Michael Keaton

April 5, 2017

The Resurrection of Michael Keaton: Three Phases

Going through the news today, something caught my eye; Disney is remaking “Dumbo.” Yeah, the animated movie about a bullied elephant that wants to fly with the help of a feather and a talking mouse.

But the more interesting part is a bit of casting regarding the film’s villain that will possibly be played by Michael Keaton.

In case you haven’t noticed the past couple of years, Keaton has been a pretty busy guy, and has enjoyed a career resurgence much like Matt McConaughey did a few years ago. He’s starring as the villain in this year’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and including his Oscar nom for “Birdman,” Keaton has found his stride again after nearly a decade in the wilderness.

Let’s take a look at Three Phases of Keaton:

1982-1992
From “Night Shift” to “Batman Returns” you can’t poke a lot of holes in Keaton’s roles from the early 80s to the early 90s. His partnership with Tim Burton made him one of the most successful actors at that time, but with the relative failure of “Returns” and the films to follow, there were dark times ahead.

Highlight: Beetlejuice
Lowlight: The Dream Team
People Forget About: Gung-Ho

1993-2009
These, to me, are the wilderness years for Keaton. Outside a few quality performances like “Jackie Brown” and “Live From Baghdad” there was a lot to be desired.

Highlight: Jackie Brown
Lowlight: First Daughter
People Forget About: Multiplicity



2010-2017
Starting with “Toy Story 3” the writing was on the wall that Keaton was back in the game. Sure you had “Robocop” and “Need for Speed” but he rose like Jesus in flicks like “Spotlight,” “Birdman,” and a possible “Beetlejuice” sequel and other things on the horizon, it’s a good time to be a Michael Keaton fan.

Highlight: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Lowlight: Need For Speed
People Forget About: The Other Guys

March 30, 2017

Know Your Spidey History: Homecoming and The Green Goblin’s Last Stand

We are right on the cusp of the Summer Movie Season and are being hit left and right with a barrage of studio tent-pole films. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen the latest trailer for “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” We get to see more snarky Spidey, more Tony Stark, more Vulture, even a little tiny glimpse of Shocker. Sure, we get two villains in the same film, something that doomed “Spider-Man 3,” but you could argue other things killed that movie as well.

But one thing that intrigued me while I was digging around the Internet was something that I’m sure plenty of people know about, but I just thought it would be a good idea to bring it back into the public’s conscientiousness. 25 years ago we were treated to a little film called “The Green Goblin’s Last Stand,” and you might call it one of the first “fan films.” Sure, with the rise of social media, better equipment and the insatiable fandom that does with comic book characters, this is a pretty rough outing, but just check out the trailer below. You have J. Jonah Jameson, Mysterio, and even Bullseye. Who wouldn’t want to see a movie with Mysterio and Bullseye, especially back in 1992!

But, spoiler alert, the trailer isn’t a fair representation of the film, just to warn you,…

As time has gone on, we’ve seen the likes of “The Joker Diaries,” “Power/Rangers,” and numerous Batman related shorts, and in no way am I comparing this year’s “Homecoming” to the Troma-like quality of “Last Stand” but it’s compelling to see how far we’ve come in the history of Spider-Man and the evolution of quality in fan-made films. Click HERE for a great list of some of the best.

Am I excited to see “Homecoming?” Meh, of course I’ll see it, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to really get hyped for anymore comic book films. My saturation point has been reached. Every year, going back to”Iron Man” way back in 2008 (wow, nearly a decade at this point) we’ve seen at least two Marvel movies a year, and now that DC is in the mix, that ups the total, and if you throw in Fox properties like X-Men, and Marvel and DC shows on Netflix and Network TV…you see where I’m getting at…

Oh, I nearly forgot, if you haven’t seen the “Homecoming” trailer yet, click HERE and enjoy.

November 17, 2014

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

EXPERIENCE

Birdman – Experience

Let’s not get it confused; “Birdman” is not a superhero film in the traditional sense. Strike that, in barely any sense. If anything it’s a study in our so-called worship of superheroes and superhero films. Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself. “Birdman” is a film experience that will either excite or confound, will awe or confuse; in short, it’s not a film for the masses, but it just might be one of the most technical and well acted films in all of 2014.

