The character of Batman has been around for more than 75 years and has had various incarnations. In the Christopher Nolan trilogy and the DC Extended Universe of movies the character is all dark and brooding and serious. But in the 1960s live action Batman TV series we had a much lighter and campier version of the caped crusader and the boy wonder Robin.
Last month an animated film was released based on the series and it was full of retro goodness and lots of laughs. There is not a whole lot to spoil but I will keep my review spoiler free. Let’s slide down the pole (Bat pole not stripper pole) and get this nostalgia party started:
#1 A Pow! pop of colour
I really liked the animation of this film. The colours pop out at you and everything is bright and vivid, which fits with the campy comic book nature of the movie. The character designs are also a wonderful blend of modern tastes and recapturing the look of the original actors. And Robin is back in his green jockey shorts. Yes he is.
In terms of voice acting Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar reprise their roles as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson/Robin and Selina Kyle/Catwoman respectively. They all do a great job and are joyously over the top though you can hear the age in Newmar’s voice a bit. The voice actors for the Joker, Penguin and Riddler, played in the live action series by Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith and Frank Gorshin respectively, do a commendable job of copying the tones and characteristics of their predecessors.
#2 A Bamf! of action
One of the most memorable aspects of the TV show was the action bubbles during fight scenes. This is fully embraced in the movie and you get a litany of ridiculous onomatopoeia. There is also a lot of action throughout the almost hour and a half movie which I found surprising but welcome.
#3 A Biff! of nostalgia
The movie operates on three levels: a continuation of the series, an homage and also a semi-parody. Pretty much everything you know and love about 1960s Batman returns for this flick. The ridiculous bat gadgets? Check. Repeated use of alliteration? Check. Oddly climbing up walls? Check there too. Super groovy soundtrack? That would also be a yes. Overly complicated ridiculous death trap. Oh yeah!
The main villains are the same four from the film version of the series but we do also get cameos from other show baddies like King Tut and Egghead. Even Chief Miles O’Hara with his thick accent and nosy Aunt Harriet show up. The movie also references the three actresses to play Catwoman – Newmar, Eartha Kitt and Lee Meriwether (movie only) – and even takes a jab at The Dark Knight Returns which I was definitely not expecting.
#4 A Whack! of humour
You know what else I did not expect? How incredibly funny this movie is. The live action series was always campy and tongue in cheek but this film is next level ridiculous. Robin’s penchant for random explanations that begin with “holy” is in full effect and reaches new heights of ludicrousness. He also takes issue with the Batman/Catwoman romance and spends the movie calling her things like “Bathsheba” and “hussy”.
You may have noticed that I have not yet spoken about the plot of the movie. Well it is bonkers crazy and that is kind of the point. The film revels in the coincidences, contrivances and deus ex machina moments courtesy increasingly convenient and nonsensical devices. I laughed out loud multiple times with this movie and it is perfect for any fan of the 60s series. My favourite incarnation of Batman is dark and brooding but I still have space in my heart for the campier versions as well. And you should too.
Rating: Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders gets 3/4 holy retro goodness Batman.
And in case you missed it here is the film trailer:
So are you excited about Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders? And what is your favourite incarnation of the Dark Knight? Feel free to comment below.
For another comedic take on Batman you can check out the Lego Batman trailer here and for ultra serious Batman you can check out my Batman v Superman review here. And for more retro movie love you can like the MovieVille Facebook page here or follow me on Twitter @suprememango012.
I’ll see you back here tomorrow. Same Redmango Time! Same Redmango Channel!