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"You...are my number one...GUY."
October 3, 2011 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Chris Sims is a former comic book store employee. David Uzumeri is a computer scientist. Together, they fight crime review the shit out of Batman film canon in an 18-part series they call Cinematic Batmanology, covering all the major theatrical releases from Tim Burton's franchise-reviving 1989 film (start there) up through Christopher Nolan's recent The Dark Knight, with a couple of odd tangents along the way.

Over the course of the last several months, Comics Alliance regulars Sims and Uzumeri have recapped and dissected the motley franchise, creating an incisive and funny long-arc critical narrative that rewards a sequential read. They discuss the films both as Hollywood artifacts in their own right and in the context of Batman's comic and film history (notably the 1966 Adam West film) and their memories of popular reception of the various pre-Nolan films as contrasted with the actual thematic and characterological content of the films.

The whole schmear, in order:

- Batman part one, part two

- Batman Returns part one, part two

- Batman Forever part one, part two

- Batman & Robin part one, part two

- Catwoman part one, part two

- Batman Begins part one, part two, part three

- The Dark Knight part one, part two, part three, part four, part five

In the process they also reviewed a couple of one-offs:

- The Batman: The Animated Series episode Tyger, Tyger, in which a Moreauvian scientist contrives to turn Catwoman into an actual honest to god Cat-Woman.

- The 28-minute-long nutso-terrible fan film The Death of Batman, in which Batman is trapped, drugged, beaten, and even briefly sexually assaulted by a mysterious embittered Gothamite. (The entire awful tour de force is conveniently embedded in the post, if the review isn't enough bad for you by itself. Want more info on Batman fan films? See also batmanfanfilms.com, where, presumably, there's got to be something marginally better than this available.)
posted by cortex (34 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Everyone's talking about the Dark Knight again.

Zompist


Mightygodking
posted by The Whelk at 10:32 AM on October 3, 2011


Pff. This is clearly fringe Batmanology, what with the weird "Batman & Robin was good" conclusion they come to. The arguments they make for that are interesting though, and should be read before rejecting them as the craziness they are.

(I kind of lost interest when they started on the Nolan films though, especially Dark Knight - it's basically two grown men uncritically spaffing over a movie, and a little undignified)
posted by Artw at 10:32 AM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Those people certainly have divers and strongly held opinions about cinematic representations of this "Bat-Man" person.
posted by everichon at 10:40 AM on October 3, 2011


Can somebody tell me what kind of a world we live in where a man dressed up as a BAT gets all of my press?
posted by entropicamericana at 10:42 AM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I kind of lost interest when they started on the Nolan films though, especially Dark Knight - it's basically two grown men uncritically spaffing over a movie, and a little undignified

Yeah...not what happens in the articles.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:42 AM on October 3, 2011


"Anyway, we cut to Wayne's fundraiser, and apparently Bruce Wayne lives on a Native reservation because for some reason he can operate a mini-casino in his mansion attended by basically the entire police department."

Have they not ever heard of charity casino nights? (Relevant NY State statute)

Admittedly, Jack Palance is pretty awesome in that movie.
posted by epersonae at 10:43 AM on October 3, 2011


Batmania
posted by The Whelk at 10:49 AM on October 3, 2011


Kinda previously, in comments.

That's when I started reading it, anyway.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:59 AM on October 3, 2011


The Smallville ones are worth reading, if only the last one.
posted by Artw at 11:00 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


While travelling last week I re-watched the Dark Knight, mainly because I wanted to see Heath Ledger's performance again. The scene where (spoilers!) Two-Face ties up Gordon's family and makes the Commissioner tell his son that it's going to be OK really got me.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:08 AM on October 3, 2011


I hope he gets back to Tarot soon.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:20 AM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


My favorite thing about The Dark Knight is still Patrick Leahy standing up to the Joker.
posted by maryr at 11:22 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite thing about Ledger's performance, and there are many great things, is his contemptuous little mouth sucks as if to indicate "Do I really have to explain this again to people like you?"
posted by The Whelk at 11:24 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


They praise Batman and Robin as "a full-on modernization of Batman '66 in every way...It's just dumb and entertaining." I'd say that's unfair to the old show, which was dumb but not lazy. However, they make a good case that the previous movies had even weaker plots.

I honestly don't see anything that happens in Batman & Robin that's sillier or more nonsensical than elements of Batman '89, or especially Returns. There's just more of it, and less of an attempt to jam it into a movie that's "serious" and "dark," which creates something that's actually more cohesive as a whole.

That's probably true. Their review made a good case that '89 Batman was not nearly as good as it seemed when I when I was ten. The best that can be said for '89 Batman is that it had style. The look, sound and ambiance of it went on to support something genuinely good.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:30 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been following these, as well as the ComicsAlliance reviews of DC's reboot, and I can confidently say that I can't stand Chris Sims as a reviewer. He doesn't seem to have much insight other than liking something or hating it, but then dresses that gut reaction up with a bunch of freshman comp- level justification. I don't know why it bugs me so much, but it does.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 12:27 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, he's pretty much on the level about the general subjectivity of reviews, which is refreshing.
posted by Artw at 12:44 PM on October 3, 2011


True enough, but I wish the subjectivity didn't veer so wildly from review to review. He seems to be measuring Burton's films against a very different yardstick than he is Nolan's, for example.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 12:48 PM on October 3, 2011


He seems to be measuring Burton's films against a very different yardstick than he is Nolan's, for example.

