got about 15 different designs, and we, I swear, Scout's honor, liked this one the best. We sent them out to [Batman director] Tim Burton, and this was the one he liked best.'

Anyway, that's a bit of a tangent. Let's get back to Aqualad Knox:

"TNT shows this movie CONSTANTLY, Mike, in case you feel the need for further study"

The broadcast rights to this film must have been cheap, cheap, cheap.

Paperghost (who by the way runs a great computer security blog which you should visit) had this to say:

"I also love the fact that the bat credit card says 'Thru: FOREVER' on it."

That got mentioned a lot when I told friends that I endured this film. It is a cute callback to Batman Forever, that damned "ka-ching!" noise aside, though the very idea of giving a masked vigilante a credit card made out with his code name does raise more questions than is answered (as Rich noted later in the comments).

Roger wants to know

"is that a recommendation for others to see the film? I still haven't seen it, so since you didn't seem to do yourself r=the bodily harm you anticipated..."

Well...if you haven't seen it yet, and you've not nothing else better to do with your time, and you realize going in that what you're going to see may be considered, at best, a failed experiment...go ahead. It's interesting to watch keeping in mind that what was attempted here was a live-action cartoon, a garish over-the-top reimagining of the four-color origins of the character, in the context of an updated "camp" parody inspired by the '60s TV show. It doesn't come close, of course, but watching it from that angle at least gives you something to contemplate among the "cold" puns.

Just Some Guy counters

"I have to disagree with you a bit on how those sets [look]. Everything looked polystyrene and neon to me."

Fair enough. I liked the bright colors, myself...you know, there's no real way to say that without making me sound, um, "tetched." MIKE LIKE BRIGHT COLORS.

Just Some Guy also recommends to Roger

"you've got to see it just to be able to complain about it knowledgeably. It's like reading All-Star Batman and Robin. :P"

Sir...sir. One reads All-Star Batman and Robin to revel in its beauty. One should only complain that it's not weekly.

David notes

"George Clooney, on the other hand, has been justifiably in mortal torment about B&R since it was released. The shaaaammmmeeee!"

I honestly didn't think Clooney was that bad...some of his line reads seemed a little...underwhelming, but mostly the poor guy was just saddled with uninspiring material. I think he's as much a victim as the rest of us. Well, not as much...I'm assuming he was paid for the part.

Loren points us in the direction of an article he wrote examining the similarities between Batman and Robin and its predecessor Batman Forever.

The Phantom-Longbox longboxed

"Poison Ivy couldn't have been LESS sexy in this if she tried."

Yeah...if you have Uma Thurman, playing Poison Ivy, and you somehow manage to make it not sexy, you've done something horribly wrong. Thurman's waaaaaay over-the-top forced sexiness just made it less sexy. So unappealing.

David N. had this to say:

"I salute you for your bravery just so you could have content for you blog."

I'm not so sure that's so much bravery as it is outright foolishness combined with my obsessive need to post every day. But thanks!

Rich lists his problems with the cast, which got me thinking...you know, I don't really have a problem with any of the casting. You probably could have put together a...well, good may be too strong a word...how 'bout "not so embarrassing" of a film. Yes, even with Arnie as Mr. Freeze. If they got everyone to crank down the performances a notch or twenty, and set fire to that original script, and...well, okay, maybe you'd still have a lousy film.

rob! sez, he sez

"i saw in the film in the theater, and as it unspooled i started sinking further and further into my seat. i kept telling myself 'it'll get better' in that desperate Homer Simpson voice.

"but when Bats whipped out the Bat Credit Card, i thought 'they could bring out the entire Justice League after this and the movie would still suck.'"

I can only imagine what it was like to see this in the theatre. It's all well and good to look back at the flick now and try to analyze it and give it some context, etc, but paying your six or seven bucks or whatever it was at the time, and sitting there in the theatre actually watching the damned thing on a large screen with a crowd ("a crowd?" -- yeah, I know, but go with me here)...that must have been a little bit like hell. As I was watching, as certain scenes went by, I would think "I wonder how people in an audience setting reacted to this?" Poorly, I'm guessing.

I liked Dave W.'s way of dealing with this film:

"You know, I saw this one in the theaters on opening day and I loved it. Not because it was any good, but because it was so bad it was hilarious. My buddies and I laughed throughout the movie, laughed for a few hours at the waffle house after the movie, and laughed all the way home. So worth every penny."

Now that's a good way to deal with this film!

