Batman & Robin (1997): Bad Puns, Writing, Acting and an all Around Disaster

Batman and Robin

    “Batman & Robin” is the worst movie I have ever watched. Rarely have I ever seen something that had no redeemable aspects to it, as even Michael Bay films have explosions and action when you can actually see the action happening. This…the actors, script, score and characters are all awful. I usually try to look for something positive to say about a film as some bad things have some redeemable traits in the end, this was film where I couldn’t find any. I’m honestly surprised this film didn’t kill more film careers…at the very least Schumacher should have realized that he can’t direct. This film is a travesty.

    The film was directed by Joel Schumacher, written by Akiva Goldsman and produced by Peter MacGregor-Scott.

    The story, if it can be called that…involves Batman (George Clooney) and Robin (Chris O’Donnell) working to stop Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and the new villain Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) from destroying Gotham. Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) arrives in town as well when Alfred falls ill (Michael Gough).

  There is nothing good to say about this film so I won’t even bother listing Pros and Okays, this film sucks all the way through.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack doesn’t know if it wants to be Burton or Adam West’s “Batman” score. It’s chaotic and unfocused and doesn’t do anything to present our characters and scenes and just blends together in a score of awfulness. Elliot Goldenthal did a horrible job.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is awful…we get close ups of people’s faces and other times we have shots that are just bland and boring. There is no character in any of the scenes and it brings the entire thing down further.

The Writing – Akiva Goldman is an awful writer…maybe this film was just a fluke, but it is a pretty horrendous fluke. None of the characters have clear motivation, the drama is contrived ranging from love venom to contrived family drama…nothing works, it sucks.

The Characters – Related to the writing, the characters are nothing like their comic counterparts…and I would have settled for corny Adam West versions of these characters as that could have worked if that was the story we were given. Instead our characters kill and are supposed to be intense and cool, and just come off looking silly…from the designs of the suits, to the dialogue…nothing works about them.

Bane – Bane is a skinny prisoner who is pumped full of venom to become a big guy. He can just repeat words and is just muscle. There is nothing good about this character and he is easily defeated by the tube on the back of his head getting pulled out. What a waste of a fascinating character from the comics. This one is just muscle and could have been replaced by any goon.

Alfred – Alfred is dying, and I wish I cared but we never see our characters deal with him dying. He looks pained at times but Schumacher can’t give it the weight it deserves so it just becomes a footnote in the script as Alfred is relegated to just another body at Wayne Manor. Also they save him thanks to Mr. Freeze so what drama was there in dealing with mortality just goes away. Poor Michael Gough for being in this…

Barbara Wilson / Batgirl – Batgirl like Robin is presented as a rebel and badass but just comes off as stupid. The way she speaks makes her sound like an airhead and she doesn’t really help her case when random goons she is racing trick her and Robin leading to them almost getting killed. Making her Alfred’ niece was just contrived too. We learn nothing about this character and she contributes nothing to the picture.

Dick Grayson / Robin – Chris O’Donnell, you are an awful Robin. Your character was annoying in “Batman Forever” and here you are even worse. In this his punk tendencies and clashing with Batman are played up as he “loves” Poison Ivy. Seriously, this guy a joke of a character. Everything he does nearly leads to him getting killed and he just ends up getting captured or hurt. Screw this character.

Bruce Wayne / Batman – George Clooney is the worst Batman. His dialogue feels stilted and unnatural, he doesn’t feel disconnected like Bruce Wayne should and the only defining trait he has is that he is protective of Robin. His suit is also awful too as it has nipples and a cod piece. Clooney looks the part but he can’t act it at all, and he’s a great actor and this crappy script ruined him too.

Dr. Pamela Isley / Poison Ivy – Uma Thurman is a good actress but she is awful in this. Her character is a walking sex object and she has no character but a strange crush on Mr. Freeze and wanting to kill humanity. Her motivations are never fully explored and she’s all the worst aspects of what Hollywood does to their female villains. She only fights using sex and she is the only villain who gets punished in the end. Seriously, this script and this presentation of her character are awful. Poison Ivy is an interesting character (like Bane) but this script clearly didn’t know how to write her at all.

Mr. Freeze – Arnold makes bad puns, he loves his wife who is frozen but it’s unbelievable because his performance feels completely phoned in. It doesn’t help that he changes immediate at the end after learning about Poison Ivy’s betrayal…the tragedy of Mr. Freeze is one of the best stories to come out of animation and the comics but all of that is turned to crap as Mr. Feeze is just a gigantic buffoon whose plans change on a whim and is easily manipulated by clearly untrustworthy people (Poison Ivy). Also his costume looks awful and his goons fight with hockey sticks…really. Screw this movie for ruining another great character who may never see good live action film because of the film.

