Why Khan’s appearance in Star Trek Into Darkness made more sense than in The Wrath of Khan

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With the upcoming “Star Trek Beyond” it’s time to revisit a Star Trek entry which was voted “worst Star Trek film” by Trekkies/Trekkers: “Star Trek Into Darkness” (from here on referred as “Into Darkness”).
Ranked below infamous entries like “Star Trek V” and “Star Trek Insurrection”.

Spock_screaming_KhanThis movie gets criticized a lot, even though it has got a lot of qualities. The main arguments against the film are that “Into Darkness” is basically a remake of “Star Trek – The Wrath of Khan” (from here on referred to as “Wrath of Khan”). Wrath of Khan is the second movie in the Star Trek-franchise, based on the TV-show from the 1960s. It’s also the movie that had kept the franchise alive due to its financial success, and for many it is always remembered as the movie in which Spock (Leonard Nimoy) heroically dies while saving the crew of the starship Enterprise.

Into Darkness” shares a lot of similarities with this film with Khan again being the main villain, and one of its primary cast members sacrificing himself for the crew. I gave “Into Darkness” a lot of thought, and eventually arrived at what might be an unpopular opinion: Khan’s appearance in “Into Darkness” makes much more sense than in Wrath of Khan”!

Star-trek-ii-the-wrath-of-khan-originalIn my opinion “Wrath of Khan” is one of the best Star Trek movies. Not just because it tells a thrilling, suspenseful story and is well made, but because of its many themes: James T. Kirk (William Shatner) has to deal with growing old, being not the man anymore that he used to be, and therefore he is reflecting on his past life and past victories. As stated in the film he never faced a true no-win-scenario. His wit, strength, and crew were enough to beat his opponent. In Wrath of Khan Kirk finally has to come to terms with his own mortality and choices.

st2-twok-dc-1489But then you get a revenge-subplot in form of Khan. Khan Noonian Singh (Ricardo Montalban) had appeared only in the episode „Space Seed“ of Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS), and was apprehended by Kirk in a fist fight. Then he and his crew of 72 were relocated to an uninhabited planet.

The story of Khan was over. There was no grudge against Kirk. The titular wrath was made up for the movie and justified under the pretext, that Kirk had not looked after Khan and his people after the relocation. Therefore, he wasn’t aware a planetary catastrophe which turned Khan’s planet into a wasteland.
But would Khan have wanted Kirk and the federation to watch over them, or help them? A prideful conqueror and warrior would have seen this catastrophe as a challenge.

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So, if Khan should not have been the villain in “Wrath of Khan”, who else?

Simple: Gary Mitchel! Not only did he have issues with Kirk, but would also have made sense in the narrative: Mitchel, the antagonist and Kirk’s former best friend from the second pilot „Where no man has gone before“, had developed god-like powers and become insane, so Kirk had to lock him up on an uninhabitated planet.
Now you would have a god-like creature, obsessed with ruling the universe and an understandable loathing for Kirk. This motivation would have logically paved the way for the planetary creation device known as Genesis, which was the macguffin of “Wrath of Khan”.

emperor_mitchellWhat would a man who believes himself to be God do with such a technology? Would he dare to destroy it or would he rather keep and use it as a demonstration of his godly status?
It is clear that Khan’s presence was not necessary for the Genesis plot and Mitchell would have been a much better thematic fit.

Kampf_gegen_Gary

Now let’s look at Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) in “Into Darkness”, and the overall theme of the movie: After the near destruction of Earth, as well as the destruction of Vulcan in “Star Trek” (2009) (aka “Star Trek XI”), the foundation of the federation was shaken. It had most of their fleet destroyed, and the peaceful space exploration was called into question, as it was proven that „space is full of disease and dangers wrapped in darkness and silence“ (Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban), Star Trek (2009)).

In-universe, it was the greatest military disaster the federation had ever faced, and they were traumatized. The federation was heading towards a militarized, totalitarian regime, while slowly neglecting every morale and value they had stood for in the past.

star-trek-into-darkness-benedict-cumberbatch-1So Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) was convinced that future military conflicts were unavoidable. The federation desperately explored uncharted regions to find new technologies and ways to defend itself. And deep in space they found the Bothany Bay, Khan’s ship.

