I can still remember the spine chilling grrl that came out of the mouth of Oswald Cobblepot. The white-skinned flippers, the gaze and teeth which had a “dark green toxic liquid” layer on them. That was 10 years ago, when I watched a glimpse of Batman Returns, and could not complete watching it because of reasons I cannot remember now. And even before that, a very young me was completely frightened by the horror of a smiling man. A face whose smile did not bring a sense of joy, but instantly meant evil. Such was the power of the Joker, that when I saw the newsreader girl fall on the floor and watch her face turn into a white smile, I went ahead and switched off the TV. And till date, I had not completely watched Batman-the first two. I can hear many wtfs in the background, but that’s true. And having survived through the worst two (which is the topic of the next post on OKS), a good amount of well written Batman Beyond series and of course Nolan’s darker,better and most mature treatment of Batman in Batman Begins, I really wanted to go back and finish my task of watching Tim Burton’s Batmans. This had been a pending job for me more than a movie watching thing, and I knew it wouldn’t be a better timing than watch it NOW, when the Dark Knight releases next week on July the 18th. So to officially begin with the week long celebrations for the welcome of the Dark Knight, Ladies n Gents, I give you: Batman -The First Two.
Screenshots after the Jump.
Batman – I would call it the yardstick by which all the other Batman movies to follow, would be measured. This was enormous in every sense. A visually arresting epic of the lonesome hero who lives in his castle with his butler. He has huge apprehensions of giving away his identity to his lady love, and then on the other hand, is tormented by the workings of the crime gang-war in Gotham city. On one hand, we have Jack Nicholson in one of the roles in which he will always be remembered-Jack Napier aka the JOKER. The laugh with skin stretched to the extreme, and the eyes to match- we have someone going up against probably, Sir Hopkins’ Dr.Lecter. Such was the impact of watching the Joker unleashing his acts onscreen. And then, on the other hand, we had the tormented Bruce Wayne trying to move on from his childhood nightmare only to be pulled back. Batman had it all- Gotham city built to the last inch, the onscreen chemistry between Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger, and of course the horrors of the Grin. Some people would mention Prince’s soundtrack to that list, but I wouldn’t. And somehow, all my memories of having read Bob Kane’s creation on paper all these years, and having watched Batman in many forms- from the animated series, to Batman Beyond to the recent Batman Begins, I would still say that Tim Burton’s Batman is very satisfying in creating a nightmarish environment of Gotham city where crime is easily the king and the hero struggles to keep everything in place. It would be completely wrong if I were to comment on the quality of the action scenes, the Batmobile and the special effects now that we are living in a world post the Matrix. As the first cinematic adaptation of Batman, I say this one succeeds in bringing the insanity and humor along with the diabolic elements of the Joker, strikes a balance between the lonely Bruce Wayne and the Dark Knight but does leave out Commisioner Gordon’s character and even makes Alfred to play matchmaker to Bruce and Viki. But yeah, I still love it.
Batman Returns-I personally felt Tim Burton goes a bit indulgent with this one . With the music, the characterization and the setting. Mr.Burton surely does have a thing for theatrical setting and operatic music and has enveloped this one completely with it. Take a look at the Gotham city that he has created. Inch deep in snow and all foggy, it is very claustrophobic in here, and certainly not how I would have liked it to be. I know Penguin calls for a polar environment to be created, but for Pete’s sake I still can’t believe 25 people attending a Mayor’s public speech-every time. Not to forget people reading out the headlines aloud on the streets, no one repeating another, all from different publications. Isn’t that a bit of Batman on Broadway? The crime scene created by the gang of Penguin (not the flock) seems so much Acrobatics galore!! Next problem is Selina Kyle aka Catwoman. I know you’re gonna flash that finger to me now. But hold on until you read this. Why on earth, don’t we get to see the explanation to Selina’s schizophrenia? Why is it all left out in the open that she would rather roll than walk and have anything against the Batman? Though anyday, I will pick Pfeiffer’s Catwoman to be one of the sexiest villains of cinema, this was an unexplored territory in the cinema why the Catwoman chose the side of the Penguin. Which brings us to the best part-Oswald Cobblepot aka the Penguin. Portrayed completely different from the comics, Danny Devito excels in every single frame and as the bald head, dressed in a Victorian underwear, with white flippers and joined fingers, a beaky nose, and a dark green liquid flowing as he spoke, the Penguin was the highlight of this movie. I would perhaps go to the length of saying that Danny Devito’s penguin exceeds the maniac that the Joker of the first movie was. This one goes ahead and chews off your nose, walks like a beast or a penguin(whatever), and speaks to himself. He is what he calls himself- “I am not a Man, I am an animal, I am the Penguin”. With revenge in his heart, and a distorted plan on his mind, the Penguin is why this movie works. And for most of the part, he is the HERO of the movie and Michael Keaton gets completely overshadowed by the grotesque of Danny Devito’s Penguin. This is what covers up all flaws in the plot and even elevates the movie to the level it is considered now to be on.
If you were to ask me to pick one, it would be easy to say. I choose Batman as the winner. But if you ask me to pick the favorite villain between the two, it’s got to be Danny Devito’s Penguin. It is scarier than all distortions included for the vision of Scarecrow. And for your reference and viewing pleasure, I have included a few screenshots of both movies. And please do tell me , if you liked my review of these two. See you at the next post- Batman: The Worst Two