Superhero Shorts: Batman Dead End
This week I’ll be looking at my first dramatic Superhero Short as suggested by Ryan McNeely over at 5 Word Movie Reviews on my first edition of this series. Batman: Dead End is one of the most recognized superhero fan films, getting praise from the likes of filmmaker Kevin Smith and comic book artist Alex Ross. It was a labor of love from special effects artist turned director Sandy Collora whose goal was to create a Batman film that captured the look of the comic books as closely as possible. But enough of a backstory, let’s take a look at the film. You can view it at Sandy Collora’s website Collora Studios or watch it embedded below.
One thing that surprised me and may have surprised you if all you’ve had to go on was the title and my brief description is when a pitch perfect recreation of the alien from the Aliens movie popped up only to be taken out by yet another fantastic recreation of a Predator. When I checked out the movie for the first time, I went in pretty blind and the reveal was a great surprise. It’s seemingly not that hard to do a decent recreation of the Batman outfit, especially this one which doesn’t have the molded rubber suit. I know from talking with Sandy Collora that he is against the rubber suit, but personally I like the functionality of the suit, the thing that stuck with me the most is from the original Tim Burton Batman movie when he gets shot, and you realize that the suit is made to be bulletproof. There’s no way a thin outfit like this can be bulletproof. I also admire the decision to give him the white eyes that he often has in art and animation, but I personally wasn’t as fond of how it looked.
Aside from those minor issues, the rest of it was fantastic, the dark rainy setting just screamed Batman, and the Joker looked and sounded just how I would think he should look. The dialog between the two of them is very telling and convincing, and when the Alien drops down, it’s a complete shocker. It also just screams with visual flair from the interesting close up shots to the iconic poses that look even better in motion. The fight between Batman and the Predator is also a great representation of a knock down street fight, without any unnecessary flashy martial arts moves. It gives Batman a more utilitarian feel, doing what is needed for the fight at hand. And the final cliffhanger shot is a great note to go out on, leaving you with both the feeling that Batman is in over his head and yet it’s Batman so you know that he’s going to somehow find his way out of it. Now that’s enough out of me, I’m very pleased to have gotten in touch with Sandy Collora who graciously answered a few of my questions about his film.
Bubbawheat: Is there a specific artist, writer, or several artists/writers that you drew on the most for your designs for BDE?
Sandy Collora:I like Alex Ross and Frank Miller. They drew Batman right. The design was based off a combination of both of them and my own artistic sensibilities. Neither one of them gave him a black belt, which I did. The yellow belt always looked really silly to me. There’s a lot of artists that have depicted Batman dark and gritty as well, that I like; Simon Bisley, Brian Bolland and Beremejo.
BW: Looking back at it now, is there anything about the film that you would have done differently if you had done it today?
SC: I wish I had more money. I wish I had more time… Both of those elements could have really pushed the film and the concept even further, but sadly I had neither. Not much I would do different really with the same budget though, even now… I think it still holds up today and still gets viewed quite a bit. Sure there’s specific shots or elements that could have been better, but I’m happy with the film and the reaction it got.
BW: What do you think of Christopher Nolan’s version of Batman, and is there anything specific that you might have done differently if you had been involved with it?
SC: I loved both films. Nolan is exceptional. Truly one of the most talented directors working in film today, but I hate the rubber suit and always will. Especially on someone like Bale, who has the body to make the suit work without sculpted, rubber muscles. It just looks so dumb to me. It’s too bulky and oversculpted. Too much detail, especially in the second one, which honestly, I felt was a joke. How good those films are is truly a testament to Nolan’s gift. He made the movies so well and told such a great story, the suits being lame just doesn’t really matter that much. I aspire to be half the storyteller and filmmaker that he is one day. I’m very glad he made them realistic and kept Batman very dark, and Bale was outstanding, but had the Batman suits been done more simply and subtle, without the sculpted rubber crap, I can only imagine even how much better those films would have been.
BW: My favorite part of the short visually is Batman slowly getting up with his cape draped across the ground around him, is there one part of the film that you think you hit just 100% pitch perfect?
SC: I’m quite fond of that shot as well. It works for me.
BW: Can you talk a little bit about the feature you’re currently trying to get made, Shallow Water?
SC: I want to make a throwback, late 70’s early 80’s horror film. No CG crap, no skip frame, bleach bypass bullshit, or kinetic MTV editing. A truly, scary, moody, solid, horror film. I like “Predator” and “Alien” and want to make a film of that ilk, but both of those franchises are SO f-ing tired. I want to do something new, exciting and interesting, with a new, fresh, kick ass monster. I think the industry is in desperate need of that. Stay tuned.
BW: If you were to make another superhero short film or even feature length film, what would it be?
SC: Honestly, I feel the same way about superheroes as I do the creature films of today… They’re all SO tired. So similar. If I did another superhero film, it would be totally original. We need NEW heroes.
BW: And finally, what’s your favorite superhero movie?
SC: Tough question. Not sure I can answer that one, but I can tell you what it’s NOT; “Superman Returns” was atrocious. I barely got through it… Embarrassing to say the least. What’s interesting about that movie, and actually is the proof of how bad it truly is, might be the fact that Brandon Routh was actually really good. However, the rest of the casting was awful, especially Kate Bosworth, who looked like an anorexic, crack whore. Spacey who is a brilliant actor, is also horribly miscast as Lex. Had the Superman suit not been the ungodly disaster that it was, Spacey’s portrayal of Lex would have been the worst thing in the movie.
It’s things like this that really make me enjoy writing for this site, it’s been exciting to hear back from everyone I’ve talked to. Next week I’ll be taking a look at a lesser known video series about a guy who wakes up every month with a random superpower. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.