Monday, May 27, 2013

Batman-A-Thon: Charles

Yay! I get a whole ten hours to watch Batman! Batman, no chores... Batman, no work... Batman, nothing else! Okay, like I would ever have ten hours to watch nothing but Batman, still this challenge was a lot harder than I thought it would be, not filling up ten hours, but picking so few as to not go over ten hours. As it is I went over a little... okay a bit more than a little. But, in for a penny in for a pound.

So, with my selections my total viewing time came in at 635 minutes or 10 hours and 35 minutes.

I am going to start my list with a classic, Batman (1966). The movie, not the series, the movie. Run Time 105 Minutes.

This one is totally to re-live my childhood memories. See, before cable we all had pretty much three T.V.  stations (not counting Public Television, is it wrong that I never considered that T.V. until I was much older?). In our town the local stations would run cartoons every Saturday morning, and usually followed by a Saturday Movie. Every once in a great while I would hit television gold and the Saturday Movie would be Batman the Movie! 

The rest of the day would be spent playing Batman! I could never climb a tree like Batman and Robin climbed those buildings I even tried starting by laying on the ground, the rope tied tight on a branch (which I had to climb the regular way to secure) and then tried the "walk up the wall" climb, no luck. I wrote it off to their superior training.

Next up are two of Episodes of Batman the Animated Series.

The first would be the premier episode, even though it is actually the second episode. Do you remember when they premiered the series on a Sunday night with On Leather Wings?

I knew from the title card this would be the end all be all Batman animated series. On Leather Wings, clocking in at 22 minutes was the origin story of the Man Bat, at least in the Animated Series. It followed Batman as he investigated a mysterious Man Bat terrorizing Gotham. It has all the elements of a great Batman story, detective work, action, and Bat gadgets.

I will continue with a fun episode, Beware of the Gray Ghost, another 22 minutes into my Batman-A-Thon. This one features a guest voice appearance by Adam West! Batman teams up with his childhood hero, the Gray Ghost. I love these type of stories, and what made this one funny was the Gray Ghost was just an actor, but hey, he played along and joined Batman on an adventure.

This next one I could have filled in with some Batman Beyond or even some older Batman Adventures, but I wanted to revisit The Batman. I will admit the first couple episodes of The Batman did not really win me over, but I kept watching and this show really grew on me, so with the release of the shows first direct to DVD movie I was in. I wish I could say I picked up the DVD with the little figurines, but you can't win them all.

The Batman vs Dracula, run time 83 minutes, is not my usual fare. I am all about Batman, but not a fan of Vampires, not at all. Goes back to my childhood, not the new sparkly ones, I really do not care for those, but the ones that sneak up on you in the night and suck you blood while you sleep, those creep me out. Those old black and white Dracula movies, ugh, they get me every time. Anyway, I gave this movie a shot and loved it. By the time this movie came out I was loving the new series and was knee deep in The Batman toys (I kept a few), even the vampire aspect of this movie did not really bug me, it is convenient though, and I understand why, that all the vampire's victims return to normal when he is defeated, (oh SPOILER, sorry). This one is just fun for the ride. A good break befor the next heavy hitter.

Batman 1989, 126 minutes of my all time favorite Batman film. This one had to be on this list for me. I have great memories of seeing this in theaters on opening night, free popcorn, a free Batman plastic mug, and the huge Batman Banner hanging on the same Cinema I saw Star Wars: A New Hope in (both the original release and the Special Edition)

Also, Batman 1989 (though on VHS) played a big part in my all night art project sessions in school. I would come home from work, pop in Batman 89 and start to drawing, sometimes watching it two or three times in a night.

That was until I got a hold of the next one on VHS, ha ha, how times have changed.

Batman Returns, another 126 minutes. This meant during those drawing sessions, I could watch them back to back. I pretty much quote jobs on the the scenes from these two movies. "Let's see that will be a tree ceremony job" or maybe a "A Double Final Battle Project"

You know I am not even sure we are supposed to be tying these picks into memories or talking about the movies themselves. I'm going with the memories.

For me the summer this movie arrived in theaters was my Batman Summer. I rember it being everywhere, once again, and hitting up the Mc Donalds for the Happy Meal toys. The Batmobile from that run is one of my all time favorites.

I also remember being out of town for my job at the time, attending a training class and having to improvise a poster for the class. Me and another student jumped in his car and hit up a local shop for some poster board and markers, where I also happened to pick up the souvenir magazine for the movie... hey a Batman fan is always on the look out.

Another Batman flick I saw in the same theater I saw the 89 Batman was Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, 76 minutes.

Mask of the Phantasm and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, 75 minutes long, are my next two choices in my Batman-A-Thon.

 Let's start with Mask of the Phantasm. I have to say I was pretty excited to see this movie in theaters, I even think it was the same actual theater I saw 89 Batman, I know it was the same Cinema. Then, to get this when it was released on VHS, in surround sound, was just as awesome. This movie had me borrowing extra speakers from friends and family so I could run temporary wires all of the place, just so I could crank up the volume on the receiver I tied our VCR into and enjoy every little bit of sound this movie had to offer.

