November 11, 2012
There's a phrase which DwightFry said once in a thread on the forum... something which has stuck with me ever since. It was something along the lines of ... "You never complete an edit; you abandon it". How true that is. Indeed, DwightFry worked on his first edit for more than 2 years and looking at the thread in the "In the Works COMPLETED archive" it appears that he started before I even began work on my first edit (and I've now released 5 edits)! So, the anticipation for this edit was pretty high.
Now, I hadn't seen the original 1989 version of Batman for a long time. Probably not for a good 10 years at least. So, when I settled down to watch the blu ray a week or so before DwightFry's fanedit, I was taken aback a little at how dated the movie looked. I suppose in my mind Burton's movie had all the edge and darkness of Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, but truth be told, the director's visions are a world apart. However, at the same time I still greatly enjoyed Burton's movie. It's fun, has tremendous production design and an iconic music score from Danny Elfman - but most of all, it has Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Undoubtedly his character and performance completely dominate the movie and It's not surprising that the impact of Keaton's Batman is so overlooked. Overall then, I would still rank the movie very highly; and yet the main aspect which is addressed by DwightFry's Descent Into Mystery fanedit, is certainly the one area which cries out for fixing - that rather paper thin and ineffective romance between Vicki Vale and Bruce Wayne.
It doesn't take long to be impressed by DF's first foray into fanediting. Even though I had watched the theatrical version only a week or so before, the cuts which are made here are totally invisible. Not only that, but I can whole heartedly say that I didn't miss one of the scenes which had DF's editing scissors applied to them.
Not surprisingly, the edit's biggest plus point is in scrubbing the aforementioned romance between Vicki and Bruce. It genuinely improves the movie's central character, in that suddenly there is more mystery and intrigue surrounding Bruce Wayne and the Batman. True, it still doesn't redress the balance properly, as Burton's Batman remains very much geared towards Nicholson's Joker, even in this edit. However, it certainly enhances the pace and feel of the movie and somehow brings more substance to the story.
The concept of not having the Joker be responsible for Bruce's parent's death is a wise move for me. I prefer keeping that as a mystery, even if it admittedly carried some dramatic effect in the original theatrical version. Personal preference I'm sure, as I can see from other reviews that it's split people's opinions quite a bit.
As for not having Prince's music playing when the Joker arrives to meet Vicki Vale and thereby denying us the twisted pleasure of seeing many valuable paintings being defaced? Well, DF certainly edits it very well, but it was a scene which I quite enjoyed in the original version as it fits Nicholson's interpretation of the character nicely, so I can go either way with that one. It's not really missed, but it was a fun scene.
Technically, DF has done a fine job, with a subtle colour correction applied which particularly improves the blacks, giving a deeper, less flat feel to the film. Sonically speaking, everything sounded spot-on to me. No harsh cuts or audio drop outs to speak of at all.
On top of this, there's a very cool short edit entitled The Killing Joke, expertly edited as always by blueyoda (even if seeing Bale's fantastic portrayal of Batman made Keaton's look very weak in comparison), plus a nice little colour correction comparison scene, not to mention an interesting About The Edit piece.
Overall then, this is quite excellent work from DwightFry. Whereas in the past I never really believed Burton's film needed fanediting, having seen Descent Into Mystery, I stand corrected. Burton 8/10... DF 9/10.