Posts Tagged ‘I reckon “Mr Big” would make a pretty good Batman’

Everyone Loves a Blog

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

“Blog regularly, blog often”, is the mantra that web based diarists are (nonsensically) advised to adhere to, but what to blog about? Obviously the “Director’s Commentary” style has it’s limits (ie. “when I drew this page I was suffering from scrofula”). Likewise the snapshot of the creator’s life (“the council have just put new lamp posts up in my street”).

It’s hard to know whether the world needs to hear whatever flights of whimsy are on your mind or whether your self indulgent bullshit is better left unsaid. For instance, I had a really good point to make about how that Sex and the City movie was similar to Daredevil, and the whole thing was going to wind up with a really good joke about Mick McMahon. But on second thoughts it probably would have been funny to absolutely no one. However, I’m sure I will soon regale you with more inane and fatuous comments that I can’t keep to myself. Just like this one.



Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

A long time ago… ah screw it, everyone’s probably done that one. Today’s the tenth anniversary of the release of The Phantom Menace. Happy birthday Duel of The Fates, Watto and  The Boonta Eve Classic. Although for us in the UK we still had another excruciating two months to wait while everyone else in the world was talking about  it.

He's Behind You!

Like many people who can’t let it lie, I have felt the need to defend the damn movie over the last ten years. Dunno why, it’s neither my fault, nor my problem if someone else doesn’t like it.  But I do find myself wondering why so many people have taken against it, especially seeing as every single film looks like that now (Even the Sex and the City movie had that completely incongruous scene where two vast armies of CGI it girls fought on a CGI battlefield, using CGI Louis Vuitton handbags). Let’s look at the reasons;

  • Enormously clunky plot contrivances. So they need a hyperdrive generator and the only person that has one is immune to the jedi mind trick and also owns a slave who has latent jedi abilities and races pods and has just happened to be secretly building a podracer for a tournament that just  happens to be tomorrow… phew!
  • Midichlorians. Let’s be honest, while it doesn’t invalidate the mysticism of the previous movies, we hardly needed an empirical system of measuring someone’s connection to The Force.
  • Jar Jar. The Star Wars movies were always aimed at a young audience, but never before was a character included specifically for the preschoolers. However, people never complain about “that really bad special effect”, or even “that really bad character”. They actually talk about Jar Jar as if he’s a real person. So really he can be said to be a success… from a certain point – ah screw it everyone will have used that one too.
  • Too many special effects. Seriously, complaining about this in a Star Wars movie is like stopping taking drugs because they make you feel weird.
  • Sixteen (or twenty, depending on how much of a nerd you were) years of anticipation. After that amount of time we could have got the best film ever made and people would have still complained. Not that I’m suggesting it is the best film ever made, you understand.
  • Darth Vader built C-3PO. Actually, I can explain this, no problem.

This piece, written by Using the Force author Will Brooker,  pretty much sums up my experience. It wasn’t my own expectations, any of the (admittedly many) flaws in the film, or even Ben Quadrinaros that ruined it for me. It was knowing everything about it, including how I was expected to feel.

Having said that, I still love The Phantom Menace. As Todd Hanson says in A Galaxy Not So Far Away, it’s just a big dumb movie about space wizards. What’s not to like?


My Name Is Bruce

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

Further to my rating the SciFi Superfranchises by paying special attention to their most insignificant musical moments, it’s time to have a look at another pop cultural juggernaught through the music that was “from and inspired by” it, namely Batman.

I must be the only person on the planet that didn’t think The Dark Knight was the best thing since sliced Bat Bread. Sure,  it took the character seriously to a degree far beyond any of the previous movies, but I think that movie, and Batman Begins were a little too realistic. People always say Batman is a realistic character because he doesn’t have any superpowers, but looked at in the cold light of day, he’s just as much of a fantasy character as Spider-Man, Hellboy, or The Red Bee. This is a hero whose rogues gallery includes Clayface, The Ventriloquist and, er, Crazy Quilt. Let’s face it, if a millionaire did have his parents murdered in front of him as a child, rather than growing up to dress up as a bat and go out at 2 in the morning to kick people in the head, he would probably be paying high class prostitutes to shit in his mouth or something.

I can't wait for Chris Nolan's dark gritty take on this

What those films lacked was a tie in pop song. Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman had a whole album full of them, courtesy of high heels enthusiast, sexual adventurer and bonafide musical genius Prince. His Batman album is generally considered to be one of his poorer efforts by fans (it has the indignity of being lobbed at a zombie in Shaun of The Dead, and was once used as target practise by Danny Baker on the BBC), but I think this is partly due to the ubiquity of the film, which took movie marketing, not to mention hype to a new level. There’s some terrific stuff on that record. Electric Chair is sparse, dark and funky, Arms of Orion is a gorgeous ballad (inexplicably bumped from the actual film), and Vicki Waiting, Lemon Crush and Partyman are all frothy and fun. Fans should definitely check out the unreleased track Dance With The Devil, which is a moody piano driven piece, probably more in keeping with the intent of the movie than the rest of the soundtrack songs.

More Romero than Nicholson, and all the better for it

The main single release Batdance, is pretty gimmicky. In fact it’s not really a song, just a few grooves with samples from the movie, bits of the other songs from the album, and an absolutely blistering guitar solo. There’s some pretty substantial referencing of Neil Hefti’s infamous theme for the 60s Batman TV series in there as well, and the video is appropriately campy. I guess Prince was going through a particularly purple patch (ahem), so even the musical sketches he just knocked off were great. But as I said, he’s a genius

For the 1992 sequel Batman Returns, Tim “I’m a goofy artist” Burton reaches his goth apotheosis (gotheosis), by not only filling the screen with his trademark creepy cute flourishes, but by recruiting Goth High Priestess Siouxsie Sioux to do the tie in single. Face To Face, incorporates some elements from Danny Elfman’s score, and is exactly what you’d expect from Siouxsie singing about Catwoman ie. a pretty classy bit of work. It sounds to me at least like German art synth futurists Propaganda, which is no bad thing.

I always thought the best thing U2 ever did was Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me (but then again I think their best album is Zooropa, so what do I know?). Perhaps they just bashed it out quickly on tour, because the lyrics include the kind of sarky witticsims Bono was regularly trotting out in interviews at the time (“we don’t know what we’re doing. So it must be art”), and it’s a fairly obvious mashup of Kashmir and Children of the Revolution. But it sounds exciting and dramatic, and it briefly made Joel Schumacher’s dayglo Batman Forever look like it was going to be awesome (it wasn’t). The film also featured Seal’s Kiss From a Rose, which had been knocking around for years but Schumacher liked it! I only mention it here as an excuse to link to Jack Black’s definitive version.

For many fans the franchise was truly derailed by this point. Schumacher had previously directed a superb tale of similarly brooding nocturnal types previously with The Lost Boys, but he is forever defined as The Man Who (temporarily) Killed The Batman. Poor sod. He actually wanted to adapt Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Year One (surely the best Bat story by a long chalk), but the producers had other ideas.

Billy Corgan, yesterday

Batman & Robin is (rightly) bashed as the worst moment of the franchise (and, in some quarters, as one of the worst films ever) – Schumacher actually apologises for it on the DVD commentary. However it still has a pretty kickass song in Smashing Pumpkins’  The End Is The Beginning Is The End. Again, it’s exactly what you’d expect from Billy Corgan’s lot – enigmatic, moody and dramatic. Everything the film isn’t, in fact.

So which is the best Bat song? Actually I don’t know. One thing’s for certain though, they’re all a damn sight better than that shitty Hero song from Spider-Man!