The artist formerly known as Batman

So, right now, “The Dark Knight” is at 95% on the Rotten Tomato-Meter.

http://uk.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_dark_knight/

That’s pretty great when you consider that Tim Burton’s version sits at only 69%.  If I remember correctly, that was considered a blockbuster and a crowd pleaser.  About as good as a batman pic could get.  But the current incarnation…my oh my!  I don’t think anyone could have foreseen just how serious a Bat-Movie could be.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love, love, loved “The Dark Knight”, but it’s interesting to reflect on the progression of the films.  Tim Burton’s “Batman”, when compared to 1966’s “Batman:  The Movie”, WAS the grim and gritty Batman that we were all hoping for.  Burton’s version was comparatively dark and violent–a real slap in the face to the cheesy sixties version..  Nicholson’s Joker was a convincing nut job.  Everybody thought he was a terrific psycho kind of villain.  Us comic nerds, were pretty much sated in our quest to be taken seriously.  This was the gritty caped vigilante that we all wanted to see on the big screen.

Batman extra-light

Batman extra-light

Sure things devolved back to square one when Schumacher took the helm, but while Burton was in charge, the pictures had a very respectable balance of the light and the dark.  With Christopher Nolan’s direction, we are probably at about as real as a Batman film can get.  And it’s great.  Great, great, great.  I love it.  If there actually was a combat-trained super detective out there with an unstoppable budget and a grudge against criminals, this is surely what it would look like.  But there’s one thing Nolan’s films could never pull off– precisely because of how real we’ve gotten and that’s a tie-in soundtrack by an eccentric popstar.  That’s something that only the late 80’s marketing team at Warner Brothers could have brought us.  This, of course, is today’s great thing:

13.  Prince’s Batman Soundtrack

Batman regular

Batman regular

Batman extra-gritty

Batman extra-gritty

Of the four Batman films that were of that era, this is also the only one that is the sole vision of one musician.  The others of course are all stuffed with the likes of Seal, U2, and The Flaming Lips.  All credible, but there’s hardly a unifying vision.

Like his “Purple Rain” this is a soundtrack that is inspired by a film’s themes.  Not all of the songs from the Batman original soundtrack are actually in the movie.  The ones that are, however, are perfectly placed.  Who doesn’t love the “Partyman” scene?

Danny Elfman loved Prince’s soundtrack so much that he even incorporated parts of the song “Scandalous” into his score for Burton’s “Batman” film.  “Scandalous”, with the lyrics “I can’t wait til I can wrap my legs all around you girl” and “Tonight, why don’t we skip all the foreplay and just get down here on the floor”–yes, that “Scandalous”– is a song that Prince co-wrote with…HIS DAD!!!!!  Holy crap, I can’t think of anything more mortifying.

They must be close.

The album was done on the fly and received mixed reviews when it came out, but I think it’s a tad misjudged.  This was Prince still at the top of his game.  This was Prince pre-glyph.  The album and movie were also perfectly timed to come out right before I entered high-school.  The realization of the Batman on film combined with the sex-fueled musical stylings of Prince served up a very appealing combination that pleased both my geekiness and my hormones.

I remember thinking how deep the ballad Prince shares with Sheena Easton “The Arms of Orion” was.  Really I was just pleased with myself for being familiar with the constellation.  Admittedly, besides The Big Dipper, it was the only one I could locate in the night sky.

“Lemon Crush” is still one of my favorite Prince songs.   Fruity and sexy

It’s fairly clear that Prince was actually in to the project as well:

–He wound up dating Kim Basinger and that has to be a positive.

–He still performs some the songs off the soundtrack during his live shows.

character hog

character hog

–He certainly enjoyed playing the ‘Gemini’ character.  That would be the half-joker half-batman (see thumbnail pic at the start of the entry) that he debuted in the video for “Batdance” and reprised in the video for “Partyman”.

 

Speaking of “Batdance”, let’s talk about that for a second.  Prince, has the uncanny ability to legitimize what would otherwise be complete and utter camp.  He’s put bat-ears on what looks like the same girl from the “Kiss” video–you know, the one with the veil covering her face–and she’s been choreographed with other bat babes in a very crimey-dancey sort of way.  You’ve got a kickline of Jokers.  You’ve got Prince playing ALL the instruments:  slap bass, keyboards, one of his custom guitars… It all looks very much like “Batman:  The Las Vegas Extravaganza”.  But, because it’s Prince, it’s not only forgiven, it’s completely awesome.  Now watch this and remember how instrumental it was to your childhood.

 

 Vodpod videos no longer available.

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2 Comments

Filed under Movies, Music

2 responses to “The artist formerly known as Batman

  1. heh. I was in a cafe for lunch a few weeks ago now and they had his greatest hits playing he is a bit of a treasure.

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