The Camp Crusader
After being summoned back to the mansion, Bruce Wayne (Adam West) and his ward Dick Grayson (Burt Ward) change in to their crime fighting alter egos Batman and Robin to head out in the Bat mobile and then the bat-helicopter only to have to use Shark Repellent Bat Spray when Batman is attacked by a shark whilst using the Bat Ladder to try and climb down to a yacht. Back in Gotham it soon comes to their attention, with a little help from Commissioner Gordon (Neil Hamilton) and Chief O'Hara (Stafford Repp), that The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), The Riddler (Frank Gorshin) and Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) have joined forces and plan to kidnap world leaders and then hold them to ransom using a dastardly dehydrating device.
Who needs a Brooding Batman or a Depressing Dark Knight when you can have a Camp Crusader with an array of Bat gadgets to make even James Bond jealous. Okay so "Batman: The Movie" and the Batman & Robin of the Adam West and Burt Ward era is not for everyone, it is so camp and colourful that at times it is more entertaining for being bad than for being intentionally camp but it brings a smile to your face, well at least mine. Then again I was introduced to Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman & Robin during a summer holiday in the 80s when a TV channel aired the old series plus "Batman: The Movie" and as a young teenager I was hooked.
I have a feeling that to enjoy "Batman: The Movie" you need to have seen it before experiencing Tim Burton's version and definitely before Christopher Nolan's version as I wouldn't be surprised if it comes across as tacky nonsense for a young generation who are only aware of the newer Batman's especially the more recent conflicted Dark Knight. But watched in full knowledge that what you are getting is 105 minutes of camp comedy, staged fight scenes, hilariously bad dialogue and a whole host of crazy Bat gadgets including Shark Repellent Bat Spray and it is a whole lot of fun. Well come on how can you not enjoy either Batman battling a rubber shark from the Bat Ladder or being whisked off by the evil geniuses on giant flying umbrellas.
As such, and I shouldn't need to say it but, "Batman: The Movie" isn't really about the story or the heroic escapades of the caped crusader and Robin it is about the camp colourful comedy and the characters. From Burgess Meredith as the Penguin to those amazing gadgets and the even more amazing Bat vehicles it is one long smile. And you get a sense that all those involved had a fun time making it and you have to admire how they managed to keep a straight face with so many hilarious lines of dialogue to deliver especially Burt Ward who seems like everything he says is ridiculous.
What this all boils down to is that "Batman: The Movie" is simply a whole lot of camp fun for those who first experienced the Batman & Robin of the Adam West and Burt Ward era. Some may find it cheesy and bad but for me it will always remain one of my favourite "Batman" movies.