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A Batfan speaks!

07.24.2008

"A BATFAN SPEAKS!"
-- written by Andre Manseau, regular contributor to Arrow in the Head

When I was a young boy around the age of 8, my father took me to see Batman, featuring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. Until that time, the only Batman movie I knew was the campy one with Adam West. 

I was a huge Batman fan though, because my father had given me his old Batman comic books and I read them from cover to cover. This is a decision he regrets because had he given them to me now, they’d be worth a lot of money, but I cannot imagine who I’d be now if he hadn’t given them to me.

I’d worn those comics out, carrying them around in a milk crate and when not reading them, I’d rest my feet on top of them. This is all to say that I attended that Batman premiere on opening night dressed as Batman himself, and introduced everyone to ‘my’ movie when I got inside the theatre. I got my picture in the paper, and this officially cemented my status as a lifelong Batman fan.

I would soon get the VHS tape for Christmas and it remains one of my most prized and watched possessions and the first Batman film is undoubtedly my favorite film of all time. It represents so much to me that I got Keaton’s symbol tattooed on the back of my neck.

As we all know, the series began to take a decline after Burton’s second effort, Batman Returns. Joel Schumacher took over the franchise and brought it to neon-inspired heights, more reminiscent of a kids film than anything else. I enjoyed Batman Forever and I don’t mention the one that came after it. Nothing would ever top my favorite film though.

Soon, I heard rumblings after a few years that Chris Nolan had signed on to bring Batman back to the big screen, and properly too. Back to serious roots the franchise would go, with a capable Christian Bale under the cowl and a fantastic supporting cast, Batman Begins was a tremendous reboot and easily the second best Batman film ever made, in my eyes.

The end of that film signaled what would be a 3 year anticipatory period, because Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon brought forth a Joker’s card, which implied the Joker would be in the next film. This would be the movie I’d been waiting almost twenty years to see. Could it live up to the hype?

After seemingly endless months of fantastic viral marketing, the movie finally came to release last Friday. I’d of course had my tickets for well over a month and had only been hearing the best things. In the beginning I was skeptical of Heath Ledger’s Joker, but the more I saw, the more convinced I became. Perhaps this film could be the biggest film of my life. As I’d mentioned to my other die-hard friends, it didn’t matter what the movie was about; it was two and a half hours long and featured Batman vs. the Joker. Luckily for me, The Dark Knight was so, so much more than I expected.

This film is an exercise in filmmaking excellence, and although I’m sure you’ve read a ton of professional reviews, I don’t think you could read one that would be more heartfelt than my own. As I sat in the theatre, from the opening scene, I was captivated and could not look away. The Joker character was done so well that there were times that I was almost emotional. Heath Ledger disappeared into this role, leaving only the maniacal character that he created. You don’t see someone else in the makeup, you see someone truly representing a role that they made their own.

Without Heath, this film could not be what it is. The character is truly portrayed as an agent of chaos, one who does not fear death and cannot be followed in a logical pattern. The stories about the scars, the licking of the lips and the maniacal cackling are all things that add a ton of credibility to the character. There is a certain brilliance exuded by Ledger’s Joker that insists he needs to see that everyone has a breaking point, and that he will find it by any means necessary. The Joker is a brilliant loose cannon. He commands the screen and it is impossible not to laugh at his insane humor and be repulsed by his sick mind. I wanted more and more Joker, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

Harvey Dent’s character is played magnificently by Aaron Eckhardt, a vastly underrated performer who brings true emotion to the screen. His transformation to Two-Face is truly horrifying and you’re feeling for him every step of the way. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a fantastic fix to one of Batman Begins’ only sore spots, and this comes as no surprise as she is a talented actress to begin with. Christian Bale remains slightly over the top as Batman, but his Bruce Wayne is absolutely perfect, solemn and fractured. It is impossible not to feel Bruce’s inner torment through the film and the sacrifices he must make are immense.

