Seeing Batman and being Bad
“Why on earth would anyone want to watch a film at midnight? It’s just a movie isn’t it?” my friend enquires. “It’s not just a movie. It’s a cinematic event. It means so much more,” I reply. “So what does it mean?” she asks. “Before the internet ruined everything, the only way you could experience movie magic was in the cinema. And there is no greater magician right now than Christopher Nolan”.
Back in 1989, I was eight years old and I remember seeing a promotional advert for a film on television where the atmosphere was dark and enigmatic. A dark figure loomed over the gothic skyline and drove a car like no other. It was special. Iconic. Majestic. That was the first time I saw Batman in the flesh and my life was never going to be the same again.
When I eventually saw the film on VHS a year or so later, I was hypnotised by the film’s cinematography, costumes and set design. For weeks after I could hear Jack Nicholson’s laugh in my dreams. It was haunting. I began to wonder many things in school, like if I saved up all my pocket money over the years – would I have enough to buy my own Batmobile by the time I could drive. The tall stature of a man with pointy ears and long cape left an impression in my mind – like it did for millions of other boys – and it had never really gone away. And all I could do was wonder what it would’ve been like to see him on the big screen.
When I was old enough to see the Joel Schumacher’s film – disappointment wasn’t even close to what I was feeling. I was hugely let down, the little boy in me was weeping, especially since I also missed out on Tim Burton’s second take on the cape crusader. It wasn’t until Batman Begins was released in 2005 that my faith was slowly restored and while it was a brilliant film – it wasn’t cinema. It wasn’t movie magic. Not until The Dark Knight came on screen did the world take batman seriously – Heath Ledger’s death and final performance notwithstanding.
Twenty-three years after I first saw that winged cape, Batman returns to our cinema screen and this time the world is watching. The internet has played a huge part in expanding the films interest. This is the type of PR money cannot buy as Mr Nolan has reached into the eight-year-old in all of us, plucking our interest sky high before his next Batman film has even been released. Confirming that The Dark Knight Rises will be his last movie, it’s unknown if future projects will be equally anticipated. Unlike other successful franchises like Harry Potter and the Twilight series – grown men (and women) will be attending its midnight openings (and very, very, very early morning openings) and I will be one of them come Friday 20th. The reason being is that we all know this will be a special movie and it’s unlikely we’ll experience this again in our lifetime.
I looked back at my friend and say, “I didn’t want my first experience of watching the film being spoiled by leaked footage and TDKR has, most importantly perhaps, made me want to suspend reality (for nearly three hours) and participate in something other films have rarely attempted to do… be a part of movie magic”.
In film news this week – director Spike Lee is putting the finishing touches to his latest production which happens to be a documentary on Michael Jackson’s Bad album – the fifth-bestselling album of all time. I was fed on 80s pop music when I was a child and no one made an impact on the music industry like Michael Jackson did. Hot off the success from Thriller, MJ would try to shed his charismatic charm and tuned up his image with overtly sexual themes and aggressive beats. Hits such as Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel and Man in the Mirror all stamped themselves in music history bestowing MJ with award after award. His military inspired outfits become fashion statements which still remains part of the industry today and not to mention it spawned, in my opinion, the greatest music video of all time – Smooth Criminal. In the list of the longest music videos ever made, MJ was king as he owned eight of the top 20 slots, four of which came from the Bad album. Lee stated that he found a “treasure chest” of footage which included home movies and behind-the-scenes clips that have never been seen before. He’s also conducted over 40 interviews from other musicians from Kanye West to Mariah Carey. The documentary is due to be released later this year to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the album when it will be reissued in September. After working on two of MJ’s music videos Lee says he’s, “more than just a huge fan of Michael Jackson and having the chance to actually know him and work with him, I deeply care about his legacy.”
If you haven’t noticed the San Diego Comic Con festival is now open. Initially starting off in the 1970s as a comic book convention, it has become the place to market and promote future releases to the fan boy market. The event began yesterday (12th July) and will continue until Sunday the 15th and Total Film released an article recently on the top fifteen stories they’d like to see – most excited items include footage from Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit – the prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Guillermo del Toro’s robot orgy/fudge fest Pacific Rim, Sam Raimi’s Wizard Of Oz and of course – Zack Snyder’s take on Superman in Man of Steel. Cult Hub will review them as and when they are released.
In The Guardian this week, their film blog talked about recent movie remakes and how it seemed to be taking the lion share of profit from the billion dollar industry. It was prompted by the release of The Amazing Spider-Man which came only five years after Sam Raimi signed off his original trilogy. The problem wasn’t so much another Spider flick (we can never really have enough of Spiderman) but another ‘origin’ story. And that seems to be a legitimate point. Do we constantly need new origin stories to remind the audience where a character comes from? Did Han Solo need a back story to make him the best loved character from the Star Wars universe? Can we not have characters that are already fully formed? With an internet savvy global audience, many could easily search the web to find a character’s history – especially ones from comic books as some even have multiple origin stories. It really is becoming a bore to sit through an hour of a film to see how a character got his powers or became the hero is was meant to be – why not just start the film that way and have flash backs to his or her past. Would that really harm the movie? By spending more than an hour on the back story you ultimately leave the audience waiting far too long for the action to take place – and that is never a good thing: testing the audience’s patience. Especially if there isn’t a big pay off in the end.
Next week, Cult Hub will be exploring the cinema of Christopher Nolan and his Batman films so be sure to stay tuned right here to get the official re-reviews of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight as well as our official review for The Dark Knight Rises. Excited? You should be. Especially since you can listen to the official soundtrack on the EMPIRE website and view a 13-min featurette below to keep those sugar levels high.
Written by Vaskar S. Kayastha