HOLY UNREALISTIC UTILITY BELT, BATMAN, IT'S A FUNNY MOVIE ANYWAY

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As a kid, I spent many a late afternoon before supper watching episodes of Batman. I am referring the the kitschy 60s series featuring Adam West and Burt Ward. This show was very different from the comic books which featured a much darker hero. The episodes from this series were very wacky and amusing. They all followed a basic formula that involved a nefarious arch-villain getting released from prison and attempting some diabolical plot to steal loads of money. The Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder were always there to save the day.

 

I also remember watching the movie based on the series. It was a classic when four of the most fiendish arch-villains joined forces to try to topple Batman and Robin. It's always a treat when the Joker, The Riddler, the Penguin and Catwoman get together. They will push Batman and Robin to the very brink.

 

The movie is a cheaply available DVD now so I did not hesitate to add it to my collection. You never know when you'll need campy entertainment to amuse intoxicated friends at 3 AM. The DVD is labeled as Holy Special Edition Batman! It's a widescreen version and includes a few extra features. You can take a tour of the Batmobile or check out the theatrical trailer for the movie. There is also some audio commentary from West and Ward. (As if being mayor of Quahog isn't demanding too much time for West.)

 

This movie is wacky fun. They cast Burgess Meridith as the Penguin, Cesar Romero as the Joker, Frank Gorshin as the Riddler and Lee Meriwether as Catwoman. I'll skip over the ongoing debates over who was the best Catwoman. Meriwether, Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt all had their charms. I've always liked Romero's performances as the Joker. It was definitive until Nicholson got his hands on the character. It's also good that they have the original Riddler Gorshin in the role here.

 

In this movie, Batman and Robin must protect Commodore Schmidlapp from the evildoers. They are set up to save him on a hologram of the yacht. This leads to a hilarious scene where Batman and Robin are attacked by a shark. Fortunately, Batman keeps a can of shark repellent on his utility belt. I know in my own life, I've found it quite handy to be able to repel sharks. This must be a great tool to keep on hand.

 

The villains are able to kidnap the Commodore and create an illusion that he is still on his yacht. They have a room in their hideout made out to look just like the Commodore's room on the yacht. They even have a rocking device to make it seem as if they are still at sea. I know it seems silly but it is funny to watch.

 

Catwoman also poses as a foreign journalist to get closer to Batman and the police. She makes an effort to get close to Bruce Wayne. Surprisingly, no one has yet to figure out that Wayne is, in fact, Batman.

 

The Evil Foursome have obtained a dehydrator which can turn humans into dust. They are planning on dehydrating and kidnapping representatives from around the world. They do successfully turn the Council into dust and return to their lair.

 

Now it is up to Batman and Robin to save the day. I'll not spoil the plot by revealing whether or not they are successful in this mission. I will note that it is a fun ride getting to the end. The gadgetry is amusing and the fight scenes are also very funny. Hollywood has come a long, long way since those days.

 

This is the kind of film that one must view with a grain of salt. Those expecting Citizen Kane are bound to be bitterly disappointed. Those expecting hard hitting action will also be disappointed with the film. This is a very farcical version of the comic book. The film here does not even attempt to match the darkness of the actual comic book. They are merely presenting a lighthearted romp. Even the scenes that could be dramatic have a comical undertone.

 

I think this is one that will probably alienate hardcore fans of the comic book and those who prefer the darker movies made over the past 15 years. People who like lighthearted fun will enjoy this. This is also something that can be shown to kids. It will not likely cause nightmares for the younger children. It is bright and moves along very well.

 

 

Author's Notes/Comments: 

a childhood favorite flick

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