Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  A never-ending "Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na Batman!" played in my head while I wrote this review.

Batman:  Return of the Caped Crusader – 3 out of 5

Besides not paying bills, one of the fondest memories I have as a child growing up is having my afternoon time spent with Batman.  Every day when I got home from school I would watch reruns of the 60s Batman series with Adam West while waiting for Batman:  The Animated Series to come on.  I had an absolute blast watching that old series and it ends up holding a special place in my heart.  I haven’t really revisited the show since those days other than an occasion glimpse here and there but when I saw that the DC was going to have an animated version with Batman:  Return of the Caped Crusaders, I was pretty excited.  

Animating Adam West means we are one step closer to providing this national treasure
with immortality!

You can insert your own Nickelback joke here if you feel
like it.  I'm not going to do it.
While watching their favorite show at stately Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne (Adam West) and Dick Grayson (Burt Ward) learn that The Joker (Jeff Bergman), The Penguin (William Salyers), The Riddler (Wally Wingert) and Catwoman (Julie Newmar) have teamed together.  A part of their plan involves the use of a multiplier ray and Catwoman using a drug that will take control of Batman.  The heroes thwart the villains but Batman starts to act oddly and decides the entire city of Gotham isn’t acting according to his steadfast ethical ideas and decides to use the ray on himself and take the city over.  Now Robin must team together with Catwoman in order to save the city and change Batman back.

When I was a kid, this was the coolest car ever.  Actually, it still ranks pretty
high up there.

Return of the Caped Crusaders is a pretty fun animated movie from DC.  It’s a delightful return to a time when the property wasn’t afraid of being campy and before DC decided that Batman can only exist in the realm of the dark and gritty.  The problem that arises from this is that this feature is all about getting that nostalgia itch and sometimes nostalgia isn’t the best thing in the world.

Just the idea of using the word "spork" for a fight sound effect floored me.

The strongest aspects about this feature is the fact it has a great voice acting cast that involves some returning stars from the show in the form of West, Ward and Newmar but also blends in some tried and true voice acting talent (and also sees Thomas Lennon come in and take over for Chief O’Hara).  The film also fills its story with a lot of fun references and gags that poke fun at the original series (but in a harmless and playful way).  Finally, the film captures the very essence of what the show was and works all of its tropes exceptionally well.

Seriously, this film put in a lot of great references and gags to the original series
and the mythology of Batman in general and it's fantastic!

The downsides of Return of the Caped Crusaders are simple.  While the voice acting of Bergman and Salyers as The Joker and The Penguin respective isn’t terrible, I really didn’t feel that either man sounded like Cesar Romero and Burgess Meredith.  Granted, there are moments where they do emulate them well but, for a majority of the time, I really didn’t feel like their likeness was captured.  This was a bit distracting when you have original cast members returning.  However, I will add that Wally Wingert absolutely nailed impersonating Frank Gorshin.

This moment of having a bunch of classic villains show up was pretty awesome,
I gotta say!

Another issue I had with the film is that it starts to drag and feel a bit tedious by the final act.  At this point the nostalgia factor wore off for me and all the gags and satirical send-ups of the show’s tropes started to feel a tad repetitive.  The original series episodes were 25 minute adventures (not including the movie) and this adaptation is a little over an hour.  When the running length is factored into a story that already kinda felt all over the place and not really nailed down and focused, it made for an experience that is fun when it starts but starts to grow tiresome as the credits start to approach.

For example, this joke was done one too many times.

While there were some problems I had with Batman:  Return of the Caped Crusaders, the overall experience was fairly pleasant.  I really enjoyed the nostalgia spike it gave me at the beginning, it’s was genuinely funny, it has a great attention to details, and I loved how the animation is reflective of DC’s other animated movies.  Will this one hold the same place in my heart that the original series has or end up being seen in semi-regular manner the same way the ’66 movie is?  Nah, but I still had some fun with what it was.

Batman says stay in school and don't do drugs!

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