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LEGENDS OF THE KNIGHT (review)

Review by Clay N Ferno
Produced by Brett Culp,Tricia Culp, 
Matt Andrews, Josh Costella, Ian del Carmen, 
Vasilis K. Pozios, 5th Element Events, Sultan Saeed 
Al Darmaki, Sultan Al Saud, Southeast Psych
Written and Directed by Brett Culp
Starring Michael Uslan, Denny O’Neil, 
Lenny B Robinson, Jill Pantozzi, Kye Sapp, 
Petaluma Batman, Rabbi Cary Friedman, 
Dr. Travis Langley, Gotham Chopra, 
Brian Elliott, Patrick O’Connor, Daniel Scott

As a side dish to your binge-watch of Batman ’66 DVDs we present to you Legends of the Knight from Virgil Films. The documentary takes a look at people passionate to a fault about the Caped Crusader on his 75th Anniversary.

From Batman film franchise executive producer Michael Uslan’s story, to the one-legged breakdancing Daniel Scott to Lenny Robinson — “Maryland Batman”, each vignette tells the story of people making the world better as if Batman were real.

Brett Culp’s touching documentary shows the side of fandom not exploited by cosplay press, but the human side of using Batman as an inspiration to make the world a better place.

As an avatar of justice for the past seventy-five years, Batman has meant a lot to a lot of different people.

This documentary explores how a fictional character like Batman is a real life role model to kids and adults across the world. Sure, Adam West, Christian Bale, Michael Keaton and the rest are all very different models on the screen, but the essence of Batman as a hero is always the same.

Like a perpetual “It Gets Better” campaign, Batman is lurking in the shadows to show kids that the impossible is possible and to do what is right.

The most inspiring anchor to this sometime too sugary and sensitive documentary is the interview and retelling of writer and producer Michael Uslan’s story of having Batman as an ally since he was a kid. The shortest version of this is that Uslan wanted to make the ‘real’ version of Batman appear on the screen, which he eventually did by securing the rights to a ‘lost cause’ schlocky mess of “Biff-Bam-Pow”! days of the  Batman ’66 television show and movie, which became synonymous with kitsch and camp.

This certainly was NOT the Batman that protected Uslan’s childhood from bullies, but a pop-art explosion of Roy Lichtenstein backdrops and exaggerated sound effects, brought to you by Adam West and Boy Wonder Burt Ward. Uslan got closer to his wish with Tim Burton and Batman in 1989.

For the deep cut Batman fan, there is also interview segments with writer Denny O’Neil about the importance of The Bat.

From the outsider’s point of view, that is to say from a regular person that has not had a hand in creating the legend, the Batman also holds a special place in those people’s hearts as well.
In fact I’m guilty as charged with a special graphic novel shelf dedicated to The Dark Knight and a closet with a disturbing amount of Batman to other t-shirts to shake a stick at.

We see the rare rich person be as generous as The Wayne Foundation itself with Lenny Robinson — Maryland Batman’s crusade to visit sick children all over the country “handing out Batman paraphernalia to up-and-coming superheroes who first need to beat cancer and other wretched diseases.”

On the West Coast, Petaluma Batman is just a kid with a barely together Batman costume doing his best to keep an eye on his town. He’s since upgraded his suit to a more recognizable Christian Bale affair. Maryland Batman prefers the Keaton getup!

When not patrolling for lactose intolerable nonsense at Petaluma’s annual Butter & Eggs parade, P.B. tries to help find a missing girl, Allysa Byrne by tacking up flyers around town and being a helpful vigilante.

Unfortunately, Allysa was found dead in a snow berm, where she may have been lost in the snowy weather. The good that came out of this story is that Petaluma Batman stepped up and helped his community in crisis and continues to do so, as well as get together with Petaluma Joker and Penguin to stage playful fights for local kids on weekend nights.

More inspiring stories compose the documentary, these are just a few. Even the screenings for the movie itself is seeking to do good by raising money for more than 60 charities.

At points, this Batman documentary lays it on a bit thick, but perhaps my cynicism is also balanced out by almost being brought to tears at points. Humans can be kind and decent to each other, I guess. So what better vehicle to show human kindness than the Batmobile?

Legends of the Knight is currently available on DVD, VOD, and Digital Download
For more details, visit www.WEareBATMAN.com

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