The Jokes – This film has so many bad puns, and they are one liners. It is just awful as there is no charm to any of it and all the puns feel forced. I am huge fan of puns as anyone who knows me can attest, but it is possible to do them wrong and this movie is a shining example.

The Ending – The power of friendship beats the baddies and Freeze implies he’s going to torture or do worse to Poison Ivy, you know a kids movie.

     How could so many things go wrong? Shumacher’s “Batman Forever” was at least mediocre, this doesn’t even strive for that. I can see why Tim Burton didn’t want to produce this crap and feel bad for everyone connected to this film. The acting, writing, filming and soundtrack are all just awful and there is nothing redeemable in this. The film even tries to kill Alfred but we care so little about the characters around him it doesn’t matter. Even with that, they just bring him back to life. This is a movie that could have done camp well, instead it didn’t know what it wanted to be and became an atrocity of a picture. This is a film that is only worth watching to take down as all the things not to do in film making are on display here. Seriously, Schumacher showed just how bad of a director he could be in this and Akiva Goldsman’s script is just a travesty. Let this film be a cautionary tale that it doesn’t matter how great your characters are in the comics (all the characters in this film) they can still be ruined on screen if their stories are put into the wrong hands.

Final Score: 0 / 10. Worst film I’ve ever watched.

Batman Forever (1995): A Bit Too Campy, A Cluttered Cast and Moments of Good

Batman Forever

   “Batman Forever” is okay. At moments it is fun and looks as if it could be more (whether fully embracing the dark or fully embracing the camp) but since it can’t really decide on what it wants to be it never becomes better than okay and never reaches good. One thing this film showed as well is doing Robin in a Batman Film is hard. Batman has always been the more interesting character and it is a difficult thing to write a good sidekick, especially when you only have a running time of 2 hours. So without further ado, here is the review.

     The film was directed by Joel Shumacher and written by Lee and Janet Scott Bachler along with Akiva Goldsman and was produced by Tim Burton and Peter MacGregor-Scott.

     The story involves the escape of Two-Face (Tommy Lee-Jones) from Arkham, the rise of the Riddler (Jim Carrey) and what Batman (Val Kilmer) and Robin (Chris O’Donnell) who is made an orphan by Two-Face do to stop them.

The Pros: The Color Contrasts – I like the use of color in this film. At times it feels like it was filmed in a comic book even though the cinematography isn’t great. The use of color worked despite the cinematography.

Two-Faces’s Goons – Black and Red masks…these guys look awesome and actually manage to be a threat sometimes, not many Rogues Goons can say that in any Batman film.

Alfred – Michael Gough owns this role and is great being the father figure to DIck Grayson and Bruce Wayne. I can see why they kept him around for so long. He really inhabits this role really well.

Bruce Wayne / Batman – Val Kilmer is a pro, and was a safe choice for Batman. He was a major action star at the time so choosing him to feel this role made sense. He bring humanity to the character even if doesn’t really elevate Bruce Wayne or Batman to great the way future and past actors did.

The Message – Batman heals beyond his trauma and chooses to be Batman because he wants to be, not because he has to be. This is really awesome and could have been presented a lot better.

Okay: Dr. Chase – I like the idea of the character (her being a Doctor and trying to help Bruce Wayne) but her execution ends up being nothing more than a love interest to be saved, even though she’s presented as being able to take care of herself. Nicole Kidman was a waste of talent.

Edward Nygma / The Riddler – Jim Carrey works at times when he isn’t over the top, but other times he is just too campy…and I didn’t get the character. He came off as trying to hard but he had moments of brilliance inbetween the ham, which is why I’m not putting him down as a con. He was alright but not good.

Harvey Dent / Two-Face – We never get to know what lead to Two-Face snapping beyond the acid on the face and I never believed in his friendship with Bruce Wayne (they seem to imply it existed but we never see Harvey recognize Bruce at all). This was a missed opportunity and could have made this character good. Instead he is okay. He like the Riddler could have been so much more, just like this film.

Cinematography – The color contrasts are great but their are no unique shots in this. Nothing stood out and nothing really unique was presented. It was safe, so just ended up being mediocre.