Khan, as a relic from a more savage past, was the very weapon Marcus had sought. With the help of Khan’s intellect, starfleet is able to create and build new weaponry and technology to defend itself. “Into Darkness” is all about the dark paths we choose in order to survive and prevail, reflecting our more savage and uncivilized nature we still have today. In this way, it makes perfect sense to have a villain from a distant past reappear.

star-trek-into-darkness-benedict-cumberbatch3A similar message was made in the TOS-episode “The City on the Edge of Forever”, in which Kirk must let a pacifist woman, who has got the same mentality as the federation does have in the future, die, in order for the USA to enter World War II.

The message is clear: This time is/was not yet ripe for the federation’s pacifist mentality. The federation has a utopian mindset, and should be optimistic about the future. “Into Darkness” deals with the outcomes if these values are in danger of reverting back. (Many thanks to Wolfgang from flipthetruck.com for pointing that one out)

Khan works as Marcus’s pawn, but re revolts and escapes from his captivity. In a similar fashion, Kirk is also a pawn of Marcus. Both men must abandon their roles to become the independent and freethinking persons they should be.

star-trek-into-darkness-benedict-cumberbatch-chris-pine1In the end, the values and morals the federation had lost during the course of the movie are reinstalled, as Khan is not killed – unlike every other Star Trek villain in the movies – but imprisoned, even though Kirk and Spock had had several opportunities to do so. But “Into Darkness” is not only about the dark and questionable direction into savagery and war the federation is (deliberately) heading, but also the personal darkness of the protagonists: Kirk has to learn that his reckless behavior does in fact have severe consequences, which he will have to face. He is feeling vengeful against Khan for killing his surrogate father Pike (Bruce Greenwood), but has to learn that this is not the way. Spock, on the other hand, is still traumatized by Vulcan’s destruction, and feeling a bit suicidal, or at least takes huge risks with no regards his own personal safety. Only through the threat of Khan and Marcus, he is finding a new purpose to fulfill.

In this sense, Kirk’s and Spock’s character arcs are the manifestations of the federation’s struggle. Marcus’ secret super weapon is even named the U.S.S. Vengeance.Enterprise_and_Vengeance_face_offConclusion

To summarize: Khan in “Wrath of Khan” is rather a personal obstacle for Kirk with a constructed motif. Other than his personal vendetta against the starfleet admiral, there is no deeper connection whereas Khan in “Into Darkness” does in fact fit the overall theme of the movie much more than people give the movie credit for.

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Why is Thor worthy?

“Whoever wields this hammer, if he’d be worthy, shall have the power of Thor…”
 – Odin

55907-box-office-marvel-s-thor-dark-world-thunders-past-500mWith the release of the first “Avengers – Age of Ultron“-trailer, the audience and Marvel-fans got a first preview into what to expect from the upcoming movie. The trailer looks really promising, and will bring a (hopefully) darker side to the superheroes. The trailer also got an extended version, containing a scene that was shown at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. And this extended trailer bugs and intrigues me.

The scene is made mainly for fun, every member of the team inefficiently try to uplift Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer. Then we see Thor’s shocked face when Steve Rogers alias Captain America almost manage to take the hammer. This made me wonder: Why exactly is Thor worthy of wielding the hammer?

These people are all superheroes, and most of them have superhuman strength and abilities. Bruce Banner becomes the muscular green monster Hulk whenever he is angry or excited, Tony Stark has got a metal armor suit that withstands most physical damage, Steve Rogers has got any human ability and strength put to the maximum. And Thor is an alien from another world, a bit stronger and slower aging than the average human being. What makes him stand out from this crowd and make him worthy in the “eyes” of Mjolnir?

thor

It’s the drinking, definitely

The hammer, as it is explained in the movie, had been forged in the core of a dying star, which definitely would explain the weight it has got when standing or lying around.

Of course, Banner isn’t worthy because of his other side’s anger issues, and Tony Stark is egocentric and too full of himself. But those characteristics were combined in Thor in his first movie. He yelled at his father, was too full of himself, treated other humans as peasants and drank a lot. Yet in that film he apparently did overcome those “flaws” and became worthy of wielding the hammer – in a couple of days. It also should be noted, that his father Odin was totally able to carry the weapon while being furious.

That brings us to the characteristics of caring and Captain America. Steve Rogers may be the best (“goodest”) man of all time. He cares for his fellow people as well as total strangers. He is not really a patriotic man (despite his quite obvious superhero-persona) but would fight for all of mankind. He is basically Marvel’s Superman. He also was all that before he became the world’s most famous steroids user. Even as a skinny, underdeveloped Steve Rogers, he was still the most caring person in the US (while also being kinda mainly influences by US-propagandistic recruitment films). Anyway, Rogers never needed any kind of revelation or rehabilitation to/ of his true self. He has always been “a good man”, whose morality would inspire countless other people and heroes.