Then, all wired up, I invited friends and family over to marvel at this instant batman classic... just be careful of the wires. I had wires coming from around the back of our T.V. stand, where I placed the VCR and receiver, running up to a hook that used to belong to a hanging plant, but was now allowing me to run the wire overhead to a set of speakers in the back of the room. More wires ran along the floor to a center and some side speakers. It was a mess and a little hard to get up to get pop corn or use the restroom, but it was my own personal THX, ha ha.

By time Mystery of the Batwoman was released, the days of crazy rewiring of an apartment to enjoy a movie were gone, I was now in a house and busy freelancing to make payments, it never ends does it?

Anyway I picked up this movie along with some of the BTAS DVD's and thought I could watch them while I work. Here's the thing with me, that works really well with a movie you have seen over and over again, say Batman 1989, not so much for new stuff. The BTAS DVD's went fine, but when I popped this one in for the first time I had never seen it and the story was a little better than I was expecting at the time. Not a hard one to figure out though, but another fun one to watch. If I remember right this was released when Batman the Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures was wrapped and we actually had a new Batman cartoon out, I am thinking Batman Beyond was even wrapping up (not 100% sure on this). So, it was sort of cool getting a new Batman adventure in the Animated Series style.

So, that is my list, four feature films, two direct to DVD (VHS, whatever), and two of the classic Batman the Animated Series. Doesn't seem like 10 hours does it? Now I am off to read what Brain A and Brian B picked, I have been avoiding reading each of theirs until I posted. Then maybe I will go watch some more Batman.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Marathon Day: Brian B

I took this challenge as if it were going to be this weekend. The only way I can even fit this kind of television time in my head, in a fantasy setting, is to imagine that my wife would be away for the day and that I must be sick or something or I would NEVER get this kind of television time no matter what the weather.

So if it were this Saturday and I could do nothing but watch T.V. all day and my selection was only the Batman archive this would be it.

I will say this up front.
Every Saturday morning my amazing wife lets me be 10 years old and watch something Batman while I eat my cereal.  Thanks Elaine!

Now on with my list!

I would start off with two Batman Beyond episodes.  This show was recently added to Netflix and I am making my way through it right now.  I know that I have not seen every episode so I always look forward to seeing ones that I missed when this show aired.
In my mind this show is worth watching for the intro alone!

Batman Brave and the Bold would be next and I would watch two episodes.
This would be for the same reasons that I would watch Batman Beyond.  They were recently added to Netflix and I saw very few of these when they aired.
I just could never catch it when it was on and when I thought I had figured it out they would move it.  I do not have Tivo though that would make catching an episode easier.

2 hours watched.
8 hours before my wife gets home.

Val Kilmer as Batman would be next in Batman Forever.

I saw this in the theater and then again when I bought it on VHS.  I have it on DVD now but I have never watched it again.
So just because it has been Forever (Ha ha!) since I have watched it I would watch it in my Bat-marathon.  Also I liked the song in it by Seal too. Kiss from a rose if I remember right.  I had the cassette. Who am I kidding? I probably still have the cassette somewhere.

3.25 hours watched.
6.75 hours before my wife gets home.

In all seriousness I would watch Batman and Robin next.

This is a rare day to watch shows I would rarely get a chance to watch.  I think I have only seen this one twice as well.
In my defense I looked at this challenge as if this was my plan for this Saturday.  At this point in my day of laying around watching T.V. I would start to doze off and if I am going to sleep through something on this Bat-Movie-day it might as well be during Batman and Robin.  Thanks Clooney for almost killing the franchise!

4.5 hours watched.
5.75 hours before my wife gets home.

After a snack and a nap I would be ready for one of my favorites in the Batman wheelhouse.  Batman Begins.
I don't get everyone out there saying that they are tired of origins stories, I am not.  I really like this origin too.
So I am wide awake and watching this one with glee.

6.7 hours watched.
3.3 hours before my wife gets home.

The Dark Knight Rises would have to be next.
I would watch it with the commentary on because I have not done that yet.

9:15 watched 85 minutes before my wife gets home.

I would put they cherry on top of this marathon day with the first episode of the Adam West Television series, Hi Diddle Riddle.

This would take me over time just a little bit but my wife doesn't seem to mind as much if she catches me watching one of these episodes.

Now I would need to get up and do something before I got bed sores or she had me admitted to a hospital.


My Personal Film Bat-Marathon: Brian A

I posed a question recently to my two UTGP blogger buddies, Brian B and Charles…  If you had a Saturday all to yourself, it's raining cats and dogs outside, and there are no house projects to be working on inside, what would you put together for a (roughly) 10 hour Batman marathon?  Of all the live-action and animated Batman material that's been released to home video, over the years, what ones would you select for your own, personal, 10 hour Bat-Marathon?