The Cons: Dick Grayson / Robin – This Robin is a punk and there is nothing likable about him. He steals from the person who took him and doesn’t respect the wishes of the person who is caring for him and steals his stuff. This was the first film where Robin didn’t work. At least in the Adam West show he worked as the Wonder Boy on some strange level.

The Riddler Plot – Stealing everyone’s intelligence through television…it feels like it is trying to be smart but just comes off as stupid.

To Kill – Batman seems to not want Robin to get revenge against Two-Face but ends up killing him anyway…sure Batman, what were you trying to teach Robin exactly? That you get the kill?

The Soundtrack – Elliot Goldenthal is awful. This film feels half assed and stolen from the old Adam West show while at the same time trying to be Burton and failing at both. Seriously, I don’t want to hear anymore of this music.

The Writing – This script has some of the most terrible and wooden dialogue in any comic book film. Fingers on a chalkboard would be an apt comparison.

Tone – This is a film that doesn’t know if it wasn’t to be  camp and fun or dark…at times we have old 60’s sound affects, which the score doesn’t help, yet we have Two-Face or Riddler murdering someone in the next scene. What exactly did the movie want the audience to feel?

   This film didn’t have many pros because so much of it was safe. I think this was largely a reaction to the sexuality and maturity in the past Burton films so the studio wanted to play it safe, which is probably why Shumacher was chosen, as he’s never been a good director. This also explains the need for 3 writers as it gives a written by committee feel to the film. This is a film that can’t find it’s soul or tone and suffers for it. It isn’t a terrible film, but mediocre is not exactly an endorsement. This is a film that could have been so much more given how great of villains Two-Face and the Riddler are and the possibilities in any Dick Grayon story.

Final Score: 7.2 / 10

Batman (1966): Fun Camp That Doesn’t Quite Work

Batman (1966)

     An important thing to remember in regards to “Batman” is he hasn’t always been the grim Dark Knight. For much of his history he’s actually been the one popularized by the live action show that brought about this movie where he was pretty much a mortal good guy with a side kick who used gadgets to solve issues and had a colorful collection of rogues. I’m going to state up front, I have a bias against the camp of this era. I grew up on Burton’s 1989 “Batman” and “Batman: The Animated Series” that came out of it, which in turn introduced me to “The Dark Knight Returns,” “The Long Halloween” and “The Killing Joke” all of which are some of my favorite Batman stories. I’ve always been a fan of noir and the early camp Batman had none of that noir feel to it.

     Given my bias, I am going to judge this film on it’s own merits though, even if due to the nature of my bias I did not enjoy it as much as the Burton or Nolan films, this is a film that can still compete against “Batman and Robin” and “Batman Forever.”

    “Batman” was directed by Leslie H. Martinson and written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. and produced by William Dozier.

The Pros: Bat and Penguin Gadgets – This is one bit of comedy that I actually enjoyed. Penguin has Rocket Umbrellas that the Rogues fly on, Batman has Bat Repellent and the list goes on. The list of gadgets was rather inventive and I like how it was this era of comics that inspired the Monarch and the gadgets in “The Venture Bros.”

The Rogues – The Rogues all have distinct personalities and work sort of…The Penguin and Catwoman are the only competent ones though. The Riddler and Joker could have been replaced by Pirate thugs and the story wouldn’t have changed at all.

Catwoman – Lee Meriwether is great as Catwoman as she is the one who actually manages to infiltrate and hurt Batman as a secret identity she takes is one Batman falls in love with and when he learns they are the same person it breaks his heart, which is sadly the only real damage anyone faces in this film. So she gets point for that. She clearly had fun in this role too.

The Penguin – The Penguin is all about the gadgets and they are fun! He also manages to infiltrate the Batcave too. Seriously, the Joker and the Riddler weren’t needed at all. The Penguin on his own manages to be the greatest threat of the bunch in regards to the capture of the device and turning the world leaders into dust (don’t worry, they are turned back). Burgess Meredith is fantastic.

Batman – Adam West makes a great Batman. He has charm and is easily the best part of this film besides Catwoman and the Penguin. Seeing him as Bruce Wayne is fun too as he goes through convoluted means to keep his identity secret.

Okay: Camp – The camp doesn’t always work. When it does (Penguin’s vehicles, Batman’s devices, etc.) When it doesn’t it is bad…from the Riddler ruining plans to our heroes being really really stupid.

Joker – The Joker has a great design but he basically functions as a minion. There is nothing he did in this film that couldn’t have been done by one of the pirate minions. He is a useless character in this.

