Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

March 10, 2014

[SOM #70]

Returning to the seemingly never-ending stream of Batman movies ripe for Gonzo review, we're back to cover the two-part animated adaptation of one of the most celebrated and important graphic novels of all time. The movies are way better than the book and we'll tell you why throughout this podcast. These are available on DVD and Blu Ray and the second part is better than the first. Don't wait for the box set. These are worth seeing right now. 

Joining me are Matt Ramsey of the Do Try This at Home podcast and Batman expert David Hartrick. David writes for major Football websites In Bed with Maradona and 500 Reasons to Love Football. His book on the world’s favourite sport; 50 Teams that Mattered is available from Ockley Books. Spoilers and foul language run throughout. We'll be back in a few days time with another podcast covering the second half of this conversation; a comprehensive guide to the very best Batman graphic novels, framed as a history of the Dark Knight's career.

After that will be the long awaited follow up to last year's Batman: Breakdown audio drama, a full-cast adaptation of Alan Moore's The Killing Joke. 

This is our twelfth Batman review show for Gonzo. The others include...

1. Batman: The Movie (1966)
2. Batman (1989)
3. Batman Returns
4. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm / The Animated Series
5. Batman Forever / Batman & Robin
6. Batman: Hush
7. Batman: Year One / Under the Red Hood / Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
8. Batman: Arkham Asylum / Arkham City
9. Batman Begins
10. The Dark Knight
11. The Dark Knight Rises
12. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

And of course if you haven't yet had the pleasure of listening to Breakdown, it's probably the best work I've ever done, so make sure all your friends know and check out the two-part making of show, to discover the depth of secrets and detail found within.

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The Dark Knight Rises

February 23, 2014

[SOM #53]

We come to it at last. The final review in the Gonzo Batman series. The epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan's game-changing Dark Knight Trilogy. It's definitely not as straightforward as film two in the series because many people hate this film already, and an equal amount adore every inch of it.

It's a tricky balancing act since so much of the most well-crafted and exceptional elements have already been discussed over three and a half hours reviewing Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Neither did I want this turning into a hail of disproportionate vitriol over perceived flaws. Fortunately James Carter of Cane and Rinse standing in for Josh this week brings all kinds of insight into aspects a lot of us hadn't grasped on viewing.

Joining James and myself are Sharon Shaw, Jerome McIntosh, Paul Gibson and Aquila Edwards of Gonzo Planet and Neil Taylor of GameBurst, KDS 2.0 and Desert Island Gonzo.

In a few days time I am putting out a special episode full of footage recorded at our first community gathering, GPLEX 2012. Next week join me with Daniel Floyd, Sharon Shaw and David Hartrick, all of whom played key roles in Batman: Breakdown. We will be going into the creative process and hidden meanings in my very first Making Of.

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The Dark Knight

February 22, 2014

[SOM #52]

Part two of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Following the powerful set-up of Batman Begins, the production team pulled out all the stops to deliver an epic crime thriller in the style of Michael Mann's Heat. This is a story of a city in turmoil and a police force struggling to keep order, up against the ruthless mob. At the center are Batman and The Joker, forces of nature representing order and chaos. The only hope for Gotham may in fact be the White Knight, district attorney Harvey Dent.

But you all know this, because everybody and his dog saw this movie back in 2008. I just wanted to set the scene a little. Much is discussed, especially Heath Ledger's extraordinary performance, but not forgetting the brilliant turns from Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal and the possible career-high score from Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard.

Back with me for more super-serious analysis are Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse, Neil Taylor of GameBurst and KDS 2.0 and from Gonzo Planet; Sharon Shaw, Jerome McIntosh, Paul Gibson and Aquila Edwards.

If you haven't heard it yet, download Batman: Breakdown, my first audio drama. It's been universally applauded by all who've commented so far and I want to thank everyone for your kind words.

