Hit Me With Your Best Shot: The Batman Anniversary Spectacular

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It’s Batman’s 75th Anniversary, and the fabulous Nathaniel Roger from The Film Experience is hosting a very special episode of Hit Me With Your Best Shot, which usually has me watching a movie and choosing what, to me, is the best single shot in it. This week, however, the participants are invited to watch as many Batman movies as they want. There are 9 theatrically released Batman movies in total, and I intended to watch all of them for this entry, alas, life got in the way, and I couldn’t get to the ones directed by Christopher Nolan… But hey! Six movies out of nine ain’t bad! Here are the shots:

Batman: The Movie (1966)
Directed by: Leslie H. Martinson
Director of Photography: Howard Schwartz
This was Batman’s first feature, and the first of two to be based on a television series. This one was, of course, based on the classic ’60s comedy series, which remains all of its ridiculous campiness when translated to the screen. The series’ comedy is better suited to shorter amounts of time, so a movie is not ideal, but I really appreciate its humor, and how unafraid it is of being silly. The movie is not great, but it’s pretty solid (especially in its first third). As for my best shot, well, I bet many people will choose something regarding the giant bomb or the shark repellent, and they would be right to do so. I, who always loved to see the villains team up when I watched the show as a kid, will go with this colorful shot of three wonderfully committed actors being afraid of a cat.

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Batman (1989)
Directed by: Tim Burton
Director of Photography: Roger Pratt
I hadn’t this movie in a long time (ten years maybe?). I must say I am not a big fan. Anyway, I had three big takeaways: 1. Tim Burton was a pretty clunky director back then (apart from his visual style, which was always there). When it came to directing action sequences, he was a disaster. 2. Jack Nicholson’s performance is my new definition of “phoning it in”. I never get why people like his Joker. 3. Michael Keaton is the best Batman. Like I said, I don’t have much use for the movie, but I do love this unusual profile shot of Batman detonating a smoke bomb.
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Batman Returns (1992)
Directed by: Tim Burton
Director of Photography: Stefan Czapsky
I wrote extensively about this movie not too long ago, so that’s the place to find my thoughts on it if you’re interested. Like all right-thinking people, my favorite part of Batman Returns is Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance as Catwoman. Now, I was concerned my pick for best shot here might be a little too obvious. I’m afraid it was, since I just saw Nathaniel posted it as his favorite shot in the movie. Anyway, there is no denying the playful brilliance of the shot, and how it is a perfect summary of what makes Pfeiffer’s performance so great. Now I’m just waiting to see how many of tonight’s participants choose it as their favorite shot of the movie.
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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Directed by: Eric Radomski, Bruce Timm
This the second Batman movie based on a television show. Batman: The Animated Series is regarded as one of the best animated television shows ever made, and it was a groundbreaking show. It also was an animated show made in the ’90s, so while it sported brilliant design and production values for television, the budget afforded for this movie isn’t nearly enough for a full-length feature. The filmmakers do the best they can, but the animation is more often than not, a little frustrating. But like I said, the animators did try, and there are some legitimately beautiful shots in the movie. Take for instance, the Edward Hopper-meets-German Expressionism influence in this shot:

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Batman Forever (1995)
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Director of Photography: Stephen Goldblatt
Oh, Batman Forever… I guess Schumacher wanted to move closer to the ’60s television series and further away from Burton’s expressionistic aesthetic. Long story short, he failed, and he made a crappy movie. But, hey, it was nominated for a Best Cinematography Oscar! The best part of the movie, and one that depends completely on what you think of the guy, is Jim Carrey’s performance as the Riddler. It’s a typically manic Jim Carrey role from the mid-nineties, but if you’re into that kind of thing, you’ll certainly enjoy the performance. He is the best fit for a movie that was trying, and failing, to be a live-action cartoon. And here, one of the most cartoonish of the film’s shots:

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Batman & Robin (1997)
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Director of Photography: Stephen Goldblatt
Now, some people might think I’m being ridiculous, but I actually prefer this movie to either Batman Forever or The Dark Knight Rises. Now, if you want to think I’m a lunatic, I would watch this again before I watch Batman (’89). Don’t get me wrong, this is a bad movie; the difference is that it is so over-the-top bad that can actually be enjoyed as campy fun. It is a folly of a studio trying to do what the kids wanted, and a free-reigned representation of the director’s id. The good thing is that the movie will let you know right away if you’re going to enjoy it. Case in point, we have’t even hit the three minute mark when we get this close-up of Batman’s toned butt.    
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One comment

  1. smilingldsgirl · March 8, 2016

    I just watched all of these films over the last few months. My thoughts-
    Batman 1966- charming and I agree the villains are silly fun. I like how everything is labeled.
    Batman- I didn’t like it. People talk about Michael Keaton but he’s hardly in the movie and Joker just shouts a lot.
    Batman Returns- Starts strong and Penguin/Catwoman are fun until it gets too fetishy for my taste. Almost no Batman in this film.
    Batman Forever- Jim Carrey is fun as Riddler but Tommy Lee Jones is awful. For a movie meant for children it earns its PG-13 rating with violence and sensuality.
    Batman and Robin- Some so bad its good appeal, a lot of erotica for a film to sell toys to kids, action is ridiculous, one liners groan inducing. Uma Thurman so bad.
    Mask of Phantasm- Love it. My favorite Batman movie. This one is actually about Batman. I love the animation and I love the relationship between Bruce and Andrea Beaumont. It’s a Batman movie actually about Batman!
    Batman Begins- Overlong but I like it because it is about Batman. I think the cinematography is good and I like that it embraces comicbook sensibilities a little bit more than other Nolan films (microwave emitter and all).
    Dark Knight- I’m not as high on this as everyone else but it is well done. Heath Ledger is great. I’m just not that into crime dramas and think the movie suffers when Joker is off screen. Plus, Harvey Dent’s transformation is so sudden
    Dark Knight Rises- I like the more hopeful tone and Anne Hathaway is great. Bane’s Marxist revolution and the focus on manipulating the masses is interesting. More focus on Batman than Dark Knight.
    In general I guess I’m just not that big of a Batman girl but we’ll see how Batman v Superman does. Maybe it can win me over.

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