One of the great things about being a geeky film student (or graduand) is that you can better appreciate more of the great films that are out there. The flip side of this however, is that it is easier for me to find the not so great films laughable, mostly for the wrong reasons.
Perhaps the best example I can give is the film I have just finished watching, Batman & Robin. I remember seeing this film when it first released and thought it was fantastic (the only reason I’m not embarrassed to admit that is because I was only about twelve at the time), but rewatching it ten years later only reminds me how unforgivably lame the movie is.
As the last of four Batman films made in the 1980s/90s, it took the franchise down the same cheesy path dug out by the Superman film franchise before it. With Batman and Batman Returns, Tim Burton created two films that, like Superman and Superman II, were widely accepted by comic book fans and the general audience alike. And then along comes Joel Schumacher. Whilst Batman Forever wasn’t quite as bad as Superman III, (Jim Carrey was perfect for the role of The Riddler), it was never going to be as good as the first two. For a start, changing the lead actor is never a good sign, and the toned down darkness, which for people like me was a major selling point of the first two films, didn’t give it the atmosphere most befitting an orphan who spends him time taking out his frustration by thwarting the plans of petty thieves and deranged megalomaniacs, whilst being dressed as a nocturnal rodent.
Don’t get me wrong, being camp and colourful was fine for Adam West, its just unfortunate that it was this Batman that they tried to recreate, rather than the original comics. Where Superman IV: The Quest For Peace suffered merely from a dodgy story (for which Christopher Reeve apologised) and a seriously limited budget, the fact that I could take Plan 9 From Outer Space more seriously seems to suggest that Batman & Robin was intentionally laughable. Not even Uma Thurman can make the script seem sincere, I have no idea why Arnold Schwarzenegger took the role of Mr Freeze, even less of an idea why he was approached in the first place, and a Bat-Credit Card is even more ridiculous that Bat-Shark repellent. They even make the rookie mistake of not knowing that light goes INTO a telescope. The only thing more cringe worthy is William Shatner’s ‘Tambourine Man’.
Admittedly being a geek does make me somewhat biased when it comes to comic adaptations, but it’s not just DC who should have quit while they were ahead. James Cameron’s The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day are considered modern classics, Jonathon Mostow’s Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines, not so much. I am still hoping that the talked about fourth installment stays in development hell where it belongs.
But credit has to go to Marvel who seem quite content with missing out the mediocre film, and going from two greats straight to the abysmal. Not having seen X-Men: The Last Stand, I can’t really comment on the fact that everyone seems to hate it, but I can confirm that Spider-Man 3 takes everything that makes Peter Parker the established character he is today, and web slings it from the roof of the Daily Bugle. And when coming from a geek point of view, the less said about The Fantastic Four, the better.
There’s only one thing left to say really, and that’s . . .
Thank you Christopher Nolan.