Can the caped crusaders use their high-flying heroism and groovy gadgetry to declaw catwoman (lee meriwether), ice the penguin (burgess meredith), upstage the joker (cesar romero), and stump the riddler (frank gorshin) in time?
Leaping from the small to the silver screen, Batman: The Movie is derived from the popular 1966 television series that introduced the Caped Crusaders to a new generation of fans. Like Dino De Laurentis' 1980 adaptation of Flash Gordon (also written by frequent Bat-scribe Lorenzo Semple, Jr., who penned the script for this film), Batman divided comics fans. Die-hard Batman fans scorn the film and television series for their campy treatment of the solemn character, while others thrilled to the celebrity guest villains, bright colors, and outlandish plots...Of course, one of the main draws of '60s Batman were always the villains, and here we are treated to four of the finest...Meredith's Penguin comes off best of the bunch; whether quacking orders in the bowels of his submarine (his rebuke to the Joker when he tells him not to "sound so bossy" is "on land you may command, in the sea, it is me!") or impersonating Schmidlapp to trick Batman into taking him to the Batcave, Meredith is, perhaps, the definitive Penguin, throwing himself completely into the role...Then there's Batman and Robin. Love 'im or hate 'im, there's just something appealing in Adam West's stoically dead-pan characterization...Series regulars Alan Napier, Neil Hamilton, Stafford Repp, and Madge Blake in two ultra-brief, silent cameos round out the cast as Aunt Harriet.
Between the sublime and the ridiculous you'll find...the sublimely ridiculous. And in that loopy, dizzy place lies Batman: The Movie, which hit the big screens in 1966, between the first and second seasons of ABC's Batman TV series' three-season run. Now considered a "camp classic," it's a silly-without-shame ancestor of the Zucker Brothers' Police Squad! series and Naked Gun and Airplane! movies. Sure, it's all so far over the top they installed a ski lift. It winks at the audience so often you develop a tic. Yet it's well-crafted and self-aware pop cheese that for more than three decades has maintained a devoted fan following...Oh, sure, the whole thing has its problems. The rat-a-tat gags could try the patience of a Catskills comic, and once the story reaches cruise velocity it stays there too long, so by the final time the supervillains launch a Polaris missile at our heroes you might miss it while checking your watch. Still, it's goofy clean fun, nostalgic and timeless in its Theater of the Absurd outrageousness. Batman: The Movie won't be to the tastes of those for whom The Batman can only be the Dark Knight of the post-'80s graphic novels or Tim Burton's "re-imagined" movie series. But this unembarrassed fluff provides enough guilty pleasures to satisfy long-time bat-fans and bring new ones into the fold.
DVD, No Longer Produced
Fox Home Entertainment
Patrick Naugle, DVD Verdict
Fun for the whole family, and if you don't take any of it seriously you'll laugh harder than The Joker and The Riddler combined!
Raphael Pour-Hashemi, DVD Times
Colourful and tremendous fun...a blast from beginning to end...
Scott Weinberg, eFilmCritic.com
Holy Cornball Camp, Batman! This movie's a hoot!
Steve Crum, Video-ReviewMaster.com
Campy, colorful fun with the Caped Crusader plus several of his TV villains.
I'd choose Adam West's Batmobile over Michael Keaton's any day.
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