Dir: Leslie H. Martinson, 1966
Now, c’mon everyone! Admit it. You went, “na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, BATMAN!”
Batman and Robin battle their most famous enemies Catwoman, The Penguin, The Joker and The Riddler with little help from Gotham police.
The big screen version of the camp and ridiculous TV show, is bright and gay…in every sense of the word.
Made entirely as a parody of the DC Comics, Batman The Movie throws in every bat-cliche it can think of. A running joke is Batman labelling everything with the prefix “bat”. We’ve all heard of the Batmobile and Batarang. Even the Batcopter isn’t unfamiliar to bat-audiences. But, how about bat-shark repellent that he keeps on his bat-belt? This is on top of EVERY SINGLE THING physically having a label attached to it, such as; the bat-ladder and bat-computer.
In relation to the comics, this incarnation of the superhero is heavily toned down so as to make it family friendly and almost childish. The bat-violence that was inherent in the stories, does not appear. No one gets killed or murdered. The villains are more intent on robbing banks and causing mayhem, than acting out any homicidal urges.
True fans of Batman will, probably, hate it. Tim Burton’s vision, played up to it’s origins and the name of the city, Gotham. Martinson’s vision, takes everything that is Batman and sends it up.
Parts of the film are incredibly funny. An undercover Alfred, his identity concealed by simply wearing a Lone Ranger mask across his eyes, is an example. The funniest scene is, however, is arguably the most famous. In an attempt to save the citizens of Gotham, Batman runs around with a cartoon-like bomb in hands, searching for somewhere to dispose of it. But, wherever he turns, there is something, or someone, preventing him. Be it ducks or a group of nuns, an exasperated and panicking Batman, bat-frustratingly, laments; “there’s just some days you can’t get rid of a bomb!”.
Littered with the shows staple bat-humour, we are subjected to flashes of “kapow!” and “Zthwack!” filling the screens, with more nonsensical words to follow.
In the time span of a twenty minute episode and it’s conclusion in the following one, Batman works great. It doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and keeps you entertained. But, as a 100 minute film, it becomes tiresome and lags. The removal of at least twenty minutes of footage, would have worked in the movie’s favour. Martinson’s film needs to be shorter and snappier.
Part of the bat-charm of the bat-series, was the cliffhanger ending, when a serious narrator would take over the action and announce those immortal words; “Same bat-time! Same bat-channel!”. Obviously, being feature length, the story is whole, so there is no suspense to the “how will he get out of this?” ridiculousness.
None of that stops the film from being an enjoyable ride. It IS fun and it IS entertaining. Batman The Movie is flawed because of its overlong running time.
Nevertheless, it’s still worth watching and is an amusing way to pass the time.