Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Max Allan Collins Movie Reveiwer

Ed here: About the new Batman movie Al/Max Collins has this to say today on his fine blog:

"Speaking of Batman, count me among the minority who found THE DARK KNIGHT RISES the latest candidate for “Emperor’s New Clothes” status. The pretentiousness and the self-importance on display are almost as unbearable as the length of the thing, which contains more absurdities than a Dr. Seuss book (but is far less fun). What I come away with most are the unintelligible dialogue exchanges between pro-wrestler-like Bane, whose mouth is covered by a pointlessly grotesque mask, and Bale’s Batman, who talks in his now trademark low, lispy spooky Batman voice – not that any of it is worth hearing. Their muffled back-and-forth is the stuff that Riff Trax are made of. And if you like kettle drums, you’ll just love the score. Perfect for an endless Samoan war dance.

"On the plus side, Anne Hathaway makes a perfectly fine Catwoman who actually injects some humor into the mix (a rarity in these dour films). And while I like Ms. Hathaway’s rear view just fine, was it really necessary to design a bat-cycle that has her riding it prone with her butt in their air? Just wondering."

Ed here: Now if I bothered to see it I'd probably agree with Al. The review also reminded me of the letters I used to get about Al's long time movie review back when I was editing Mystery Scene. I could always count on him to stir things up. People either loved or loathed his reviews. As I recall after a few years the lovers outnumbered the loathers. I loved them.

I didn't always agree with Al. Still don't (see Adam Sandler who I can't believe gets work outside of handing out Big Macs through a drive-up window.) But Al's such a good writer and astute critic that I enjoy his reviews not only for his discussions of movies but just for the pleasure of reading him. His reviews were collected not too long ago. Somebody should make the book available in e form.

One thing I've always admired about his film reviews is his abhorrence of pretense. Some of these comic book movies--to name just one example--get treated with the kind of reverence usually reserved for films that have proved over decades to be masterpieces.

I'll admit to saying this with something of a grudge. When John Carter of Mars came out it was trashed in an orgy of loathing. That's fair. But to me it was not only a thoroughly entertaining movie and one--as a lifelong Edgar Rice Burroughs fan--that brought ERB's Mars to real life.

So I was laughing with great pleasure as I read Al's trashing of Batman's pomposity. And I'm sure he's right about Anne Hathaway's bottom. The rest of her is pretty damned nice, too.


Dave Zeltserman said...

Ed, I went into John Carter without reading any of the books or knowing much of what it was about, and I thought it was great.

Al raises some valid points about Dar Knight Rising. Anne Hathaway is very good, I couldn't understand most of the dialog between Bane and Batman, the fight scenes between them were uninspired, the movie was too long, and lots of plot holes. That said, the movie did succeed in creating the epic feel that it was after, and overall I enjoyed it quite a bit.

RJR said...


We are in complete agreement about Adam Sandler. I don't see how he works!


Ricky Sprague said...

"Dark Knight Rises" is the worst Batman film of all time. In fact, it is worse than every single episode of Adam West's "Batman" TV show, which in many ways it emulates: Villains who actually say things like, "Killing you would be too easy, I want to see you suffer," then leave Batman alone so that he can figure a way out of his silly "prison," and who later, just as they're about to finally succeed in their ridiculous plan to destroy Gotham City, pause to literally go back to their childhood to explain their motivation for creating this dastardly plot.

It's also just about as funny as any episode of that TV show, although much of this film's humor is unintentional.

Unknown said...

I'm on Al's side. Dreadful movie. Batty's costume looks like it came out of the rubber goods section of an S/M catalog. The action sequences are incoherent. If I saw this correctly, a group of cops, who were locked in a sewer for 3 months, emerge clean-shaven and neat as pins. They go head on against a band of protesters on the narrow streets of lower Gotham/Manhattan with each side firing straight ahead and no doubt killing allies as well as enemies. What dreck! And by the way, I seem to recall that Ras Al Ghul was Dennis O'Neil's creation, but most critics gave Frank Miller for the tone of the movie. Neither deserves the blame.
PS Ed, feel better.

Todd Mason said...

All the Nolan Batfilms chew, I gather, or at least since the first two are horribly ponderous bores, so no reason this one wouldn't be.

