(Due to Batman V Superman opening in theaters on March 25 2016, I’ve decided to re-watch and review every Batman and Superman movie leading up to it).
Warning: This review contains spoilers.
Batman came out in 1989 and it was the first serious comic book movie ever. Tim Burton directed this film and you can tell because it very much has his style of filmmaking, which is not a bad thing for what this movie was going for. His style fits the tone and atmosphere of the movie really well and he was probably the best choice to direct this movie at the time.
Michael Keaton plays Bruce Wayne, who is a billionaire businessman during the day but is Batman at night and rids the city of evil. He’s great as Batman, but a little stiff as Bruce Wayne. It would have been great to see his origin story, since he is Batman from the start and I think it would have given the Bruce Wayne character much more depth if we as an audience member knew how he became The Bat (which is what the criminals refer to him in this film). Michael Keaton is a terrific Bruce Wayne and Batman and you can by him in the superhero outfit. He looks tough, menacing and scary.
But the movie belongs to Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier A.K.A The Joker, who steals every scene he is in. In fact, he’s in the movie more than Batman and Bruce Wayne. It’s almost as if he’s the main character. The movie could have been called Joker and it wouldn’t have made much difference. As the matter of fact, Tim Burton has said that The Killing Joke comic is his favorite (which is mine as well), which features the Joker and explains some of his backstory.
You know more about the Joker than Bruce Wayne and that’s a bit weird when you stop think about it. But Jack Nicholson is so good as Jack Napier that you forgive the movie because your more interested in the Joker than you are Bruce Wayne. He also has a fantastic line every time he wastes someone “Tell me something my friend, have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?” Great line.
Kim Basinger as reporter Vicky Vale is really good in this movie but she is a weak female character. She is constantly saved by Batman and cant seem to take care of herself. Throughout the entire finally of this movie, The Joker dances with her to the top of the tower and it’s only when she sees Batman that she finally decides to do something. Otherwise she just doesn’t do much instead of taking pictures and looks good. But she still gives a good performance and her chemistry with Michael Keaton isn’t bad.
And there’s also her friend reporter that just shouldn’t have been in this movie. He’s unfunny and does little to advance the plot. Michael Gough as Alfred is was the perfect choice as Alfred and he’s really just a butler in this movie, which is kind of sad a bit. All he does is clean the Wayne’s mansion. That’s kind of a waste of the character.
Billie Dee Williams (Lando Calrission) is also good as Harvey Dent. It’s an interesting choice and it’s sad that he doesn’t come back in the sequel to complete his transformation as Two Face. Instead we got Tommy Lee Jones. (More on that later). The score by Danny Elfman is also very good, it’s catchy and fits really well with the film.
This movie is however a bit dated; there are some scenes that don’t hold up anymore like The Joker going to a museum to paint on some paintings. That whole scene is dumb. It just doesn’t need to be there.
It’s also too bad that Commissioner Gordon doesn’t do much in this film. He doesn’t really do anything to be honest and that kind of sucks. In Batman Begins he is one of the coolest characters.
The finale of the film is really fun and exciting and while it would have maybe been better if The Joker had survived at the end and came back in the second film, but back then they weren’t thinking for the long picture, it was more of a one and done type of deal. Also fun fact: When The Joker tells the helicopter to meet them up at the top of the building in ten minutes rather than five, that is all done in real time. It takes them ten minutes to get to the top where The Joker falls to his death.
Overall, Batman is a fun and engaging superhero film that started the superhero crave. While it is definitely a Tim Burton film and there are some campy scenes and it is dated at times, the film is boosted by Jack Nicholson’s terrific performance and Michael Keaton’s portrayal of the caped crusader.