• Tag Archives Joker
  • Canister X Movie Review #55: LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite! (2013)

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    LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite! (2013)
    Written by David A. Goodman
    Directed by Jon Burton
    Runtime 71 min.
    4.5 out of 5

    It’s time for the Man of the Year Awards in Gotham City. The contenders? Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor. The winner? Well, you guessed it: Bruce Wayne. When the Joker crashes the party, Lex sees a potential ally in his fight not only against Superman, but against all superheroes. They forge an uneasy alliance and Lex uses Joker’s expertise in chemistry to create not only a gas that would make everyone vote for him in the upcoming Presidential election, but also Kryptonite. In exchange, Lex would provide Joker with a special brick dismantling device that is able to take apart shiny black objects, something Joker’s all too familiar with thanks to the Dark Knight.

    Meanwhile, Batman and Robin have their hands full with a breakout from Arkham Asylum. Superman shows up to help and eventually the Dynamic Duo and the Man of Steel discover Lex’s and Joker’s partnership. However, team ups aren’t Batman’s strong suit but after a little coaxing from Robin, he learns that sometimes you need outside help to come to victory.

    Just when Batman and Superman think they’ve got Joker and Lex right where they want them, the sinister duo unleash a powerful force that will take the entire Justice League of America to stop.

     

    If you’ve played LEGO Batman 2, then you’re familiar with this story. This movie even uses clips from the game, but then fills in the gaps with fresh animation. So while it’s kind of a rehash, it’s a well-done rehash and, hey, it’s LEGO. LEGO animated movies are few and far between and I hope LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite is the first in a move to bring more and more brick superheroes to the small screen. Perhaps even to the big one one day.

    The animation is crisp, flawless, and well-thought out. The graphics are amazing and convey a plausible world made of LEGO, every detail somehow made from LEGO bricks. No small feat from a design standpoint, creating something so believable yet so . . . LEGO-y.

    With a solid story filled with the right amount of action and humor, I’m glad I added LEGO Batman: The Movie to my superhero movie collection. Besides, the exclusive Clark-Kent-changing-into-Superman LEGO minifigure that comes with it is not too shabby either. Glad to have him as part of my Superman figure collection.

    LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite is recommended for all ages. I loved watching it with my kids and I know you will, too. And if you don’t have kids, then it’s still worth checking out. Again, LEGO? Batman? Superman? DC superheroes? Yes, please!


  • Canister X Movie Review #26: The Dark Knight (2008)

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    The Dark Knight (2008)
    Written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
    Directed by Christopher Nolan
    Runtime 152 min.
    5 out of 5

    Where do we begin?

    Three years ago, movie-goers wouldn’t dare touch a Batman movie. I mean, what happened? Did you get your act together and deliver us one of the best Bat-flicks ever?

    Seems so.

    And now you’ve done it again . . . times ten!

    Batman has made a difference in Gotham. Criminals are running scared. Underworld organizations are toppling. He has indeed become the symbol he set out to be.

    Now a psychotic clown-faced criminal is tearing his way through the Gotham City underworld, quickly establishing himself as the Clown Prince of Crime. His method: death, and lots of it. His motive: madness. But is he crazy? As he would say, “I’m not. No, I’m not.” And he’s right. He’s not crazy. This man—this “Joker”—is brilliant, and if he gets his way, Gotham will fall into his hands.

    Unless Batman can stop him.

    The Joker’s reign of terror starts in the underworld but reaches deep into Gotham’s social structure, various men strategically placed throughout the police, mayoral offices, everywhere. And they listen to him. Except for Gotham’s White Knight, Harvey Dent, the do-gooding district attorney who’s dedicated himself to cleaning up Gotham and taking down the crime syndicates that have oppressed it for so long.

    Death reigns supreme in this movie. People die, and Batman is faced with the hard choice of becoming that which he hates . . . or risk losing Gotham and those he loves to this madman.

     

    I cannot say enough good things about this movie. Going into this thing back in 2008, and despite the crazy good trailers for The Dark Knight, I wasn’t sure if Batman Begins could be beat or even tied. Batman Begins was what put serious superhero flicks back on the map in a big, big way. It was what restored the faith of us fans in DC Comics and gave us hope that they started the journey to taking down their number one competitor at the box office, Marvel. And with Superman Returns being just plain poopy, I hoped against hope they’d at least get Batman right a second time.

