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BATMAN ON FILM, since June 1998!

Here you will find opinion pieces regarding BATMAN BEGINS and the BATMAN film franchise.


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So far, so good!
Monday, May 17, 2004, by Kris Tapley

Christian Bale, two-time Academy Award winner Michael Caine, Academy Award nominee Liam Neeson, Academy Award nominee Ken Watanabe, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes, Academy Award nominee Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Rutger Hauer, and Academy Award nominee Tom Wilkinson.

Just a handful of reasons to believe in this project from the start.

That is quite simply a cast that cannot be overlooked. 5 Oscar nominees including one two-time winner and long-time Academy shunee Gary Oldman (the most underrated working actor) is quite frankly nothing to turn your nose up at. Perhaps it is the collective sigh that resonates when the thought of a new BATMAN film registers. Joel Schumacher infamously destroyed the franchise with 1997ís BATMAN & ROBIN. The character has gone into turn around after turn around since. Darren Aronofsky was on board for an adaptation of Frank Millerís "Batman: Year One." That project was coupled with a cinematic incarnation of televisionís ďBatman BeyondĒ to be directed by Boaz Yakin. And as recently as 2002, Wolfgang Petersen had plans to go forward with BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN from an Andrew Kevin Walker script. All of these stories were well covered.

Now, Nolan is hopping and skipping along. Filming in Iceland has wrapped. London is soon to wrap (if not already) with the shoot moving to Chicago for the bulk of production. All the right moves and choices are being made. The cast, as noted, is stellar. The screenplay comes from a hot industry commodity, David Goyer, who, after penning the first two installments of New Lineís BLADE has recently wrapped filming his second feature and the culmination of that trilogy, BLADE: TRINITY. Christopher Nolan, himself an acknowledged screenwriter, is coming off of two dynamite films to start his career in MEMENTO and INSOMNIA. I myself attempt to offer bits and pieces as a regular of Oscarwatch.com (see my column there, "Checking in with Kris"). And yet, this website is one of merely a few assessments of this heavily anticipated film. Have media outlets been exhausted by the snowballing of news in relation to these films?

For example: After Kevin Smithís (thankfully) ditched SUPERMAN script (courtesy of then director Tim Burton), that franchise went to the wayside until it was kind of resurrected in Andrew Walkerís team-up. This was seen to be the likely next DC superhero film following Lorenzo DiBonaveturaís exit from Warner Bros. (YEAR ONE going with him), but then Petersen decided to direct this Summerís TROY instead (seems to be a major miss thereÖ$200 million for a film is absurd). Meanwhile, Marvel has been kicking ass and taking names with Sam Raimiís SPIDER-MAN ($404 million domestically) and Bryan Singerís X-MEN and X2 (a top five film from 2003 in my opinion). Though itís not to say they havenít hit ruts (DAREDEVIL, THE PUNISHER).

Director McG (CHARLIEíS ANGELS) was hired by Warners to direct a SUPERMAN project from writer J.J. Abrams (ARMAGEDDON, ďAliasĒ). He was then fired in favor of Brett Ratner, who, after RED DRAGON, was apparently seen as a talent magnet (though that still remains a ĎWhat the f**k?í moment if there ever was one). After he couldnít contain a budget or make any headway on casting issues, he was dumped (recently) in favor of McG once again. But frankly, the SUPERMAN stories scare the excrement out of me daily. The most recent headlines have been McGís wanting Beyonce Knowles for Lois Lane. Iíd rather have HARRY Knowles. Either way, I donít expect much from that franchise for some time, if ever.

MY SUGGESTIONÖjust in case anyone of considerable note is reading, is to see what the Conran brothers would think about tackling the material. Their SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW instantly recalls Superman to this viewer.

Anyhow, all of this is going on at the same time Chris Nolan has been consistently kicking Avi Arad level tush. And whatís more, heís got a lot of freedom from the studio. It started with Warnersí wishes to have Ashton Kutcher behind the mask (I know). Nolan didnít want this and kept the search going. He tested a select number of actors for the role, and ultimately fanboy fave Christian Bale won the gig.

In addition, the studio hasnít pushed any crew members onto Nolan. Youíll note that Bryan Singer wasnít working with all his regulars on X-MEN and brought in collaborating editor and composer John Ottman forX2. When a filmmaker is comfortable with his people, he has the ability to be successful from the start. X2 is overwhelmingly superior to X-MEN. Nolan has cinematographer Wally Pfister, costume designer Lindy Hemming, production designer Nathan Crowely, and composer David Julyan on the team. Nolan regular Dody Dorn isnít available for editing duties, but Academy Award nominee Lee Smith (MASTER AND COMMANDER) isnít a shabby replacement.

In addition, extra cool points to Nolan for having the gusto to lean away from CGI (a massive Batmobile chase in the film will reportedly be done without the use of any CGI, which is amazing). Nolan is a major fan of BLADE RUNNER and has a lot of respect for the special effects in the film. He wishes to put such simplistic, natural methods to use in BATMAN BEGINS, and I am excited as hell at that prospect. And the casting of Rutger Hauer is just another nod to Ridley Scottís film.

Every new casting decision beat the last. The production has not hit any issues thus far and is cruising along. The script has already received NUMEROUS glowing reviews. I myself have had a look at the screenplay, and I can assure you that, not only is it the greatest comic adaptation Iíve ever read, but it is one of the best screenplays Iíve read in a while PERIOD. And being a screenwriter, I read quite a few.

None of this information has gone uncovered by The Jettman here at "Batman-On-Film." Itís nothing new to anyone likely reading this either. My major point of note here is to indicate just how successful I expect this film to be, not from an anticipation stand-point, but from a stand-point of observation. And I still think the media has kept armís length from the new BATMAN film. I really hope coverage takes off soon. A teaser trailer ought to be attached to either HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN or CATWOMAN (my money is on the latter). Iím excited as hell to get a look at it.

I am very pleased to see this recent trend of wise decisions in comic book film adaptations. Sure, I rather dislike SPIDER-MANís script, but Singerís X2 and Goyerís BATMAN BEGINS are examples of grounding this other-worldly material into realism, giving it a means for having a healthy impact. Yes, I am indeed very excited.

-Kris Tapley, Oscarwatch.com

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