Wednesday, July 18, 2012

F This Movie! - Batman (1989)

Just in time for the Dark Knight to rise, Patrick and JB take on the Batman that started them all.



Order tickets for the F This Movie! screening of Die Hard on August 2nd.

Download this episode here. (33.7 MB)

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Also discussed this episode: Singing in the Rain, To Rome With Love, Take This Waltz, Savages, The Rock-afire Explosion

41 comments:

  1. Great podcast. I loved all 4 batman movies when i was kid. And i recently watched the '89 batman again and yea it doesn't really work. Even my nostalgia for it couldn't save the movie.
    P.S - i actually heard Bob Kane was an douche. I heard he would draw batman on a napkin or something and give it to somebody and say "i created batman". I don't know how true it is but that's what i heard.

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  2. Listening to the podcast I had a revelation, that everything I liked about the Burton's Batman is not really in the Burton's movies, but in the animated series. That show did everything that Burton's movies wanted to be and did it right (except maybe the Penguin).

    Nolan's Batman, even though I like some things about it, never really worked for me. It kinda reminds me of that Robot Chicken sketch when the girl wants the guy to be a pirate for their sexy fantasy, and he makes his pirate completely smelly and disgusting with lice and bad teeth, because "it's realistic".


    @Anonymous - What makes Bob Kane a douche is that he was bringing bunch of ghost writers and artists to do comics for him, and he never gave them credit (coughbillfingercough).

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  3. yea that's another thing. Bill finger and bob kane created the characters and bob kane takes all the credit. Even in the movies it says "Based on Batman, created by bob kane". Total boo-cockey

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  4. Just starting the podcast, and let's see how many of my immediate thoughts about this make it in or are directly contradicted:


    1. Decent movie overall.
    2. Better than decent Michael Keaton performance.
    3. Waste of time female lead.
    4. Even more of a waste of time with Robert…Patrick….Whul, Arli$$, what’s his name, as a Jimmy Olsen ripoff. For all I know, the character is canon but I don’t particularly care.
    5. Michael Gough, I can’t say enough good things about. Fabulous Alfred and always the high point of all four movies, even despite the crap plot they stick him with in Batman & Robin.
    6. Some nice fight scenes. Some people think they’re not dynamic enough, but I like the idea of Batman fighting just enough with no unnecessary movements.
    7. Jesus, Jack Nicholson. A lazy, boring performance that has no Joker (jeez, Cesar Romero put more effort into it) and plenty of Jack. Just, Ugh. Oddly enough, I do like his scenes before he becomes the Joker.
    8. Look, I love good Burton movies. But every time he adapts something it’s just overdesigned to put his own stamp on it and it looks awful.
    9. The plot? Completely by the numbers and couldn’t tell you especially what the deal is.

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  5. I guess JB will have to kick my 11 year old self. Batman was one of the first movies I ever saw at the theater. Back then, I thought it was awesome & Nicholson was perfect as the Joker. I don’t know how many times I did my “Ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight” impression as a kid. I used to defend it for so long as the best comic book movie ever. Watching it in my mid 30’s cynical self, Wow(!) a lot of this movie hasn’t aged so well. I couldn’t even put it in my top 15 comic book movies now.

    Like Patrick said, it’s so hard to go back to Nicholson’s “Look at me” performance after Heath Ledger’s mesmerizing, sadistic Joker. Jack’s low point has to be his little shaking his butt dance at the top of the church to taunt Batman & Vale as they’re hanging on the ledge. WHEN AD LIBBING GOES WRONG! It’s a shame Nicholson’s performance dominates the movie because most of the cast is pretty good & at least are trying to take this seriously. Even as a last second substitute, Kim Basinger has some decent chemistry with Keaton.

    BTW, the only reason I can think of why the Joker stages the Party Man routine at the Art Gallery, is I guess is to woo Vicki Vale because his current girlfriend is so messed up by his beauty products. I guess the Joker wanted to trade up. There wasn’t any Match.coms back in 89. To be fair to Burton, after listening to his director’s commentary, he clearly hated being forced to include the Prince songs.

