Batman Returns (1992)

Starring Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Michael Gough, Michael Murphy, Cristi Conaway, Andrew Bryniarski, Pat Hingle, Vincent Schiavelli, Steve Witting, Jan Hooks

Directed by Tim Burton

Expectations: Moderate. The last time I saw this, it wasn’t all that hot.


Batman Returns is proof positive that bigger is not always better. I’m sure there are people out there that thoroughly enjoy this one, but I found it overlong, stupid and without much of the charm of the original. There’s a lot of potential here for a good Batman movie, but therein lies my biggest problem with Batman Returns: it’s not a Batman movie, it’s a Penguin movie. If they wanted to title it correctly they’d have gone with something like Penguin Begins or The Dark Penguin Rises, or perhaps they could have gone completely obvious and went with Penguin and Catwoman.

Batman Returns opens with Paul Reubens and his wife, disgruntled with their flipper-handed infant. They decide to throw him off a bridge, thus giving rise to the most annoying Batman villain ever to make it on-screen. I’ve never been a Penguin fan, and this fucking movie isn’t doing him any favors. There’s also the Catwoman’s origin as a sub-plot and Batman’s literally just along for the ride. Michael Keaton probably had no more than twenty lines in the entire movie… give or take a few.

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Batman (1989)

Starring Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough, Jack Palance, Jerry Hall, Tracey Walter, Lee Wallace, William Hootkins

Directed by Tim Burton

Expectations: High. This was THE movie when I was a kid.


Like Alien, Tim Burton’s Batman is a film I saw a lot as a kid. I will be unable to truly critique it objectively, but I’ll do my best to make the review something more than an adult reminiscing about his faded childhood years. I haven’t seen this one in many years, as I’ve always been somewhat afraid to do so, fearing that its ability to completely enthrall me would be lost. This is definitely not the case, though, as Batman continues to be a solid piece of superhero cinema. This isn’t the gritty world of Christopher Nolan, nor is it the wholly comic style of Adam West’s era, instead it is something of a middle-ground between them both. It works like a charm, and still remains one of film’s best examples of the superhero genre. Superman may have kicked off the genre in earnest, but Batman took that shit to the next level. I was a tender 8-year-old boy when I walked into the local cinema to view Batman for the first time, and I emerged with a new outlook on the world. The comics that I loved so dearly were up on the big screen; it was a glorious thing to watch two great loves of mine join forces. Tim Burton’s Batman has its share of flaws and missed opportunities, but it was the perfect film of my youth.

Watching the film today, I instantly noticed what was so great — and refreshing — about Batman. Where every first film in a series nowadays spends most of its time devoted to the character’s origin story, Batman just jumps into Batman being Batman right from the first scene. As Vicki Vale becomes more interested in Batman and Bruce Wayne, she eventually explores his past and some of the moments that made Wayne become Batman are revealed. Burton doesn’t spend too much time on these; Batman’s origin is nothing more than another of the film’s running sub-plots to be explored in the down moments. If only another superhero movie would have the balls to do something like this. As I write this the newest Spider-Man film has just been released. We’ve had three Spider-Man movies over the course of the last 10 years or so, not to mention 50 years of comics and general mainstream awareness of the character. But yet we are still faced with a Spider-Man movie that insists on re-telling the origin story. This is a big reason why I don’t care to see it in the slightest. Maybe I’ll come around to the sequel after all the bullshit is done.

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Mini-Review: The Other Guys (2010)

The Other Guys (2010)

Starring Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Ray Stevenson, Rob Riggle, Damon Wayans, Jr., Michael Delane

Directed by Adam McKay

Expectations: None whatsoever. It’s a mainstream comedy, the bane of my existence.


Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell are buddy cops always playing second fiddle to better men. Ferrell is content in this role as a desk man, but Wahlberg has an intense desire to get out of the office and bust some perps like the big boys. Together they do all the arguing and bungling you’d expect from this type of film, but the comedy is actually funnier than it would appear at first glance, making The Other Guys a relatively okay film. Adam McKay’s direction leaves something to be desired, though, with the action sequences devolving into boring, derivative, handheld bullshit where nothing is clear. The film is also ridiculously overlong, needing a good twenty minutes cut out to keep the pace moving quickly and limit the time between quality jokes. I have to give them credit, though, a mainstream comedy winning me over, even incrementally, is something of an achievement.

The cameos by Samuel Jackson and The Rock were fantastic, and you’ll most likely find yourself saying, “Aim for the bushes!” before laughing to yourself for quite some time after watching The Other Guys. In a comedy the barometer of quality should be how much it made you laugh, and on that note, The Other Guys does pretty well. Mark Wahlberg is funnier than expected and Will Ferrell is more subdued than expected. This might sound like an odd role reversal, but the film seems to work because of it. I can only imagine the film being even more dull in its dull moments if they had gone with the more traditional roles for the two leads. The Other Guys is also something of an education on the recent financial meltdown for those that like to get their news from Will Ferrell movies. It doesn’t entirely work, but it is somewhat admirable to see a big budget movie try to address real issues in between dick jokes.

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, Estelle Harris, Jodi Benson, John Morris, Emily Hahn, Laurie Metcalf, R. Lee Ermey, Jeff Pidgeon, Teddy Newton, Bud Luckey, Javier Fernandez-Peña, Timothy Dalton

Directed by Lee Unkrich

Expectations: High. I can’t wait!


Toy Story 3 is an excellent conclusion to the Toy Story series, effectively giving fans another shot of toy action that manages to exceed the previous sequel and almost reach the heights of the near-perfect first film. I had the utmost faith in the team at Pixar to deliver a quality film, but they even exceeded my expectations.

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