Batman (1989)


The one that started it all, and gave us the beautiful masterpiece that is Batman & Robin.

Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) starts to make a name for himself as a masked enemy to the criminal set just when the flamboyant Joker (Jack Nicholson) takes over as tops in the mafia and eventually the world.

In the 21st century, everybody’s favorite superhero film is probably The Dark Knight, but rarely do you hear people talk about this one. This is the film you can also thank for all the non-stop superhero flicks we have come out during the summer.

Director Tim Burton knows what he wants to do with this material and doesn’t stray away from making this a total dark and creepy superhero flick, that at the time was almost unheard of. The set pieces are beautiful and Burton’s keen eye for art and style really works here and make Gotham City a more demented place that the comic books made it seem rather than the campy TV show.

Burton also does a great job creating not only a dark atmosphere with the stunning art job he has, but also keeps this film going with enough entertainment and funny moments to cool you over. There’s not a huge sense of big-budget crazy explosions here but with any real Batman film, you see all this awesome action happen without it getting out-of-hand.

However, the real problem with this film in the end, is with it’s script. As a whole, this is not a very compelling story of a boy who’s parents were killed by this very same man because it doesn’t really focus on both evenly. I could tell that Burton really wanted to focus more on The Joker rather than Bruce Wayne himself and it’s a big problem since we get about three scenes in a row of The Joker, and probably one of Wayne/Batman all in a sequence.

I just felt like there was no real dramatic focus here as to who I was supposed to care about more and just seemed less and less of an actual story and more of just a bunch of random set-pieces that Burton thought would be cool to show. I also can’t recommend this film that much because the romance here for the most part kind of blows, but that’s the case with a lot of superhero flicks so it’s OK here.

Now the real reason’s to see this film are the performances from the two stars; Nicholson and Keaton. Jack Nicholson is perfect as The Joker because he has that total goofiness but at the same time evil and mean look to him to have you laughing at him, but also realizing just how much of a threat this guy actually is. Nicholson plays almost every scene to perfection and has so many memorable scenes here just mainly because Jackie knows how to play crazy oh so well.

The film is also best remembered because it showed that Michael Keaton can play a really good Batman, which is something nobody expected from Mr. Mom. I liked the type of wimpy angle that this film took on Batman and made him seem more like a dude with actual fear rather than just a dude who didn’t give a shit and to cast Keaton in the main role is what really made this Batman amazing. People will say that Keaton was the best “movie Batman” we’ve ever seen, and to be honest, I can’t really say I disagree.

Kim Basinger is pretty weak here as photojournalist Vicki Vale because she just doesn’t seem like an actual journalist by any chance with her model looks and model attitude. Her romance with Keaton is bland which takes away from the film overall but I guess every superhero needs one.

Consensus: Though it isn’t as emotionally involving as you would expect from such a dark and atmospheric superhero flick such as this, Batman benefits from some beautiful set-pieces from Tim Burton, great performances from Nicholson and Keaton, and some fun summer blockbuster entertainment to hold you over.

7/10=Rental!!

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9 comments

  1. I do like this film and it’s truly entertaining and fun. It’s got great production value and of course a fun performance from Jack Nicholson. Prince’s soundtrack is all right though of his albums in the 1980s, it’s his worst. “‘Purple Rain’? No. ‘Sign O’ the Times’? No. ‘Batman’? Throw it!”

    Still, I do love that song “Batdance”. Get the funk up! Shit, now I’m going to listen to that song right now.

  2. As someone who was there during this film’s heyday as it were, I think you gloss over the film’s impact/blockbuster status a little… I would sell that as a prime reason for the modern movie fan to check this out. This was a huge hit movie, and as such, it belongs in the vocabulary, so to speak.

    I personally feel that this film benefits from all the attention given the Joker. He’s at least AS interesting a character as Batman, and probably more. I certainly know who sold the most tickets.

    Nicholson creates a legendary villain here. I thought his take on the character would define the Joker forever. I never expected Heath Ledger to prove me so completely wrong. Nevertheless, that shouldn’t discount Jack’s take on the character. He plays the villain more for laughs, and you know? From m, he gets them. Big Time. I love this role, I still laugh thinking of a lot of the lines he has.

    I’m well aware we’re coming at this from different times, but for me, I can’t hake the movie that I saw when it was released. How it’s holding up is secondary to me. It’s important to have that perspective as a movie blogger and a film fan, but for me personally, I still remember seeing it again and again in the theatre, learning and quoting all the lines.

    I dont feel it would take much for most movie fans to get past the age lines and see the excellence that’s there.

    • It’s a very good film that always has me going back for nostalgia purposes but some of it didn’t feel right as apposed to other times really. But good points Dan!

  3. I agree that by focusing too much on the Joker, you don’t really care about the Bruce Wayne or Batman character that much… but as a kid, this movie is very entertaining and something different and better than the rest of the superhero movies at that time. Of course now there’s the Nolan Batman, but I think Burton’s Batman will always have a special place in lots of people’s hearts šŸ™‚

    And yes, Batman & Robin is a masterpiece.

    • This one is the film everybody saw as kid’s and has always so near and dear to their hearts it’s just a shame that Nolan took this franchise to the next level.

      • I do prefer Nolan’s Batman… I think Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are not only good superhero movies, but good movies in general.

        But I won’t brush aside Burton’s Batman so fast because it captures certain aspects of the Batman comics that Nolan’s Batman didn’t… most importantly the look of the Batman costume, the Batmobile, the Batcave, the fantastical side of being the Batman I thought was very well done in Burton’s Batman films. The romance in Burton’s Batman films are done waaay better than Nolan’s Batman imo…

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