Oh. My. God.
A few months back, I went to the local cinema to watch the animated version of Alan Moore’s iconic The Killing Joke — an absolute classic in graphic novel form adapted to screen. The cinema was packed. The movie?
Wow. It sucked. I mean… it really sucked.
Today, however, I went to see The Return of the Caped Crusaders. This animated feature follows on from the much-loved high-camp Batman TV series of the late sixties, and includes the original TV Batman (Adam West), the original TV Robin (Burt Ward) and one of the original TV Catwomans (Catwomen? Help me out here…anyway, it’s the redoubtable Julie Newmar) voicing their original roles.
Aside from my group — me, my three kids, two of my friends and two of Genghis’ friends — there were exactly three other people in the cinema at 3.00pm on a Saturday afternoon. And the movie was fucking wonderful.
Okay, yeah. It’s horses for courses. If you absolutely loathed the old TV series you won’t much like this. But you know: I first saw the series on TV when I was maybe six years old, and at that age, I was pissed off that my dark, scary, uber-competent hero was reduced to prancing about in a powder-blue cape. It wasn’t until I was at University that I appreciated the delightful silliness of the show — and by then, I could only catch it at rare intervals. I still haven’t seen all of it.
This movie — it’s as close to perfect as you can get, frankly. It is both part of the original series, and an homage to that series, and at the same time it extends the original enough to make it even more entertaining and clever for a modern audience. The nods and the Easter eggs are all there, in all the right places but they’re not obtrusive and painful, just clever and funny — and never once does it make fun of the original.
I could list nifty lines.(Truckloads.) I could list scenes that made me laugh out loud.(Buttloads.) I could talk about the post-modern awareness and the gentle lampooning of modern, gritty, dark Batman movies. I could do all that and more, but I’m not going to spoil any of it. I’m just going to say it again: Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar — and a cast of people with a clear devotion to the original high-camp silliness. Yeah, you have to endure an introduction from some talking-head types out of cinema (Kevin Smith and Matt Parkman were the two I recognized) … but the moment the film started, launching with a slightly jazzier version of that iconic na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na theme, I was hooked.
Listen: if you ever appreciated that old TV series — or even if you just like a good, clever parody and you’re tired of gritty, shitty Batmen! — you owe it to yourself to see this film. It. Is. Fun.
And rejoice! They’ve already set up for a sequel next year. Better: the villain will be Two-face. Best of all? Absolutely best of all?
Two-face will be voiced by none other than The Shat.
Adam West. Burt Ward. Julie Newmar. William Shatner…