I can't imagine trying to measure them against the same yardstick.

"Batman '89: completely muddled in its stance on the War on Terror."

"Heath Ledger: not nearly as funny as Jack Nicholson."
posted by straight at 1:06 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is kind of noticable that they accuse the one of being muddled, confused and random, but praise the other which has the same flaws.
posted by Artw at 1:09 PM on October 3, 2011


There's a very strong vein in their discussions of primarily wanting the films to sort of get Batman as a character more even than for the films to just be good romps, which colors a lot of the review process, yeah, which is not something that I would look for in a disinterested review of the films as films. But since they're going into it heart-on-sleeve as Batman comics fans (and even '66 fans), I didn't find that particular bothersome.

I liked and like the Burton films, but then Batman '89 was probably my first exposure to Batman and I already knew I liked Tim Burton, so I didn't go into it with a lot of character baggage and I can look back on it seeing it as really pretty weird as a Batman story but still a fun weird dark adventure comedy thing by Tim Burton. But Batman being a stiff bullet-sponge who falls down a lot and kills dudes is a pretty weird take on the character.
posted by cortex at 1:53 PM on October 3, 2011


Without any serious dissertation on the early Columbia Pictures serials, any Batmanology would be anecdotal.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:05 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love Chris Sims, but I think he's spent way too much time on The Dark Knight. I preferred the feature when it was just mocking Smallville.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:52 PM on October 3, 2011


Yeah, I got a lot out of their discussions of the Burton films, but they're no fun when it comes to the modern Nolan films. I wish they had dedicated five articles to Batman 89 and two to The Dark Knight instead of vice versa.

Sims is great when he's doing Batmanology and talking about what makes the character tick (I linked to his piece on the Joker here before, and aside from some thread trolling right out of the gate, I liked the discussion), but when he moves away from dispassionate analysis and starts talking about what he personally likes and doesn't like about comics, his writing suffers. Everything he likes is the best thing ever (always in bold). I'd like to see him write Batman rather than review Batman.
posted by painquale at 6:47 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The mightygodking blog post that The Whelk links to has the kind of good analysis of The Dark Knight that the Comics Alliance pieces were missing. I agree with the commenters there who say that it was a mistake to kill off Two-Face.
posted by painquale at 6:59 PM on October 3, 2011


There are times in life where I have to wonder why many of my friends, most of whom have pretty good taste, love something for reasons I don't understand.

The Nolan Bat-flicks, for example. I can't tell you about the first one because I fell asleep about 30 minutes into it. Those first 30 minutes? Incredibly fucking boring, obviously.

The second one? The one that had a plot that literally made no sense? The one that, I hate to say it, would have been critically panned if not for Heath Ledger's unfortunate death? The one that allowed Hollywood to give itself yet another sloppy wet kiss for undeserved merit?

Yeah, I fell asleep during that one too. Made it about 90 minutes in until the sheer suckitude overwhelmed my brain. Ledger's "brilliant" performance? Mania =/ acting.

Give me the first Tim Burton one any day.
posted by bardic at 8:12 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I loved Dark Knight the first time I saw it, but my current favorite Batman is the Brave and the Bold cartoon.

The first time I saw Dark Knight, I was in a weird place and since I'm already pretty nihilistic I identified pretty heavily with the Joker. On my way home I passed a tree with bats in it. I passed that tree every day, but on that day the bats become symbolic of sanity, and I realized I was not The Joker.

Dark Knight also gets a shout out in Titus Andronicus' A More Perfect Union.

I had a script about the 'transfictional murder of Heath Ledger', but I didn't do anything with it.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:24 PM on October 3, 2011


Yeah, I fell asleep during that one too. Made it about 90 minutes in until the sheer suckitude overwhelmed my brain. Ledger's "brilliant" performance? Mania =/ acting.

I dunno. Seems like a perfectly reasonable approach to take to The freaking Joker.
posted by sparkletone at 7:20 AM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


mentioned above, mefi's own mightygodking is running a contest all about the Riddler ...that is itself a riddle
posted by The Whelk at 9:28 AM on October 4, 2011


Hmmm...

Panel 2, holding up one finger for first word: Gainsay Old Tactics initially + wouldn't be kosher = GOT + HAM

Panel 3, holding up two fingers for second word: Wild free lad = FEDERAL

Panel 4, holding up three fingers for third word: Be a good soldier = SERVE; Do it again = RE-SERVE

Gotham Federal Reserve. Is there more to it? I didn't use any images....
posted by painquale at 10:08 AM on October 4, 2011


Why is a raven like a writing desk?
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on October 4, 2011


Neither of them have been in my kitchen.
posted by cortex at 10:26 AM on October 4, 2011


Then that's where the Riddler will strike! To the Batmobile!
posted by Artw at 10:42 AM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok so I'm just about done reading through all of these, and they're great, but for fuck's sake they need to actually proofread. Just running spellcheck is not enough guys.
posted by kavasa at 6:23 PM on October 4, 2011


he's taking on Batman 1966
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:06 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


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