Dave also asks

"Dunno if they fixed it on DVD, but there's one fight scene in the middle there where Robin gets dragged underwater by a vine. In the middle of the sequence there's a brief shot of him trying to resurface only to get dragged under - but all they did was run the footage of him finally re-emerging and then reverse it really fast. It was so cheesy and completely obvious that we can't believe they let that one slip through."

I caught that, too, so it's still on the DVD...should have noted it in my "liveblogging," but as you saw, I had no shortage of things to write about!

Pal Ian booms

"I usually love silly Batman stuff like the 60's show and Bat-Mite, but this stuff just makes my brain scream in pain."

Me, too...but there's a line between "silly and fun" and "stupid and insulting" that this film crossed.

Caleb informs us

"I remember not too long after this came out reading an interview with Mike Nelson from MST3K and he referred to it as not only the worst movie ever, but the worst thing ever."

I wonder if he revised his opinion after seeing Eragon.

Bully, the Little Stuffed Bull, stuffs

"...It's very funny to see how humorously disparaging Clooney is about it. He knows he was in a turkey and he gleefully admits it."

Like I said, I don't hold Clooney entirely responsible...but I'm glad he has a sense of humor about it. Good on him!

Jon asks

"What, all that commentary, and not a single mention of when Clooney Batman does the whole 'Fred Flintstone Sliding Down the Bronto's Neck, Back and Tail at the Beginning of the Flintstones' thing?"

I was still trying to get into the film at this point...I think I may have just been overwhelmed. I wasn't ready for what I was experiencing!

Jon also says

"I mean, when I saw that, I knew the movie was just going to get progressively worse and worse... heck, that was the reason I waited to see 'Batman Begins' until long after it had been out on DVD, because I just didn't trust Warner's with their DC franchises any longer"

I noted on this site a few years back that when the Batman Begins trailer came onscreen at the theatre, the audience I was with groaned a bit...that Batman and Robin cast a long shadow.

HydrogenGuy admits

"I'm a little embarrassed to admit I laughed uproariously at the Bat Visa, though."

Oh, HydrogenGuy, it's like I don't even know you anymore.

Disdain for the previous Bat-film, Batman Forever, pops up a few times in the comments, such as from Joshua here and from The Mutt. I remember liking it just fine for what it was, but I haven't seen it since it was in the theatres. Maybe I should give it another go...hey, that's another blog post! (EVERYONE READING THIS: "Noooooooooooo!") I do remember being struck by the novelty of the film not spending a whole lot of time on Two-Face's origin. ("Here's some footage of Harvey Dent getting acid in his face. Okay, everyone caught up? Good.")

Evan shockingly reveals

"...That overacting reporter woman is Bob Kane's wife, so that's how that happened."

And she probably made more money from Batman than Bill Finger ever did.

And Nik sticks it to me but good:

"Sterling, you totally ripped off my post from last week! J'accuse!"

I swear, I didn't! I've been meaning to do this for months, honest!

Here's the link where Nik discusses his successful avoidance of this fourth Bat-film.

Okay, and that's enough for now. I'll continue with Part Two...in the future!

Yeah, I know you can't wait.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Things brought up at Agent B-4's quarterly performance review. 

from Giant-Size Creatures #1 (July 1974)
by Tony Isabella, Don Perlin & Vince Colletta

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Why do I have these? 

For some reason, I have a full set of Crime and Punishment, one of Eclipse Comics' many "educational" trading card sets published in the wake of the publicity surrounding their True Crime card set, featuring serial killers and lawbreakers and lawmen and the like.

I've no idea why I have this set. This wasn't one of Eclipse's prepackaged factory sets...it was sold in wax packs, and I'm pretty sure, even during my brief trading card collecting phase, I didn't have enough of a need to learn more about Patty Hearst or Charles Manson to go through the trouble of assembling this set.

I think I may have been given these, but I'm not 100% sure.


In doing a little Googling around about this set, I found a couple interesting things:

First, I found someone on the eBay trying to sell just one of the Manson cards from the set.

Second, I found this court decision involving Eclipse Comics' fight against an ordinance targeting their crime cards. Makes for interesting reading, particularly the bits about the pro-ordinance folks having to admit that they actually had no support for their claims that the cards were connected to any instances of juvenile delinquency.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In which I say I'm not going to write a post, but then I do so anyway. 

Just a couple of items I want to note, as I've been under the weather and don't really have a real post in me at the moment. I think I'm allergic to Batman and Robin.
  • Speaking of Batman and Robin, I do plan on writing some extended responses to your comments from yesterday's post. A lot of you had some interesting things to say, and I'm looking forward to discussing this in further detail when I'm a little more up to it. (And that sound you hear is thousands of blog readers crying out "NOOOO! NO MORE BATMAN AND ROBIN!")

