Michael Keaton

Batman-1989-Logo

If you were around and old enough to know anything in the summer of 1989, you remember what a phenomenon the release of Batman was. Tim Burton‘s comic book movie was almost as significant to blockbuster history as Star Wars, only in a different way. The DC superhero adaptation was sort of a peak for Hollywood’s aims in the wake of the surprise game changer of 12 years prior. Warner Bros. went all out to sell Batman as an event long ahead of its June 23rd opening and then used that hype to in turn sell the world on Batman merchandising, especially to those who weren’t already hardcore fans. There’s very little about today’s blockbuster and fan culture that wasn’t around for Batman 25 years ago. Even the Internet was involved. To commemorate the anniversary of the movie that sent America into a frenzy of Batmania, I’m not going to highlight a bunch of scenes we love or controversially compare it preferably to The Dark Knight or champion Michael Keaton’s return to the cape and mask after he returns to the black and white stripes of Beetlejuice. Instead I’ve selected a bunch of my favorite ridiculous facts about Batman, many of which are mostly crazy for how similar the preconception and reception was way back then to what we commonly see with tentpoles today.

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Fox Searchlight

Michael Keaton is no stranger to donning a superhero’s cape and tights and serving up justice. But the former Batman isn’t exactly joining the ranks of Marvel and DC’s long list of superhero features in the coming months and years with his new film, Birdman. (The poster includes a subtitle, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, but don’t expect to be seeing that in any other marketing.) Once a prominent actor who portrayed everyone’s favorite fictional hero, the man at the center of this fascinating little story (Keaton) must deal with his current status as a struggling, dull shell of the star he once was, as he attempts to take on a role in a Broadway play and maybe face reality. While he’ll always have his past life as Birdman, it’s been too long since he’s strapped on his wings and slipped on his mask, and the cracks are beginning to show in his persona. What about the public that still views him as Birdman, even when he’s clearly coming apart at the seams? Take a leap of faith with the first trailer for Birdman below.

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Need For Speed Movie

Need for Speed, I’ve seen all the Fast & Furious films. I know the Fast & Furious films. The Fast & Furious films are friends of mine. Need for Speed, you’re no Fast & Furious. The name may come from the popular video game franchise, but director Scott Waugh and his cohorts are unmistakably shooting for a piece of that F&F pie. Unfortunately, this movie doesn’t have a tenth of the brazenness, the chewy homoeroticism, or the un-self-conscious fun of even the least of its inspirations (no, it’s not even better than the fourth F&F). Aaron Paul plays Tobey Marshall, a mechanic and street racing savant who, through a series of unnecessarily complicated events, gets framed for vehicular manslaughter. As soon as he steps out of prison, he breaks parole and heads off to take revenge on the one who wronged him: former friend Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). Rather than taking a tire iron to Dino’s head or some similarly straightforward action, Tobey plots to earn his way into the DeLeon, a top-secret race held only for the studliest drivers with the most expensive cars. Dino, a previous winner, is competing again, and Tobey wants to beat him and earn the millions in prize money. Assisting him are a trio of friends (Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek, and Ramón Rodriguez) and a love interest named Julia (Imogen Poots).

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Michael Keaton Monk

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career.  Whatever your feelings are about the new RoboCop remake, there’s no denying that it’s great to see Michael Keaton up on the big screen again with such a prominent role. The actor hasn’t been in a lot of movies over the past decade, and in those he has done he’s mostly played some young starlet’s father. Or he’s merely provided his voice for a few minor Pixar characters. And now in 2014 alone we get to see him stand out in three movies, including RoboCop, next month’s Need for Speed and, best of all, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman, in which he’ll star, reflexively, as a washed-up actor best known for having portrayed a superhero in the movies. If we’re lucky, next in line for Keaton is a return to another one of his most famous characters: Beetlejuice. Imagine if he’d not stuck with Hollywood long enough to work with Tim Burton and deliver his two most iconic performances? He also wouldn’t have gone on to notably play the same FBI character in two unrelated movies (Jackie Brown and Out of Sight), but then again he wouldn’t have done Jack Frost and Multiplicity either — not that he’s not great in the latter, only that he’s too good for how bad it is overall. If Keaton had left acting in 1985, we would still have his hilarious work […]

