There have been a slew of superhero movies released since Batman Begins hit the screens in 2005. This current generation of films has brought about a golden age of comic book and superhero films. The writing, direction, and especially the acting in the films has elevated the genre to a point where movies are both critically and popularly lauded across the globe.
Birdman is a satirical look at what happens to an actor who not only physically , but psychologically, becomes the character that they portray. Specifically when the role is extremely popular and financially lucrative. As the actor tries to transition to other roles, the identification with the superhero role cannot be overcome. So their career lags and they become a has been, not able to get the magic back.
Michael Keaton gives a virtuoso performance as Riggan, a down on his luck actor with extreme past glory as the character, Birdman. He is attempting a comeback, staking what money he has, what reputation he has left, and his sanity on his first Broadway play, a complicated story about love. What is interesting is that the Birdman character is the voice that helps him with his insecurities. So much so that at times he seems to actually have split personalities. Keaton is just brilliant, going back and forth as the comedy of errors with getting the play off the ground continues to put him in pressure cooker filled situations.
Due to a complication, the supporting make character has to be replaced, and in comes Edward Norton, as Mike. Mike’s reputation as being difficult to work with proves to be an understatement of epic proportion. Norton is just plain nuts in the role and is plainly awesome. He plays off Riggan, continueing to complicate his efforts to make the play successful.
Add in Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts, and Birdman is just a terrific film that is one of the year’s best. The acting, script, and direction are just terrific. 4 stars – A Hitting a Mark recommendation.