All Thor does is punching people, drink and hitting them with his hammer.

What I want to say is, the rules of each Marvel-hero have troubles working when it comes to shared Universe. As there are a lot of superheroes definitely worthy of the power of Thor.

309909_10150737779570400_716960399_11982154_1159639542_nMy personal interpretation – Marvel’s Goa’ulds

A possible answer may have already been given to us by another long running Sci-Fi series: Stargate. In this series, humanity battles the gruesome alien-race called Goa’uld. These aliens are wormlike parasites, who cling to a humanoid host, giving him an incredible long life (as well as glowing yellow eyes)

I see the powers of the Asgardians as galactic energy-parasites as well. While not having a physical form, these cosmic energies/ entities have the ability to “possess” people/ lifeforms, and grant them incredible powers. So it’s  technically not the persons, the Asgardians, but these energies, that own the power. And they are able to switch bodies, like when the host becomes deadly injured or isn’t proven worthy anymore. That’s why in the comic-universe, Thor is several characters (among them a horse and a frog, and only recently a woman! Go figure.)

throg thor frogMarvelThorWoman3Still, this interpretation doesn’t answer the question why exactly the Asgardian played by Chris Hemsworth is worthy of possessing Thor’s powers. Maybe it does have something to do with heritage, that due to the fact that this host of Thor is the biological son of Odin’s and Frigga’s (Rene Russo) hosts, we have a genetic component.
Heritage is also a huge issue in Stargate, as the Goa’uld were a dying race, prolonging their existence through their parasitic behavior. A biological Goa’uld-child is said to inherit their parents’ knowledge of the universe by genetic codes. Could this be the same case in the Marvel-universe? That probably would make Thor one of the most powerful creatures in the universe. But this doesn’t explain the Mjolnir-thing at all!

Mjolnir_the_Mighty_Hammer_of_Thor

Explain yourself!

A homicidal issue

A final theory relates to the characters and nature of superheroes. You see, Superheroes are supposed to be larger than-life, rescue innocent people and victims, and also have the moral high ground.  But this moral high ground also includes a restraint in lethal force, meaning that superheroes wouldn’t kill. But let’s face it, comic-book-superheroes are kind of bad at this.

This topic would take up an entire article, so I’ll just focus on the cinematic Marvel-universe: Almost everybody is a killer: Tony Stark is an irresponsible alcoholic who owns a walking super-tank. He uses rockets to kill Afghan terrorists in Iron Man I, endangers countless civilians throughout the series (especially in Iron Man 2 where he lets Stark Expo-visitors get killed by drones during the climax with Whiplash), and doesn’t even regret.
Black Widow is an assassin who wouldn’t stun people, although she has the training to do so, but rather coldbloodedly kills them. (I couldn’t find the scene with her most brutal murder, but this one will also serve its purpose). The same goes with Hawkeye.
The Hulk also has a purpose and kills (and would kill) on purpose.
And Captain America, while claiming to just not liking bullies, still kills them on countless occasions.
And guess who the only “hero” is I couldn’t find any gruesome murders of? Exactly, Thor may kill some ice giants and a rock monster in his films, but he never kills or attempts to kill human people. Maybe this is the answer I’ve been looking for. Maybe he is worthy of Thor’s powers because he wouldn’t kill. Oh wait…

Damn! Back to the drawing board!

 

 

 

 

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16 Moments in Batman-movies (that are not Nolan) – UPDATE

batman-1989-logo-movie-wallpaperAs 2014 is the year of the Bat (75 years since his first appearance in Detective Comics # 27, 25 years since “Batman“) I decided to conclude it with a list of great moments of the Burton-Schumacher-tetralogy (and one surprise entry). I’ll exclude Nolan’s Dark Knight-trilogy, as my friend Wolfgang from flipthetruck.com already did it. I also won’t make a top-list, but it will be listed randomly. However, I will start in reverse, beginning with the final movie.

A.) Batman & Robin (1997)

Writing a list of great moments from “Batman & Robin” is pretty hard, as the movie is not really good. That said, it sucks in such a hilarious way, that is a funny watch every time.