  • Another brief commercial announcement: I'm finally listing more things on the eBay, so if you see anything there you'd like, feel free to help a pal out.

  • Found out from Mr. Spurgeon that the Opus comic strip is ending after a five year run. That's too bad...I did love Bloom County and Outland, and while Opus was a bit too much "can't go home again," I had enough affection for the character to enjoy seeing him back in the funny papers.

  • You know what's weird? Coming across an explicit reference to the Vietnam War in the latest Complete Peanuts reprint volume from Fantagraphics (1969-1970), in a daily I'm almost certain I've never seen before. Specifically, the strip involved Snoopy giving a (televised!) speech at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm (yeah, I know, just go with it), when a riot breaks out over protesters upset about...well, let's let Linus tell you, from the July 10th, 1970 strip:

    "According to the paper, the riot was about war dogs...apparently there's been some trouble about dogs being sent to Vietnam, and then not getting back..."

    WOW. That's pretty heavy, even for a strip that doesn't tend to shy away from the darker aspects of life.

  • A couple of other things about that latest Peanuts volume: first, there's another strip I don't think I've seen before, involving an "Age of Aquarius" joke. Topical "popular culture" humor isn't necessarily uncommon in Peanuts, but it always seems a little jarring to me, somehow.

    Also, on the back cover, some of the book's contents are described, including:

    "...The revelation that Snoopy's little bird companion is named...Woodstock!"


    (Yes, I'm kidding. And talk about "topical popular culture humor," with a character named Woodstock!)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Batman and Robin (1997). 

So I've mentioned once or twice on this site that of the four Bat-films from the Tim Burton-launched franchise of the late '80s/early '90s, the only one I never got around to seeing was the fourth and final installment, Batman and Robin. The trailer alone was enough to warn me off, so garish and shrill and annoying...and in the years since, I've heard enough about the performances from the leads, mostly in the context of "OH GOD MY EYES," that I've never really wanted to go out of my way to correct this cinematic omission.

Well, a few months ago I got the idea in my head that, hey, maybe watching the film would be a good way to create some content for my site. Then I thought, "wouldn't it be a good gag if, after The Dark Knight opens, I do one of my movie reviews, but on Batman and Robin? That'd be great!"

That never happened, unfortunately, but I still kept meaning to rent the movie from Netflix and cover it on the site...and when I mentioned this at the shop, New Employee Tim piped up with "hey, I've got that movie on DVD! Want to borrow it?" And lo, I did say "yes," as renting it from Netflix would only result in messages for me on their site like "based on your interest in Batman and Robin you may also enjoy: A Syringe Being Jabbed Directly into Your Eyeball."

And yes, I watched it. (That's the reason for this Twitter post of mine, by the way). I planned on live blogging the "event," but instead I just took notes and transcribed them below. There was a lot of pausing and rewinding going on, so ultimately I spent far more than the film's running time watching it, for which I deserve some kind of reward, or at least PayPal donations.

A few words about the notes: oddly, I didn't have much to say about Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. She didn't have much of an impact on me one way or the other, I guess. Also, some notes are in the form of "Oh, [ACTOR'S NAME], no" which is apparently in reaction to whatever performance they're giving, but I didn't leave myself much context for why I said that, and I ain't going back to look. Maybe you'd like to rewatch the film yourself along with a printout of my post here. (NOTE TO MY READERS: Don't do this.)

I haven't read any reviews of the film (at least, not lately), and I haven't even listened to the Rifftrax commentary (since this is my first time through the film, after all), so if I duplicate any observations, it's inadvertent and I apologize. But really, there are only so many ways one can react to getting a full-screen close-up of Batman's rubber-clad butt.

And I should also note that the time codes may not be exact...these are the times I pulled off my DVD player, but I noticed when I had the DVD in the computer drive, the times were off by a few seconds. I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for this that will eventually appear in my comments section.

Anyway, here we go...I'll have a brief wrap-up at the end with some final comments:

00:00:15 - Okay, I like the Warner Brothers logo turning into a frozen Batman emblem. So far, so good.

00:00:46 - I don't want to hear the opening credits make "woooooshing" sounds as they fly onto the screen (and did Alicia Silverstone's credit get a motorcycle sound?). I had enough of that in the first Superman movie.

