Film: The dark knight returns

Always uncompromising in his choice of film role, Michael Keaton injects new life into the psycho-killer genre.

Moments that made the year: Fine romance proves that big isn't necessarily beautiful

The best films can take you back to the first time you were ever held in the spell of the cinema screen, with the smell of popcorn hanging in your nostrils, and the sound of the projector whispering in the distance. There were a handful of pictures this year that made me remember how intoxicating cinema can be. My favourite film of 1997 was Baz Lurhmann's Romeo & Juliet, which proved to be less a case of the film-maker adapting the text than lunging at it with a broad sword. Rather than simply updating the play, Luhrmann dragged the setting into modern times while audaciously keeping the language firmly plugged into the late 16th century. The results were sensual, witty and bold, with moments that made Fellini look like a master of understatement.

Top 10 movies


Sorry? Can you spell that, please?

If it hadn't been for my son, I would never last week have come across a word that it is impossible to spell.

Hey, Martians! Chew on this Forget Dostoyevsky.

Hollywood now finds it easier to adapt bubblegum cards.

Even if I was Batman, I wouldn't be cool all the time, says the writer of `Father Ted'

I was travelling back to central London from Heathrow, my suitcases in the back of the taxi (I hadn't been flying, I just sometimes like to go to the airport with lots of suitcases), when I looked to my left and saw something that actually made me do a real double-take. Just like in a movie - I performed the full "Whu-whu-what-the" triple double-take. Driving alongside us, effortlessly drawing level with the taxi, was a silver BMW driven by two ... what looked to me like ... well, two 12-year- old children. And it was two 12-year-old children. Two boys. All right, maybe in their teens but only just. Their little necks straining so they could see over the dash. One pair of hands white-knuckled on the wheel.

Edward Scissorhands 28 December, 9.30pm C4

Edward Scissorhands


WITH festive frivolity fast approaching, what better antidote than Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, described as a "deliciously warped vision of the holiday season" by one cinema critic last year. Bored with the endless ghoulish trickery of Halloween Town, its Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington, accidentally stumbles across Christmastown, kidnaps "Sandy Claws" and attempts to recreate Christmas himself. The results are both humorous and macabre, but the real delight, for adults and children alike, lies in Burton's inimitable imaginative vision. Available in the shops from 13 Nov, we have 20 copies to give away, courtesy of Touchstone Home Video. To enter, simply answer the following question:

They've got no strings... Clare Bayley on the theatrical power of the new puppetry

On an 80ft barge, an 18in galleon is rocked by Prospero's unnatural waves. The eye instantly adjusts to the scale, a boundless ocean is easily encapsulated in a 6ft stage, and when Prospero enters, stiffly walking, staff in hand, you'd never think he was less than 1ft high. When he calls for Ariel, a radiant, light-filled creature appears: this Ariel is made of solid, blown glass.

CINEMA : Wholly boring, Batman!

I'M AFRAID that Batman Forever (PG) looks to be the measure of it. Invincible, indestructible, ineluctable, the caped crusader cruises, on inky wings, towards the millennium, a blot that can't be erased from the silver screen. Superman is exhausted, The Human Torch guttered out, while The Flash turned out to be just a flash in a pan. But Batman, like a diamond, is forever. A multi-faceted diamond, since Batman's complexity is the source of his robust longevity. Unlike Superman, Batman is one of us: human, confused and vulnerable, at times almost to the point of masochism. It is not hard to read a religious symbolism into this suffering saviour. No doubt Warner Brothers executives, after the movie took $53m on its first US weekend, offered up a prayer of thanks to the man in black.

I was a teenage Dredd head

'Judge Dredd' has reached Hollywood at last. Nicholas Barber, a former contributor, wonders what's been lost in translation


The PG-rated sequel to the sequel to the film of the TV series of the comic character who secretly dresses in rubber and cruises around Gotham City with his friend Robin fighting crime. It broke the Jurassic Park record, grossing $52.8m in its opening weekend, but, unlike the Spielberg movie, it has since been slowing down, which tells us something about the power of word-of-mouth.

The big picture: Holy neurosis, Batman

So he's a poor little rich boy whose parents died young. But do we really need to explore the Caped Crusader's twisted pathology? By Adam Mars-Jones; BATMAN FOREVER Joel Schumacher PG

The Caped Crusader: his story in Batfacts

Batman's debut: May 1939, issue 27 of Detective Comics. (A mint condition copy sold in New York last year for pounds 71,000. Other ephemera can be valuable: 1960s Batman lunchboxes fetch up to pounds 700.)
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