1.) “I’m Mr. White Christmas”

Starting the list is the scene in Mr. Freezes hideout. Victor Fries (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a brilliant scientist who is desperately searching for a cure for his wife’s terminal illness. But as this scene shows, maybe he’s not that desperate. In freezing temperatures, he keeps his henchmen singing a children’s Christmas-/ Winter-song. As he can endure the low temperature, he’s seen wearing a thin bathe robe and polar bear-slippers.
This scene shows how completely wrong a tragic character can be depicted, while also being the funniest scene this movie has to offer. And those slippers!

2.) Batman & Robin vs Poison Ivy & Bane

So let me get this clear: The movie’s fight scenes are awful. They ar not well choreographed, but just plain silly. The dialogue is even worse. So how come this scene is on the list? Well, these two elements combined make a hilarious fusion. This scene is one great reminder of the 60s Batman-TV-show.
And while the fight is not good, Poison Ivy’s seduction of the two heroes with the urge to kiss/kill them, did have some suspenseful quality to it (at least for me as a kid).

3.) “What is Batman?”

In a surprisingly touching scene, Bruce Wayne (George Clooney) asks Alfred about his rather negative character trades. Alfred responses by recounting the most tragic moment in his ward’s life, and how it didn’t destroy him, but rather made him stronger, independent, and determined. Batman is just a counter-force to all the madness and evil in the world, determined to keep others from having the same fate as he did.

B.) Batman Forever

Batman Forever” is the comic-debut of Joel Schumacher, and took the franchise in another direction. The move (on studio’s demands) became much more campy and comic-like.

4.) “Who’s your tailor?”

In preparation for the final battle with the criminal duo Two-Face and Riddler, Batman (Val Kilmer) has to choose the way he should attack, either by plane, or by boat. Enter Robin (Chris O’Donnel) offering himself as Batman’s partner and sidekick. On looking at Robin’s costume, Batman’s only question is about its origins. No persuasion is necessary, as Batman is immediately fond of the idea of a partner in his crime fighting. The scene shows the beginning of their friend- and partnership, and presents itself in an “epic” way, promising great things to follow.

5.) Two Face and Riddler Team-up

Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and Riddler (Jim Carrey) may be two of the more obscure portrayals of comic book villains. They are both loud, colourful and excentric. And although those two wouldn’t possibly get along well, it’s surprising  how well they understand each other.
Riddler finds Two-Face’s hideout and needs his help to finish his doomsday device. Two-Face is torn as usual between accepting the offer and shooting Riddler. The eventual coin flip shall decide…

Note: This particular coin flip is also remade in “The Dark Knight“, when Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhardt) uses it to decide whether the Joker (Heath Ledger) should die or not. In both scenes, the end results are not shown directly, but could be understood in the following scenes. The only major difference is that Dent’s coin flip finishes his transformation into Two Face, while “Batman Forever’s” character has already been the psychopathic criminal.

6.) The Revenge-Franchise

In a very beautiful scene Bruce Wayne reflects on himself as Batman. Trying to discourage Dick Grayson from following in his footsteps, he tells his ward what it would mean to kill Two-Face: “Then it will happen this way: You make the kill, but the pain doesn’t die with Harvey, it grows. So you run out into the night to find another face, and another, until one terrible morning you wake up and realize that revenge has become your whole life. And you don’t know why.”
It is pretty heartbreaking to learn that everything Batmans has done since the end of the first movie was not glorious or for the good of mankind, but just a maniac’s seeking for revenge. It is probably the one scene in which Batman is most honest to Dick, to us the audience, and to himself.
Note: This moment is later also reflected on and referenced in “Batman Begins”, when Henry Ducard (Liam Neeson) tells Bruce Wayne: “I know the rage that drives you. The impossible anger, strangling the grief, until the memory of your loved ones is just poisen in your veins. And one day you catch yourself wishing the person you loved had never existed, so you’d be spared your pain.”

7.) Batman’s decision

At the end of the movie, Batman is confronted with an impossible decision: Whom to save, the woman Bruce Wayne supposedly loves, Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) or Batman’s new partner, Robin. He is told that he only has time to save one of them.
Still, he manages to rescue both of them. Confronting his adversary Riddler, he just claims: “I could only save them both, for you see, I’m both, Batman and Bruce Wayne. Not because I have to be, but because I’ve decided to be.”