The rest of the cast is absolutely perfect as well, and reads as a who’s who of Hollywood- Morgan Freeman as Wayne’s right hand man Lucius Fox, Michael Caine as the voice of reason, Alfred, and Gary Oldman has another star turn as Jim Gordon. The action sequences in this film are brilliant, awe-inspiring and relevant. Several scenes made my jaw drop in their perfection. As you can tell, I truly enjoyed this film.

When the movie was over, I immediately wanted to see it again, and I’m going this evening. Of course my friends loved it too, and my girlfriend (who isn’t a real fan) said it was the best movie she’s ever seen. I’ll likely go another 2 or 3 times just to catch everything. Just one of the reasons that this film is top notch is because it shows that superhero movies don’t have to be inane and insulting like Fantastic Four. This film isn’t a Superhero movie that happens to be good, it’s a fantastic film that happens to have Superheroes in it. The plot in this movie is so engrossing, rich and detailed that it requires a second viewing.

Chris Nolan and his crew don’t lead the audience by the hand, and they always manage to keep you guessing. I’m so proud that a Batman film has been made not just for Batman fans, but for anyone at all. As much as it hurts me to say it, this movie makes Batman 89 look quite small by comparison. Burton’s Batman was painted with long, black broad strokes, with Jack Nicholson essentially playing himself with the volume turned up. The Dark Knight is an intricate machine that is full of sorrow, sacrifice, difficult moral decisions and characters who are completely three dimensional and simply fascinating. If there are any complaints, it is almost as if too much was in this movie.

And now the film has broken box office records everywhere and will likely continue to do so throughout its theatrical run. It has become the number one movie of all time on IMDB.com, and is the talk of the town. I can’t help but feel that a lot of the press is coming from Ledger’s unfortunate death, but this movie will stand the test of time and lives up to the hype more than almost any film I can think of. The last time I felt a movie was so perfect was indeed nearly 20 years ago, and I never thought something else could knock Burton’s Batman from its perch in my memories.

I don’t believe Nolan can top this film since Ledger’s untimely passing will prevent another masterful performance, but if this was the last Batman film, I’d be okay with that. Batman is finally back, and he’s in top form. Believe the hype, grab your friends and get going, this is the perfect comic book film and damn near a perfect film in its own right. You owe it to yourself to see this film.

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11:19AM on 07/27/2008
i read somewhere that in the script, two face breaks his neck in the fall
i read somewhere that in the script, two face breaks his neck in the fall
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1:59AM on 07/26/2008
I have to say its goodto know sum1 other than myself also got a lil choked up seeing the joker on the big screen as well. I agree Bales voice is rediculous but still great performance by everyone in it. Regarding the 2 face comments below... Batman has his suit to protect him. Earlier in the film he does a higher jump onto the van and does even get hurt. But for all you comic fans out there...There have been a few comics always suggesting The Joker KNEW who batman was and just didnt care who
I have to say its goodto know sum1 other than myself also got a lil choked up seeing the joker on the big screen as well. I agree Bales voice is rediculous but still great performance by everyone in it. Regarding the 2 face comments below... Batman has his suit to protect him. Earlier in the film he does a higher jump onto the van and does even get hurt. But for all you comic fans out there...There have been a few comics always suggesting The Joker KNEW who batman was and just didnt care who was under the mask. Being the genius he is do u think in the interogation room scene he was suggesting he knew who Batman was because of the love interest with dawes which is why batman quickly beat the shit out of him to shut him up and possibly raise suspicions? Well other than that i really wished they killed rachael off with sumthin a lil more psychotic...perhsps a nice beating with a steel pipe(jason todd). Also does anyone else feel they might make gordons son become robin?
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6:49PM on 07/25/2008
Did not like Begins at all to slow moving but the dark knight was ok. Not the best movie ever, but fun to see 9/10.
P.S. I hate the way batman talks in the new films.
Did not like Begins at all to slow moving but the dark knight was ok. Not the best movie ever, but fun to see 9/10.
P.S. I hate the way batman talks in the new films.
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11:57PM on 07/24/2008