    I don’t have the Blu Ray but I’ve had the Batman SE DVD for several years. Unfortunately, all three Prince music videos are on the DVD as well. My favorite Sam Hamm “Not me” is his response to Alfred letting Vicki Vale into the Bat Cave & thus revealing Batman is Bruce Wayne. Hamm said something like, “Not me, if I’m Bruce Wayne, Alfred is getting a pink slip tomorrow.” Did some producer watch Superman II & decided we need our own hero reveals his secret identity to his lover scene?

    I still liked Keaton’s Batman & wished he could’ve been in a better movie. Bale is #1 & Keaton is #2 in my book. I agree with Joseph Finn about Batman beating up thugs with just a few moves. I still get a kick out of Batman using one big kick to dispose of the acrobat dude who does twenty flips before he attacks.

    Finally, I maybe possessed by the spirit of Dave Johnson, but Bob will always be my favorite 2nd in command henchman of all time.

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  6. Man, I'm putting the 'What the fuck'/'Stan Lee shits himself' comments (around the 52-53 min. mark) as one of my favorite moments in 'F This Movie' history. As with Doug's tale of The Haverik in "Top Gun" it's fun to hear Patrick (and I assume JB) completely lose it. :D

    And I can point to no better example to the empty hole "Batman" is as a movie (I like moments/scenes here and there, but as a storytelling vehicle it's never done anything for me) than Patrick and JB struggling to keep the conversation focused on the movie. Their minds wonder off into anything (Burtons' other movies, the Nolan "Batman" movies, how "Batman Begins" builds on the skeleton of the '89 flick to become one of the better superhero movies of all time IMHO, etc.) that will keep them from actually talking about the movie they don't really want to talk about. Say what you will about how shitty "Sleepaway Camp" was shot/acted, but it held your attention and kept you focused on what crazy stuff would come next. "Batman," with ten metric tons more of money, better actors and a beloved IP, loses and regains audience interest with every other semi-interconnected beat of a loose narrative. It was a hype-filled balloon, and with the hype long gone it's an ugly naked guy we see now, not the invisible pretty cape we thought we saw in '89. So there.

    I'll second Joseph Finn's asserion though. Michael Gough's Alfred is, along with Pat Hingle's Commissioner Gordon (who JB did give props to in the podcast; JB, was "Talladega Nights" the movie you thought Hingle was too old to have appeared in?), not only one of the few bright spots in "Batman '89" but also this entire 4-movie series since they were the only two actors that appeared in all of them. I can never bring myself to truly hate "Batman & Robin" because of the 'Alfred is sick and dying' subplot, which tugs at my heart because I loved Gough's character so much I was blind that it was cynically used to set-up the entry of her niece (or whatever character Alicia Silverstone was playing) into his secrets about Master Wayne. So there, there.

    About "The Last Waltz" (which I saw in the one and only theater showing it here in the real Gotham but its available nationwide as Video On Demand), for its first two thirds I was actively hating it. For a movie with Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman they're neither funny nor compelling (Michelle has to carry what works on her tiny shoulders). The jump-cut montages to point out the quirkness/sadness of a scene/moment don't work (by the time Sarah Polley got to Rogen's character she had already done it half-a-dozen times, and Seth is just as bad as the previous one's). Alas, two thirds into the movie it rights itself up (a sexy/erotic tribute to a famous scene in "Citizen Kane" featuring the Leonard Cohen song the movie takes its title from is the highlight) by showing the consequences, good and bad, of Margot's actions to everyone around but primarily to herself. This last third is also book-ended by the best use of The Buggles' Video Killed The Radio Star as both an uplifting and a romantic song I've ever heard used in a movie.

    "Take This Waltz" is flawed, but the last third saves it and makes it worth seeing, IMO.
    So there, there, there (cue The Quibbler theme! :-O).

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    1. I can't believe I read this entire crazyasslong comment, and you didn't even MENTION the best part of TAKE THIS WALTZ.

