Tuesday, April 6, 2010

You know what's a good movie? (Part 4) Batman

Let's recap.

Part 1: Forrest Gump

Connection: Tom Hanks

Part 2: Toy Story

Connection: Pixar

Part 3: The Incredibles

Connection: Superhero Films

Part 4: Batman (1989)

So FattMatt and I need to apologize for not keeping this thing alive, but today we deliver. Batman, 1989... 'nuff said! I spent most of the past few hours "researching" this film. And by research I mean watching hours and hours of special features footage about the film. There's a lot to talk about, so let's jump right in.

Before this movie, there was no place for superhero movies the way there is now. Technology was not what it is today, and there was no way to produce these movies in way that would satisfy fans. Before Batman, there was the Richard Donner film, Superman: The Movie. That film proved you could make a good MOVIE that was about a superhero; it wasn't necessarily a good SUPERHERO movie. Batman carried on that tradition.

Also in 1989, the film's director was a relative unknown... Tim Burton. He had some success with Beetle Juice, but it is important to note that Beetle Juice LATER become the cult classic it is now. To add more doubt to the minds of everyone involved was the budget, at the time, it was the most expensive film in the history of the industry. In 1988, while the film was being made, Tim Burton was only 30 years old! Holy mother of wow!

The most controversial move of all was the casting of Michael Keaton to play the Caped Crusader; a move FattMatt and I LOVE! See, no matter who was cast, fans were going to be disappointed. This was a new take on Batman, never before seen on film. A dark Batman required a dramatic actor, not so much an action hero.

And for every Superhero film, you need a super villain; how about one of the best villains in comic book history... The Joker. The Joker was an obvious move on the part of the filmmakers. The trick of course was to cast someone GOOD enough to carry the roll. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Jack Nicholson. Joker Jack; does it get any better than that? This version of the Joker was true to the source material, far different than the one depicted in the 1960's Adam West Batman TV Series. Nicholson played him with a charisma that made you love the bad guy, even though you didn't want to. Kudos to Mr. Nicholson, and I am a firm believer that NO ONE else could have pulled off Tim Burton's Joker better than Jack Nicholson.

Burton enlisted the help of Danny Elfman for the score.

Elfman's theme for Batman was so good, so popular, that the studio gave the score it's own soundtrack, apart from the soundtrack with songs by Prince, inspired by the film. The movie went on to gross over 400 million dollars worldwide! The movie and soundtrack were huge successes. It made Tim Burton the must-have director of his generation; it paved the way for Batman: The Animated Series; it lead to three live-action sequels; it opened the flood gates of comic book movies that we all know and love today.
The movie won an Oscar for Design and Nicholson was nominated for a Golden Globe for best Supporting Actor. A pretty good day at the office, Mr. Burton, a pretty good day.

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