“Birdman” stars Michael Keaton as Riggan Thompson, the former star of the superhero series “The Birdman.” After having fallen on hard times after declining to star in a fourth installment of the franchise, Thompson hopes to reinvent himself on Broadway by directing and starring in a revival of  “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” After an accident with one of his stars during rehearsal, Riggan is forced to hire method actor, Mike, played by Edward Norton, to fill in, which leads to Mike and Riggan clashing. If that wasn’t enough, Riggan is also dealing with his new girlfriend possibly being pregnant, a daughter fresh out of rehab, and a Broadway critic looking to destroy his show with a bad review. And the cherry on top; Riggan is haunted by a voice tempting him into fate; the voice of his Birdman past.

At the surface, “Birdman” can be summed up very easily. It’s the story of a man searching for something more, something that people don’t see on the surface. Searching for a purpose beyond what has been expected of him for so many years, in essence, it’s pretty much the true story of Michael Keaton. Look at Keaton’s career post-Batman, outside of maybe “Jackie Brown” there really isn’t much to write home about. “Batman” made his career, and after that ride was over, there wasn’t much left. The fact that Keaton recognizes that “Birdman” is almost autobiographical.

The other thing that most people will notice about this film, are the extremely long takes that have become a staple for director Alejandro González Iñárritu. From “Amores Perros” to “Bitful” Iñárritu, much his his fellow Mexican filmmaker, Alfonso Cuarón, has made a living on the long take. While it’s a risky decision, especially with the subject of “Birdman” which is essentially a play, the editing is perfect and gives the illusion that you are actually watching a one-take film. If you are a smart observer, you’ll see the cuts and where the edits are made, but they are done extremely well and “Birdman” will definitely be in Oscar contention on it’s technical merits alone.

Aside from being a technical film, “Birdman” is also able to be a film that is thought provoking, but also a little confusing for a lament. One of the biggest mistakes that someone might make going into this film is believing that it’s a superhero film…..its not, in the traditional sense. What I do find the most interesting is that there are a lot of hints that Riggan Thompson might actually be a superhero, and it’s all in how you interpret what you see. Without giving out spoilers, there are tons of ways to interpret “Birdman,” and that could be a turn off to some people who were expecting something a little different.

All in all, “Birdman” is a film worthy of your attention. It has fantastic acting, wonderful directing, and it’s just quirky and weird enough to demand more than one viewing. It’s likely that both Keaton and Norton will be nominated for Oscars in addition to several technical nominations, notably direction, editing, and cinematography. “Birdman” certainly does fly, but it will make your brain work.

Fun Fact: Alfred Hithcock’s 1948 “Rope” is an early example of the perceived “unbroken shot” technique.

June 24, 2014

Batman

Batman: Quintessential

1989/126mins/Action

There are only a couple films that I can pick from that have influenced me at a very young age. Back to Future is one and the other is today’s review.

Batman is pretty much a perfect film even though its a film plagued with errors.

Vicki Vale entering the Batcave. (Say What?! Thanks Alfred)
Batman killing the Joker. (Wait… Batman just killed the Joker?)
The Joker killing Martha and Thomas Wayne. (Wait what?)
Batman creating the Joker. (Ugh you made me first)
Batman being a mass murder. (I think Batman kills more than the Joker)

These are big issues, yet Batman continues to be the best Batman film to have ever been made. How is that possible?

Because Batman 89 has everything to make a summer blockbuster and everything to make a staple of a film for a young boy’s mind.

Lets start with the cast
The cast is absolutely perfect. Of course at the time everyone had issues with it, but overtime the film holds up with help from its characters and actors. Michael Keaton is Batman! He will always be a favorite for us 80’s and 90’s kids. When I first met Neal he asked me about who I thought was the best Batman. I said Bale comes close but hands down I have to say Keaton. Keaton brought Batman from a joke to a icon. I am a big fan of the comedy of 66’s Batman but it will always piss me off. Batman was not that, he is what Keaton showed us. Keaton’s ability to pull off Batman and Bruce is something we really haven’t had since. Bale again is the only one that comes close, but falls short with that voice. Keaton got it. Keaton went to that dark place in his voice and for that he will always be the Batman/Bruce of the big screen.

Jack Nicholson as the Joker is hands-down one of the greatest castings in film history. He as a actor that took that role and stole each scene he was in. Vicki Vale played by Kim Basinger has always been my favorite Batman love interest since maybe Andrea Beaumont. No female since has been able to pull off her part. The cast is a classic and I hope we get another Batman film with a fantastic cast like this in the future.