Hathaway is talented, and pretty when not in makeup that makes her large features look clownish (she would've made a more interesting Joker than Ledger did), though she seems to be undergoing typical Hollywood anorexia. That said, I hope this helps her career...and maybe someone will do another film actually about B and C (the Pfeiffer/Keaton one wasn't bad where it wasn't excessively cutesy).

Anonymous said...

In Amazing Heroes#119 in 1987, Max Allan Collins had an interview. He said the following about how he wrote for DC:

“I’m afraid what I’m running smack up into is the old Batman TV show controversy: the old business about, Gee that was a TV show that made fun of Batman and made fun of comic books, so we have to show people that Batman and comic books are serious and they’re adult and accordingly all the fun goes out of it. There was a reason why that TV show was played for laughs and that is when you put actual human beings in those costumes and act out those stories, it looks stupid. They betray their juvenile roots”.


A poster named Count Karnstein once commented on the 1960's show.

It did not stray that far from the feel of the comic books from 1944-to-1964. As the poster Count Karnstein pointed out, those comic books:
“had giant pennies and stuffed dinosaurs, was wearing caveman, zebra, and rainbow costumes, teamed up with Bat-Mite, split in two, melded with Superman, fought a living #2 pencil, drowned in giant gravy boats and menaced by giant sized water pistols, tennis rackets, [had a boy sidekick with shaved legs and pixie shoes] and all sorts of insane absurdities long before the Batman movie or tv show were released….Dozier was bringing the characters to the screen in the manner in which they had been portrayed in the comics. Was there ever a silly, absurd, ridiculous Green Hornet comic book? If so, it’s escaped my attention for the better part of 40 years. Did we ever see a Caveman Green Hornet or a Green Hornet in a rainbox/zebra/dayglo red suit? Did we ever see Green Hornet being drowned in a giant gravy boat or being chased by aliens and dinosaurs? Was there ever an Ace the Green Hornet Dog? How about a Hornet-Mite?

No? I didn’t think so. There’s your answer. It’s literally that simple. Dozier was taking characters and putting them on the screen. Green Hornet was always played straight and serious in the comics/strips/radio, so he was done that way for tv. Batman was as absurd, silly, goofy, and ridiculous as anything else that has ever appeared in comics, and so that’s how he appeared on-screen”.

".......Batman 1966 is the single most accurate comic book movie ever made. If you look at all the changes other movies made to the characters’ origins, powers, costumes, etc, only the 1966 Batman comes close to a literal translation on screen. Every other movie is merely derivative.

“To be totally clear, the last truly great, truly faithful superhero movie was Batman (1966)”.


Batman 1966 did not:

Change the characters’ names to “avoid alliteration”
Change the characters’ costumes to be more “realistic”
Change the characters’ origins to be more “sophisticated”
Change the characters’ powers to be more “realistic”
Change the characters’ natures in order to fit some dipshit director’s “vision”

So yeah, there can be no denying it. Batman 1966 was by far the most faithful and most literal comic book adaptation ever put on film.

It amazes me when people make that claim while the proof is undeniable and un-contestable. Batman the movie and the tv show was totally faithful to the comics of the day and to the comics as they were for a decade before and after. That’s historical fact that only a pathological denier could refuse to believe. Compare the dates on the comics with the tv show. It is beyond question that I am right on that. [The TV show adapted stories published in 1965, the year before.]

After recent events in Aurora, CO, I anticipate that the pendulum will swing towards something closer to Adam West. (Warner Bros. Consumer Products had already contacted West months earler about some toy deals.)

Dave Plante said...

Can't agree with Max on this one: I thought the film was great. I think Tom Hardy deserves an Oscar nod and in fact think the film should be nominated.

Probably the best superhero film I've seen--Watchmen is a contender, too.

Another point I disagree with Max on is Anne Hathaway. I thought she was one of the low points of the film. Very miscast and irritating to boot.

I think Max Allan Collins is a terrific writer, and I applaud the fact he speaks his mind, but I think he's dead wrong on this one. Christopher Nolan os one of the best writer/directors out there and I would be the first one to point out if the Emperor had no clothes on, but in this case the Emp is sporting some fine clothes indeed;-) lol