    And they did. They so did and me and everyone in that theatre were gushing with joy that not only was The Dark Knight as good as Batman Begins, it was even better.

    Christian Bale delivered another solid performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman. The new suit rocked hard. Loved the detail. Though he was less buff than the previous film—why? who knows? You’d think a crime fighter would maintain a fitness regimen—he did a great job differentiating between the boring and dull playboy Bruce Wayne and the rage-filled-justice-driven Batman. My only issue was the voice. In Batman Begins, it was gruff, cool and tough. In this one, he sounded like he was growling the whole time and he had to force the words out to make them all gravelly. (And, FYI, WB, Batman’s voice doesn’t have to be like he’s talking through pebbles and sand; Kevin Conroy proved that.)

    Heath Ledger’s Joker was utterly amazing. Creepy. Gothic. Funny, but not comical (like Jack Nicholson’s was). Eerie, disturbed, crazy—delicious. What I loved the most was two things: 1) the clown makeup was just that: makeup. At first I didn’t like this idea and wanted the Joker to have been a victim of an acid bath ala his comic book backstory, but after watching the movie, I see why they went this route. Bringing us to 2) Joker was a genius. It was his brilliant criminal mind that enabled him to quickly establish himself as a powerful evil force in Gotham and the makeup was his edge in doing that both in a scary-because-I’m-crazy way, but also it made others think he was merely a lunatic in turn making them drop their guard so he could move in.

    Once more, I really dug Gary Oldman’s James Gordon and seeing him officially become commissioner in this was cool.

    Likewise Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent and, eventually, Two-Face—hey, he did a good job on both sides of the, um, coin. My only thing with Two-Face in this flick was that I wasn’t expecting him to show up. I thought this movie would establish the Harvey Dent character in turn setting him up to become Two-Face in the next one. So, yeah, that part was a bit rushed but them’s the breaks.

    I enjoyed Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes better than Katie Holmes. Maggie’s kind and cute, but can be rough and tough when she needs to. Worked well for Bruce’s childhood friend/love interest, especially when that twist came that changed Rachel’s future forever.

    My only other little quibble was the whole bat-sonar thing. That was venturing into Batman Forever territory and we all know how that one turned out, but the positives of this movie more than made up for the couple of minor issues I had with it.

    This movie is just tremendously good. Good fighting. Good story. Good stuff.

    Very recommended.


  • Canister X Movie Review #15: The Batman vs Dracula (2005)

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    The Batman vs Dracula (2005)
    Written by Duane Capizzi
    Directed by Michael Goguen
    Runtime 83 min.
    4 out of 5

    What starts as a treasure hunt by the Penguin soon turns into a near-apocalyptic ordeal when he accidentally revives the legendary Dracula. Immediately, the prince of darkness begins to feed, snatching innocent citizens of Gotham from its streets.

    Darkness blankets the city and the Caped Crusader is all who stands in the way between Dracula and the city’s doom.

     

    Wow. That was my first reaction when watching this. This direct-to-DVD release doesn’t view as your standard Batman cartoon. This truly is a monster tale and views more like a horror movie than a superhero flick.

    The vampires in this film are scary, looking like something between a vampire and a zombie. Dracula himself is neat, trim and suave, yet carries a presence of death.

    This DVD also introduces Batman’s love interest, Vicky Vale (who appeared both in the comics and in the 1989 movie). I have yet to discover how much of a role she will have in the half-hour episodes of The Batman series (I have only watched up to season three), but it was great to see her on screen. It was also wonderful to see Bruce Wayne dealing with a female lead in a realistic way and having once again come face-to-face with Batman getting in the way of his personal life.

    A surprising touch to this film was the Joker, not so much the character but what happens to him. Cool indeed.

    This is a solid Bat-flick, one which is definitely meant for an older audience, not for kids. Thirteen or fourteen and up, I’d say.

    This flick is a keeper, one every true Bat-fan should have.


  • Canister X Movie Review #10: Batman Forever (1995)

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    Batman Forever (1995)
    Written by Lee Batchler, Janet Scott-Batchler and Akiva Goldsman
    Directed by Joel Schumacher
    Runtime 121 min.
    3 out of 5

    Two Face has been terrorizing Gotham for a while and after executing a terrible sentence at Gotham Circus, he inadvertently changes the life of the Dark Knight forever by setting in motion a chain of events that lead to the birth of Batman’s legendary partner, Robin.