The story is a simple telling of the origin while using flashbacks. It’s very well written, and the structure is fantastic. I’m amazed what Sam Hamm did with this script. I’m more amazed Sam Hamm didn’t become a well known writer. Right now Hamm’s IMDB page shows 9 credits. How is that possible? He really did a great job with this film. When Batman Returns came around he kind of was given the shaft. He gets credit for story but if you ever get a chance to read his script you’ll find a good read. In fact I really wish they went more with his then Daniel Waters.

That score and soundtrack, WOW!
Danny Elfman! Elfman created the greatest theme ever! Sure Superman has a good one, Star Wars is cool but Batman! Come on its amazing and why the hell did we not bring it back. Elfman created a score that just fits perfectly. It’s dark and beautiful. Yet it’s very strange and exciting. I want to feel this again in the theater and I hope we get this theme back, come on Zimmer DO IT! I double dare you! Now Prince created a period of time that will forever be playing in my ears. I listen to this soundtrack almost every week. The film gets watch almost every week too, yep I’m not joking. Happy or angry I will queue up that soundtrack and play the hell out of it.

Art direction is incredible. Something you will never see anywhere else. When I look at that set I think to myself this is a once in a lifetime experience. That suit is my favorite version ever to be done. Zack Snyder is coming close, still we haven’t seen it in color yet, but you can never go wrong with full black and that yellow belt and logo.

Tim Burton pulled off one of the greatest feats in film history. He was a kid at the time. A kid with the most expensive film riding on his back and he pulled it off. I don’t think he really tries anymore, which sadness me. His early work is far superior and is something I dearly miss. But what Burton gave me makes up completely for his recent films. He gave me a childhood, which I reminisce about once and awhile. Batman was and is everything to me. Without this film, things could be different. I might of not of been that little boy with the black towel attached with those clothes pins running. And for that I can only think of a simpler time and say thanks for the great film.

Happy 25th Birthday!

Oh and…

I’m Batman!

June 23, 2014

SR Podcast (Ep. 25): June 2014 – Batman 89 Movie Commentary

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY
 


It’s June and it’s Podcast time! But this one is special. Today we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of 1989’s classic, Batman. So we decided to try something new, join us today as we give you a SR Movie Commentary! Our first commentary and very possibly not our last commentary 😉
So queue up those VCR’s…hmmm wait sorry….DVD’s, Blu-rays and this Podcast and have a blast to the past with us. You can watch our YouTube video, listen to the Podcast or stream the commentary with the full film on dropbox!

Click here for the Dropbox Stream

Show Notes:

Wait did Julie Kill someone?!

Music Notes:

Birds & Brass By Sort Of Soul

Batman: The Video Game Composer(s) Naoki Kodaka, Nobuyuki Hara

Batman OST by Prince
 
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May 25, 2014

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast Batman 75th Anniversary Special

In honor of The Dark Knight’s 75th Anniversary, the Simplistic Reviews Podcast got the whole gang together to talk about the legacy of Batman.  Now you’re probably wondering…what makes that different from any other show?  Ummmm…not much.  Although, the boys do hold an NFL style Draft of Batman villains who they think could kill the Caped Crusader.  Afterwards the draft grades are given out by a very special guest arbiter brought in to class up and beautify the proceedings…Matthew’s very own lovely wife Nicole Stewart.  No, she does not show any favoritism.  Yes, their marriage nearly comes apart at the seams.  No, Justin, DJ, and Neal don’t try to help matters.    The boys discuss Batfleck’s new Batsuit and also pick out their own favorite versions of Batman and Joker on a very special Simply The Best segment.

Grab your cape, your cowl, your shark repellant, and your Bat credit card and enjoy the show!

Show Notes:
Bat Shark Repellant
Batman Scares Deadshot
Batfleck Suit
Mr. Freeze Saying Nora
Trailer For Batman TAS Episode Over The Edge
Batman Rogues Gallery Pre-Draft Rankings

Music Notes:
The Best By Tina Turner
Batman ’89 Theme By Danny Elfman
Batman Begins Theme By Hans Zimmer
Batman ’66 Intro Theme By Neal Hefti
American Idol Theme By Cathy Dennis
Monday Night Football Theme By Johnny Pearson

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