Here are mine:

1) Batman (1989) - 2hrs. 6 min. - Okay, so this film isn't without it's flaws but it could be argued that this film kicked off the abundance of Bat films, tv shows, and merchandise that we've enjoyed ever since its release in 1989.  I still love to watch this film.  It's the first film that treated Batman as a serious character and reflected the darker atmosphere that was going on in the Batman comics, at the time.  This film also kind of represents the "end of an era" for me.  The summer of 1989 was the last time I can remember getting REALLY excited about a film (Star Wars Episode 1 came close but failed to deliver) to the point that I was actively looking for merchandise in the stores, reading every blurb about it I could find in magazines, and having my VCR always loaded with my "Batman tape" ready to record any commercials, news segments, interviews, or specials about the film.  It seems fitting that this film kicks off my marathon as it's the film the kicked off the "Bat-craze" that started, then, and hasn't stopped, since.

2) Batman The Animated Series: Mad Love (1999) - 22 min. - For my money, The Animated Series that started in 1992 is the most faithful and truest version of Batman (outside of comics) that exists.  This is one of my favorite episodes as it was done as a comic book by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm before it received the animated treatment.  The way that Joker treats Harley towards the end of the episode is just brutal and shows that this show was meant for more than just kids.  My favorite moment, though, is when Batman calls Joker "Puddin'" at the end of the episode.  Priceless.

3) Batman the Animated Series: Legends of the Dark Knight (1998) - 22 min.  This episode entails a few kids describing who Batman is.. and they all have different ideas.  This episode uses different incarnations of Batman from years past to show the different versions of Batman from the kids' minds.  It starts with a Golden Age Batman and Robin battling the Joker (complete with giant props from the comics).  The characters look like they stepped right off the page of a Batman book that Dick Sprang illustrated.  Another segment had me beside myself when I first saw it.  One of the kids describes Batman from the Frank Miller series "The Dark Knight Returns" and goes on to show an animated portion of the comic book.  I thought this episode would be a good "teaser" for what comes next...

4) The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 (2012) - 1 hr. 16 min. - Fourteen years after Bruce Timm and company teased us with a small segment of The Dark Knight Returns in the weekly Batman cartoon, Bruce Timm was able to helm an actual full adaptation of Miller's epic comic series.  I had been hoping for this exact animated adaptation ever since 1992 when the animated series debuted and ESPECIALLY since the episode Legends of the Dark Knight in 1998.  Let me say that this adaptation does NOT disappoint.  It's a nearly spot-on version of Frank Miller's comic (with a few plot points rearranged, slightly) and one of my favorite Batman movies of all time.  To cover the entire comic series, this story had to be split into 2 parts.  The first part is everything I hoped it would be and will be a mainstay in my Batman movie library for years and years to come.

5) BTAS: Over the Edge (1998) - 22 min. - I stuck this one in the middle of the two parts of the Dark Knight Returns as a kind of intermission.  This episode is kind of an alternate "end of Batman" story so it seems fitting to have it in the middle between the two DKR parts.  This is a fantastic episode that starts with the premise that Gordon and the police force KNOW that Batman is Bruce Wayne and are storming Wayne Manor to capture him.  I won't give the rest away (there have to be some that haven't seen it… maybe) but it's a fantastic episode.

6) The Dark Knight Returns: Part 2 (2013 )- 1 hr. 18 min. - The second part of this story is fantastic.  It includes some great interaction between Batman and Superman and a solution to the problem of the Joker.  This epic conclusion is as good as Part 1, if not better.

7) Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000) - 1 hr. 17 min. - The way that this movie ties the younger Batman's story in with future Batman, Terry McGinnis, and a much older Bruce Wayne's story is just jaw-dropping.  This film cemented Batman Beyond into the BTAS continuity in a way that I would have never expected, at the time.  When this was first produced, it was deemed too violent and a tamer version was released to the public.  Eventually, though, WB decided to release the superior uncut version and it's an amazing story that turns the Animated Series version of Batman and his allies on it's head.  "Earth-shattering" is a word that comes to mind.  

8) The Dark Knight (2008)- 2 hrs. 23 min. - I enjoy all of the Nolan Batman films but find the middle chapter to be the best.  I wasn't sure what to make of Heath Ledger's version of the Joker when this film was first released, but now find it to be an amazing, fresh "take" on a character that we all thought we knew so well.  I tend to be resistant to change but it's nice to have these characters reinterpreted from time to time.  I still enjoy the classic depiction of the Joker in things like the comics or Batman the Animated series very much but like having this film to offer alternative versions of these classic characters.

9) Batman: Year One (2011) - 1 hr. 4 min. - I thought it would be fun to finish off the marathon with the beginning of Batman's story.  This was one of the books that came out right around the time I was getting into comics and Batman, in particular, in the mid-80s.  This story just blew me away.  It seemed so real… like it all could really happen.  This version of Batman is the one that I'm always hopeful that they will "nail" in the live-action movies.  I have to say, the Nolan movies come pretty close, but not quite.  So, because this story takes me back to the very beginning of my Batman comic reading, I think it's a great note to end on.

So, that's my list for my own personal "Bat Marathon."  I'm looking forward to hearing what Brian B and Charle's picks turn out to be.  We'd also love to hear what everyone else likes to watch when they are in a mood for some Batman.