The Gonzo Planetary Expo 2012, GPLEX is this Saturday and we're going to try for a live stream. Whether that works or not, you can stay updated on Twitter by following @Digital_Gonzo and most importantly, if you wish to join in the mass fundraising we're doing for GamesAid, which is a UK-based charity concern, centered around the video gaming industry and focused on improving the lives of children, you can donate by following the link on the Gonzo Planet website homepage.

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Batman Begins

February 21, 2014

[SOM #51]

Finally we get to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. After eight years away from cinema screens, and multiple stalled attempts at relaunching the franchise, Warner Bros knocked the Bat out of the park with the best film so far and arguably the most compelling and mature adaptation of Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego.

With me for this super-serious analysis are Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse, Neil Taylor of GameBurst and KDS 2.0 and from Gonzo Planet; Sharon Shaw, Jerome McIntosh, Paul Gibson and a new voice for this series, Aquila Edwards.

Many aspects are discussed and deconstructed including Christian Bale's intense portrayal, ace cinematographer Wally Pfister's erotic endeavours and why Hollywood on paper is a senile, avaricious old psychopath.

At the end there is a rather important announcement about the imminent release of my most ambitious project to date, Batman: Breakdown.

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Batman: Year One / Under the Red Hood / Return of the Joker

February 20, 2014

[SOM #50]

This week we're looking at three of the best Animated Batman Movies.

1. Year One (2011): The retold origin by Frank Miller, published in comic form in 1987. This film focuses on Bruce first donning the cape and cowl at the same time that Jim Gordon arrives at Gotham City PD and encounters overwhelming corruption. This was the inspiration for Batman Begins and  Mask of the Phantasm and reminded everyone of the tragic event that caused Bruce Wayne to dedicate his life to fighting crime.

2. Under the Red Hood (2010): Based on Under the Hood by Judd Winnick, this is a very personal story about Bruce being confronted by a shadowy figure from his past and a complex, emotional revenge tale. Genuinely frightening at times with a new portrayal of Joker courtesy of John DiMaggio.

3. Batman Beyond - Return of the Joker (2000) The finale for the three-season series wherein an aged and crippled Bruce Wayne attempts to train a new Batman to protect Gotham. When the Joker shows his grinning face for the first time since his apparent death 50 years previously, all Hell breaks loose and we learn sad and disturbing secrets about how things ended with Robin and Batgirl.

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Batman Forever / Batman & Robin

February 19, 2014

[SOM #49]

We're back at the Bat! This week was going to be a pair of reviews of the 1995 film Batman Forever and the 1997 sequel; Batman & Robin, both directed by Joel Schumacher. What we found was that our problems with these films could not be separated and a great deal of the issues of the fourth Batman movie originated in the third, which usually gets off lightly as it is considered halfway watchable (we suspect because of Nicole Kidman).

The truth is, I had real trouble pinning anybody down to help review this as the two are such tedious and incompetently constructed films. Everyone passed or fell ill or were otherwise engaged and frankly I don't blame them. This was a review-set that filled me with anxiety over what to say. We know they're a mess but the trick was how to explain why. In the end it was the Gonzo way of course; I did my homework and looked into how this odyssey of multibuggery came to pass. Gonzo Planet's Paul 'FlyingMuttley' Gibson joined me for what ended up a bumper double-bill of savage critiquing. There is a special section on the making-of documentaries that has to beard to be believed. It reaches levels of self-delusion most often associated with war-criminals in denial.

Next week we're looking at one of my favourite Batman graphic novels, which I suggest you all pick up and read before listening in. It's called 'Hush' and it's perfect for both newcomers to Batman comics and old hands. The world presented is like the Arkham games or a gritter version of the Animated Series and most of your favourite characters are involved in this compelling mystery story.

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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

February 18, 2014

[SOM #48]

This is the fourth of the Batman shows. This time we’re taking a deep dive into the absolutely underrated box-office bomb, virtually unknown by the general public, but possibly best film about Batman until the Nolan films came along; Mask of the Phantasm. By extension this allows us to talk about the Animated Series which this sprang from unexpectedly for all.

Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill head up the cast of relative unknowns in this melodramatic film noir which explores a key relationship at Bruce Wayne's turning point as he assumes the cowl and cape of The Dark Knight. And in the present day he has to deal with the shadowy and murderous Phantasm as well as a rather terrifying Joker. If you like Arkham Asylum, you will recognize the voices and where that world began. Absolutely do pick this up and see it. The show has some prominent spoilers after a certain point.

My guests this show are Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse, Neil Taylor of GameBurst and KDS 2.0 and  Jerome McIntosh & Paul Gibson of Gonzo Planet.

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Batman Returns

February 17, 2014

[SOM #47]

This is the third of the Batman shows. This time we're focusing on the popular, troubled, dark, flawed and twisted sequel to Burton's 1989 smash hit.

My guests this week are Neil Taylor of GameBurst and KDS 2.0 along with Sharon Shaw, Jerome McIntosh and Paul Gibson of Gonzo Planet.

This was the only big-screen Catwoman until this year's Dark Knight Rises and the only Penguin if you don't count the 1966 Batman film or the frankly fuck-awful Catwoman (2004). It has Christopher Walken acting as himself, Michelle Pfeiffer in skin-tight vinyl, licking herself, Batman murdering three men in cold blood, a raw-fish-munching, diminutive, obese, sex-pest and many, many clowns.

Next; Batman: Mask of the Phantasm [1993]

If you don't own this absolutely fantastic animated film about the Dark Knight I am giving you a direct purchase-order. At £4.07 on Amazon it won't break the bank and may just be the best non-Nolan installment to this very broad franchise.

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Batman

February 16, 2014

[SOM #46]

This is the second of the Batman shows. This time we're covering one of the most successful blockbusters of its day, a movie that redefined how Hollywood handled it's big, fantastical character pieces. It followed on from Richard Donner's Superman (1978) as the next significant step in comic-book movies, jump-starting a series that would dominate the 90's in the way The Man of Steel dominated the 80's.

My guests this week are Leah Haydu of GamerDork Version 4.0, Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse, Neil Taylor of GameBurst and KDS 2.0 and Jerome McIntosh and Paul Gibson of Gonzo Planet.

With a soundtrack by Prince, a starring turn from Jack Nicholson's Joker and spectacularly 80's sensibilities, this review gave us so much meat to chew on and remains eminently quotable. Whatever your thoughts on Tim Burton are, he handled this film very well for the age of big business, shoulder-pads and rubber suits... and of course those wonderful toys.

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Batman: The Movie

February 15, 2014

[SOM #45]

This is the first of seventeen shows reviewing the many many movies that have been made about The Batman, starting way back with Adam West and culminating with The Dark Knight Rises, coming to cinemas this July.

My guests this week are Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse, Neil Taylor of GameBurst and KDS 2.0 and Jerome McIntosh and Paul Gibson of Gonzo Planet. On the chopping block we have an extremely divisive depiction. Some will find it irritating, shallow, pointless and boring, others consider it a masterclass of camp humour. Will we manage a balanced view?

For those wishing to catch up on everything we'll be reviewing, here is a handy checklist.

1. Batman The Movie (1966)
2. Batman (1989)
3. Batman Returns (1992)
4. Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
5. Batman Forever (1995) / Batman & Robin (1997)
6. Batman: Hush (2002)
7. Batman: Year One (2011) / Return of the Joker (2000) / Under the Red Hood (2010) 
8. Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009) / Arkham City (2011) 
9. Batman Begins (2005)
10. The Dark Knight (2008)
11. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
12. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (2013)
13. Batman: A Graphic Novel History 
14. Batman: Breakdown [Audio Drama] (2012)
15. Batman: The Killing Joke [Audio Drama] (2013)
16. The Making of Batman: Breakdown [Parts 1 & 2]
17. Batman: The Killing Joke [Director's Commentary]

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