Small note from the author

Thank you guys for your comments and for taking the time out to read my little article. I appreciate your feedback. Please remember that I'm not saying my review is a be-all, end all type of thing. I just wanted to share my little journey to TDK, and to tell you all that I loved this film, even if it isn't perfect- but it's close.
Thank you guys for your comments and for taking the time out to read my little article. I appreciate your feedback. Please remember that I'm not saying my review is a be-all, end all type of thing. I just wanted to share my little journey to TDK, and to tell you all that I loved this film, even if it isn't perfect- but it's close.
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11:07PM on 07/24/2008

J. Burton

SPOILER ALERT - oh who am I kidding - who hasn't seen this movie yet that would be on this site? Your two face question is a great one, cause if Batman could survive the fall and go running off, how could two face not? maybe by how he landed? could be. but Aaron Eckharts comments a few days back does make me wonder...for those that didn't read it, he said "sure he'd come back for a another if Nolan wanted him to, he loved this movie." Very interesting.
SPOILER ALERT - oh who am I kidding - who hasn't seen this movie yet that would be on this site? Your two face question is a great one, cause if Batman could survive the fall and go running off, how could two face not? maybe by how he landed? could be. but Aaron Eckharts comments a few days back does make me wonder...for those that didn't read it, he said "sure he'd come back for a another if Nolan wanted him to, he loved this movie." Very interesting.
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9:58PM on 07/24/2008

HEY, J. BURTON

I genuinely, with good reason, did not like Dark Knight. I'm not hating on it, in fact I would have loved to love it! My friends and I were all disappointed and in disbelief, and to be honest it feels like everyone that is seeing this film is in a state of delusion. I can only assume, and hope, this will pass.

You yourself point out problems with the film, and I'm sure you can point many more, but it seems like you're more concerned with retaining a 10/10 score. Whatever that means...
I genuinely, with good reason, did not like Dark Knight. I'm not hating on it, in fact I would have loved to love it! My friends and I were all disappointed and in disbelief, and to be honest it feels like everyone that is seeing this film is in a state of delusion. I can only assume, and hope, this will pass.

You yourself point out problems with the film, and I'm sure you can point many more, but it seems like you're more concerned with retaining a 10/10 score. Whatever that means...
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8:32PM on 07/24/2008

Indeed

Very nice article there sir. Yes, TDK was even better then I hoped it would be. Wow, it's going to be hard to top that in the third one.

As far as the other people's comments below, I too thought Begins was a bit weak, but anyone who doesn't think that TDK is fan-friggin-tastic is just hating on it for no good reason.

However I don't understand those out there who thought Forever was better than Batman Returns. I actually dug Returns. Christopher Walken! I love that scene when he tosses
Very nice article there sir. Yes, TDK was even better then I hoped it would be. Wow, it's going to be hard to top that in the third one.

As far as the other people's comments below, I too thought Begins was a bit weak, but anyone who doesn't think that TDK is fan-friggin-tastic is just hating on it for no good reason.

However I don't understand those out there who thought Forever was better than Batman Returns. I actually dug Returns. Christopher Walken! I love that scene when he tosses Catwoman out the window, and the follwing day she comes back in to work. "Next time, I'll throw her out of a higher window."

Now, my one TDK complaint, has to be the fight scenes. They were weak. Don't get me wrong, the movie still gets 10 out of 10. But man, wish Nolan had gotten a better fight choreographer. Anyone else feel the same way? I'm not asking for woo-ping style wire-fu, but gimmie something. Bruce was trained by a Ninja correct? Now the car chase was great, top notch.

Anyone wonder why Rachel and Batman survived that gigantic fall from the penthouse, when the Joker crashed the party and tossed her out the window? I did. She didn't even say ow!

Final question for everyone. SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT********************




Is Two Face dead at the end? Or just knocked out?

