Thursday, 25 August 2016

Recently Watched #1

It was my intention to not cover movies at all here at DS90Gamer. I did exactly this on my previous (now defunct) blog and it was a big part of the reason why I lost interest in the whole blog 'thing' and called it a day. However, I've been tempted to do a bit here and there while keeping it brief and refraining from doing proper reviews (I'll leave that to people who do it much better than I could). So here is the first in a very, very occasional series of posts about the films I have recently watched.

Batman (1989)
Released - 1989     Starring - Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger

Astonishingly, I'd not previously seen either of Tim Burton's highly regarded Batman movies before now. I'd watched the most recent series of Christopher Nolan 'Dark Knight' films and enjoyed them but me not really being the biggest of DC or Batman fans means that I'd not thought about exploring further afield. It was the recent hubbub around Batman Vs Superman and my complete apathy towards even picking up the DVD (maybe when it's £3-£5 in a bargain bin...maybe) that brought the older movies back into my head. I also remembered that I had both Batman and Batman Returns in my stack of DVD's so striking while the iron was hot, I decided to finally get them both done and see what the fuss was all about.

Initially I was a bit underwhelmed. Burton's art direction and dark yet humorous depiction of Gotham City is the main draw here and I did indeed think that Batman was amazing from a visual stance. However, I was less convinced by any of the characters and especially Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne. It's actually very hard to describe why I felt slightly disappointed but if I had to guess then I'd say that having not watched this film in the late 80's when it was brand-new and infinitely superior to all the prior, awful superhero movies would account for why I didn't 'get' it. Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the Joker 100% saves the movie however as he is convincingly crazy and makes the role his own. I would even go as far as to say that his version is more than a match for Heath Ledger's celebrated portrayal of the same character. Overall, it was still a great film and I would certainly re-watch it in the future.

Batman Returns
Released - 1992     Starring - Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer

Is the sequel the better film? The plot is certainly a little more interesting I suppose but the Penguin is no substitute for Nicholson's Joker - not by a long shot. What Batman Returns is though is a perfect follow up to the original in terms of consistency and fantastic style. Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman is ridiculously sexy to boot (not just because of the squeaky leather!) and easily the best big screen version of the famous character which might not actually be saying much when you consider that Catwoman's other major appearance was the atrocious Halle Berry solo movie. *shudder*

Like its direct predecessor, I really enjoyed Returns and would totally watch it again but it didn't wow me as much as I expected it to. I think if the Catwoman character and storyline had been included in the original alongside Nicholson's Joker, there would have been a terrific movie. It sounds like I'm beating on these films but I'm honestly not; they are great adaptations of the comics and more watchable than a lot of of modern superhero flicks which truthfully, I can't be arsed with once I've been bombarded with the hype.

Grudge Match
Released - 2013     Starring - Robert DeNiro, Sylvester Stallone, Kim Basinger, Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin, Jon Bernthal

Here's a movie that's gotten a fair bit of flack from anybody I've spoken to about it. The typical criticism is usually directed at the age of the two lead actors with many OAP jokes tossed in for good measure. "Why don't they just stop now?" some people like to complain. Well, these guys are legends in my book and Grudge Match - while certainly no classic - is a more than entertaining movie. Are people expecting new Rambo or Ronin-esque films that will take the world by storm? If so, you may be waiting a while. What you do get though are some kick-ass action films that hark back to the glory days of 80's/90's cinema where the big action stars went in all guns blazing and the actor's names were bigger than the films themselves. Personally, I would rather watch the classics and any new material from the likes of Stallone or Schwarzenegger than one of the seemingly endless comedies featuring the same rotation of popular faces serving up sex jokes and gross-out moments.

Grudge Match is the story of two aged veteran boxers (who aren't Rocky and Raging Bull) with a score to settle. Naturally, these two over-the-hill characters decide to get back into shape for a big showdown. There's a mix of macho moments, emotive segments and comedy but there's none of the magic of Rocky (to reference another boxing film) for example. You could argue that the film is in fact a bit self indulgent and simply a vehicle for two Hollywood icons to cash another cheque but while it does nothing spectacular, it's also no disaster. It's entertaining, straightforward and a standalone movie at least rather than some form of terrible sequel sewn onto the coat tails of an existing, retired franchise. Ultimately, I enjoyed it for what it was and there's no doubting that Sly and Bobby bring a certain presence to any movie no matter how formulaic it may be. Decent.


  1. Burton's Batman films piss all over Nolan's (from my perspective).

    Funny thing is, until 1989 the general public's idea of Batman was formed by the Adam West series in the 1960s, so when Burton's was out it was seen as extremely dark and gritty - compared to the Nolan ones they seem campy and fun, but it's funny to think they were originally perceived a lot differently.

    Have you seen Batman Forever or Batman & Robin? Batman & Robin deserves most of the scorn it gets, but Forever's a lot of fun - fantastic set design, you really get a sense that Gotham's not completely of-this-world. Plus Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey make a great double-act as the villains.

  2. Yeah, I think watching them for the first time in 2016 didn't really give the 'right' impact but still - they were good! I do think that the Keaton Batman is how how Batman should look so there's that too.

    I was always put off Forever by Clooney but I am a Jim Carrey fan so I'll possibly have to give it a whirl. B&R will have to be watched purely for a certain Governator cheesing it up as Mr Freeze!

    1. You're in luck - Clooney's not in Forever. It's Val Kilmer :)