JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: Batman Returns (1989)

Written by Bianca Garner

People probably don’t realise just how successful Tim Burton’s gothic version of Batman (1989) was, it made a staggering $410 million, (it had a budget of $35 million) so therefore it would be inevitable that a sequel would be made. Despite being classed as a ‘christmas film’ Batman Returns was released in June 1992, regardless of this fact Batman Returns is a Christmas film just as much as Die Hard is. At first, the director had no real interest in returning to helm the sequel. It was only when he was given more creative freedom that he agreed to come back to Gotham. Critics have criticised his first film as too dark, but they were probably not expecting things to get even darker.

The film begins at Christmas (33 years prior to the film’s events) where socialites Tucker and Esther Cobblepot give birth to a deformed baby boy, Oswald. Disgusted by his appearance, they ultimately throw him into the sewer, where he is discovered by a family of penguins at Gotham Zoo. We fast forward to the present where millionaire Max Shreck proposes to build a power plant to supply Gotham City with energy, somehow Schreck is kidnapped and meets Oswald who is now a crime boss, going by the name of Penguin. Schreck and Penguin, both want the same thing, control over Gotham, but which one is more evil and twisted?

At first, the Christmas setting of Batman Returns seems hardly noticeable; we are far too caught up in grimacing at the revolting Penguin (played by the superb Danny De Vito) and watching Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer who oozes sex appeal) seduce Batman. However, the film’s first lines of dialogue is an exchange of ‘Merry Christmas’ and rewatching the film through the lens of Christmas, we realise that it has always been there in one form or another. The mise-en-scene with it’s giant Christmas trees decorated with tinsel and twinkling fairy lights, seem to be lost in dark, bleak and gothic architecture of Burton’s Gotham city. Occasionally we will witness a character reference Christmas, and the season of goodwill, but the idea of Christmas cheer is far from the minds of our main characters, and we can understand why this is the case. Burton’s decision to set the film’s events at Christmas is an interesting one. Of course, there must be Christmas in Gotham, however, Christmas in Gotham is like no other. The concept of Christmas is presented as a hyper-real portrayal, clearly representing the German expressionism films that Burton was influenced by. To Burton, it would seem that Christmas is just as twisted a holiday like Halloween.

Okay, so far Batman Returns just seems to be an odd pick for a Christmas film, why on earth would anyone want to watch something so depressing, right? It is what I refer to as an anti-Christmas film, a perfect antidote to all the sentimental films that get shown this time of the year. Christmas isn’t always a time of happiness and goodwill, bad things can still occur at Christmas, and Burton isn’t afraid to remind us of this fact. Batman Returns is the far better film out of Burton’s Batman flicks. Its main villain is far more loathsome than Jack Nicholson’s The Joker, and I am not talking about De Vito’s Penguin here. Walken’s Max Schreck is the film’s true villain. A man who uses people’s vulnerability and their Christmas spirit, to exploit them and manipulate them in order to get what he truly desires. One could argue that Schreck is the embodiment of everything gone awry with Christmas, a symbol of greed and corruption. Schreck tries to pass himself off as a contemporary ‘Father of Christmas’, with his tousled white hair, his red bow tie and wide smile. He seems very jolly at least on first glance. However, he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, who thinks nothing of pushing his secretary, Selina Kyle out of a window.

Christmas films tend to follow a basic feel-good formula about personal growth or gratitude, our main protagonist is meant to grow as a person. There is no real redemption here, Batman still remains shut off. If we can judge anything about his current track record with women (err, what exactly did happened to Vikki Vale?), then we know that his relationship with Selina will be short-lived (if she ever returns to him that is). Batman Returns helps to reinforce the idea that not everyone is able to share in the warmth and love that the Christmas is supposed to offer. Heroes aren’t like everyone else, they aren’t always allowed to partake in the celebration of Christmas. Crime never sleeps. If anything, Burton’s Batman Returns helps to reinforce the isolation and pain that Bruce Wayne aka Batman, must have to endure every year. We can picture him reminiscing in the Batcave on Christmas day, alone and reflecting on his parent’s brutal death, while Alfred brings him his Christmas dinner.

Batman Returns is as twisted as a Christmas movie can get and that’s why it’s great. The Penguin’s plan revolving around stealing Gotham’s first-born sons like the evil king David from the story of the nativity reminds us just how morbid the actual nativity story is when you deconstruct it. It is also a well written dark comedy that reminds us of a screwball comedy from the 1940s (‘’A kiss under the mistletoe. You know, mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it.’’ ‘’But a kiss can be even deadlier… if you mean it.’’). A film like Batman Returns helps to remind that mayhem and chaos occur 365 days a year and that Christmas in the Burton household must be a blast.

