Archive for Tim Burton

My Top 11 Batman Films (Because a Top 10 just ain’t cool enough)

Posted in Batman: My Top 11 with tags , , , , , , on August 29, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

Well here it is my top 11 Batman films. Most people give a top 5, 10 or 20but here at Last Road Reviews we like to do things differently so you get a top 11.

This list will build up to my favorite Batman movie. Those who know me I’m sure already know my top 3.

11. Batman Year One

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10. Batman Forever

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9. Batman Returns

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8. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2

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7. Batman: The Movie

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6. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

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5. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1

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4. Batman

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3. Batman Begins

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2. The Dark Knight Rises

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1. The Dark Knight

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Batman Returns (1992) Review

Posted in Batman Returns with tags , , , , , on August 27, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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BATMAN RETURNS

*** Out of 5

Tagline- The Bat. The Cat. The Penguin

Release Date- June 19th, 1992

Running Time- 126-Minutes

Rating- PG-13

Screenplay- Daniel Waters

Director- Tim Burton

Starring- Michael Keaton, Danny DeVitto, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken

When it comes to the Burton/Schumacher Batman films I was never a huge fan. I did like Burton’s Batman and gave it 4-stars, but its a film I thought was good not great. Released in 1992 and I remember seeing Batman Returns when it was released in cinemas and even back than I wasn’t a huge fan and to this day I just feel as if something was lacking. It’s not a bad film by any means and I really can’t quite explain my problems but Batman Returns just can’t keep me fully invested. While yes I very much prefer the Nolan trilogy, but that had nothing to do with me not being a big fan of this franchise since I saw them long before Nolan came around.

This time around Batman faces off against the Penguin (DeVitto) who has gained public sympathy and is making a bid for Mayor in his attempt to take over Gotham City. If that wasn’t enough Catwoman (Pfeiffer) is also in the middle of things.

The script by Daniel Waters is generally strong and well plotted, but yet I really couldn’t connect with any of the characters. Like I said there isn’t anything I really dislike, but yet I just can’t get too invested. Characters are fairly strong but like in the first it seems as if Bruce Wayne is just sort if there. He’s an interesting and complex character and Keaton has this sort of tragic and distant quality to him and I would like to have had a little more done with him. I felt like the first he was the least developed character. Overall I really don’t have and big complaints about the writing, but again something for me just didn’t work.

Batman Returns feels much more like a Tim Burton film than the first did and I guess if you’re a big fan of Burton that’s a good thing. While I think he’s an excellent filmmaker with an original style, but with that said his films just don’t really appeal to me. I very much enjoyed Burton’s Batman, but Returns just wasn’t as interesting. The pace of the film is mostly strong and even when lulls in the story, Burton’s visual style helps keep it interesting. The action scenes are well handled. a lot of people state how Burton’s Batman films took a darker approach, but I really don’t see it that way. compared to the 60s version sure, but I never considered this or the first dark. Again Burton shies away from camp value and outside of a couple of scenes its mostly played straight. Overall as I said before I have no real complaints, but something just wasn’t working for me.

Overall Batman Returns is a solid film, but I just can’t really get into it even when I first saw it in cinemas I felt that way. There really isn’t anything in particular I can point out, but I was never able to fully get into it. Batman Returns is a good film though even if it isn’t one of my favorites.

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Batman (1989) Review

Posted in Batman (1989) with tags , , , , on August 26, 2013 by Last Road Reviews

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BATMAN

**** Out of 5

Release Date- June 23rd, 1989

Running Time- 126-Minutes

Rating- PG-13

Screenplay- Sam Hamm & Warren Skaaren

Director- Tim Burton

Starring- Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle and Jack Palance

When it comes to Batman in film and TV prior to this Batman was known for its camp value with the 1960s TV show and film. As a child in the 80s the TV show was in syndication and I used to watch the show on a regular basis. Released in 1989 Tim Burton’s Batman greatly differs and while there is some camp value here its also played straight and even takes a slightly darker tone at least compared to the 60s version. Even though I like this version it did take me a bit to get used to it since I was so used to the 60s version. As I’ve gotten older while I still enjoy the 1960s Batman it can at times be a little too absurd and now I can appreciate the 1989 version a little more. When it comes to the Batman franchise for me nothing can top the Christopher Nolan trilogy and while I’m not one for modern Hollywood films in general those are the exceptions. Tim Burton took Batman in a different direction than we were used to seeing at the time, but there is still some camp value on display mixed in with a slightly more serious tone and for the most part the mixture does work.

The screenplay by Sam Hamm & Warren Skaaren is fairly strong though it does lack a little depth in spots. Character wise the script is solid, but Bruce Wayne (Keaton) is the most lacking character in depth. At the start of the film he just became Batman since as of the opening he’s more of an urban legend of sorts. While the death of his parents are mentioned it actually plays a small role, but vital. In Nolan’s Batman Begins we get a much deeper look at how Wayne became Batman and he’s a much more complex character as well. If anything Hamm & Skaaren write for Bruce Wayne and Batman as if the audience already knows his whole story, which I’m sure most us already did, but it seems they relied too much on knowledge of the comics, but I would have liked to have seen more done since Bruce Wayne can make an interesting character study and here its implied how complex he can, but the writers never delve into his psyche. If anything Joker (Nicholson) is the main character and he has a bit more depth (though he could have used more) and is the far more interesting character. There can be stretches in the script when Bruce Wayne isn’t even there (same goes for Batman) and more focus is on Joker. Overall Batman is well written and plotted and even if characters lack depth in spots they still work well. Hamm & Skaaren write an excellent script, but I also think there was a lot more potential even if it is a success.