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review robocop

Everyone has their own idea on what constitutes the best remake, but most people can agree that the goal should be to improve upon the original in some meaningful way or to at least make the new film salient for a modern audience. The best remakes (John Carpenter’s The Thing, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, the Coen brothers’ True Grit) take the core plot elements of the originals but find their own identity in relevant stories, fascinating characters, and casts that fully engage the material and the audience. RoboCop (2014) has chosen a different path all together, and while it avoids the degree of pointlessness reached by far too many Hollywood retreads, it still fails to justify its existence. It’s a cleaner package, but the contents are far less filling. You know the story. The multinational OmniCorp corporation has made a fortune developing robots to secure the streets, but while the rest of the world has signed on the United States refuses to accept armed drones walking its soil. Detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) meanwhile is brought to the brink of death after an attack by a purportedly vicious criminal, and his only hope is an experimental procedure designed to meld man and machine into the ultimate, drably-colored law enforcement officer. It’s a match made in heaven, but Murphy’s new gig as RoboCop lands him in a personal hell. At least he’ll be bringing some “friends” down with him.

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Beetlejuice

Tim Burton had a bizarre start to his career. He spent over a decade making short films and dabbling in conceptual design and puppetry, but he broke out quick with a big screen adventure for a man-child TV star. He then delivered a ghoul for hire before transforming that same actor into a superhero who has become the center of a multi-billion dollar franchise. Burton graduated quickly, and he did it with some head-shaking choices. Now there’s a rumor that he’s interested in directing a sequel to Beetlejuice (that presumably doesn’t go Hawaiian). It’s not all that surprising considering that he gave his tacit blessing to Seth Grahame-Smith‘s desire to create a blueprint for a new adventure with the animated corpse nearly two years ago. When we spoke to Grahame-Smith shortly after that development, things were all still tentative, but the screenwriter wanted to be careful about engaging both Burton and Michael Keaton to ensure that the project had the bare bona fides necessary not to get laughed out of the room. Common wisdom would seem to say that Burton should and will stay away from the director’s chair on this one. He’ll take a producer credit to keep fans from totally wetting the bed, but his true involvement will be as an old master letting some young pupil snatch the pebble from his hand, and then opening a gallery show of his conceptual set designs at the Bell Lightbox. Common wisdom would also say that a rut-stuck Burton doesn’t […]

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trailer robocop 2014

Blah blah blah remakes. No one wants them, but they just keep coming. All we can do is take them one at a time with the understanding that each new reboot has zero effect on the original film we probably love, like, or don’t honestly remember. And with that in mind our first real look at director José Padilha‘s remake of the gleefully violent, morbid and twisted Robocop has finally arrived. The story remains the same as a corporation takes over the business of policing a city with unintended results. A cop (Joel Kinnaman), wounded under suspicious circumstances, is used as the meat in a half man, half machine, all cyborg sandwich representing the company’s latest weapon in the war on crime. But what happens when he’s no longer interested in being a tool for the Man? I’ll tell you what happens. PG-13 violence happens. Check out the mildly competent yet wholly generic-looking trailer for Robocop below.

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RoboCop

RoboCop isn’t the first Paul Verhoeven remake Sony Pictures has showcased at Comic-Con. At the last two Cons they promoted Total Recall, a decent movie — and a pretty good Director’s Cut — that flat out bombed at the box-office alongside underwhelming critics and fans. Obviously, they’re hoping director Jose Padilha‘s remake of Verhoeven’s best film isn’t met with the same fate. With a cast this good – Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jennifer Ehle, Abbie Cornish, and Jackie Earle Haley – if all else fails, at least they’ll have some mighty fine talent on display. We already know that it’ll be, no surprise, PG-13. The original RoboCop hasn’t aged a day as a nasty piece of violent cinema, and despite Samuel L. Jackson believing otherwise, it would remain an R-rated movie by today’s loose standards. But none of that matters at the end of the day. What matters is if Padilha and his cast make do something new with the character, and from what the cast and Padihla had to say at Comic-Con, that’s what they set out to do.

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keat

We are on the eve of possibly one of the biggest superhero movies ever to be made. No, it’s not Man of Steel, but Birdman, of course! That’s right, you should be as or more excited for that superhero you don’t even know. Why? Because this movie has Michael freakin Keaton, universally beloved actor. If Keaton can make us forget Jack Frost, then who better to play a superhero? Well, at least a guy who played a superhero anyway.