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    2. What, the cooch parade? Sorry, my standards for 'best' in a movie aren't limited to quiff staring. The sexy tribute to "Citizen Kane" and the two uses of Video Killed the Radio Star (and maybe Seth Rogen on his last scene), that I'll talk about 'till I'm blue in the face. But three snatchs on-screen for two uninterrupted minutes? Sorry Doug, I already subscribe to Cinemax. ;-)

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    3. I'm sorry. I believe the plural of "snatch" ends with a "z."

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    4. MY BAD, I meant to say 'three mewling quims' (or is that 'quimz'? :D).

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  7. I'm fully aware that I'm in the minority, but even years later I still firmly believe that the Burton original and 'Batman Returns' are infinitely more entertaining than any Batman film from the last decade.

    A few points:

    - Any story about a grown man who dresses as a bat to fight another grown man in clown make-up called The Joker is only allowed to place its head so far up its own rear end. To me, that's a popcorn story, not a social commentary or a profound statement.
    - Michael Keaton is one of those actors who always looks like he's thinking, while Christian Bale always looks like he's angry. Keaton is the better Batman.
    - Nicholson is not just 'playing Jack', it's just good casting, that's all. His public persona is parallel to The Joker, and his performance is meant to be fun. There's a reason young kids liked this movie and today's kids are usually bored or freaked out by 'The Dark Knight.' They made the movie they wanted.
    - Heath Ledger is good, but he just played the role quirky, that's all. There's nothing wrong with quirky, but it only seemed like something new because we hadn't seen it in years. In the 80's, guys like Tim Curry, Alan Rickman, and Frank Langella were playing all the villains quirky. It went too far in the 90's and then it went away for a while.

    I don't know art, but I know what I like.

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    1. I'm with you on "Batman Returns" because it does away with the inconsistency of tones in the first movie (wacky one moment, mean-spirited the next, heartfelt next, casually dismissive soon after, etc.) and it commits to being 100% dark and twisted. Even the photography in "Batman" is all over the place with too many brightly-lit scenes right next to super-dark one's. In the sequel there's no mistaking we're in neo-noir land with snow, night and sewers lit to look like Fritz Lang came back from the dead to help Burton direct it.

      If you like a certain type of superhero style/narrative like Spider-Man or Superman I can see the pitch-black noir tone of "Batman Returns" putting you off. Even if you don't like it though one can't help but admire a PG-13 mainstream superhero movie that's as close to an 'R' as these flicks have ever gotten (in tone, look, on-screen violence and spirit of the source material). Shoot, we got 'wacky' Batman sequels and Schumacher's nipple-cam as acute over-corrections for how far off the mainstream path "Batman Returns" went. And Nolan has it easy now by avoding all the mistakes Burton & co. ran into with their "Batman" series and the creative freedom that Warner has given him and his bro to shape this new trilogy, stuff Burton wasn't privy to.

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  8. FYI, Bob Kane didnt play Bob "the cartoonist" in the movie, it just had the iconic Bob Kane signature on the picture. 6 of one, half a dozen of the other, but that wasnt actually Bob Kane being called a dick.

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    1. You're absolutely right (and you would know -- MODERN MYTH MEDIA, everyone!). Don't know why I thought that was him.

      Apparently, it was supposed to be? THAT'S what I was picking up on. I AM PSYCHIC.

      Sorry for the mistake. It will mostly likely happen again.

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  9. I saw "Batman" when I was 7 and have see it at least 10+ times throughout my teens and my twenties, and maybe I'm an anomaly, but I'm able to divorce the "Burton", the "Schumacher", and the "Nolan" Batman films as their own worlds, without comparing them to each other.

    I personally like "Batman Returns" the best out of the first four even though I agree with Patrick that it is mean-spirited and unplesant. Maybe it was the fact that a lot of the Batman comic books through the 90's that I was reading was a lot like "Batman Returns" in tone and mean-spirtness. I agree that in both Burton films(and honestly the Schumacher ones as well) that Batman is more of a supporting character in his own movies, but the same was true in a lot of the Batman comic books I read when I was a teen.

    Again, maybe I'm weird but Nicholson's performance still doesn't bother me and I like it. But yes, compared to Ledger's Joker, Nicholson's Joker is embarrisingly lacking depth.

    True, the Nolan films are more rewatchable and more coherent and focused than the Burton films. But that doesn't make "Batman" any less enjoyable for me to watch.

