Sunday, July 29, 2012

Batman (1966) DVD

Rating:  3 out of 5 needlessly complex but easily solved riddles

Plot Synopsis: The rouges gallery gathers together in the ultimate attack against the masked Cossack.

The Good:

-This has a similar opening to Punisher (1989).  Bright, primary colors with basic text.  However this is the original Batman TV show, which is campy as fuck, and also 1966 which was also campy as fuck.  So while it was intolerable in Punisher (1989) it’s pretty awesome here.

-I love the narrator of the series.

-It’s Adam West, Burt Ward, Caesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Lee Meriwether and Burgess Meridith.  It’s everyone who was awesome in the TV series all gathered together in one feature film (except Lee who stepped in for Julie Newmarr).  These guys were my only source of Batman when I was a kid so many of these actors are THE representations of the characters I think of and many of them stayed the ultimate representation until Arkham Asylum came along.

-Batman and Robin in the Batcopter waving at the populace and giving half Fonzies.

-An illusionary boat leads to a shark attack which leads to reveal of the of Shark Repellent Bat-Spray (which also comes in Barracuda, Whale and Manta-Ray).  What the hell?  Awesome.


-“Can you take off your mask for a better picture?” you clever devil you, you almost got Batman to reveal his identity.

-Commissioner Gordon always looks like he about to crack up, he looks like he’s having fun.

-I love the rundown of the rogues at large.

-The puns, oh my the puns.  It works here where it didn’t work in Batman and Robin.

-Lee Meriwether is smoking hot as Catwoman, only Julie Newmar was hotter in the series.

-Frank Gorshin looks like such a badass in his green question mark suit.  He is the definitive Riddler.

-All the bookshelves marked with “Riddles”, “Jokes” and “Penguin food”.

-Caesar Romero is so much fun as Joker with his painted over moustache and cackling laugh.

-Burgess Merideth is classy as hell as Penguin and the all around best Penguin.  Other depictions got more or less things right, but this one got the most right with the least wrong.

-Everyone involved is so talented, as ridiculous as the whole thing is it works because everyone involved gives it their all and puts in an awesome performance.

-The pirate themed henchmen.

-The labels on everything.

-“If...I could just reverse the polarity...send out waves of super energy...” I don’t think any of those things actually exist.

-Self sacrificial porpoise.

-“Have you recently sold any war surplus submarines, and if so, to whom?”

-How the villains interact with eachother, whether it’s around the table in their hideout or in Penguin’s purchased pre-atomic submarine.

-Alfred in his crime fighting driving mask.

-Bruce Wayne, Super Pimp.

-Two words: Jetpack Umbrella’s.

-I think Alfred wants to watch Bruce Wayne get it on with Catwoman.  I mean we all do but he’s a little too disappointed when Robin turns off the surveillance.

-The fight scenes are terrible and awesome.  It’s all haymakers and poor choreography but it’s still somehow endearing and fun to watch.

-People are reduced to a pile of dust and then brought back to complete people with the simple addition of water.

-Batman trying to get rid of the bomb.

-“Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb.”

-Penguin wrapping his legs around the ladder in the Batcave.  He looks like a sexually excited frog.

-Anti Penguin Gas Pills.

-The Batcycle looks dangerous as hell.

-Penguin launching his gas emitting umbrella down the hall of unsuspecting guards with two of the falling against each other, holding each other up.  I can’t tell you how many times I reenacted that with my own Penguin action figure with his umbrella launcher against all my other action figures.

-Riddler and Joker laughing their unique, maniacal laughs at each other.

-Each periscope station has a unique symbol on it for each rouge.

-The climatic sub battle.  At the daycare I went to as a kid myself and the other kids would reenact this fight around the pool, pushing each other into the pool or making dramatic dives after exchanging blows.

-Lee Meriwhether looks like she’s really enjoying Burt Ward putting handcuffs on her.

The Bad:

-Gordon and Clancy Wiggum O’Hara are just too stupid.  I’ve made it clear that I like my Gordon grim, gritty and competent.  O’Hara doesn’t need to be there at all as far as I’m concerned.