Honorable mention: Secrets of the Batcave

In this deleted scene, the main motif of the movie would have been resolved: Batman’s own ambiguity towards his two personas. Due to the fact that he doesn’t know how to be Batman any more, he is advised to confront the very trauma that once has made him become the caped crusader. In a distant part of the bat cave, he finds the film’s macguffin, his father’s diary. Seeing it, makes him remember the time when he lost it and first encountered the bat.
It’s a similar scene as #7, and also not in the finished movie. That’s why it only serves as a honorable mention.

Honorable Mention: Batman solves the puzzle

Batman Forever” also manages to portray Batman’s detective skills, when he has to find out the identity of his not so mysterious stalker. He is confronted with four riddles. While each of them is rather easy to solve, their common similarity is rather hard to find, but never unrealistic.

C.) Batman Returns

Batman Returns” is Burton’s second Batman-movie, and much more in the director’s personal style. It’s also a lot darker than the other Batman-films.

8.) Death of an Animal

Batman Returns” has one of the most anticlimatic and mismatched final showdowns. On the one hand we have Batman (Michael Keaton), the fighter, on the other hand, we got the Penguin (Danny DeVito), a small overweight man. He is no real match for the titular hero. The more surprising it is when he shows up at the end, when Batman is unmasked and wounded, determined and ready for one final stand and about to give a deady blow to his nemesis, only to discover that he accidentally took the wrong umbrella.
Still in his last moments, his family of emporer penguins sticks to him, and guides Oswald Cobblepott on his final journey into the icy water. It is a very tragic scene and touching gesture. However evil and bad you may be, your family still sticks with you.

9.) “I’m not a human being, I’m an animal”

After a disastrious humiliation by Batman during a public speech, Oswald Cobblepott returns to his home in the sewers. He denounces his birth name, and recalls himself Penguin. On the one hand, this scene shows the tragic ways of a person having enough of humiliation and discrimination, and finally snapping. On the other hand, it kinda proves that Penguin had always been evil, and a beast. The public opinion prior to his short popularity apparently was right.
Either way, it still remains a tragic scene.

10.) “Does this mean we have to start fighting?”

One of the most interesting things about “Batman Returns” was the mirroring of Batman and Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer). Both survived tragic traumas, both had animal encounters to guide them, both were kinda society’s outsiders, and both kept double identities. Yet they stood on opposite sides of the law, fighting each other on various occasions. Still, because of their similarities, their public personas were attracted to each other, and fell in love.

However, during a masked ball scene, where both characters meet (both not wearing a disguise but their public masks of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle), they repeat quotes they have uttered to each other in a previous scene, eventually realizing that indeed they are Batman and Catwoman. Selina’s terrified, and asks in a shocked voice: “Does this mean we have to start fighting?”, appealing to their opposite agendas. It is clear that these two lovers would fight each other to the death if necessary, but are still willing to try to find another way to resolve their differences.

Only if they had the time to talk about the whole situation, they could have ended up happily.

11.) A lone crusader

This short scene does not contain any dialogue. There isn’t much happening on-screen either. The city’s bat signal triggers some headlights in Wayne manor. Bruce Wayne is lonely sitting in an unlit room, awaiting the signal he couldn’t possibly know would come in that very moment. The scene shows that Bruce Wayne does not have anything else in his life, and is just stumbling around/ sleeping, awaiting the time when Batman is needed.

Honorable mentions:  “Ok now I’m a little worried”

Batman Returns” raised the stakes in terms of action by having the batmobile being manipulated and hijacked by the Penguin in order to frame Batman. The plan is successful and Batman not only must recover control over his car, he also must find a way to fight the Penguin and also flee from the police. The only way to do so is by a very risky manoeuvre that only works once, given that it works anyway.
Batman has never tested it, and is surprised to see that in need it seemingly won’t work.

D.) Batman

Choosing 4 moments from “Batman” is as difficult as it has been for “Batman & Robin“, but for different reasons: The movie is just so great and contains hundreds of great moments and scenes, every single one worthy of this list. But I also felt that I just couldn’t list the whole movie, for that would be cheating.

12.) “You can call me the Joker”

Having just come back from the presumed dead, Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) confronts his former employer Carl Grissum, who had betrayed Jack to the police. Begging for his life, Grissum tries to make a deal with “Jack”. But Napier’s response is both thrilling and exciting, as indeed, Jack Napier is dead, but The Joker lives.

Although it is certainly not the first time the character played by Jack Nicholson appears in the film, it is the introduction to his persona “The Joker”, Batman’s arch nemesis. There is a subliminal shift of Napier’s character in this scene. It begins with the character’s seriousness, the audience had got to know in the first half hour of the movie. But as soon as he declares “Jack Napier” dead and adopts the Joker-persona, the villain appears much crazier and more relaxed than before. The circus-tune-based music cue reinforces that particular insanity, as The Joker deliberately shoots Grissum in various positions, just for fun.

