The Death of Batman review by The Grim Ringler

Lifes a weird thing. So a couple months back I reviewed the fan-made Batman film Batman Dead End because, if nothing else, it was a movie that, though fan-made, deserves to be seen. Having seen my review, a man named Christopher Stapleton contacted me asking if I would like to see the fan-made Bats movie he himself was in as said Batman. More than happy to see a movie made by passionate people (and always glad to get free stuff) I agreed and tonight had the pleasure of seeing their film The Death of Batman. Before I get to the review though, I do want to say two things

Firstly that this, as the DVD packaging for The Death of Batman, the literature, and the film itself says, this is a fan-made film and was made and sent as such. Secondly, though both fan-made Batman films I have seen use Batman as their main character, it is completely unfair to judge them against one another for two reasons the first being that Batman Dead End was made with a lot of professional help and with the help of thirty grand, The Death of Batman was not so lucky. The second reason being that both films take the Batman mythos into two totally different directions and do totally different things with the character. Let me explain

Where Batman Dead End is made using a visual style much like Frank Miller used in his comics, the story is straight up action and, great as it is, has no real story so to speak (which I imagine would be hard to do with seven minutes of film). On the other hand we have The Death of Batman which looks, at least as far as Batmans costume, like the early Tim Burton films, yet plays out like a Frank Miller piece in that it is very dark and has very little action. But where we can judge both films equally is that both films are wonderful additions to a comic book mythos that has been done a great disservice in recent years and which needs the passion and input of people like these filmmakers in order to restore Batman to his once great stature.

The Death of Batman finds Batman (played well by actor Christopher Stapleton) in the middle of a massive clean-up of Gotham. He has managed to single-handedly cripple the rampant drug industry in Gotham and seems perched on the edge of finally getting Gotham cleaned up once and for all. What he doesnt count on though is a chance encounter with a petty thief who manages to get the upper-hand on Batman and in so doing is able force Bats to remember who he was and what he has done to him. During this time Batman is beaten mercilessly, is shot up with heroin in order to force him to face his own demons, and is eventually believed dead by the commissioner and the outside world. Beaten to his breaking point but refusing to give his captor the satisfaction of defeating him, Batman finally learns the truth about the petty thief and in so doing must face one last demon he had never expected to have to face the idea that he had made a mistake in meting out his justice.

Well shot and well acted, The Death of Batman really does deserve to be seen. The sets are kept to a minimum for obvious budgetary reasons but also so that the focus remains on the two actors that really are the heart of this piece. As Batman, actor Stapleton brings a very calm stoicism that seems very similar to that of actor Michael Keaton but which never crosses into mimicry. While there is a fight sequence between Batman and the thief the real test of the actors comes when they are left alone with the script and though the acting does slide into melodrama from time to time, never does this become a parody or even bad. Director Donald Lawrence Flaherty does a fine job keeping the film visually interesting and that, coupled with some very unique editing trickery, give this film a nice look.

The film is not perfect though, which is to be expected, but the two miscues in the film really do hurt the believability of it all. The first involves Batman being shocked (in the groin, yowch!) with a taser-gun, which, the guys suit is, if not rubber, an off-shoot of it and would be, I would wager, immune to such a threat. The other problem I had was the ending. Which, I hate to be a spoiler soif you dont want to know itjump down to the next paragraph. Ok, here comes the spoiler

I dont like that Batman commits suicide at the end of the film after finding out he has had a man wrongly put into prison and then had to watch the guy shoot himself. Its just not something Bats would do. The beauty of his character is that hes always walked the razors edge but never falls off. Thinking he would kill himself is just counter to what we have all read and learned about the guy. I dunno what he would do but, I mean, if he can lose two Robins and countless other loved ones to his own enemies, I think he could face down this. Though I do like what it is saying, that this is the one thing Batman cannot face. That it means he has failed at serving and saving the innocent. I like that. And I like that it does what we will never see a mainstream Batman movie do it kills the guy off. And in a miserably sad way. So while I dont agree with it, I do have to respect their artistic decision.

I was very impressed by The Death of Batman and have to hand it to all involved for creating a very interesting and original piece of fan-fiction. Its my hope that a lot of people get to see their film and that it leads to much bigger projects for all involved.

Anyone interested in seeing or learning about The Death of Batman can contact director Donald Flaherty here


Donald Flaherty
415th St. E
Hermosa Beach, CA
90254

or you can email him at


mrdlf@aol.com

c




7 out of 10 Jackasses
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