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8:12PM on 07/24/2008

To Andre

First of all, this is the best superhero movie of all time. I thought your review was very well written. Although, this part is unreasonable:

"since Ledger’s untimely passing will prevent another masterful performance"

That's ridiculous. I'm pretty sure there are young actors out there who can do an equally good or even better performance as The Joker.
First of all, this is the best superhero movie of all time. I thought your review was very well written. Although, this part is unreasonable:

"since Ledger’s untimely passing will prevent another masterful performance"

That's ridiculous. I'm pretty sure there are young actors out there who can do an equally good or even better performance as The Joker.
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4:22PM on 07/24/2008

a true fan

very well written piece, this guy is a true fan and knows his shit!

I have to say though i never understood the love for Burton's take on Batman. Sure Jack was great in the first one but both of them always felt a bit too Beetlejuice for me! Forever was great, Batman & Robin dog shit!

Nolan and Bale absolute gold!!

maybe just maybe a third one could work...... Daniel Day Lewis as The Riddler and lightning might strike twice!

"you know when I'm down in my socks it's time for
very well written piece, this guy is a true fan and knows his shit!

I have to say though i never understood the love for Burton's take on Batman. Sure Jack was great in the first one but both of them always felt a bit too Beetlejuice for me! Forever was great, Batman & Robin dog shit!

Nolan and Bale absolute gold!!

maybe just maybe a third one could work...... Daniel Day Lewis as The Riddler and lightning might strike twice!

"you know when I'm down in my socks it's time for business that's why they call them business socks!"


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4:04PM on 07/24/2008

odd..

I share similar origins to the author, with a few differences. Batman was the first comic I picked up as a kid… and fell in love. The movie came out, and unfortunately my parents didn't feed my need for escapism through comics and film, so it wasn't until I saved 30$ to buy the VHS tape from the local video store that I could finally see Burton's Batman! Took a while as you can guess (I was 10 and had to recycle every can I could find, loose change in couch cushions, quarters in public
I share similar origins to the author, with a few differences. Batman was the first comic I picked up as a kid… and fell in love. The movie came out, and unfortunately my parents didn't feed my need for escapism through comics and film, so it wasn't until I saved 30$ to buy the VHS tape from the local video store that I could finally see Burton's Batman! Took a while as you can guess (I was 10 and had to recycle every can I could find, loose change in couch cushions, quarters in public phones... you get the idea). I savored every inch of that movie!!! If I didn’t see it a hundred times, it sure felt like it. Destroyed that cassette. Loved reading the back of the box, “Best move of the Decade!” I used to enjoy the intro to Adam West's tv show, but the tone of the show just wasn't how I saw Batman, even at that young age. To me he was a mysterious night operating do-gooder detective. Like our author, I hated Schumacher's incarnations, despite originally finding excuses to like Forever, that quickly faded upon repeat viewings. As I grew up I watched more and more movies, having been blown away at 13 by seeing Clockwork Orange. I didn’t fully get it at the time, and it wasn’t until college I could really appreciate it, but wow, I knew I’d seen something special! Then Reservoir Dogs, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Godfather, and so on. I'd pretty much watch anything I could get my hands on (of some sort of interest). I enjoy films and what they're able to do when done right. Now, I can appreciate all genres on their own merit... meaning a good Sandler comedy can kick-ass as much as a film like "There Will Be Blood". Doesn't mean I think "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" should be nominated for best picture. So, while you can have something that works well within its genre, it won't always go beyond its genre to deliver something really special. Enter Batman Begins. Now the Spider-man films, particularly part 2, attempted to layer loads of reality in with the fantastic, but frankly they were just too cheesy overall to be taken seriously. But Spider-man isn't what we're talking about; we're talking about Batman! Begins gave us the origin of the man, and real world scenario where we can believe that a man can put on a mask and fight crime... and yet, it sucked. It didn't do it for me. I fought myself and my instincts while I watched it repeatedly with different groups of friends, maybe I can see something another way... but nope. I wasn't delusional, the film and what it was going for, just wasn't working. The flaws and faults are in its construction. This is exactly what I wanted to see, and yet it felt so bland and void of any emotion and life, that's aside from the plot wholes. You see, in a film that wants to be taken so seriously, plot is everything. Plot devices, convenient dialogue, that stuff stands out like a sore thumb. When every character in every scene talks about fear and being afraid in a film that deals with Bruce getting over his fears of bats, and making the criminals of Gotham afraid, and fighting a villain named the Scarecrow... you get the picture. Its a burden, and while stuff like that doesn't make Begins a bad film, it keeps it from being a great film. In my opinion, the film was weak and never really excites. Most friends agreed without my having to point a thing out. Those that followed the hype and the crowds were easily distracted by its tone to believe "this is something special". To make a long story short, Dark Knight was more of the same. While I agree with the masses, Ledger was truly incredible; I can't say I believed in most of what was going on. This film is based in reality? Sure, if you say so... I'm not talking about suspending disbelief. Obviously Batman is still an unbelievable proposition no matter how serious you handle him, but I am willing to believe in it. Much like Titanic, bad dialogue and plot devices go a long way in taking one out of a movie. The most basic points, off the top of my head that I can bring up about TDK are the cell phone machine to track Joker, and the ferry scene. To think that the world’s greatest detective, and those on his side, couldn't find the joker? And did anyone, seriously, be honest, did you actually care for a second about the lives of the people on those boats? And the resolution to all that? Funny, indeed.