Riddler – Like the Joker he has a great design but he spends most of the film sabotaging the Villains plans because of his need for riddles, making him also a useless figure in regards to the story. He isn’t a threat or is no more a threat than Penguin’s hired muscle.

The Humor – The humor is hit and miss…I liked all the Bat devices and Penguin devices as well as the Penguin’s submarine, but besides that it felt too forced. If it had been a funnier film I would have rated it higher.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack is standard camp and isn’t anything I’d listen to again.

The Cons: The Cinematography – The filming looks cheap. This clearly looks like a made for television movie and there isn’t anything unique about it.

Authority Figures Who are Allies – Comissioner Gordon, the President and others appear in this but don’t really do anything but give Batman and Robin their missions. There is nothing unique about any of them, making them cons. Gordon in Burton’s movies had the same problem.

Robin – The wonder kid is just annoying. He is useful at least but he comes off like Wesley Crusher in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” He is solving all of Batman’s issues and solving the Riddles when that should be Batman. Robin isn’t needed in this at all.

Don’t Drink and PSAs – I get kids watched this show but this was really annoying. It felt like the IHOP in “Man of Steel.” It wasn’t needed and had no place in the film.

Stupidity of our Heroes – Batman and Robin have to have every clue given to them, usually by the Riddler. Our heroes are not really competent at all, but everyone around them isn’t either so I guess it balances out?

  For what it is worth I did enjoy this film at times, even if at other times I found myself bored or the humor not quite working. Part of the issue was Batman and Robin had to have the answers handed to them in very obvious riddles by the Riddler most of the time and it was impossible to take any threats they made seriously since they took at 5 minutes to do a PSA about not drinking and remembering to stay in school. If this was a satire it would have worked a lot better, but because it was played straight it was brought down some. This was still fun camp and I’d honestly say it is worth checking out. This was Batman’s history for a long time and Adam West manages to be a very charming and corny Batman.

Final Score: 7 / 10

“Batman” in Film – Upcoming Reviews

Batman Symbol

     After the “Disney Marvel Franchise Adventure” I figured it was time to return back to DC and to visit the area of DC Comics where the greatest amount of live action films have been good…so Batman, which seems to be the only thing that DC live action can seem to get right some of the time versus their other heroes which have either not been tackled beyond television (Flash, Green Arrow) or have even more bad films to their name (Green Lantern, Superman). Batman is the only one has enough live action films to really show a range in quality that can give a full illustration of what keeps bringing us back to this amazing character.

     I’ll be staring with the Adam West “Batman” from 1966, going through Burton’s “Batman” and “Batman Returns,” as well as doing “Batman Forever” and “Batman and Robin” before I get to Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy.” I’ve already reviewed “Batman v. Superman” but will include it when I get to rating the different takes on Batman and rating all of the Batman films as a whole from Worst to Best.

    This is going to be quite an adventure and also a change of pace, which should be good. Batman is one of my favorite parts of the DC Universe and I can’t wait to see the Affleck’s solo flick if it comes together. This is a character who speaks to human vulnerability and strength better than nearly any hero in comics, which is why there has been so many films made about him.

   Many of these films are my favorite and some are some of the worst to come out of cinema. Suffice to say this is going to be a fun reviewing adventure and I look forward to hearing your own thoughts on the films that are reviewed and the final ratings at the end.

Top 10 Batman: The Animated Series Episodes (Season 1)

1992-BatmanTheAnimatedSeries-keyart

“Batman: The Animated Series,” is one of my favorite shows and after rewatching Season 1 I can once see why. It has fully fleshed out characters, villains with dimensions and adds so much to the mythos. I’ll be taking a break from Batman for a while but plan on returning to Batman and the DC Animated Universe.

In this post I’ll be going into my top 10, as well as giving a link to each one and the reason why they are where they are. Each was chosen because it was the perfect episode compared to the others. I am going to give an honorary mention to some more of my favorites though: “Harley and Ivy,” “Heart of Steel,” “Shadow of the Bat,” “Curse of the Grey Ghost,” “Day of the Samurai,” “His Silicon Soul,” and “Joker’s Wild.” All of these are worth checking out and worth more than one viewing.

Here are the Top 10:

What is Reality

10th) What is Reality?

