Monday, June 27, 2005

rex reviews "batman begins" without seeing it, sort of

Any hack with a pair of working eyeballs and reasonable grasp of their given language can write a review of any movie they’ve actually seen. Where is the challenge in that? Roger Ebert has grown fat as a parasitic deer tick and then deflated while Gene Shalet has gone without personal grooming for decades all because they can watch a movie and have an opinion.

I think we should demand more of our critics, cats and kittens, and I will even go first—working without a net, as it were. I have not yet seen Batman Begins and do not plan to see it for a few more weeks, maybe not even until it comes through Netflix. However, that will not stop me from giving a review, for what it’s worth. I will even do it for free.

Kids, I was there in 1989 for the first Tim Burton Batman movie. I saw it on opening weekend and on a couple of subsequent weekends, as there was not much else to do in small-town Alabama before one made it into high school and established a good alcohol connection. Back then you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting some goofy bastard in one of those plain black Batman T-shirts, and I quickly learned to duck. Warner Brother had the Dark Knight pimping fast food and anything else they could slap the Batlogo on, Prince's ill-conceived "Batdance" was all over MTV (this was way back when they showed videos), and half the population of Alabama died from a plague brought on by the number of dead cats piled about for swinging purposes. I remember it as though it was last weekend, though it was actually half my life ago.

No it wasn’t.
Indeed it was. Do the math, you fat bastard.
Holy shit!

I haven’t seen it in a while but imagine that it held up relatively well. Keaton was a decent Batman (especially compared to what followed) and Burton is a great director if you conveniently forgot to catch his remake of Planet of the Apes. Let us also forget the subsequent Burton and Shumaker Batman films. Let us pretend that Val Kilmer and George Clooney never wore the batsuit, and that the Batman never had some goofy-ass sidekick kid in a bright yellow cape.

The big difference in Batman Begins seems to be a full separation from the campy Batman that was referenced by Burton and especially by Prince. Once that is distilled from the character what we have left is the Dark Night, the mere tortured human in the batsuit, a man just like the rest of us but with the resources and motivation to fight crime.

I trust Christopher Nolan to pull this thing off. Memento was a great film and certainly dark enough. I also trust Christian Bale, as he appears to be able to brood enough without being melodramatic—or too melodramatic, at least. I honestly don’t care if Katie Holmes brings anything to the table, as I find that women in superhero movies just tend to get in the way and always seem written into the script half-heartedly, as if no one wants them there but feels they have to be there to serve as the superhero’s Achilles’ heel. Such pressures drove Margot Kidder crazy, and I suppose it is meant to drive Batman crazier. I suppose we need to see Batman’s awkward relationships to make him appear more human and more like the rest of us.

But I don’t know if I really buy into the whole “one of us” argument for Batman’s appeal.

I myself took a stab at superheroness. I took to the Murfreesboro night for a time dressed in a mask and a purple cape dating back to one Halloween as Randy “Macho Man” Savage. I came up with the name “The Purple Onion”, painstakingly stenciled it onto a T-shirt, and moved across the ‘boro from shadow to shadow searching for danger. I found out later that there was a Nashville area porn shop of the same name. This fact contributed most to my lack of success, but at the time of the discovery the business cards and letterhead had already been placed on order.

Young college girls who had locked their keys in their car was my area of expertise. I’m quite good with a coat hanger and cracked window, though these skills were never put to the test. All it took was one, “Let the Purple Onion help you, Ma’am” and then came the mace and label of “pervert”. I soon stopped announcing myself and even wore a different shirt, but it was still there where I had written it on the cape along with my phone number. This only postponed the macing and slapping, and eventually led to me spending most of the night safely perched in a tree overlooking the square. I would bring a thermos full of martini and an ashtray and await some serious danger where the victim would not have the luxury to get hung up on names.

Those times came and went without me leaving the tree. I would see people breaking into cars and assure myself that the victims had really good insurance. I would see people getting mugged and assume that it was out of my jurisdiction and really a matter for the police. All the macing and rejection had left me without confidence or sobriety, and I had finally come to the conclusion that it was time to hang up the tights.

I would like to say that it was fun while it lasted, but it wasn’t. Falling out of the tree drunk night after night left me with a number of concussions. In the end I really made no difference unless you consider the fact that I empowered a number of women who had spent years carrying around mace without having an opportunity to use it.

I blame a lack of funds for my failure. You see Batman really isn’t like the rest of us for the simple fact that he can afford to be Batman. Sure, you really can’t by things like a good motivational child trauma, but plenty of poor people have that and never take to the streets fighting crime dressed as the flying mammal of their choice. That doesn’t happen in the real world.
In the real world it makes about as much sense as paying someone obscene amounts of money to watch movies and give their opinion.


Blogger newton dominey said...

not much of a review...but damned funny.

sorry if you ever got to wear some of my wife's mace home, perv.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

I noticed that when I got finished and added the "sort of" to the title in an attempt to cover my ass. I can now see why reviewing movies you haven't seen isn't much of a genre.

6:51 PM  
Blogger newton dominey said...

but it should be. it might be more interesting than the post-viewing review.

3:51 PM  

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