Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Remembering Tim Burton's Batman

While this year marks the 75th Anniversary of the Caped Crusader, June 23rd also marks the 25th Anniversary of the release of Tim Burton's Batman which starred Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. And my how times have changed. Take a walk down memory lane and check out the original trailer to the movie.

And we complain nowadays of how much trailers give away. It even starts with a scene from the third act revealing the Batwing! Plus there's the overall makeup of the trailer. Today, you'd have a popular artist providing the soundtrack to the trailer, even though it might not have anything to do with the movie. In the Batman 1989 trailer, there's no Prince, and there's barely any of Danny Elfman's iconic theme, which leaves it so much simpler. Plus, there's no voice over. No main characters giving any narration. No Bruce Wayne giving any exposition. No voice over guy going, "In a world..." The trailer kind of just stands on its own, doesn't babysit the viewer, or handhold you in any direction. It's actually kind of refreshing!

And here's an interview with Michael Keaton promoting the movie on David Letterman. He talks a lot about wanting to work with Jack Nicholson, and even spoils one of the movie's major plot points.

Michael Keaton was known for his more comedic roles at the time having already starred in Mr. Mom, Gung Ho, and Tim Burton's Beetlejuice. Warner Bros. received thousands of letters complaining about his casting. This was before e-mail and YouTube could be used as instruments to express vast disappointment. Today, Ben Affleck gets cast as Batman and everyone who can shout about their displeasure can. If Keaton were cast today, I suspect he'd get the same kind of response, only magnified by a million times. Plus he'd be blasted for revealing the plot twist in the interview. Since this was pre-Internet, and late night TV, I guess not a lot of people saw it or they did and didn't care because Keaton's performance was lauded and Batman went on to make over $250 million domestically and be the number one movie that year. Life was certainly simpler back then.

And for our last trek down memory lane, here are Siskel & Ebert reviewing Batman.

The most astonishing thing is how much of the movie is shown and revealed in the segment. Siskel literally recaps almost the entire movie. Today, this clip would have to be prefaced by huge banners of SPOILER ALERT to prevent the collective ire of the Internet, and honestly it would still get criticized for revealing so much because that's just the way things are now. Siskel & Ebert were considered at the forefront of movie reviewers back then with their wildly contrasting tastes and their simple thumbs up/thumbs down rating system. Today, any yahoo with an Internet connection can talk about movies any way they want. BTW, I'm including myself in that yahoo category. :) And it leaves us with a glut of reviews that have to be additionally tabulated by Rotten Tomatoesmetacritic, or IMDB to make any sense out of them.

Was life better back then? Well it certainly was quieter. I know it really seems like I'm criticizing the Internet, but it's just a tool. It's something that connects people, allows people to express their creativity and share it with others, and it allows me and countless others to do their own websites. It gives everyone a voice. Sure it gives the crazies and the disturbed a voice as well, but sometimes that's the price you have to pay to be a part of the crowd. And I never thought I'd go down this route in an article about Batman. ;)

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