“What is Reality?” is not higher on the list because it doesn’t really add more to any of the characters. It is on the list though because it shows the Riddler at his height (wiping all information of his existence away and stealing money and stock via hacking) and it takes Robin and Batman working together and at their best to stop him and save Commissioner Gordon. The Riddler is one of my favorite of Batman’s Rogues and this one captures why that is perfectly.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/batman-the-animated-series-season-1-episode-48-what-is-reality-the-riddlers-game/

Wayne_and_Batman_fight

9th) Perchance to Dream

“Perchance to Dream,” is the best Mad Hatter episode since he gives Batman a world where Bruce Wayne could function in. Someone else is Batman, his parents are alive and he has a normal life. This is a common trope especially in the DC Animated Universe which is why it isn’t higher on the list, but what sets this one apart is how in the world created a Batman does exist and shows just how much Bruce Wayne needs Batman as an identity to function.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/batman-the-animated-series-season-1-episode-30-trapped-in-a-dream/

Robin's Reckoning

8th) Robin’s Reckoning

“Robin’s Reckoning,” sold me on the Batman and Robin possible romance in this series. The chemistry and honesty they have with each other is greater than any of the partners they get in this universe and it shows their bond with Batman trying to protect Robin from doing something he’ll regret by killing his parents killer. The killer Tony Zucco is the weakest part of this episode, which is why it isn’t higher on the list.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/batman-the-animated-series-season-1-episodes-32-33-robins-reckoning-how-dick-grayson-became-robin/

Riddler-5

7th) If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?

This is the episode that introduces us to the Riddler and what a great episode it is! It incorporates mythology with the Riddler as the sphinx and Batman and Robin having to save the Riddler’s corrupt boss in a giant maze. This one is great in regards to their team work and shows that Robin is a gamer. The Riddler is also one of the more sympathetic rogues and this is why. He is cheated out of the game he created and fired by his corrupt boss. He could have been an anti-hero if he hadn’t violent too…showing the promise to this version of the Riddler. My hope is that when he returns to the big screen that inspiration will be taken from this Riddler after the horrible execution and choice that was the Jim Carrey Riddler.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/batman-the-animated-series-season-1-episode-40-if-youre-so-smart-why-arent-you-rich-the-arrival-of-the-riddler/

Joker's Favor

6th) Joker’s Favor

“Joker’s Favor,” is the episode that shows just how petty and cruel the Joker can be. Charlie is a guy having a bad day, he yells at a car that happens to have the Joker in it and he is blackmailed for the rest of his life. The Joker and Harley later use him to almost wipe out the Police Force. Harley Quinn is also the reason this episode is so perfect, given the plan would have have succeeded without her and Charlie. The ending is perfect too and we’re left wondering if Charlie snapped because of everything the Joker put him through…showing us just how deadly the Joker can be to total strangers.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/batman-the-animated-series-season-1-episode-22-jokers-favor-the-deal-with-the-devil/

two_face_piece

5th) Two-Face

“Two-Face,” is one of the greatest tragedies of this series because in the beginning he was a well intentioned District Attorney who we see as a flawed but good person through his friendship with Bruce Wayne. It makes Rupert Thorne’s blackmail of him all the more powerful since he uses Harvey’s past and vulnerabilities against him, which in turn creates a monster who becomes one of the best of Batman’s Rogues. I always had hope for this Two-Face, it was a shame that the hope was forsaken as Harvey was lost and Two-Face became dominant. Also, my favorite Two-Face is the one from this series.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/batman-the-animated-series-season-1-episodes-10-and-11-two-face-the-tragedy-of-harvey-dent/

Dreams in Darkness

4th) Dreams in Darkness

“Dreams in Darkness,” asks the question of does Batman belong in Arkham Asylum? It is a haunting episode because Batman is someone who is like the crooks he brings in. He has unresolved issues that lead him to dress up like a bat to take out criminals. This is the question dealt with as he tries to convince the doctors that Scarecrow has escaped and is planning to destroy Gotham. This is by far the best of the Scarecrow episodes and well worth a watch due to how it analyzes Batman, shows Scarecrow at his height and how the workers of Gotham are just normal well intentioned doctors.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/batman-the-animated-series-season-1-episode-28-dreams-in-darkness-batman-in-arkham-asylum/

Heart of Ice

3rd) Heart of Ice

“Heart of Ice,” is one of the most tragic tales of “Batman: The Animated Series,” and by far the best of them. We see a scientist trying to save his wife with experimental technology destroyed by his boss and in the process losing all ability to physically feel. There is a reason this episode has won awards before. It is just that good and Mr. Freeze is one of the more complex rogues who I was always rooting for to get redemption.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/batman-the-animated-series-season-1-episode-14-heart-of-ice-the-tragedy-of-victor-fries/