00:01:06 - Am I supposed to be reading anything sexual into the Batman and Robin emblems flying around on screen and ultimately mounting each other?

00:01:18 - Ah, the famous Bat-butt close-up. This scene's reputation precedes itself.

00:01:23 - That's a nasty crunching sound Batman's cowl made as it was being donned. I hope Bruce didn't do any permanent damage to his neck.

00:01:43 - I'll give the movie this...that's one sweet looking Batmobile.

00:02:23 - "This is why Superman works alone." Throwing a bone to the nerds, are we?

00:02:58 - So they keep Robin's motorcycle in a big case that emerges up from the ground and splits open, revealing big glowing Robin logos inside. That smacks of a bit of overkill, really.

00:03:16 - Oh, so they're gonna go with the "Sick Alfred" subplot, are they? "Okay, now pretend to feel sick." "Sure, let me just picture the script in my mind...."

00:03:58 - "Directed by Joel Schumacher" - well, at least they're warning you up front.

00:04:16 - I do like the Mr. Freeze make-up. Shame about who it's applied to.

00:04:21 - "The Iceman cometh!" What did Eugene O'Neill do to deserve this?

00:05:20 - My, that was an entirely unconvincing Batman-jump.

00:05:32 - "You're not taking me to the cooler!" Oh, Arnie, no.

00:05:48 - I'm really not getting the physics at work in this fight scene.

00:06:26 - "It's the hockey team from hell!" I believe the "[something] from hell!" cliche was well over and done with by this point.

00:06:58 - Ah, another scene I knew by reputation: the "Bat ice-skates."

00:07:47 - Thank God, someone finally picked up the diamond instead of knocking around like a hockey puck like they have for the last hour.

00:08:47 - You know, considering this franchise was doing its level best to get away from the '60s Batman TV show, they're sure trying to emulate it.

00:10:05 - So Arnie is piloting his phallic rocket while moaning "oh, yes." Still less homoerotic than Pumping Iron.

00:11:00 - That may have been the least convincing Batman voice ever.

00:11:13 - Yeah, okay, I call "no way" on Mr. Freeze being able to fly away from the rocket, wings or no wings.

00:11:15 - Are you telling me that big, tough, leaping-across-rooms-in-defiance-of-all-physics Batman would break those two spindly bits of ice across his wrists without help?

00:12:06 - So now Batman and Robin plummet to their deaths because clearly those little skateboard-thingies aren't enough to allow them to glide through the air. Right?

00:12:42 - Please tell me I didn't hear Robin shout "cowabunga."

00:13:08 - At this point of the film, physics just completely gave up and left the room crying.

00:14:33 - Okay...Arnie waving "bye bye" at Batman through the frozen pane of ice was kinda cute.

00:15:30 - Oh, and here's Uma Thurman as Ivy. Surely she'll save the film.

00:15:49 - And the Swamp Thing fan in me perks up as we get John Glover as Dr. Jason Woodrue. Huzzah!

00:16:50 - Oh, John Glover, no.

00:17:14 - "Super Soldier Serum?" They're, like, tying into Marvel's current movie plans eleven years ahead.

00:19:04 - So while Bane was asleep, his dormmates totally drew veins all over his arms with magic markers. What a bunch of jerks.

00:19:14 - Man, Uma can't even chew scenery properly. If you're gonna deliver the phrase "maniacal scheme for world domination," do it right.

00:20:06 - I had a teacher in grade school whose husband wore glasses like Glover's here.

00:20:12 - "I'm afraid you'll have to die!" - John Glover gets the best line read in the film thus far.

00:20:26 - Oh, good, she's dead. Well, one less bad performance in this film.

00:21:20 - I think so far Michael Gough as Alfred has managed to keep some level of dignity for himself.

00:22:05 - More "Sick Alfred" subplot. Not sure why I'm noting this.

00:23:50 - A brief flashback with young Bruce and less-old Alfred. Oddly and effectively emotional in this giant punch-in-the-face of a movie.

00:24:51 - So dying 'n' coming back makes Ivy's performance even worse.

00:25:10 - Oh, John, stop doing that with your lips.

00:26:09 - Just sort of dawned on me at this very moment how very different the performances are in this film versus The Dark Knight. Not sure why it stuck me right now.

00:26:39 - To borrow a lesson from Mystery Science Theatre 3000: never put a good movie in the middle of your bad movie. A Year Without Santa Claus is just reminding your viewers what a film made with some level of competence is like.

00:27:42 - A henchmen named "Frosty." Man, you should have just put 'em in shirts with their names on them at this point.