 

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JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: Deck The Halls (2006)

Directed by: John Whitesell
StarringDanny DeVito, Matthew Broderick, Kristin Davis, Kristin Chenoweth.

Written by Chris Gelderd

This 2006 festive comedy is directed by John Whitesell and stars Danny DeVito, Matthew Broderick, Kristin Davis, and Kristin Chenoweth.

Massachusetts Christmas patriarch Steve Finch (Broderick) has a seemingly perfect family and social life, with wife Kelly (Davis) and two children all set to celebrate Christmas. However, new neighbours arrive that immediately disrupts Steve’s idyllic neighbourhood scenario; Buddy Hall (DeVito) and wife Tia (Chenoweth) and two twin daughters.

After warming to many in town, Buddy decides to take on a mammoth task – to decorate
his house with enough Christmas lights to be seen from space. This is met with great excitement in the community, but Steve is furious at the growing “noise and light pollution” Buddy starts to create, followed by sleepless nights and many bickering confrontations.

Their mini-war soon escalates, each trying to better the other in the eyes of the community with Steve trying to sabotage Buddy, and Buddy trying to humiliate Steve. But as they clash, it soon takes its toll on the families, and soon the two men are left to choose what is more important to them at Christmas; family or pride… This mediocre festive film offers lots of cheese in respect of acting, plot and gags- enough to turn your milk sour but still be watchable to the point of how bad it is, but how good it is because of it.

It’s typically predictable, setting up two warring middle-aged men who will use Christmas as a battleground for many slapstick confrontations, fights and disasters and will then be won over by a loving community and even more loving family. Everything else is just very tepid.

Matthew Broderick seems to think he’s funnier than he really is, and many of his pratfalls and witty one-liners don’t ever take off and they all come over as very wooden. DeVito, however, is quite amusing with his taunts and slippery ways of humiliating his enemy. A few amusing put-downs here and there make him watchable, but surrounded by two big boobs (and Kristin Chenoweth), it’s quite distracting when his wife is on screen.

The action (if you can call it that) is slapstick, and a checkbox of festive disasters waiting to happen which doesn’t set the bar, but it’s harmless enough for this time of year for 88-minutes.

Disney Release Heartbreaking New ‘Dumbo’ Trailer

“From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure ‘Dumbo’ expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.”

Directed by: Tim Burton

Cast: Danny DeVito, Colin Farrell, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins, Michael Keaton, Eva Green

Release Date: March 29th, 2019

Surprise! Disney Drop First Teaser Trailer For Tim Burton’s ‘Dumbo’

“From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure ‘Dumbo’ expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.”

Directed by: Tim Burton

Cast: Danny DeVito, Colin Farrell, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins, Michael Keaton, Eva Green

Release Date: March 29th, 2019

Netflix’s Jim Carrey Documentary ‘Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond’ Gets First Trailer

“In 1999, Jim Carrey portrayed his idol Andy Kaufman in “Man on the Moon.” For twenty years, the behind-the-scenes footage has been withheld…until now.”

Directed by: Chris Smith
Cast: Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Milos Forman, Judd Hirsch
Release Date: November 17th

Arnold Schwarzenegger Confirms He IS Back For ‘Terminator 6’

In a recent interview with The PlaylistArnold Schwarzenegger confirmed that he is making a return to the Terminator franchise for the 6th instalment, which begins filming next year.

“In March next year, I am shooting ‘Terminator 6,’ James Cameron and David Ellison are back on board and then comes a ‘Conan’ ” 

The 6th film of the franchise will have ‘Deadpool’ director Tim Miller at the helm, and Paramount are looking to make a new ‘Terminator’ trilogy, following the poor reception of ‘Terminator: Genesys’. During the same interview, Schwarzenegger also talks about shooting the sequel to ‘Twins’, aptly named ‘Triplets’, which will see Danny DeVito return and also star Eddie Murphy and will begin shooting later this year!

“In the fall I start the shooting on the comedy ‘Triplets’ with Eddie Murphy and Danny DeVito,”

It looks like Arnie has a lot on his schedule over the next few years, but do we really need more Terminator films!?

Source: The Playlist