Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Batman meets Madea in Tyler Perry's Dark Knight sequel

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2009 at 8:55 PM

click to enlarge Can Batman bring Madea to justice?
  • Can Batman bring Madea to justice?

You can appreciate Warner Brothers' dilemma. The Dark Knight was the second highest-grossing U.S. release of all time with an ending ripe for a sequel. But with Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan committed to making the sci-fi film Inception in 2010, the studio faced the choice of waiting at least another two years for a Dark Knight sequel, or putting the franchise in other hands.

While I can appreciate a bold gesture — like the kind that gave Nolan the chance to make the Batman films in the first place — giving The Dark Knight follow-up to Atlanta-based actor/star Tyler Perry seems a little too brave. And while one can appreciate the impulse to inject some good-hearted humor and hope into the Bat-sequel after The Dark Knight's grim content, Tyler Perry's The Dark Knight Takes Madea to Jail seems a bit too drastic a change of pace.

Perry directs and plays two roles in a sequel that offers a peculiar blend of brooding superheroics and uplifting family comedy. The premise follows the attempts by Batman (Christian Bale) to clear his name following the death of Two-Face. His efforts to clean up Gotham City are complicated by a pair of female law-breakers, the femme fatale Catwoman and the angry granny Madea, both played by Perry.

Perry was able to turn the sequel around quickly by using Atlanta as a stand-in for Gotham City, but the results are mixed. The local economy enjoyed the boost and it's fun to see local landmarks, but having Batman loom like a gargoyle from the roof of the Majestic Diner doesn't quite have the Gothic look the franchise is known for. On the other hand, relocating the Batcave to Stone Mountain makes for some memorable visuals.

It's nice to see more female characters in the franchise, Perry’s whip-wielding Catwoman and belt-swinging Madea hardly seem like a match for Batman, and their ménage a trios just feels wrong. (At least now we know why Christian Bale was so angry.) The sequence in which Madea's tough love attitude turns Arkham Aslylum's inmates into model citizens deserves in-depth analysis:

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(Photo courtesy Lionsgate)

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