13.) Myth vs Reality

After two thief’s have mugged a wealthy family in a scene that resembles the most traumatic event for Bruce Wayne, they are hiding on a dirty rooftop. One of them is fearful about his partner’s brutality and carelessness during the mugging, as it could invoke the wrath of a mythical creature, half man, half bat, which is said to have been killing minor criminals the last few weeks.
While the two argue about the existence of the Bat-man, a shadowy figure lands behind them, shrouded by thick fog. Next, he/it is seen right above the crooks, scaring them. Even though they shoot him in self-defense, the Bat-man doesn’t seem able to be killed, as he stands up again, his/ its wings threateningly. On of the crooks gets punched through the door, while the other is caught by the creature’s fangs while escaping. Totally scared, the criminal begs for mercy, not to be killed. The creature calmly responses: “I’m not gonna kill you. I want you to do me favor. I want you to tell all your friends about me.” – “What are you?” – “I am Batman.”

This scene introduces the movie’s protagonist Batman, in a brilliant way. First there is only the talk about him. Rumors about past and recent actions, stuff the people heard from other people. The things said about are excessively exaggerated, but even when he does show up you’re still not sure what he is up to. When he appears, you can see that here is only a man in a costume, but still you don’t see him clearly, as he is mostly shrouded in shadows.

14.) “You ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

Ok, this is a bit of a cheat, as it isn’t exactly one moment, but three that are interconnected. The first time this sentence is uttered, is in the scene where the Joker visits Vicky Vale (Kim Basinger) in her apartment, and meets Bruce Wayne. Outnumbered, the vigilante doesn’t fight the villain and his henchmen to the audience’s and Vale’s surprise, but plays it kind of safer to get himself shot. But even though his plan works, he still is surprised when the Joker asks the question: “You ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?” The quote itself does not serve any point other than sounding poetic for the villain, giving this incarnation of the Joker also some kind of chaotic character trades. It also seems to have any further meaning to the audience either, or does it?

The second time the quote  is used, is also the reason why Bruce Wayne was that taken aback and shocked when he heard it in the prior scene: It is because his parents’ killer did also utter that sentence after he’d shot the Waynes. The Joker had just revealed himself as that killer from back then, linking Bruce Wayne’s fate with his own.

The final time the quote is used in the film is during the showdown. Batman has just battled the Joker’s toughest henchmen, and while Vicky Vale is distracting The Joker, Batman sneaks up on the two and quotes the villain, before punching him in the face. This time the question is used as payback. Batman is up for revenge against Napier, and reveals their connection. Their final encounter is not only to save the city, but it’s also personal. Batman quoting The Joker shows, that he is offensively confronting his childhood trauma.

15.) “He gave us a signal” – Joker’s last laugh and Batman’s letter

The Joker dies by falling off a cathedral. But still the surrounding crowd hasn’t heard the last of him, as he keeps laughing. Only when Commissioner Gordon (Pat Hingle) examines the body a laughing bag is revealed to be the cause of the laughter. Even thought the clown prince of time is dead, that doesn’t mean that everything is back to normality. Nothing will ever be, because as the laughing back moment roves, there will always be madness and dark forces that would like to crush the city.

The movie’s ending plays on a similar level. During a press conference, Harvey Dent reads a letter from Batman to the city of Gotham, in which the hero promises to return, should the city ever need him again. To enable them to call him, Commissioner Gordon reveals the famous bat-signal. The movie ends with Batman standing on a rooftop, staring at the switched on-signal in the sky, feeling glorified.

Like the laughing bag-scene, this sequence also hints on a never-ending story, that has only just begun.

E:) Batman – The Movie (Batman hält die Welt in Atem)

16.) “They may be drinkers, Robin, but they are still people” – Batman and the bomb

One final moment goes to the probably most famous scene in “Batman – The Movie“. Batman (Adam West) wants to save some crooks at the docks from an exploding bomb, but everywhere he runs, there are people in the way. When he is later asked by Robin, why he wanted to save the scumbags, he appeals to his code of honor: “They may be drinkers, Robin, but they are still people.” Adam West’s Batman is a moral apostle, a genuine good person who always wants to do what’s right, even if it endangers himself. It is such an iconic scene and moment for the character, that it even got kinda referenced/ remade in the finale of “The Dark Knight Rises“.

