Synopsis

Gotham City. Crime boss Carl Grissom (Jack Palance) effectively runs the town but there's a new crime fighter in town - Batman (Michael Keaton). Grissom's right-hand man is Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson), a brutal man who is not entirely sane... After falling out between the two Grissom has Napier set up with the Police and Napier falls to his apparent death in a vat of chemicals. However, he soon reappears as The Joker and starts a reign of terror in Gotham City. Meanwhile, reporter Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) is in the city to do an article on Batman. She soon starts a relationship with Batman's everyday persona, billionaire Bruce Wayne.

Director

Tim Burton

Cast

Michael Keaton
as Bruce Wayne / Batman
Jack Nicholson
as Jack Napier / The Joker
Kim Basinger
as Vicki Vale
Michael Gough
as Alfred Pennyworth
Billy Dee Williams
as Harvey Dent
Robert Wuhl
as Alexander Knox
Pat Hingle
as Commissioner James Gordon

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Climinator 10 /10

Two hours of comic book fun

Firstly may I just state that 'Batman' is one of those films where Batman isn't really the star. The star character is in fact the Joker played to brilliance by Jack Nicholson. However seeing as Batman himself didn't have that much of a back-story back then, its no wonder. All the character had for a well enough established origin was 'parents were murdered in a back alley' (the graphic novel 'Year One' only hit shelves like one year before the films release). So its no wonder why the Joker almost steals the entire film. Having said that Michael Keaton does make an excellent Bruce Wayne/Batman depicting a man constantly in turmoil between identities. The plot line initially seems rather basic good vs evil. However after watching it time and time again it actually gets more intriguing. Particularly with how Joker rises to the top of Gotham's criminal empire to further his plot. If you want a Batman story thats still dark but more grittier then watch Nolan's interpretations. They're every bit as enjoyable as this and vice versa. But if you want to watch a Batman that's grim in a graphic novel way this is it.

Reviewed by PhillipMichaelH 10 /10

A Hollywood classic.

Released in 1989, Tim Burton's Batman holds up very well 22 years after its release and I actually prefer it over Christopher Nolan's re-entry, as interesting as his vision is. As for Joel Schumaker's stunning though at times silly vision of Batman, I try to forget about those films. Burton's first Batman is pure escapism in a sort of old fashion way. No CGI to be seen here and it works better that way. It's no surprise to me that Burton's Batman has been compared to Citizen Kane (1941) or The Maltese Falcon (1941), Burton and production designer Anton Furst take you into a dark world filled with crime and also mystery. Other films at the time such as Blade Runner (1982) and Brazil (1985) had already experimented with the classic film noir style, done in a sort of retro/futuristic way but Anton Furst's design for Gothem City truly feels like you are viewing a modern retelling of the classic noir films from the 40s.

Sam Hamm's script is solid and while it has been the target for criticism, I feel that he did a nice job, his dialog is very witty at times and a little over the top but it's appropriate, particularly with Jack Napiar/ The Joker. The performances are actually quite impressive and even better then what Chris Nolan got out of his actors but that's just an opinion. Micheal Keaton, while controversial and unusual at the time, gives a really good performance, he is very shy and sensitive which is the Bruce Wayne that I respond to the most. Jack Nicholson really needs no analysis for his work here, he is just perfect that putting into words is pointless. His joker is fun and even believable, Jack is just as great of an actor as James Cagney in my mind. Kim Basinger is actually much better then she is given credit for, her and Keaton work well together. The rest of the cast really are supporting characters, some are familiar to the Batman story, some are new. One of them being Alexander Knox. Robert Wahl plays a very likable guy who the other characters have a hard time taking seriously. His eagerness to find Batman and win his Pulitzer prize is well done and is a very down to earth performance, which I guess is what the movie needed.

As for Tim Burton's direction, he handles the actors very well and as for the technical work, I have mixed feelings about that. A lot of moments have really well choreographed camera work but there are a couple of zoom in shots that I felt were sloppy and a little unnecessary. There are a couple of matte painting shots that may not hold up as well today but none of this really matters, it still works. Of course, Danny Elfman's score left me speechless. He combines the fun, the adventurous and the dark side of Batman into one piece. I recommend buying the soundtrack with Elfman's score on it, it's amazing!! I think that Batman may be the best Hollywood movie of the late 80s and I still consider it a favorite from my childhood. I know that comic book purists prefer Nolan's Batman but as just a movie guy who loves old fashion Hollywood movies, this one appeals more to my taste. Batman deserves its comparison with Citizen Kane or any other Hollywood masterpiece as far as I'm concerned, even Casablanca (1942) or The Godfather (1972). Burton's 1992 sequel, Batman Returns is equally as great and even takes the series into a direction that's more complex and provoking which Joel Shumaker ignored. While Christopher Nolan's Batman films have stolen the popularity of Burton's, I would argue that his will go down in history as Hollywood classics.

Reviewed by Anonymous_Maxine 10 /10

I don't even need to say that this is the best Batman of the series. It's obvious enough.

What is all this yap about Michael Keaton as Batman? Yes, he was Batman, and he was a GREAT Batman. He pulled off every aspect of the role perfectly – he was better than Val Kilmer, better than George Clooney, better than everyone. He portrayed the mysterious charm of the winged crusader just as well as he captured the cool and collected character of Bruce Wayne. Michael Keaton is a huge part of the reason that this film was such a huge success, the other main portion having come from the tremendous contribution from Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Gotham City is created in incredibly detailed comic-book style, which adds to the overall quality of the movie.

Director Tim Burton does an amazing job bringing this unreal world to reality, and Kim Basinger is excellent as Vicky Vale, the film's main female presence. The script is particularly brilliant. The role of the Joker seems to have been written specifically for Jack Nicholson, which would not be surprising because of how well he pulled off the role with lines like `Why didn't anyone tell me he had one of those…things?!' and `Remember me? When you dropped me into that vat of chemicals? That wasn't easy to get over, and don't think that I didn't try.' And, of course, my favorite, `…we'll be like Beauty and the Beast. Of course, if anyone else ever calls you beast, I'll rip their lungs out.'

Everything, from the setting in Gotham City to the characters costumes to the actual dialogue, gives the unreal feeling of a comic book, but the characters are developed enough so that we understand their problems and we care about what happens. The movie is a thrill ride from the beginning to the end, and is enjoyable for all ages. If anyone is going to complain about who was chosen to play Batman, there is much more room for complaint among the film's several sequels. Keaton did a spectacular job that no one has ever even come close to.

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