    Continuing in the “double villain” trend as established by Batman Returns, a disgruntled—and stalker-ish—employee of Wayne Industries, Edward Nigma, gets revenge on his boss by becoming the Riddler, and steals his way to the top of the technology enterprise game.

    It’s two-on-two in this third installment of the Batman franchise.

     

    Riddle me this: what do you get when you cross Adam West and Michael Keaton? You get Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Batman, one who is part serious and part humorous. This is the film that I’ve always viewed as the “transition piece” between the dark Bat-flicks done by Tim Burton and the all-out camp-fest that is Batman & Robin.

    Though a bit over the top, the story of Batman Forever is a good one and if you watch it just for that, you’ll highly enjoy it.

    It was the humor that brought this film down.

    First, Batman ain’t funny. He’s so serious and dry he makes Al Gore look like Superman.

    Second, Two Face isn’t funny. Tommy Lee Jones, as much as I enjoy him as an actor, got the character wrong. Two Face is a gangster not another version of the Joker.

    Third, Riddler isn’t all whacky and zany, though by director Joel Schumacher’s choice to cast Jim Carrey in the role, it’s evident he was after Frank Gorshin’s Riddler from the ’60s instead of the comic book Riddler. Jim also got this part shortly after he became super famous so obviously this role was playing to his strength of being a rubber-faced whack job.

    Fourth, though it was a neat thing to add Robin to the mix, Chris O’Donnell was too old, but, I suppose, having a kid running around in an anatomically-correct rubber suit would have raised too many questions.

    This film was 50/50 for me. Had its pluses and minuses. I’m going to leave this in the “decide for yourself” category.


  • Canister X Movie Review #9: Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)

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    Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)
    Written by Paul Dini
    Directed by Curt Geda
    Runtime 77 min.
    5 out of 5

    He was thought dead. The laughter was supposed to have ended.

    But evil never dies.

    The Joker is back!

    His mission? Why, give Gotham a wedgy again!

    But this Gotham is different than the one the Joker left behind. It’s a new Gotham with a new Batman.

    Plenty of surprises abound in this thrilling chapter in the Batman Beyond universe.

     

    This movie is brilliant, pure and simple.

    I’ve seen both the regular and the uncut versions of this film and it’s the uncut version that’s being reviewed here (the regular is virtually the same and has only a few altered scenes).

    The uncut version doesn’t hold back and isn’t sensitive to the viewer’s eyes. This one’s much more violent than the regular version. In the original release, certain events were only implied. In this one, they are shown. (If anything, I was surprised at how graphic this cartoon was compared to the Batman Beyond and Batman: TAS episodes.)

    Ah, yes, the joys of direct-to-DVD releases.

    The Batman in Batman Beyond, Terry McGinnis, is real. You care about him, you relate to him. You want to be him even when the tension mounts between him and his mentor, Bruce Wayne.

    The Joker’s nasty in this and once more Mark Hamill, with that creepy laugh of his, reminds us why he was born to play the Joker. The dialogue, the jokes—utterly fantastic!

    The story is stellar, with multiple plots going on at once. It also answers the questions you have about the fate of the characters from Batman: TAS, which had a series finale that fell flat. (It was just another episode, really.)

    The first time I saw this film I couldn’t believe what happened to one of the Bat regulars. It still blows me away every time I see it. Wow.


  • Canister X Movie Review #5: Batman (1989)

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    Batman (1989)
    Written by Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren
    Directed by Tim Burton
    Runtime 126 min.
    4 out of 5

    There are rumors of a six-foot bat in Gotham City. Whispers. Suggestions. Nothing concrete. But all that changes after the Batman confronts Carl Grissom’s men at Axis Chemicals and Grissom’s top hood, Jack Napier, gets dropped into a vat of chemicals, transforming him into the maniacal Joker. Discovering he had been set up by his boss to take the fall at Axis, Joker takes over Grissom’s operation, in turn allowing him to try and take over Gotham City itself, with only the Dark Knight to stop him.

     

    This was the film that gave us the “movie Batman” we know today: dark and armored. If it wasn’t for director Tim Burton’s gothic and grim vision of crime-ridden Gotham City and its brooding protector, I suspect the edgy superhero movies of today wouldn’t exist.

