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The Cynical Optimist Vs. Batman : The Movie!

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While “The Dark Knight” offers a fully satisfying cinematic experience, one thing is for certain – there are no Bat-Boats, boy wonders or shark attacks in Christopher Nolan’s film. Within the opening minutes of 1966’s “Batman: The Movie,” Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) blast out of the Bat Cave in their Batmobile, drive to a local airport and take the Bat-Copter out to sea to investigate a mysterious yacht.

After dropping the Bat Ladder – Batman is attacked by a great white shark that jumps out of the water and sinks its teeth into his leg. Have no fear, not even for a second, because our caped crusader is always prepared. With the help of his plucky sidekick Robin and a can of Shark Repellent Bat-Spray, Batman dispatches the murderous fish – but the yacht vanishes into thin air!

Who could be behind this diabolical plot? It seems the vanishing yacht was just a holographic decoy to keep Batman away from the real yacht, which has been commandeered – but by whom? Is it any coincidence that there’s been a jailbreak and Gotham’s most notorious villains have escaped?

Commissioner Gordon states the obvious, that it could be any of them – but being the detective crime fighter he is, Batman slowly pieces the puzzle together. “Pretty fishy what happened to me on that ladder…”

Gordon fires back, “You mean where there’s a fish there could be a penguin?” Now the juices are flowing, and Robin joins in on the puzzle-solving action! “But wait! It happened at sea… Sea. C for Catwoman!”

Batman reminds them, “An exploding shark was pulling my leg…” “The Joker!”
And now Chief O’Hara puts in his two cents, “All adds up to a sinister riddle… Riddle-R. Riddler!” Could really be possible? Could the worst of the worst of Batman’s rogue gallery be combining their forces? As Robin says, “Holy Nightmare!”

Yes, friends, the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), the Riddler (Frank Gorshin) and the Joker (Cesar Romero) have joined forces. The foursome has plans not to take over Gotham or the country even, but the entire world. It’s up to Batman and Robin, courageous warriors against crime, to stop the diabolical fiends before they carry out their evil plans.

Directed by Leslie H. Martinson and written by Lorenzo Semple Jr., “Batman: The Movie” is so unique in its own absurdity that it’s almost impossible to compare it to the countless other interpretations of Batman that exist. The “POW!” “BANG!” “ZIP!” moments of the television series make the leap from “same bat-time, same bat-channel” to celluloid with comic camp and satire, and the performances couldn’t be any more over-acted.

For those looking to reconnect with the nostalgic roots laid by Adam West’s Batman, this film is a welcome reminder of a big part of the Dark Knight’s illustrious 70-year history. Its pure absurdity was a huge factor in presented a darker, more somber hero in Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman.” But isn’t it funny how history repeats itself, with films like “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin” being even more ludicrous than the ‘60s television show.

This of course forced a dramatic, darker turn yet again with Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” and now “The Dark Knight.” So when you’re enjoying the brooding, growling protector Christian Bale has embodied, don’t forget about Adam West with his countless Bat-sprays tucked away in that glorious utility belt.

A pure indulgence, “Batman: The Movie” is an outlandish comedy that is impossible to take seriously, and even more impossible not to enjoy.

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