Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Review of Batman: The Movie (1966)

Written by Lorenzo Semple Jr
Directed by Leslie H. Martinson

Commissioner Gordon: "Penguin, Joker, Riddler... and Catwoman, too! The sum of the angles of that rectangle is too monstrous to contemplate!"
Batman: "We've been given the plainest warning. They're working together to take over."

And long before the likes of Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher and even Christopher Nolan had the idea of villainous team ups in their respective Batman movies, back in 1966 and following the first season of the hugely successful and camp as tits TV show, this movie decided that four villains really was better than one and hey, they were right too.

The villains in question being Catwoman (Lee Merriweather briefly replacing Julie Newmar), the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith) and the Riddler (Frank Gorshin) as the four of them banded together in a hilariously OTT scheme involving a few world leaders, not to mention a subplot that probably pleased fans of a certain romantic pairing.

Having Catwoman pose as a Russian journalist named Miss Kitka and embark on a brief romance with Bruce Wayne where the two of them ended up being kidnapped halfway through the movie was an amusing enough subplot, given a bittersweet edge when Batman became aware of his paramour's true identity.

As a villainous pair, the foursome worked extremely well, though a part of me was surprised to actually see Penguin as the ringleader (though he was the more level headed at times) of the gang but I do think all four villains got the right amount of screen time and it's not like the series itself wasn't prone to having team ups either.

As for the Dynamic Duo, both Adam West and Burt Ward continue to be on fine and rather campy form as both Batman and Robin with the movie showing both of them at their best. They're a great team to watch and the fight scenes and sleuthing moments (like knowing when Penguin was in their midst) are brilliant to watch.

The actual plot itself isn't the best with the highlight containing a moment where Batman is literally running around with a bomb to dispose but there's so much fun within the movie itself between the cast and crew, it's hard not to see the enjoyable side of things.

- Originally a sequel was planned which could've introduced Batgirl earlier but was dropped due to low ratings for the main series.
- Never mind shark jumping, this movie went one better with actual shark wrestling at the start of the thing.
- The movie was originally intended to serve as a pilot for the TV series itself but that was later changed.
- Johann Martini's "Plaisir D'Amour" is used in the movie but not credited though.

As a movie, Batman certainly had a lot of wonderfully daft and campy moments that would later look almost tame compared to what Joel Schumacher would do with the franchise 31 years later but as a movie of it's time though, it's an unbridled joy, best utilising it's Dynamic Duo and fantastic foursome of villains to boot.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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