    Michael Keaton takes on the title role as billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne and his rubber-clad alter ego Batman, delivering one of the greatest Batman performances that many, at the time, hadn’t expected from “Mr. Mom.” And after his memorable line during the opening rooftop scene, “I’m Batman,” from that moment on he had you sold that his version of the Dark Knight meant business and quenches any lingering thought that Batman, thanks to the 1960s TV series, is a campy superhero.

    Stealing the stage is Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Basically take the Jack from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and crank it up to a hundred and you have the Joker. Nicholson does a brilliant job of blending the serious and twisted Joker while also playing the crazy, laughing, psycho killer. I’m sure when Batman: The Animated Series came along, Nicholson’s Joker was the template for Mark Hamill’s performance when he voiced the character. Awesome.

    Danny Elfman’s haunting and lonely score only adds to the movie’s eeriness.

    My only problem with the film was there wasn’t enough Batman. I remember that bothering me as a kid. Batman shows up all of four times in the film, the first being something, like, only for a minute. Each subsequent time gets progressively longer, thankfully.

    Bold, atmospheric and downright fun, Batman is one for the ages. It was where the modern dark superhero movie started.


  • Canister X Movie Review #4: Batman (1966)

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    Batman (1966)
    Written by Lorenzo Semple Jr.
    Directed by Leslie H. Martinson
    Runtime 105 min.
    4 out of 5

    Atomic batteries to power. Turbines to speed!

    The dynamic duo, Batman and Robin, hit the big screen in this 1960s action/adventure camp-stravaganza!

    When the caped crusaders’s most dangerous foes—Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, Penquin—team up and plot to dehydrate the United Nations Security Council, Batman and Robin find themselves in over their heads and must pull out all the stops to put an end to the evil villains’ dastardly plans in this big screen adaptation of the hit TV series.

     

    This movie rocks! And here’s why:

    It’s fast-paced, exciting, and is the definition of superhero fun. What? You mean superheroes can be fun? Of course! Remember dressing up as a kid and flying around the house as Superman or climbing the stairs as Spider-Man or swinging from room to room as Batman? Remember laying waste to all those imaginary villains while also saving the damsel in distress and trying to ignore your parents when they called you for dinner? That was superhero fun. Easy-going, super adventure.

    This film is the same thing . . . but with grownups. Of course, it’s also a giant Batman TV episode complete with such goodies as the animated THOKs and POWs bursting across the screen, crazy bat-gadgets for every occasion (i.e. the [in]famous bat-shark repellent), a host of bat-vehicles, and goofy special effects that work well in the context of the movie.

    What’s brilliant about this Batman movie are the jokes. First, it’s meant to be silly and funny, but the humor is both overt and subtle, whether it’s the dialogue, facial expressions or even actions in some cases. It’s also amazing that despite it being purposely campy, Adam West and Burt Ward—Batman and Robin, respectively—played their characters straight. What I mean is, they played these guys seriously in the crazy, colorful world they inhabited—the characters matching the story, the environment and those they interacted with—and not once did it seem like actors goofing around and simply scoring a paycheck. That’s a feat on its own, in my books.

    Nowadays, superhero filmmakers have a hard time trying to do more than one villain in their movies. Why they don’t go back and look at this flick for help, I don’t know. Granted, the four villains in here all had their TV history backing them up, but they still were able to each stand on their own and each share the spotlight and fulfill their roles. No one is second stringer to anyone else.

    If there is a movie out there that represents superhero fantasy, this flick is it. Everything is so over-the-top that it actually works and you feel like you’re watching an old school comic book come to life. Joel Schumacher tried to recreate this with Batman Forever and Batman & Robin and wasn’t able to pull it off. The big reason, in my mind, is because he tried to merge the old with the new and that’s like mixing black and white—you get a bunch of gray and no one knows what’s what.

    Anyway, I love this movie. My kids love this movie and I let them watch it because compared to the ultra dark Bat-flicks of today, I need to know they’ll have fun watching a Bat-movie, will have at least a general sense of what’s going on, and won’t get nightmares after. (I mean, Heath Ledger’s Joker creeps me out and I’m an adult.)

    Batman is one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s lighthearted, it’s funny, it’s exciting, and is a showcase of everything that made the TV series such a hit, even now, nearly fifty years later.

    Recommended.