00:28:52 - You know, a children's cartoon handled the tragedy of Mr. Freeze's wife with a lot more emotional effectiveness.

[At this point Alicia Silverstone is introduced as Alfred's niece. I didn't note a specific time, or really have anything to say about it, but thought I should mention it anyway.]

00:34:26 - Having Bane as a chauffeur isn't conspicuous at all.

00:35:04 - So is that reporter directly from the 1950s?

00:35:44 - There's a base level of irony in that Clooney's delivery of awkward stuttering is in itself incredibly awkward.

00:39:13 - "I hate when people talk during the movie." This is as metatextual as this movie gets, folks.

00:40:14 - I was hoping there'd be a tacky jungle dance party in this film, and I wasn't disappointed.

00:40:34 - Oh, the Leather Daddies are on stage to perform! Oh, wait, it's Batman and Robin.

00:40:54 - At least Pat Hingle is displaying the proper amount of shame.

00:42:00 - The only thing on my TV right now is someone in a purple gorilla costume slowly dancing. I think I'm going insane.

00:42:39 - Wow, Ivy's pollen sure moves fast!

00:42:50 - Oh, man, the party's become a really slow rave.

00:43:27 - Being on Ivy's magical pollen has improved everyone's choreography.

00:44:25 - No, Uma, please make more unsubtle glances down at Robin's Boy Wonder.

00:45:25 - I actually had to replay this scene to make sure I really did hear a "ka-ching" cash register sound when Batman whipped out his Bat-credit card. Oh, movie.

00:45:28 - Oh, Uma, don't do that. The sexy talkin' and walkin' ain't workin'.

00:45:36 - Oh thank God it's Mr. Freeze.

00:46:02 - Batman totally didn't contact that thug's head with his foot, and the thug went down anyway. FIX!

00:46:26 - I'm sorry, was that a cartoon "slip" sound?

00:46:42 - So grabbing a vine can make Mr. Freeze fly. Why'd they even bother erasing the wires in post-production?

00:47:45 - "Cool party." Man, Mr. Freeze is a dick.

00:49:26 - Gotham sure is full of entirely impractical architecture.

00:50:47 - Did we miss a fight scene? Batman flings himself at Mr. Freeze's car, and then Mr. Freeze is defeated?

00:52:52 - Ah, Alfred brings some calm to the proceeding. Let us focus on Alfred and forget the previous unpleasantness. OMMMMMM

00:55:03 - "Drag him into the cold beam!" How many times have I heard that?

00:56:30 - Putting a hat and overcoat on Bane feels like a somewhat inadequate disguise.

00:56:55 - Ivy and Bane are gonna fight a gang of Dayglo Skeleton people. Sure, at this point, why not?

00:57:44 - So, more cartoon fight noises.

00:59:30 - I see Bruce Wayne has since bought a much smaller dinner table than the one he had in the first film.

01:01:57 - Man, there are some weird ass gangs in Gotham. Did I see some Droogs?

01:03:56 - I'm having a really hard time caring about this motorcycle race in the middle of my Batman movie.

01:07:17 - Alfred, much like this film franchise, is dying.

01:07:46 - Whoops, careful Bruce, you almost exhibited an emotion.

01:08:42 - So Ivy goes to Arkham Asylum to visit a super-villain while dressed like that, and they just let her in? She didn't make anyone suspicious?

01:09:25 - Here's a set right out of the '60s TV show, with a big ol' out-of-place sign informing you that you are indeed in the Criminal Property Locker. Nice callback to the previous film with the Riddler and Two-Face costumes just, you know, sittin' out there.

01:09:50 - "My most unabominable snowman." Sorry, I refuse to accept that line of dialogue.

01:10:37 - Even Arnie wasn't sold on that "laundry service that delivers" joke.

01:10:50 - Okay, the "always go a size smaller - makes me look slimmer" joke was pretty good.

01:10:58 - Ivy: "I'll help you grab your rocks." Not at all a double-entendre.

01:12:00 - And they jump to their deaths. Well, that's one way to kill off your film's bad guys...oh, what, they're NOT dead?

01:13:57 - I can't stop looking at Batman and Robin's costume nipples. They're hypnotic.

01:14:10 - Batman and Robin talking about Ivy's "stems and buds." Please stop.

01:15:33 - So an unobstructed switch by the exit controls the release of dangerous fumes? Seems like bad planning.

01:16:54 - Ivy refers to their "anatomically correct rubber suit[s]," so even people in the actual story are wondering what's up with the Bat-nipples.