    Footnote: Talladega Nights was Pat Hingle's last movie. He died in 2009.

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  10. Each film certainly should be based on their own merits, and that leads to a sore point with me. The hype and reaction to the Nolan films have been so intense that people who like the Burton films have been forced into being apologetic about that, and I don't see why.

    Everyone's entitled to prefer a new version, but it seems that those who meekly raise their hands and say "I still like the originals," are often beaten down or treated as dense for simply wanting to view Batman as entertainment.

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    1. I'm with you as far as judging each movie on its merits. I did my best not to hold the old movies against the new ones and tried to say as much, but I'm sure I'm guilty of doing that from time to time. There's room for all of the movies (even the Schumacher ones) and interpretations of the material.

      I saw something similar happen with The Amazing Spider-Man, where all of a sudden I was "wrong" to like the Sam Raimi movies.

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  11. Great podcast. "And if we don't clap our hands, then she'll die." Rewatched Batman and I have to say it's a mixed bag of goodies. Yes it does not hold up, but I believe it has its heart in the right place. No this is not the 5 year old talking who watched this movie religiously, (And also went to Showbiz Pizza routinely) but rather someone who can admire trying to make the first serious Batman movie. Nolan's films are the best Batman films, but I wouldn't say they're the best adaptation of the comics. In my opinion the animated TV series from the early 90's seem to be the best mainstream presentation of Batman.

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  12. First, The Rockafire Explosion is great. I was mesmerized when I watched it last month and couldn't take my eyes away from the screen. The fact that it ends in a sort of bleak and sad place makes it somehow even more compelling and dramatic. I wasn't expecting the reaction it left me with.

    Batman! My wife and I had a Bat-fest over the weekend and while the Burton-directed films haven't aged well (the first one much worse than Returns) we had a lot of fun with them, both enjoying the (very) few things that still worked and giggling like crazy people at the things that didn't work (so there was a lot of giggling). I was so in love with this movie as a kid, I swear I've seen it over 50 times. I mean, it's no ROBIN HOOD PRINCE OF THIEVES...but what is?

    And Heath gets deep in 5...4...3...2...1....you know, it actually kind of depresses me that time ultimately ruins almost all of the movies I have loved. When Batman came out, it was the height of cool. It was one of the best things in my life, and everyone loved it. The guys in my school liked it, and the girls did too. Adults liked it, and kids liked it. 23 years later, that movie is nothing to anyone anymore. What changed? The movie didn't, WE did. Sometimes I can catch a movie or an old cartoon I loved (Thundercats, GI Joe, Transformers) in the right frame of mind and enjoy it again, but more often than not it just makes me feel old and so far from the kid that I was. 23 years was a long time ago, but I can remember so many details surrounding this movie. I remember the lines, the t-shirts, the toys, I remember when Blockbuster got it and it took up an entire section in the store with dozens of copies on the shelf. But that was almost a quarter of a century ago, and that passion and love for this movie is gone, replaced with a discomfort at Jack Nicholson and Prince both making fools of themselves. I wish I could lock these things away in a vault where time could not touch them and they'd always be fresh and fun, and I could go visit them as a 10 year old forever...but I can't.

    It seems both charming and odd to me that for my money the best and truest Batman I've seen outside of the comics was and still is the animated series that started in 1992. I still watch it and have enjoyed sharing that with my wife and kid. The animation has aged, but the stories still hold up after all these years. I suppose that's something to be grateful for.

    This post was brought to you by the good people at Kodak, The Boys and Girls Club, and the Ad Council.

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    1. I could not agree with you more. I used to pick my son up from school and we would go home and watch Batman: The Animated Series together. It was terrific for tots and Pops. The plots were great, the voice talent was top-notch, and the animation style suited the material perfectly.

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    2. The '89 Batman was the same for me -- it pretty much defined my life for a time. But the fact that we don't still hold it in the same regard doesn't take anything away from those memories. It will always mean what it did to the 12-year old me, even if the me of today doesn't love it the same way. And the fact that you can recognize that, no, maybe it's not quite as good as you remember demonstrates an ability to distinguish between blind nostalgia and objective analysis. I have no problem with anyone who still loves the movie, but I might not trust a person who loves it in exactly the same way and for exactly the same reasons he or she did as a child. We do change, and our reasons for liking something should change, too -- even if the end result the same. I'm not sure that makes sense.