This concludes my list of Batman-moments. I hope you enjoyed it. As there are a lot of scenes worthy of being listed, I guess you would have made some other choices than I have.

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A boy’s best friend is his mother – Psycho IV

psycho-4-the-beginningAfter three cinematic visits to the Bates Motel, Universal decided to end the series with a made-for-TV-movie. In it, they try to shine some light on the mysterious past of Norman Bates and tells us, who he became the murderous psychopath.

Story

A radio-programm about matricide gets a surprise guest caller in Norman Bates, who wants to give some overdue insights in his history, while also threatening another, final, murder. Can Norman be stopped before his final kill? And can he eventually find peace?

cap007Review

Well, it is a TV-movie. So its dramaturgy is much simpler than a motion picture’s while being too theatrical. The radio show serves as a narrative frame story for Norman Bates past, which is not told chronologically. This was made to make the matricide of Norma Bates the film’s first climax.

Husseylarge1Olivia Hussey is brilliant as Norma Bates. She’s able to change her attitude and emotion from one minute to the next without breaking character. She’s a raving lunatic one time, and a loving and caring mother next. She’s also so full of herself that she never sees her son as a living person. Henry Thomas, E.T.’s best friend, plays the young Norman Bates, and tries his best to come up to Anthony Perkins, but he has to struggle with a terrible script (“Mother! Oh God, Blood! Blood!!“), so that his scenes become quite ridiculous. Anthony Perkins once again IS Norman Bates, and in this movie he may be the most himself. We get to see his true nature, not the one that is controlled by his mother. Though his acting is clearly over the top (which origins from the fact that it is a TV-movie)

The weakest part has to be Normans’s wife, Connie, not only the character, but also the entire concept of her. A nurse working in the exact same asylum he has been institutionalised to, who then falls in love with her patient. That’s just told once but never really made clear. She also ony appears for a couple of minutes, so we never get to know her or see her relationship with Norman. As far as I can tell, she could be any woman.

henry_thomas_1294588878It’s worth noting that the movie deliberately leaves out the Mrs Spool twist from part 2 and 3, and you theoretically could watch it without seeing the two sequels. Then again, why would you want to watch this movie?

Due to the fact that the present-time-setting of the movie doesn’t have any Bates-house in the first two acts, it comes to a welcome surprise that it is the setting for the final showdown. As common for TV-movies, the showdown includes most of the characters from the first two acts. Which is funny because those characters, which are haunting Norman for his guilt, did never seem to bother him in the previous films. It also turns the movie into a cheap soft-horror-film with ghosts of his victims, which are hindering him from letting go.

There is also some inconsistency with the way the flashbacks are handled. In one of the earliest flashbacks, at the funeral of Norman’s father, Mrs Bates is dubbed over by Norman. This is a nice nod to the fact that Norman mimicked his other’s voice in all the other films. But in every other flashback, Hussey talks in her own voice. It’s kinda irritating.

eGp2NWZoMTI=_o_psycho-4-the-beginning

Verdict – “Don’t you have respect for the dead?!”

The movie’s biggest problem is his cheapness. Hussey is the best actress in the movie and does a great job, beating Henry Thomas’ childish naivity and also Anthony Perkins’ nervous playfulness. The other actors are quite bad, with the one exception of C C H Pounder, but even she only serves as a frame story device. There are some neat ideas for the franchise, and the final ending to the Norman Bates-legacy isn’t too bad either. But the over-the-top-TV-dramaturgy destroys any ambition the movie may have had. Both flashback-kills are only there to have any kind of “Psycho“-like murder-theme going on.

Even though it semi-neglects the other two sequels, yo should watch it if you have seen “Psycho II” and “Psycho III“. It serves as an ending to the franchise.

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A boy’s best friend is his mother – Psycho III

psycho3The “Psycho“-saga continues with part three. This time, Anthony Perkins personally directed the film, his very first. Although he originally wanted to shoot the film in b/w, the studio insisted on shooting in colour.

Heavy spoilers for this movie and “Psycho II

Are you my mother?

At the end of “Psycho II”, Norman Bates learned that the person he once had called “mother” wasn’t his real one. His real mother was a woman called Mrs Spool, the sister of Norma Bates, who had to give the child away due to some mental issues. After the revelation, Norman killed her in order to have his mother back…

2272401,e037NFsh+Krq06U7tnE3LMvUmnWzIKMK6lhhB+S0g9uMHY6n9UFdx_F1sfhwcUnP_6c6uuIOt37+Um3E6fWHFg==Story: “There is no God!”