The_Man_Who_Killed_Batman-Title_Card

2nd) The Man Who Killed Batman

“The Man Who Killed Batman,” is an episode that explores what Gotham would be like without Batman. It would be first place if it had shown how more of the rogues reacted besides the Joker and how Commissioner Gordon reacted, but it does what it needs to. Sydney the ambitious but stupid and funny thug is believed to have killed Batman and from there he faces the consequences of it as Thorne thinks he is a threat, Joker hates him for stealing his kill and in the end the prison admires him. It is a fun and powerful episode.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/batman-the-animated-series-season-1-episode-51-the-man-who-killed-batman-a-world-without-batman/

Almost Got Im

1st) Almost Got ‘Im

Told in the style of “The Canterbury Tales,” the villains Two-Face, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Joker and Killer Croc recount their exploits on how they almost killed Batman. It is fun and you see why Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy and the Joker are the strongest of the popular rogues. They dynamic between them all of jealousy, animosity and friendship is fantastic since it was created by Batman bringing them down. There are a few twists and some great jokes and fantastic stories making “Almost Got ‘Im” the best of the “Batman: The Animated Series,” episodes of season 1!

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/batman-the-animated-series-season-1-episode-46-almost-got-im-a-meeting-of-the-rogues-or-so-close-to-victory/

Next I will be reviewing some animated shows, but someday I will be returning to review Season 2 (and best of Season 2) and the rest of the DC Animated Universe. Bruce Timm helped create something great that stands strong to this day.

 

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, 60, 61 – The Demon’s Quest – The Arrival of Ra’s al Ghul

Demons_Quest_Title

 

“The Demon’s Quest,” is a strange two parter to review. I say this because there are some interesting ideas it poses but also a lot of missed opportunities for both the heroes and the villains.

The premise is that Robin has been kidnapped (as well as Talia) so Ra’s goes to the Batcave to enlist Batman to rescue them. Over the course of the story we come to know this as a plot for Ra’s to make Batman his heir. The story unfolds around this and later Ra’s final plan in the second part.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

Pros: The Tests – The tests Ra’s has Batman do are actually kind of cool. From fighting a Panther in a fight, to discovering where a person is based off a single bit of data. Seeing Batman solve these while sticking to his code is actually quite awesome.

Ra’s al Ghul – This isn’t my favorite Ra’s. That Ra’s is stolen the Ra’s al Ghul of the Nolanverse since even when he loses he wins…his destruction of Gotham lead to Joker and Bane who destroyed Gotham in their own ways…and he still causes fear in Bruce Wayne. This Ra’s Al Ghul is just a giant eco-terrorist who may have grand schemes…but never wins. Poison Ivy at least wins some of her battles. The same cannot be said of Ra’. Plus he is overlooking a completely good heir in his daughter Talia, the only reason she isn’t his heir is because she isn’t a man. Basically sexism cheats him of carrying on his own legacy through another.

Batman – Batman is great in this episode. He protects those who are trying to kill him and manages to stop Ra’s by destroying the satellite when he doesn’t rise to Ra’s challenge for a one on one fight to the death. He even tries to save Ra’s after everything and clearly has feeling still for Talia.

Talia al Ghul – I wish she’d call out her father more. She is against his means but we never see that. She is just a pawn except when it comes to protecting Batman. I’m still putting her as a pro because she is a compelling character.

Okay: Ubu – Is a great dragon for Ra’s al Ghul (he nearly wins all his fights and is a challenge). I do wish Talia had played this role though, it would have added more conflict and making her turn against her Father’s plans more explicit and actually happen beyond affection for Batman.

Robin – Appears in this episode as someone to save and not much else. He isn’t really a pro or a con.

Cons: Orientalism – This term applies to this episode greatly. From most of Ra’s men looking Arabic and none of them being good (since calling Talia “good” would be a stretch), their is this fear of the east. This is represented best by Ubu who is constantly calling Batman infidel and doing stupid Machismo actions just so that Ra’s can have his ego stroked. The one counter to this is The Society of Shadows is International…it is just at the end that most of the men are Arabic.

I would recommend this episode even barring this major con. Just keep it mind while watching it. Ra’s is not as strong as he could be…he never wins the way other of Batman’s rogues do…and Talia does need to be fleshed out more. It is a fun adventure though along the lines of the good Indiana Jones movies and it is great to see Batman solve puzzles and take out a rather large elaborate plan.

Final score is 8 / 10.