There are loads of problems with it, and honestly, it is disappointing. It's got all the right elements, and they get spoiled. I wanted to love it, but can't. If I was alone, I'd shut up, but being in the minority, well it's worth mentioning. Batman is a great character, and one I believe in... he can do better than these films.
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2:44PM on 07/24/2008
This is a very good article and I'd love to buy this guy a drink. For me, Michael Mann's Heat is the definitive action movie genre. Likewise, The Dark Knight is THE definitive superhero movie.
This is a very good article and I'd love to buy this guy a drink. For me, Michael Mann's Heat is the definitive action movie genre. Likewise, The Dark Knight is THE definitive superhero movie.
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2:44PM on 07/24/2008

Funny

I read a comment about the next vilain, if its turn to be catwoman. It goes like this:
"I think Christian Bale wants to stay way from any roles where he has to beat up on women."

kkkkkkk, so funny.

But, talking serious here, i think the review was awesome and i agree with you in every way. TDK is fantastic..
I read a comment about the next vilain, if its turn to be catwoman. It goes like this:
"I think Christian Bale wants to stay way from any roles where he has to beat up on women."

kkkkkkk, so funny.

But, talking serious here, i think the review was awesome and i agree with you in every way. TDK is fantastic..
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2:24PM on 07/24/2008
Someone give Andre a beer, this man deserves a cold beer!
Someone give Andre a beer, this man deserves a cold beer!
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2:20PM on 07/24/2008

I love this story...

Great work Andre! Well written and a whole lot of fun to read:)
Great work Andre! Well written and a whole lot of fun to read:)
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2:04PM on 07/24/2008
I don't think this could have been written any better...
I don't think this could have been written any better...
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1:53PM on 07/24/2008

True Dat

I agree, TDK does top Burton's films, I'm a little worried now that they might not be able to top TDK with a sequel, TDK was almost perfect, I say almost because like Andre I also thought Bale was perfect as Bruce Wayne but a little over the top as Batman, I really hate the voice change he does when he's Batman, but still this film was awsome and if they are planning to continue this franchise with another film, then they better start pickingn out some amazing actors to portray any of the
I agree, TDK does top Burton's films, I'm a little worried now that they might not be able to top TDK with a sequel, TDK was almost perfect, I say almost because like Andre I also thought Bale was perfect as Bruce Wayne but a little over the top as Batman, I really hate the voice change he does when he's Batman, but still this film was awsome and if they are planning to continue this franchise with another film, then they better start pickingn out some amazing actors to portray any of the villans they have planned for the sequel because right now I really don't think any actor can beat Heath's performance as the Joker.
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