The Sci-Fi Chronicles book continues to give me tons of awesome things to watch or re-watch, seeing them in a new way. I’m definitely not the film reviewer I was when I was 20 (I wasn’t even blogging then), nor am I the same writer that I was when we started the blog (almost four years ago), so it’s fun to come to things I’ve previously viewed and see them through slightly different eyes.
Batman: The Movie was originally meant to be the pilot for the series, but when the series was bumped forward to fill a space in the schedule, the film was slated to be filmed, and released between the first and second season, bringing a colorful punch to young viewers who may have only had a black and white television at home to watch the caped crusader and the boy wonder take on the his rogues gallery.
I came across this one in the early 1980s while I was living in CFB Borden as a child. I knew who Batman was, had seen and read the occasional comic, was well aware of the filmation cartoons, but had never seen anyone ‘real’ embody the Bob Kane created hero. There was a theatre on the base, and every Saturday, they would show classics, a way of continuing the Saturday afternoon matinée that was the childhood of so many.
I was gobsmacked (ZOWIE! BIFF!! POW!!) at the film, there were gadgets, exploding sharks, cool vehicles, and at the center, Adam West as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Burt Ward as his stalwart companion, Robin. The pair get caught up in a fun little adventure centering around a missing Commodore (Reginald Denny) and a new invention he’s created and means to present to the World Nations. He’s kidnapped on the way by the Joker (Caesar Romero – who refused to shave off his moustache, and instead, simply had his makeup plastered over it), the Riddler (Frank Gorshin – I love his manic laugh), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith – always fun to watch), and Catwoman (Lee Meriweather – purr-fect casting).
What follows is bizarre jumps in logic, and the ‘only way to possibly interpret’ the clues – the scenes with Batman, Robin, the Commissioner (Neil Hamilton) and Chief O’Hara (Stafford Repp) are laugh out loud funny, all the more so because every single one of them plays it straight down the line. The film is wonderfully camp, still engaging, the colours pop, the story plays like a zany madcap superhero tale (which I guess it is), and there are gags everywhere – the trying to dispose of a bomb sequence, the labels on everything, and Robin and Alfred (Alan Napier) having to watch Bruce and Catwoman’s alter ego, Russian journalist Kitka have an evening out (which includes Bruce drinking milk from a brandy snifter).
Still fun, deliciously camp, brilliantly colorful, I can see how younger viewers would enjoy it simply because it’s Batman, and how older viewers get all the gags, can see how far the tongue is planted in the cheek, and the delightful sense of fun the film brings to life.
I’ve been debating on checking out the full series… thoughts?