 

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 57, 58 – Shadow of the Bat – The Beginning of Batgirl

Shadow_of_the_Bat-Title_Card

 

“Shadow of the Bat,” is a Two Parter that explores the beginning of Batgirl and her welcome into the Bat Family. The premise of the Episode is Commissioner Gordon gets framed after Rupert Thorne is taken down by a mysterious benefactor in relation to the rise of a new detective named Gil Mason. After Commissioner Gordon is framed Barbara takes on the mantle of the bat to defend him to the public and find the perpetrator. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

Pros: Rupert Thorne – He is only in the first 10 minutes of the episode before he is a plot device for the main baddie but he reeks havoc before he is caught. You see him fight every step of the way before finally being brought in.

Commissioner Gordon – Is great as the father to Barbara and the man who comes to sympathize with the plight of criminals after being in prison. He makes a comment about changing the food they’ll receive after this time in there.

Harvey Bullock – Bullock is great as the unswerving friend who believes in the Commissioner. You see him keep faith even after Gordon is being framed before his eyes.

Gil Mason – Is a sociopathic sicko. He is ambitious and will work with anyone to get the power he desires. Commissioner Gordon makes a comment on how the real baddie is one he has more respect for because he is at least honest about what he has become.

Two-Face – Two-Face ascended is the story for most of this episode…and I wish he’d gotten away. He traps Batman, Batgirl and Robin in the subway and even has a clue on who Batman is after while in disguise Batman gives himself away when he warns Robin. He takes out the man who scarred him in the first place (Rupert Thorne) and the cops who had caused him so much pain. He almost wins it all this episode. Two-Face has won and Harvey Dent is dead at this point in the story.

Robin – I almost put him in the okay or con area but decided against it due to him coming to respect Batgirl in the end. He is the Boy Wonder for much of the episode and it is annoying…but he does come through and manages to help save Batman and treat Batgirl like part of the team and family.

Batman – Comes around to treating Batgirl as an equal much sooner in regards to when he’s met her and when she becomes part of the team. He does a good job figuring everything out and he actually gets caught and almost discovered showing that he does in fact make mistakes in the field.

Batgirl – This is Batgirl’s episode and it is a good introduction. We see how her gymnastics are used when she is fighting crime and the process of her learning how to be a vigilante is great…as well as all the effort put in to saving Batman, Robin and her father.

Okay: The Music – The music is forgettable, which is a shame. Batgirl could have received a great theme this episode.

Two-Face Caught – He should have escaped. It would have made the threat of him complete and completed his revenge. Right now no one controls the gangs leaving a power vacuum that is never addressed.

Because of the power vacuum with the gang, the capture of Two-Face can’t give this episode full points. It is still a favorite and one I would recommend though.

Final score is 9 / 10.

 

 

 

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 55 – The Mechanic – The Maker of the Batmobile and the Plan from “Batman Returns”

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“The Mechanic,” is an episode that could have and would have been terrible if not for the character moments that drive it. The basic premise is the Penguin’s plan from “Batman Returns,” he takes control of the Batmobile and uses it to harass the city with Batman and Robin still in it and after tries to kill them. Suffice to say it is elevated beyond copying someone else’s idea.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

Earl Cooper – Earl is the mechanic and is an awesome guy. He designed the Batmobile and stood up to the Motor Corporation he worked for when they decided to release unsafe sports cars to the public. It was for this reason Batman picked him and made him his personal mechanic. His design for the Batmobile is fantastic and he is a good father to his daughter. He even manages to build in a safe for Batman and Robin to escape the Batmobile and takes out the Penguin thug who takes him hostage. He makes this episode great.

Batman – From taking in Earl as his mechanic to outsmarting the Penguin and understanding Earl’s hints about the sabotage…Batman is able to get control of the situation. It is a good episode for him thinking under pressure.

Penguin – The Penguin is good in that he manages to take control of the Batmobile, it is just a shame that this is a retread of what he already did in “Batman Returns,” it does show how threatening he can be though. The problem is he is almost ripped wholescale from “Batman Returns,” from his maniacal laugh and having a giant Rubber Ducky Boat of Doom and living in the Sewers…it just felt out of character for how he was before. He was still good and interesting it was just inconsistent…

Okay: Robin – He is just kind of there. He doesn’t help or hinder…and really wasn’t needed in this episode at all.

Marva Cooper – Is also like Robin…except she does help her dad. The problem is she is the one needing rescuing for most of this episode once Penguin finds out where the Batmobile gets repaired.