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Penthouse North

Penthouse North should really just be called “Nutty-Crazy Michael Keaton Stalks Poor Blind Girl Michelle Monaghan to Get Some Diamonds,” because that’s exactly what’s going on here and it is still far more interesting than its existing standard issue thriller moniker. Also, guys, Michael Keaton is a nutbag in this, and Michelle Monaghan is blind. And diamonds. Beyond all that, Penthouse North looks like the sort of film that will pop up on TNT in five years, only to make audiences wonder “wait, when did this come out?” It doesn’t really matter, this could have come out whenever (and, considering it was made back in 2011, it really could have hit screens at any point in time since then), and it probably would have still looked just as bonkers. We’ll let this one speak for itself. Hide your diamonds and check out the new international trailer for Penthouse North after the break.

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Michael Keaton

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news round-up that’s been rich with reports all week thanks to deals coming out of Berlin. Also, today we find out what Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman are teaming up for next. There was a period in the ’80s where Michael Keaton may have been the most famous man on the planet, and everything just seemed to be in its right place. While he’s worked fairly steadily ever since, it just never seems like we get to see him in enough movies these days, so every new announcement ends up being exciting. The latest, from Heat Vision, is that Keaton has joined the cast of that video game-inspired car chase movie, Need For Speed. According to the trade, he’ll be playing the eccentric host of an underground race that attracts all the best drivers from around the world—sort of like the Kumite, but with wheels doing burnouts instead of feet kicking faces. Hopefully this affords Keaton plenty of opportunity to snort and chomp gum.

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Elite Squad director José Padilha‘s RoboCop just began principal photography, but for the past few weeks things have not been looking up for this mostly unwanted PG-13 remake. There was word over Padilha being pushed around behind-the-scenes, that the script is a disaster, and the fantastic prospect of Hugh Laurie terrorizing the futuristic cop was killed. So, after a string of disappointing news, this first-look at Joel Kinnaman rocking the new RoboCop gear isn’t helping matters. Check out Kinnaman looking more like a superhero than a man whose shot up body bits are being reused as a symbol of facism, and while you’re at it, read why that’s a bad thing:

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Doctor Strange

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that usually doesn’t get political. But it’s time someone takes a stance on Twilight. It had to be done. This aggression will not stand. One of the best things going in this business — of movie blogging — is Marvel rumors. They’re going to keep us all employed at least until the second Avengers film comes to term, if not longer. Kudos to Rob Keyes at ScreenRant for his astute dissection of how Doctor Strange may fit into Thor 2. Yes, Viggo Mortensen. Yes.

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Michael Keaton

Were you thinking that you weren’t going to check out Jose Padilha‘s remake of Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop because a) remakes turn you off or b) this year’s Total Recall remake was so bad or c) you don’t like that Joel Kinnaman character (tangentially, you might also not like The Killing or even Snabba Cash)? Well, guess what, your reasons for derision no longer have any basis, because the film has now hired a new villain (post-Hugh Laurie shove-off) that’s so deliciously wonderful that, when we say that somebody must have asked for it, we mean that somebody brilliant must have asked for it. The new CEO of the evil OmniCorp, Raymond Sellars? Michael Keaton. Boom. Buy your ticket now.

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Culture Warrior

Part of the appeal of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films is that the basic conceit informing their aesthetic seems so natural. Batman is one of few major superheroes that isn’t actually a super-hero. Batman mythology, then, lends itself to a degree of plausibility more than, say, Superman or Spider-Man, so why not manifest a vision of Batman that embraces this particular aspect that distinguishes this character from most superhero mythologies? But realism has not been a characteristic that unifies Batman’s many representations in the moving image. Through the eyes of Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, the Batman of tentpole studio filmmaking has occupied either a world of gothic architecture and shadowy noir, or one of schizophrenic camp. From 1989 to 1997, Batman was interpreted by visionary directors with potent aesthetic approaches, but approaches that did not necessarily aim to root the character within a landscape of exhaustive Nolanesque plausibility.

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Culture Warrior

Enduring cultural figures like Batman endure precisely because of the slight but notable changes they incur over time. Batman has had a long history in the moving image, and while the character has maintained both the central conceit of being a crime-fighting detective, the cinematic Batman of seventy years ago bears little resemblance to the Batman we’re familiar with today. The character and his myth have been interpreted with variation by a multitude of creative persons other than Bob Kane and Bill Finger. In the moving image, Batman has been embodied by a range of actors including Robert Lowery, Adam West, and George Clooney, and Batman has been realized by directors and showrunners prone to various tastes and aesthetic interpretations like William Dozier and Christopher Nolan. While Batman is perhaps best-known by a non-comic-astute mass culture through the many blockbuster feature films made about him, including this summer’s hotly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, the character’s cinematic origins are rooted in the long-dead format of the movie serial. Batman first leapt off the page in a 15-part serial made in 1943 titled Batman and another six years later titled Batman and Robin. These serials did not influence Batman’s later cinematic iterations realized by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher as much as they inspired Batman’s representation on television. Batman’s presence in film serials and on television have had a decisive and important impact in terms of how mass audiences perceive the Batman of feature films. At the same time, these serials […]