Norman Bates’ quiet life gets disturbed when wannabe musician Duke (Jeff Fahey) comes to his motel and starts working for Bates. shortly after, disturbed ex-nun Maureen, who bears a striking resemblance to Marion Crane, also moves in. While having troubles containing his dark other side, a reporter is investigating the disappearance of Mrs Spool and also Norman’s rehabilitation.

Review – A spoilish look through the peephole

Like the second movie, “Psycho III” also concentrates on Bates’ most famous murder victim Marion Crane and the shower scene. Some short clips of this scene are also featured. The most notable reference to the first movie is Diana Scarwigs resemblance of Janet Lee, which is even referenced in the dialogue. The other big reference is quite an interesting take on the shower scene, as they remade it with a big twist, as the murderer finds his victim already in a state of dying.

There are scenes that are meant to be taken seriously, but ended up becoming unintentionally hilarious (e.g a weird foreplay scene involving desk lamps). Also, it is quite clear that the character od Duke was supposed to be the true villain in earlier drafts. That would have made a good twist and variation on the “Psycho”-formula. Sadly, the studio has insisted on something more conventional.

As this movie big twist, they retconned the second movie’s twist ending by making norma Bates Noman’s true mother again, and Mrs Spool was just delusional. So, the state of normality is restored as Norman Bates finally gets captured (again) with the promise, that he won’t get out ever again.

Verdict

Psycho III” tries to do a lot right, but manages it only a few times. The inverted shower scene is quite nice, and some visuals are quite striking, but except for the twist at the end, the movie is quite forgettable (and laughable).

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A boy’s best friend is his mother – Psycho II

psycho2r1men123 years after the original and three years after Hitchcock’s death, Universal Studios dared to make a sequel to the classic. The author of the original book, Robert Bloch, hade written his own sequel, which’s plot centered around a Hollywood-adaptation of the original murders. This kind of meta-storytelling and critique on Hollywood-politics didn’t suit the studio, so they mad their own version of the sequel.

Story:

After 22 years in psychiatric treatment, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) is seemingly cured. He returns to his mother’s house, gets a job as a dishwasher at the local diner, and also resumes ownership of his family’ motel. But after receiving mysterious and hateful notes and phone calls by his “mother”, he starts to doubt his sanity again, and not long after taking in the young waitress Mary Samuels (Meg Tilly), a murder spree is starting again.

Psycho_2_11Perspective of (In)sanity

Let’s start with the obvious: “Psycho II” is not as good as the original. The movie is even self-aware of that fact, as it starts the film with the famous shower scene from the original. It doesn’t have any significance to the plot what’s so ever. It is just a reminder of a far better movie. That said, is the sequel a bad movie? Not at all.

The acting is quite solid. Perkins may not have been the best actor, but he was the definite actor for Norman Bates, and he shines in this movie when he is struggling with his darker side. Plotwise it’s the story of a man trying to refit into society, always tortured by inner demons as well as outer influences. There is a great scene in which Bates noticeable struggles to hand over the key to room number 1 to a waiting guest.

The movie also succeeds in recapturing the storytelling of the first one by changing the tone and theme halfway through. Viewers are constantly asking themselves whether Norman Bates has succumbed to his insanity again or if someone else is toying with him. On the other hand, society really seems to have forgiven him, and is willing to give him a second chance.

The cinematography is also very nice, as the filmmakers try to give new perspectives on the Bates house.

Psycho_2_02Verdict

All in all, “Psycho II” is a sequel worth watching. There are enough twists and turns to keep you interesting, and it give you an insight in a former psychopath trying to redeem himself. Just always keep in mind that it can’t be as good as the original, though it doesn’t try so.

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A boy’s best friend is his mother – A Psycho Retrospective

03-psycho-screenAs Halloween is approaching, I was thinking about doing a horror-movie-retrospective. as there are so many franchises that are constantly reviewed around this time, I wanted to look at a lesser-known series, and I picked the “Psycho”-franchise. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, “Psycho” is a masterpiece among slasher-thrillers. Few people know of the ill-fated remake in 1998, but even fewer people know about the sequels to the original.

I’m gonna do a bunch of reviews about the whole series and give you my thoughts on it.

It starts with “Psycho II” and will end with the original.

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