Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Devon #6 = Batman: Dead End

The Dark Knight is the best Batman film. Not many people would disagree, and it's easy to see why. Between Christopher Nolan, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, and one hell of a script, the film had allot going for it. But before the Dark Knight, the was one movie generally agreed by the more intense fans to be the best Batman movie. One that had no known actors, writers, or director. One with a budget six thousand times smaller than The Dark Knight. And one with a running time of eight minutes. Ladies and Gentlemen, Batman: Dead End.

Dead End is a fantastic short. Given the films running time, and that five minutes of it is a fight scene, there isn't much to say plot wise without ruining it. What I will say is that the Joker's on the loose, and Batman confronts him, running into... well someone you aught to recognize. The individual elements all work well, especially the script which is well written, and gets the big ideas of the comics across (Does Batman exist because of criminals, or vice versa? Is he crazy? Why does he wear his mask?). Writing that addresses these themes well is a large part of the shorts success, helped along by capturing the motion and look of Batman. The leaps, the cape, the way he fights, it's all captured perfectly and shows the talents of both the director and the actor. The costume are, frankly, amazing given the budget. Yes, the Batsuit is composed of fabric and leather in some versions. The only facet that stuck out for me was the Joker. His acting seems over the top, and not in the way it should be. It's like someone trying really hard to sound crazy. But then again, many people have described this Joker as being creepy and as their favorite part, so I'll assume it's just my personal taste.

To understand why the film is such a success you need to understand that the history of Batman movies has been rough. Early movies were too campy, the Tim Burton films got the Gothic feel but suffered from some strange storytelling decisions and then Joel Schumacher... will not be discussed. Fans were desperate by 2003, and it Batman: Dead End, they finally got their version of Batman on film. Kevin Smith, who would go on to write the excellent Batman: Cacophony, summed it up best, calling it "possibly the truest, best Batman movie ever made". And for 2003, I would have to agree.

Watch it here.

(Fun Fact, Andy Warhol once made a movie called Batman Dracula, where Batman was played by Gregory Battcock)

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