RT on DVD: Bank Job, Step Up 2, and a Bat-Marathon
Host your own Batman movie marathon with our DVD guide, plus the week's new releases.
As Dark Knight hype overtakes the free world this week, prepare yourself with a marathon of Batman lore on DVD with our viewing guide below -- or, escape from Bat-mania by shacking up with DVDs to get you ready for Bat-alternatives Mamma Mia and Space Chimps.
If you're a Batman fan, chances are you've already reserved your ticket for Friday's The Dark Knight. (If you're really an uber-fan, you might even have tickets to those 3am screenings.) In the meantime, turn your living room into a veritable Batcave with a marathon of our favorite Batman classics.
Batman: The Movie (1966, 80 percent on the Tomatometer)
Adam West is at full-camp best in this classic of '60s superhero kitsch, based on the popular television series. And while West wasn't the first on-screen Batman (Lewis Wilson and Robert Lowery preceded him in 1943 and 1949, respectively), his remains one of the most iconic characterizations. Best of all, you get not one, not two, but four of the most evil supervillains in Gotham City lore: The Penguin, The Riddler, The Joker, and Lee Meriweather's slinky Catwoman.
Batman & Robin (1997, 12 percent)
Joel Schumacher's oft-ridiculed film should be enjoyed for what it is; a modern-day throwback to the inherent silliness of two grown men who don costumes to fight bad guys. Holy codpiece, Batman! In the very least, remembering Batman at his preposterous movie low (fighting Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman as Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy, two of the worst Bat-villains ever committed to celluloid) will make you really appreciate the sobering, grown-up reboot that Christopher Nolan gave the franchise years later.
The Two-Disc Special Edition DVD features more behind-the-scenes featurettes than you'll probably want (or would ever watch), but also contains candid revelations from director Schumacher and his cast, who appear to have realized what they had wrought by the time they recorded these bonus materials. One word: Bat-nipples.
Batman - Gotham Knight (2008)
The recently-released animated anthology connects six stories that take place between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, told in different styles by writers like Josh Olson (History of Violence), Greg Rucka, and David S. Goyer. Each of the short stories are shot in their own unique styles, with a visual nod to the look and feel of Japanese anime; Batman himself is voiced by DC Animated Universe alum Kevin Conroy. But don't dismiss this as animated kidstuff; there's enough action and violence to warrant its PG-13 rating. Add to that over an hour of extra content, including a look at the life of Batman creator Bob Kane, and you've got a great way to supplement your viewing of Nolan's reboot and its sequel.
Batman Begins (2005, 84 percent)
While our previous selections were more of a Batman variety-hour, this is the no-brainer, must-watch DVD to get you in the Dark Knight spirit. Christopher Nolan's 180-degree reboot gave back to Batman what he'd been missing for years: respect. Christian Bale's tormented turn as Bruce Wayne/Batman will be remembered as a career highlight for years to come. And while Nolan's sequel is more of a crime flick than the origin story/character exploration that was Batman Begins, his vision of Gotham City, its people, and its brooding hero will remain much the same in The Dark Knight. As a capper to your Batman marathon, re-watch Begins to ease into the moody atmosphere and recall the state in which we leave Batman and all of Gotham.
Moviegoers looking for alternatives to The Dark Knight this week can have their own DVD marathons, too. Mamma Mia, adapted from the Broadway musical, sets a girl's search for her real father to the tunes of Swedish supergroup ABBA; luckily for you, there's plenty of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benni, and Anni-Frid to be found on DVD. Rock out to the 1977 concert doc ABBA: The Movie, watch Guy Pearce and Agent Smith sing "Mamma Mia"; in drag in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and see one woman's sad-sack life transformed by the power of the pop quartet in Muriel's Wedding.
If the idea of monkeys blasting off into the galaxy appeals to you, prep for Space Chimps with a more sobering look at the repercussions of NASA's experiments with chimpanzees in Matthew Broderick's 1987 sci-fi flick, Project X. And since he's carrying the movie as a lead chimp named Ham, get a taste of Saturday Night Live's Andy Samberg's goofy antics in last year's stuntman comedy, Hot Rod.