Director Tim Burton tones down the camp value and crafts a more gothic like look. Many have described Batman as dark and I guess compared to the 60s version it was, but I really wouldn’t say it was dark, but the tone of the film is a bit more serious mixed with some campy moments, but it never gets as over the top as the 60s version. The pacing of the film is quite strong and Burton gets the most out of each scene. The visual side of the film is quite interesting and really adds a lot to the film. Superhero films are often known for camp value, but Burton manages to toe the line with a mixture of playing it straight and playing it for camp, but like I said the camp value never gets to be too much. Other filmmakers have tried this and more often than not one took away from the other, but Tim Burton manages to make this work.

Michael Keaton probably wouldn’t be the first actor to come to mind for a role like this and his casting did cause some controversy, but I think Keaton put any doubts to rest as he makes for an excellent Bruce Wayne and Batman. Of all the actors to play the Caped Crusader I’d rate Keaton as my 2nd favorite (behind Christian Bale). As the Joker, Jack Nicholson is fantastic. Obviously people will always compare Nicholson and Ledger, which really isn’t fair since they have two totally different takes on the character. If anything Cesar Romero from the 60s TV show is a better comparison, but even they are quite different. While Romero’s Joker was a complete blast he was sort of a bumbling idiot, which is how the character was meant to be portrayed. Nicholson isn’t quite as silly, but Joker is still a bit campy and funny. Heath Ledger is my all time favorite Joker and there is good reason why he won the Oscar, but Jack Nicholson’s take on the Joker is a lot of fun and it was a really fun performance.

Overall Batman is an excellent film and while it may not reach the heights of Nolan’s trilogy and not counting those Tim Burton’s Batman is the best of the series and took Batman from camp value into something a bit more serious while retaining campy aspects.

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) Review

Posted in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter with tags , , , , , , , on November 26, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

(Note. This is my first review since flooding so it may not be my best, but for now it will do)

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ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER

*** Out of 5

Tagline- President by Day; Hunter by Night

Release Date- June 22nd, 2012

Running Time- 105-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Timur Bekmambetov

Director- Seth Grahame-Smith

Starring- Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jimmi Simpson, Erin Wasson

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is based off a novel of the same name written by Seth Grahame-Smith who also wrote the screenplay for the film version. Based on the title most would expect a silly shlock fest, but the novel was amazingly written with great characters and a lot more historical accuracy than one would expect. Actually if you remove the vampires from the book it could almost play out like a bio. The novel rates as one of my all-time favorite books and it got rave reviews from legit newspapers, magazines and critics and was a New York Times best seller. Upon seeing the trailer my fears were the film would be a dumbed down version of the book with over stylized Hollywood action rather than built on solid characters and sadly all my fears came true. However with that said there is still fun to be had, but its a shame such a terrific novel was made into a brain dead movie.

The plot follows Abraham Lincoln (Walker) as he battles Vampires on his way to becoming president, freeing the slaves and winning the civil war. Seth Grahame-Smith adapts his novel and I wonder if the changes made were his choice or the studio? I haven’t read much about the script, but even if they weren’t his choice I suppose he couldn’t say if he wants to continue working in Hollywood. Unlike the novel there is very little historical accuracy besides Abraham Lincoln becoming the president of the United States. Like I said the novel actually at times was historically accurate and if you take away the vampire aspect the book can almost be a bio, but really outside of a couple of things there is no historical accuracy.

The screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith is subpar and is far inferior to the novel. The characters are mostly faceless and boring and character development is pushed to the side in favor of action scenes. I’m not gonna get into all the differences between script and novel, but its different enough that at times it has very little resemblance to the novel outside of the basic plot. Some changes are Abe’s first encounter with Henry (Cooper) and in the film it takes Abe a while to find out Henry is a vampire whereas in the novel he finds out right away. I also really liked the dynamics between Henry and Abe in the novel, but in the film its sloppy and rushed. The character of Will Johnson (Mackie) is created for the movie and doesn’t appear in the book. While again I’m not sure who is to blame for the changes from book to script, but none of the changes are for the better and as great as a book Smith wrote his screenplay is the opposite. Obviously there has to be changes made for the film for timing and since certain aspects of a book won’t work in the film, but this screenplay was a major letdown and even if I didn’t hate the film it takes away everything that made the novel such a great and fun read.

Director Timur Bekmambetov fails at brining much excitement to the film and the action scenes are by the book and are the typical sequences we see in every other Hollywood film. Outside of a few action scenes nothing really stands out. About the only positive thing I can say about the direction is visually the film looks good and despite lacking the film is never boring even if its never really exciting.

I was quite excited for this movie since the novel is one of my favorites and outside of Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter would be my favorite vampire book and one of my favorite vampire stories period in written word or film, but everything that made the novel so great is pretty much lost in the movie as its overly stylized and everything wrong with Hollywood.

I can’t believe I’m gonna say this, but the Asylum knockoff film Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies was actually the better film! My advice is skip this and wait for cable and just read the book and if you’ve already read the book than read it again. If you must see the movie consider Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies instead and while that film is far from great it was more enjoyable than Vampire Hunter.

My review might be harsh and I actually didn’t hate the movie, but again I loved the novel so much and the film just strays way too much and is the typical Hollywood film and a big reason why I avoid mainstream cinema. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter has its moments, but not nearly enough. Perhaps one day I’ll lighten up on the film, but as such a fan of the book this left me with a bitter taste.

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