-The Riddler missile, how does it perfectly spell out riddles in smoke in the sky?  It’s still awesome though.

-How easily they answer the riddles, the riddles aren’t very clear and the answers are ridiculous.

-Bruce Wayne’s date is pretty boring.

-Why is there a monument to Benedict Arnold?

-Kitka says purrrr-fect just like Catwoman, how did you not notice that Bruce?  So much for being a detective.

-Why is Joker wearing a bandit mask?  It’s pretty clear who he is mask or no mask.

-The fight scenes, they aren’t coordinated very well and there isn’t a lot of precision involved.

-So people can be turned into powder and then reconstituted with a little bit of water?

-They immediately see through Penguin’s disguise but Batman can’t tell the different between Kitka and Catwoman despite a cat themed name and Catwoman-like behavior.

-How did Batman immediately know that it was 5 dehydrated pirates rehydrated?

-How could Robin not see that Batman survived the bomb blast?  He stands up literally 3 feet away behind the same stack of pipes Robin is standing behind.

-Catwoman’s yowls are kind of disturbing.

-You’re in tip top condition?  Your costume leaves little to the imagination so I feel I can safely disagree.  Maybe for the ‘60’s that true but not by today’s standards.

-The guards are like ten feet away from each other, they don’t see the others succumbing to Penguin gas?

-Do you really need to point and read every iteration of “Up” until you find it in English?  It’s usually the top button when there are two buttons.

-Batman remembers his date with Kitka while tender music plays when he realizes Catwoman and Kitka are the same.  He stares into space while the music plays for what appears to be 10 weeks.

-“Vector X up one notch.” what the hell does that mean?  What is one notch?  What increment of measurement does that correlate to?  I think they just say sciencey shit with no understanding as to what those words, or really any words, mean.

-“We leave now, inconspicuously, out the window, we’ll use our batropes.”  Yeah that’s inconspicuous as hell Batman.

The Ugly:

-Rear projections were never all that flattering.

-You can occasionally see the strings.

-During the sub fight the background looks like folded canvas, I think at some point it’s just rear projected to 
look like endless ocean (the water is moving but it doesn’t look like it was shot on the open see).

Final Thoughts:  Growing up I must have watched this movie dozens of times but this is the first time I’ve seen the whole thing.  It was on a VHS along with the Christopher Reeve Superman movie.  Both were taped off television complete with commercials, edited for TV cuts and clipped beginnings and endings.  As a kid I would sit down and watch both movies back to back all the time and enjoyed the hell out of them.

  I found myself still enjoying this movie, still enjoying the camp aesthetic and goofiness.  I know there’s some bad stuff up there but the movie is good.  I had trouble distinctly categorizing the good and the bad which is why it's all over the place.  The good stuff is bad and the bad stuff is good.  It’s bad in that it’s not a perfect movie by any standard.  There’s no real character development, there is very little characterization at all really.  Characters are paper thin, their beliefs don’t get challenged, they don’t get challenged, they don’t undergo trauma or display growth.  But its simplicity is also part of its appeal.  The bad guys are bad and that’s that.  The good guys are good and that’s that.  The good guys will win.  There are very clear boundaries and very distinct lines.  This movie is perfect for a kid, there’s nothing to question.  Brightly colored people do things for 105 minutes and the good guys win.  As an adult you have to really put your cynicism aside and tap into your inner child to ignore a lot of what’s wrong.  But, for me, it was easy to ignore and love the movie because of its flaws.  All the bad stuff I listed is true and it is bad but it’s also enjoyable and part of this movies charm.

  If you’re like me and want to relive a bit of your childhood I recommend this.  When I went to see Dark Knight Rises there were children in that theater about the same age as I was when I was watching this on a weekly basis.  I would suggest giving them this long before you give them Dark Knight Rises.  This is a kid’s film that won’t be too hard to understand or challenging to concepts such as the nuance of good vs. evil or morality.  The morality is pretty clear and there isn’t a whole lot to wrap their brain around.  It’s just good, fun family Batman entertainment.

No comments:

Post a Comment