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Seth Grahame-Smith‘s unwritten Beetlejuice sequel is currently a big, fat maybe. As of right now, Smith has only gone as far to discuss the project with the studio, Tim Burton, and Michael Keaton, who all sound game, as long as one small little detail is taken care of: nailing the script. As I spoke to Smith yesterday, it was obvious he knew the stakes involved in doing a sequel to Burton’s beloved classic. I mean, who on earth wants to be the guy responsible for making a lame Beetlejuice sequel? Obviously, Smith doesn’t want that title. “When Warner Bros. first talked to me about it I said there needs to be two things to happen before I would even consider it,” said Grahame-Smith. “For one, it couldn’t be some kind of reboot or remake with a different actor playing Beetlejuice. I wasn’t interested in that. I wanted actual Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice and an actual sequel to the movie. Two, I said I’d only do it if Tim gave it his blessing and guided the process. I got both of those things: Tim to say if there was a good enough script he would help with the development of it and I got Michael Keaton to say, if the script was good enough, he’d be open to doing it.” He continued, “You know, what I keep telling people is I don’t want to do it unless we’re really sure that it’s worthy. The original is one of my favorite movies, so I […]

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Over Under - Large

Tim Burton’s Batman wasn’t a movie, it was an event. It spawned a tidal wave of merchandise, video games, roller coasters, an animated series, a ridiculous music video, etc… He dropped that movie on the world like a bomb, and in many ways it could be considered the high point of his career. His artistic approach was finally paired with mainstream material, and his success there has propelled him to being one of the go-to money making directors in Hollywood. But, as an 8-year-old fan that was blown away by the gritty comic book take on the character that was developing throughout the 80s, the release of Batman is forever marked by me as a day of huge disappointment. I hated that boring, goofy movie. It was lamer than that show from the 60s I watched back when I was 6. Pathetic. Batman: Under the Red Hood was a straight to video cartoon that kind of gets lost in the sea of DC straight to video cartoons. Most of these movie are pretty strong, don’t get me wrong, but they’re strong with the caveat that they’re just cartoons. They’re for kids, but they’re good enough to be enjoyed by adults, not good on the level of the best feature films. Under the Red Hood is a step above the rest though. Other than The Dark Knight, I would say that it’s my favorite Batman thing that doesn’t come from the medium of the page.

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When it was first reported that David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith were going to begin their producing partnership by working on a sequel to the Tim Burton film Beetlejuice, it didn’t really sound like a good idea to me. At first glance it seems like Beetlejuice is a very specifically Tim Burton movie, and the idea of somebody else working in that universe feels strange and off-putting. Why would you even want to make another Beetlejuice unless you were Tim Burton?  That would be like somebody who wasn’t Quentin Tarantino saying they were going to make a sequel to Pulp Fiction. But when Grahame-Smith said that he would only do the movie if he got Burton’s blessing and if Michael Keaton came back to star as the titular ghost with the most, the idea started to sound less crazy. I mean, seeing somebody else working in this world that is so visually Burton’s vision would still be a little weird, but who wouldn’t be interested at the possibility of Keaton slipping back into one of his most outlandish and iconic roles? I’ve found my skepticism about a Beetlejuice sequel waning over time. And that continues now that there’s some confirmation that Burton is, in fact, going to be involved with this movie in some way. While talking to the people at MTV about his current projects Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie, Burton took a minute to address his own feelings about the developing sequel. On doing another Beetlejuice he said, “I […]

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After it was announced that David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith were forming a production company whose first order of business was to develop a sequel to the Tim Burton comedy Beetlejuice, the biggest question on everybody’s mind was whether they would be casting a newer, younger actor in the title role and treating this film as something of a reboot, or if they would be getting Michael Keaton to once again don the zombie makeup and green hair of the iconic ghost with the most. As it turns out, Katzenberg and Grahame-Smith are very wise men who understand that Michael Keaton, quite frankly, is Beetlejuice. It didn’t even feel right when somebody else voiced him for the animated series and I was 8 when I watched that.

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