Birdman Review: Batman is Back

Chad White
Likes: Michael Keaton, Superhero Movies, Experimental films
Dislikes: You

Take Flight, Playwright

Holy crap. Birdman is good. Very good. There is no adjective that can describe how well Birdman is done. Alejandro González Iñárritu directed and also wrote the screenplay along with Nicolas Giacobone. Michael Keaton leads an ensemble cast that includes Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zack Galifianakis, and Naomi Watts. Story wise, Keaton’s character is an actor who is trying to be more than the superhero movies that he made in the nineties. He’s got to deal with his egotistic attitude along with his family problems in order to put on a Broadway play.

Thematically, Birdman deals with a lot of subjects. Iñárritu is able to show how mentally fatigued actors can become over a period of time. Keaton’s character displays a sort of super power that can be taken in two different directions. Ultimately, it’s up to the audience to decide if it’s real or not. There are also elements of adultery when Norton’s character is brought in early on to save the play. He’s sick and disgustingly over the top when it comes to women but he’s good at acting so everyone has to deal with him.

Another nice touch in the directing is an element that will make or break the film for most people. Iñárritu and his crew have created a movie that looks like one long take. There are no cuts or jumps to indicate scene or setting changes. Characters are utilized as transitions between one another. One conversation between Keaton and his daughter Stone could lead to Norton trying to have his way with Watts. Once the mental barrier of “there should be a cut here” is disassembled, it’s easy to see the beauty that the film bestows on viewers.

Birdman is one of the best films of the year. The script is top notch as is the directing. Who knew a single shot could be so captivating. Keaton really captures the essence of a fading actor that was once a superhero phenomenon. Norton does a spectacular job as the asshole actor who thinks way too highly of himself. An open mind is needed to enjoy the entirety of the film. With that, Birdman captures the essence of comedy, drama and somehow works superhero into the mix. This movie is not Guardians of the Galaxy or Tim Burton’s Batman; it’s something more substantial.