01:22:17 - And Ivy brings out Audrey III.

01:27:29 - Oh, Pat Hingle, no.

01:27:58 - So what where these henchmen doing why Mr. Freeze was in Arkham? Just hanging around the Freeze Fort?

01:30:40 - Michael Gough being able to pull off a good performance with this material...that's like a superpower in and of itself.

01:31:46 - Least practical computer blueprints ever, with things just kinda floating across them on the computer screen...that's not distracting at all.

01:32:50 - Hey, Bruce, why not emphasize the name "Dick" a little more?

01:34:20 - Bane just kinda happily saying "BOMB" as he puts each bomb down made me laugh.

01:35:42 - It's a computer-generated Alfred Headroom, even down to the stutter.

01:36:15 - Alfred made a tight-fitting rubber fetish costume for his niece? That's a little peculiar.

01:39:55 - Batman's gotta put a little Bat-emblem on everything...even that little vine-cutter thingie.

01:40:38 - Ivy shouting in movie-serial style "CURSES!" The film almost approaches self-awareness!

01:41:10 - Upon realizing that Alfred's niece/Batgirl knows their secrets:

Robin: "Guess we'll have to kill her."

Batman: "Yup...we'll kill her later."

I must be grasping for entertainment, as that exchange amused me.

01:47:15 - I suppose I should be writing down something about Batman fighting Mr. Freeze. It's two guys in silly costumes punching each other. There you go.

01:48:44 - "The heat is on!" - Nice counter to Mr. Freeze's constant icy one-liners.

01:52:30 - So using the heat beams to defrost Gotham City is causing a sound that resembles sizzling bacon. "All the inhabitants of Gotham City fried to death today...."

01:53:28 - Just noticed Batman and Robin have color-coordinated costumes to match the ice and snow. Those are some snappily-dressed superheroes.

01:55:05 - This is like the most effective Clooney-as-Batman performance in the film...just calmly and firmly talking to Freeze and convincing him to give up the experimental medicine that will, coincidentally, help Alfred.

..But then Arnie blows it with the "take two of these and call me in the morning" line read. AAARGH.

01:56:38 - Hey, I thought Ivy was eaten by her own giant plant. What a gyp.

01:56:56 - So Arnie's back in Arkham for, like, five minutes, and already he's back in his supersuit and threatening a female inmate. Someone really needs to step in and shut Arkham down.

01:59:15 - "We're going to need a bigger cave!" Yeah, don't get ahead of yourself there, Alfred.

01:59:25 - And there our three heroes run off triumphantly into no future sequels.

01:59:33 - Ah, the roster of shame...er, I mean, "the credits."

02:04:36 - And one last look at the film's logo, so you can remember the title and warn your friends.

And that's that. So, ultimately, what'd I think of it?

Well, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting.

Don't get me wrong...it's not a good movie. It's trying to be an upscale version of the '60s Batman TV show, but without the wit and charm. It's just big, loud and stupid, with embarrassing performances and unconvincing action that push you right out of the story. In discussing the film with Pal Dorian, he mentioned that the movie was essentially a live-action cartoon, and he's right...but where this year's Speed Racer movie succeeded in creating a cartoon world you could accept for a full-length film, the basic ineptness of Batman and Robin kept you from simply accepting the world it presented. It had its moments...a couple of quiet emotional scenes, some beautiful sets and effects...but all in support of, essentially, nothing.

In a way, it seems like this film has what I'd want from a superhero movie...colorful characters, over-the-top action, crazy stunts, and goofy fun. And taken on a very basic level, this film does provide some slight measure of entertainment. But it just didn't seem very smart about how it went about it. I can sort of see where they were going with this, with what they were attempting...enough so that I don't want to simply dismiss this movie with "it sucks and I hate it." (I prefer to reserve that sort of judgment for soulless abominations like Eragon.)

Anyway, if you read all that, you deserve a cookie. Or at least a say in my comments section, so let me know what you think of this poor, unloved film.

If you didn't read all that, here's the short version:

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Wow, this came out thirty years ago. 

This is some camera, catching the actual explosive force of Robin's fist contacting this thug's face...unless the the thug's face actually did explode, in which case never mind. Not sure how to explain the movement lines showing up in the photo, though. A long strand of toilet paper stuck to the back of Robin's fist, maybe?

Also noted: Robin's swanky logo from this same story:


images from Batman Family #19 (Aug/Sept 1978) by Bob Rozakis, Juan Ortiz & Bruce Patterson

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