The Couch Potato Report – October 20th, 2005
This week The Couch Potato Report features a batman, some zombies, a gladiator, and The Dude.
It is my belief that even people who don’t consider themselves to be fans of comics and comic books, usually still have a favourite comic book character.
Whether it is “Garfield”, “Peanuts”, “Spider-man”, “Andy Capp”,”Foxtrot”, “House Of M”, “New Avengers” or “Dennis The Menace”, I think we all have a favourite comic book character.
For the past few weeks I have been reading “The Complete Far Side” and “The Complete Calvin And Hobbes” books, and I love both of those, and I have also always been a big fan of “Underdog” and “Bugs Bunny”, but my favourite all-time cartoon character is still “Batman.”
Throughout the years I have been able to enjoy Batman in comic books, television shows, and movies.
To this day the 1989 BATMAN movie directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader remains my favourite movie based on a comic book character.
However, that film is no longer the leader by a long shot. It now has a sidekick!
Batman was originally created and introduced by Bob Kane in 1939. At his inception, Batman was a dark character who walked the tightrope between hero and vigilante.
In the 1960s a campy TV series starring Adam West transformed the character into a silly-but-likable good guy in gray spandex.
Happily, Tim Burton gave Batman some of his edge back in his film, but that movie, and it’s four sequels, focused more on the villains, and our hero was relegated to the position of supporting character.
After 1992’s BATMAN RETURNS Burton gave up on the Batman film franchise and after the abysmal 1997 film BATMAN & ROBIN, directed by Joel Shumacher, the fans of the character gave up on him as well.
Batman has lived on in the comics since then, but as a movie character, he was dead.
Well, he was dead until the release of the film BATMAN BEGINS earlier this year.
For this new film director Christopher Nolan went back to the basics, throwing away the camp style of the TV show and the late 90’s movies, and the dark and gothic elements of Tim Burton’s vision.
The result is a film that has a great script, superb cast, and it tells how Bruce Wayne became Batman. It is the tale of how Batman begins, or began if you will.
It isn’t necessarily a prequel to the 1989 film, but if you watch the two of them together, it sure can be.
Director Christopher Nolan and new Batman Christian Bale have given us a film that not only cements Batman’s place as the most interesting comic book character, but they have once again made him one of the best superheroes in films as well!
BATMAN BEGINS has restarted the movie franchise and I, for one, hope that Nolan and Bale decide to team up for a second film!
If they do, who knows? Maybe I won’t be able to proclaim Tim Burton’s 1989 BATMAN movie as my favourite movie based on a comic book character any more.
However, I suppose that I will always proclaim THE BIG LEBOWSKI to be the best bowling movie ever!
Even though they are used now, when THE BIG LEBOWSKI was released in 1998 hardly anyone was using words like “best” or “classic” to describe it.
That is because the film was Joel and Ethan Coen’s follow-up to the Academy Award winning film FARGO and since LEBOWSKI wasn’t as unique or original as FARGO, it was deemed by many to be a disappointment and it quickly disappeared from theatres.
Since it appeared on video and DVD, however, it has gained the audience it so richly deserves!
Yes, it is about bowling, but THE BIG LEBOWSKI is so much more!
It is a film about a lazy, drug using underachiever named Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski who ends up in the middle of a kidnaping scheme.
The plot is secondary as the film has a laid back, loose charm that makes it easy to watch, and enjoy!
Jeff Bridges from SEABISCUIT and TIDELAND is “The Dude” and the supporting cast features Coen brothers regulars John Goodman, John Turturro and Steve Buscemi.
No, it wasn’t a success in 1998, and the new COLLECTOR’S EDITION of THE BIG LEBOWSKI isn’t going to sell 30 or 40 million copies either, but if you like great characters, hilarious dialogue, and bowling in your movies, then spend some time with THE BIG LEBOWSKI, or as some of us call him, “The Dude.”
Or if that isn’t your cup of tea, how about a zombie movie?
LAND OF THE DEAD sees director George A. Romero return to the zombie movie genre he invented back in 1968 with NIGH OF THE LIVING DEAD. LAND OF THE DEAD is Romero’s fourth film in his zombie series, and his first since 1985’s Day of the Dead.
In the series, and this film, the living dead have taken over the world, and the last humans are living in a city with lakes and walls protecting them as they try and stay alive.
LAND OF THE DEAD isn’t as original and inventive as it could have been, but the cast of Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper and horror film favorite Asia Argento do a good job with the material they have been given.
LAND OF THE DEAD has nothing to offer people who aren’t fans of zombie pictures, but it has enough to satisfy people who are fans of the genre until the next zombie flick comes along.
Let me digress from pontificating about the value of zombie pictures now and go
right to this week’s “Leftover.”
This week I invite you to serve yourself up the delicious EXTENDED EDITION of the Academy Award winning film GLADIATOR.
This new version includes 17 minutes of additional footage, and a three hour and twenty minute documentary about the film that includes some never-before-seen footage.
The extra 17 minutes don’t make the film better or worse, they just allow the film to be more of a good thing.
Prior to a few weeks ago I hadn’t watched GLADIATOR since it first came out in 2000. Some friends of mine love the film and one of them even named their son after the title character, but I never made the time to see it twice.
After watching the EXTENDED EDITION, I can honestly say that I won’t take 5 years to come back to the film.
The original and this EXTENDED EDITION of GLADIATOR are impressive achievements.
Both the Extended Version and the original theatrical version of the film come in this new 3-disc set, plus there is an all-new audio commentary by director Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe and a great “Are you Not Entertained?” Trivia track.
The GLADIATOR – EXTENDED EDITION will definitely entertain you and it is available now at a store near you, along with LAND OF THE DEAD, THE COLLECTOR’S EDITION of THE BIG LEBOWSKI and the superb BATMAN BEGINS.
Coming up in the next Couch Potato Report
Is the box set for the TV show ALIAS – THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON and the movie version of the TV show BEWITCHED.
Herbie The Love Bug was seen in a new film this year, sadly, HERBIE: FULLY LOADED features too much Lindsay Lohan and not enough Dean Jones.
THE LOONEY TUNES – GOLDEN COLLECTION: VOLUME THREE is a 4-disc set that features sixty more of the most looneytic Looney Tunes ever unleashed on rabbit, duck, pig or humanity!
And then there are new Collector’s Editions of THE WIZARD OF OZ and TITANIC coming out as well.
Plus, next week I will have two “Leftovers” for you, the SCTV – VOLUME 4 Box Set that features the episodes about CBC and the classic Disney animated film CINDERELLA.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next week on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – October 20th, 2005