Tuesday, 18 October 2016
REVIEW: BATMAN-RETURN OF THE CAPED CRUSADERS
The Camp Knight.
78 Minutes. Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, Jeff Bergman, William Salyers, Wally Wingnert, Steven Weber, Jim Ward, Thomas Lennon & Julie Newmar. Director: Rick Morales.
KAPOW! Holy half-century reboot, animated revolution Batman! The Bright Knight rises and returns again! Bruce Wayne has gone West...all the way back to the swinging sixties as Adam and his ward Burt pick up the red, flashing phone one more time. Now get ready to slide down the phonebooth like, quick-spin changing firemans pole to the Batcave because Adam West and Burt Ward look to run back to nostalgia...just like the camp they set and sent up with their cult sixties series. Sure when it comes to comic-book superheros breaking into the blockbuster show, despite 'The Dark Knight' trilogy Marvel rule the roost. If The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and Fox's X-Men weren't enough than this year Stan Lee's team in this age of 'Civil War' brought more of their cult characters to cinematic crossover, superstar success. From the Black Panther and an amazing Spider-Man, to Power Man; Luke Cage and The Punisher. Not to mention what we're about to see with Benedict Cumberbatch's 'Dr. Strange' fellow. Let alone what the Thanos gauntlet holds for the calenders 'Infinity War'. But just outside the yolk D.C. are cooking too...even if aside from what will happen with Superman and Wonder Woman in the Justice League they pretty much have all their eggs in one basket...a Bat Basket. But there's more than one way to make an egg. You can fry it, boil it, scramble it...or even hide a couple of Easter ones. And aside from Ben Affleck's Clark Kent glasses breaking Batman in this 'Dawn Of Justice' which was way better than those who criminally underrated it, there's plenty more wearing the cowl. And we're not just talking about Christian Bale, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and (thankfully) George Clooney when it comes to the Batman. But beyond that to the wide range of inspired and influential incarnations, more versatile and diversifying in it's icons than any other superhero. The Caped Crusader has built his own 'LEGO Movie' spin-off and in a gallery of costumed billionaires almost as Arkham vast as the Rogues, he even has the Bruce begins of the 'Gotham' villain series. But aswell as the asylum of video games let's not forget the true comic cartoons like the classic 'Batman-The Animated Series that have lead to many an inspired feature film off the cells. Including this years tribute to the best, most groundbreaking graphic novel in 'The Killing Joke' with 'Star Wars'' Luke Skywalker as the Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker himself. But after that adaptation didn't leave as many people laughing as the jesters hoped and with the dark backlash to the brooding 'Batman v Superman' movie it's time for something a little lighter.
And who better than 'Family Guy' Adam West to be the clean, cut Fresh Prince of midnight vigilante justice dressed in bat black? Remember kids, always use the pedestrian crossing and help an old lady across too if you get the chance...so long as it's okay by her. And what better way to bring West and Ward back from their iconic mid-twentieth century series than in animated form? Because even if Batman and Robin in real life look more like Commissioner Gordon and Detective Harvey Bullock these days...their voices haven't missed a beat. From the moment you see Adam and Burt's Bats and Boy Wonder in cariacture you can see just how animated they really are. They look right on the Batcard money, just like they never left home without it. And that's brought out by not just an A-team of amazing Asian and American animators (bringing the 60's back like the Stones or the Batmanga that recently rolled back out in black and white comics), but the colour their collective voices and their charisma and chemistry fill-in. Always painting outside the lines and never by the numbers. Pun perfect and banter batted out the park the dynamic duo have still got it like Magic and Kareem, Starskey and Hutch, John and Paul. Just like dancers who don't miss a step decades later this is a ball. Remember the Bat Touche?! These Knights aren't the only ones returning to this Batman after all these decades however. How about Julie Newmar's sultry and slick Selina Kyle? She still has the claws as Catwoman. Still purring. Still got the cream! She doesn't need some milk.
Sadly though not everyone makes it here . But to those dearly departed homage is paid, fondly and in full. Late, great legend Cesar Romero who is just as much a Joker as Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, new squad member Jared Leto, or the voice of Mark Hamill is honoured by Jeff Bergman's impressive impression. Whilst William Salyers and Wally Wingnert's respectful respective interpretations of the Penguin and the Riddler like 'Gotham's rise of Corey Michael-Smith and Robin Lord Taylor have iconic undertones, no question or sneering cackle. If that wasn't enough Steven Weber is worth more than pennies as Bat butler Alfred, whilst comic-booth legend Jim Ward returns as the Colonel Sanders looking Commissioner Gordon in this reunion. With a vocally unrecognisable funny-man 'I Love You Man' comedy movie scene-stealer Thomas Lennon with an Irish O'Malley accent by his by the book side. Fun Bat fact, Lennon treated Bale's Batman in 'The Dark Knight Rises'...geek out to that cult crossover cameo friends. And now thanks to this fun frolic with the Felonious Four you have a sequel to look forward to next year with fellow sixties T.V. show camped up king, Captain Kirk of 'Star Trek', William Shatner hamming it up as Two-Face. Now hows that for a coin toss Harvey? True popularity never dies like a cult. The original series may have only lasted two seasons and four years for its legacy, but it's legend has lived on for more than five decades. And all in all this fond Bat family affair from Rick Morales is a pure, irresistible joy of simple pleasure in a dark time on screen and off it. Light and lovable you have to poke your head out your window for this one again as the Caped Crusaders climb to the ceiling once again, all the way to a utility belt showdown, only missing some shark repellent. From a caves worth of Bats (some satirically brass knuckle darker), not wearing hockey pads to inescapable Bond like classic scenarios, like a death by T.V. dinner this Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis duo is out of this world Mars hot again. Save the microwave. And there's a tray full of made up jokes not just from the man in the purple suit to feed your fun for the whole nuclear families couch surfing appetite. And as for those fisticuff scenes as iconic as the original Batmobile. They pack a wallop in big, bright on-screen punching letters. This is good, clean, pop culture fun. What a crusade against age and caped conventions. Expect more cosplay from San Diego to D.C. Holy hating naysayers na, na, na, na, na, to you! BATMAN! The original and best. Sock it to 'em Mr. West! The world is yours again! TIM DAVID HARVEY.