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“… You Wanna Get Nuts?” The Unique Legacy of Tim Burton’s “Batman”…

Tim Burton’s Batman is thirty years old this year, having opened in Irish cinemas thirty years ago this weekend. It leaves a complicated and underappreciated legacy.

To be fair, at least part of that is down to how the series ended. Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman and Robin count among the worst blockbusters of the nineties and the worst comic book movies ever made. Taken together, they were responsible for killing not only that iteration of the cinematic Batman franchise, but also for effectively killing the superhero as a blockbuster genre until the triple whammy of Blade, X-Men and Spider-Man kick-started it again at the turn of the millennium.

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My 12 for ’12: The Muppets & Everything You Need, Right In Front Of You

I’m counting down my top twelve films of the year between now and January, starting at #12 and heading to #1. I expect the list to be a little bit predictable, a little bit surprising, a little bit of everything. All films released in the UK and Ireland in 2012 qualify. Sound off below, and let me know if I’m on the money, or if I’m completely off the radar. And let me know your own picks or recommendations.

This is #3

I can’t help but feel that The Muppets probably aren’t quite as popular over here as they really should be. After all, we had to wait about three months for the eventual release of the film in Irish cinemas. Even later this year, following all the publicity around the recent revival, I was only able to find one cinema in Dublin doing three screening of The Muppets’ Christmas Carol, despite the highly-publicised re-release. However, perhaps I shouldn’t take their international publicity for granted either. After all, Jason Segal spent six or seven years trying to guide everybody’s favourite felt performers to the big screen again.

Still, The Muppets demonstrated that the gang had lost absolutely nothing in transitioning out of retirement and back to the screen, demonstrating that all these sorts of characters need is a bit of sincere love and affection.

muppets6

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Non-Review Review: Falling Down

Falling Down is something of a cult classic. It, along with Phone Booth, stands as proof that Joel Schumacher is actually a rather wonderful director, as much as his failures might occasional overshadow his accomplishments. Filmed in the midst of the Los Angeles riots, Falling Down manages to speak to a lot of the anger of urban living, as William “D-Fens” Foster takes out his frustration on an urban environment that has gone completely mad. Almost twenty years after it was originally released, Falling Down is still a potent little film.

The best D-FENS…

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Non-Review Review: Phone Booth

Phone Booth is proof that the high-concept thriller isn’t quite dead yet. A concept that had been floating around Hollywood for decades (with the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock, lined up to direct at one point), it seemed that – with the decline of the phone booth and the rise of mobile phones – perhaps the window in which to tell the tale might be closing. Of all the directors to bring the tale to the screen, I don’t think I ever would have expected Joel Schumacher to make one of the most intense and superbly intimate little thrillers ever written to the screen.

There's a lot on the line...

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Non-Review Review: Batman & Robin

It takes a lot to kill Batman. Just ask Bane. That character broke Batman across his knee, discarded him and claimed Gotham for his own… only to have Bruce claw his way back and reclaim the mantle. The evil New God Darkseid once decided not only to kill Batman, but to send him back to the dawn of time to live through a cycle of death and rebirth in the hopes of destroying the Caped Crusader… Batman just sorta shrugged that one off. He’s a tough nut to keep down, is that Dark Knight.

However, Joel Schumacher managed to nearly knock Batman out for the count (at least on film) with Batman & Robin, the movie which – if it didn’t kill the Batman franchise – at least put it into a coma for several years.

It's some kinda storm (it's not "snow", but it begins with "s")...

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Batman: The Animated Series – Robin’s Reckoning (Parts I & II)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. We’re winding down now, having worked our way through the nine animated features, so I’m just going to look at a few odds-and-ends, some of the more interesting or important episodes that the DC animated universe has produced. An Emmy-award-winning episode seems a reasonable place to start.

I know the logic. Robin shouldn’t work in the context of Batman, unless you’re veering into camp. Somehow, a teenager in green short-shorts with a yellow cape manages the near-impossible feat of making a grown man who dresses up like a bat look even more ridiculous. To feature Robin in film or animation is to invite insane volumes of camp – think of Adam West’s Batman! or Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin. However, for some reason, Batman: The Animated Series mostly got the balance right somehow. So much so that the belated Robin “origin” story, Robin’s Reckoning, picked up the Emmy in 1993 for outstanding animated programming, somehow beating The Simpsons. These two episodes are on the shortlist of the best episodes of the series, and – thus – amongst the best animated episodes ever made.

Robin steps up to Bat...

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In Defense of Jim Carrey’s Riddler…

I had the misfortune of sitting through Batman Forever a few weeks ago. I also stumbled upon it at the weekend with the better half, who was curious to know what a “terrible” Batman film looked like. We got as far as the intimate “Bat-ass shot” before we simply gave up and tried to wipe our short-term memories. However, I found myself sticking up for a most unlikely part of the production: Jim Carrey as the Riddler.

Surprise! Something's that not that terrible about Batman Forever!

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