This was a good but not great episode. Robin is unnecessary and the fact that it is a retread doesn’t help it’s case. Did the writers run out of ideas to use for Penguin? I liked his old look better when he was less carnival creature and more gentleman thief. I’m hoping later episodes won’t have this problem.

7.5 / 10.

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 49 – I Am The Night – Is Being Batman Worth the Cost?

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“I Am The Night,” is one of the more reflective Batman episodes that explores the cons of Batman and the guilt that Bruce Wayne lives with everyday. The story’s premise is that Batman is visiting Crime Alley where his parents are killed which leaves Commissioner Gordon in a setup against the Jazzman that leads to him getting mortally wounded…from here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

Pros: Bullock – Bullock is the voice against Batman. He blames Batman for not showing up (basically admitting the police force hasn’t advanced at all because of it’s dependence on the vigilanty) and that he plans to take Batman on for the injury of Gordon.

Barbara Gordon – Defends Batman and her father from the Jazzman. The set-up to become Batgirl continues.

Robin/Dick Grayson – Is there to remind Bruce Wayne of why he became Batman in the first place. Also is there for Barbara Gordon.

Commissioner Gordon – Explains to Batman how he admires him and would have liked to be him if he was younger. It is a touching scene. “You are already a hero.” Is what Batman tells him.

Batman/Bruce Wayne – Actually postulates some good questions. Why don’t I move on? Am I actually helping this city? Do I do any good in the end? (Paper had Penguin getting free). He brings up how Gotham has become a tourist attraction because of him and in a way that he has inspired some of the way the crazy is expressed in Gotham. In the end it is a “Yes,” because he recognizes the role he plays and how others depend on him (from the small time criminal who reforms after Batman saves him) to the Gordons and Robin.

The Music – Catches the reflectiveness of events since when the drama goes down it is on the anniversary of Bruce Wayne’s parents’ death.

Cons: The Jazzman – He is just a crook with a personal grudge. I’m surprised one of the bigger fish wasn’t used. Like the Joker to do a callback to the 1989 “Batman” movie.

This was a great episode that begins to explore the cons of vigilantism and also personal responsibility. It would have been better with a bigger rogue and more time to explore Batman’s morose but it still works and is a favorite. Definitely recommend this episode.

Final score is 9.75 / 10.

 

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 48 – What is Reality? – The Riddler’s Game

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“What is Reality?” is an all around great episode and one of my favorites. The premise begins with the return of the Riddler who is stealing money from all electronic sources and erasing all records of the existence of Edward Nygma. It comes to a head when he leaves virtual reality game that he traps Commissioner Gordon within and Batman and Robin have to rescue him.

Pros: Robin – Robin is great in this episode. Once again we see why he is Batman’s protege with him being the puzzle master who is able to help Batman through the games that the Riddler poses. It is implied together they would have beat the Riddler if the Riddler hadn’t locked him out of the game.

Commissioner Gordon – Gordon is fantastic in this one too and is the one who needs rescuing…which we haven’t seen for a while. This is the time we see him powerless before the public as the Riddler is taking everything without consequence. We also see his inquisitiveness get him into trouble when Riddler uses it to trap him in the game.

Batman – Batman’s deductive skills are on display here as he solves every riddle the Riddler poses and uses to defeat the game and remain in control of himself as well as find where the Riddler was controlling everyone from. He even manages to trick the Riddler to getting stuck in the game himself.

The Riddler – This episode shows what I hope we see of the Riddler when he appears once more on the big screen. In virtual reality the mind is the greatest thing and we see that here as he uses it to trap Batman and Gordon and keep Robin out of the game. He manages to wipe away all record of his existence as Edward Nygma too fully becoming the Riddler. This version is by far the greatest of all the Riddlers and the one I hope is used as inspiration when we see him again in the movies (using hacking to reek havoc and trapping the heroes in a virtual reality game). His defeat is sad (trapped in his own game in a coma) but we know he gets out of it at some point.

The music – Captures the mysteriousness of the Riddler. Also, I love the Riddler’s theme music.

Puns – The Riddler’s are largely world play and puns but never overused…and quite intelligent when said puns are enemies in the game used to try and kill you. Hats off to the Riddler.

I highly recommend this episode. The only thing that keeps it from being perfect is the Riddler not being able to escape like he did in his first appearance. Still a sold story though that I’m going to give full points too. It was a fun ride and showed why Riddler is one of the greatest rogues and what made this Riddler so memorable.

10 / 10.