      And I don't think it's just that we've gotten older or that movies have gotten more sophisticated. The original Richard Donner Superman still holds up and I still love it, and that's 10 years older than Batman. Our reaction to the Burton movie now has a lot to do with that movie being a mess -- not just us getting older.

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    3. You're right. It's part of getting older to have better taste than you did as a kid. And I will also forever have the memories of how that movie dominated my life for a while. I can see it for what it is but still go to that place where I was an enthusiastic budding comic fan. My wife and I recently watched Deliverance (for one of those light, fun afternoons) and it felt pretty gripping and effective still, not aged and irrelevant. So You're right, age is not the offender, messy movies are.

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  13. Wow, 1 hour and 13 minutes of pure crap!! This must be a world record!! Congratulations to those 2 morons speaking and recording their crap!! Nobody will ever beat you buddies!!

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    1. I hope you have a better finish to your day than start to your day. You are better than your comment, Funzi159.

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    2. You think 1 hour and 13 minutes of pure crap is a world record? Have you seen Batman and Robin?!

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    3. Rule #1 of the internet: don't ever say anything bad about Batman.

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    4. You're right. Not getting beaten is worth a congratulations.
      As your less fun brother would say, "Ayyyyy!"

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    5. Sol wins comment of the day!

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    6. The biggest tragedy of this comment chain is it's taking all of my Brick Mansions review press. It's hot off the shelf, you guys!

      I'm just saying, with no ego, that you should watch the evolution of the best writer on the internet :-)

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    7. And worst still is that every time things appear to be getting back on track some twat comes along and posts another one.

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    8. I know, right? I hate when that happens!

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    9. I think it's a good thing when old podcasts get resurrected. I mean that's what they're on here for, am I right? Oh and I still like Batman Forever just as much as the first two, so sue me.

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    10. I kind of like Batman Forever too. Shhhh. Hide behind me.

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    11. I would rather watch Batman Forever than The Dark Knight Rises, Batman, Batman Returns or Batman and Robin.

      Batman Forever 4EVA!

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    12. It must be the wicked Smashing Pumpkins soundtrack. Loved it the Watchmen trailer as well.

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    13. That's actually from Batman & Robin. Forever had U2 and Seal.

      I'm so glad this has taken over the day.

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    14. I knew there was a reason I liked the Batman Forever soundtrack (one that I did own), but it has been so long that I couldn't put my finger on it. "Kiss from a Rose" is a great song

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    15. By George you're right, I guess I didn't want to connect Pumpkins to something I hated so much. I just remember watching that Watchmen trailer like a billion times back in 2009.

      I don't know if I have the same fondness for for Seal and Brandy, but most of the soundtrack for Batman Forever is still quite good.

      This conversation has made me ponder if Schumacher may somehow be a better director than Tim Burton? I must be out of mind in even considering that, but Burton any love I once had for Burton has eroded in the last decade. Although on the other hand I did see Tresspass... so no that can't be right.

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  14. '89 Batman has not aged well. Like everybody else back then, i was caught up in the hype. But watching it just a couple years later, all I could see was how slow and broody it is. The story takes place in a time warped vacuum. It all feels airless. Keaton's Wayne is a depressed shut in and the story is just one Joker set piece after another. There are so many scenes that serve no other purpose than to show Nicholson ham it up. And the,character's motives are murky at best. He just wants Vicki Vale, I guess? Tim Burton's Batman movies just want to,prove that Batman simply needs to get laid........

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  15. Well, that's the first time I've heard someone say that Seth Rogan was the best part of 50/50. Can't disagree more with that sentiment. He gave good support to JGL, but obviously it's JGL's performance that carries the film. Rogen had one persona, the douche bag bro. Take This Waltz was a pleasant surprise from him, in that he makes us care that this guy might get hurt and he seems way too nice to deserve that.

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