Review Date: September 23, 2001
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Sam Hamm, Warren Skaaren
Producers: Peter Guber, Jon Peters, Chris Kenny
I enjoyed Jack Nicholson's performance in this movie, as the over-the-top, and much more interesting than Batman, Joker character. I loved Danny Elfman's score and most of the sets and atmosphere in the film (although some of the "special effects" are just pathetic-- I'm hoping that the final shot of the Joker spiralling to his doom was supposed to look phony, because it was awful), but most everything else just didn't work for me anymore.
But before I go on, I have to tell you that this movie was one of the films that I have MOST looked forward to in my life-time (back in 1989, of course). I remember counting the days until the opening, attempting to steal the ultra-cool teaser poster from bus stops and even buying the tie-in novel before the film came out and reading it from top to bottom. I was also a major comic-book collector at the time and wanted to love this movie so much, and remember it with a load of fondness.
Well, it's sad but the reality is that after all of these years, and a video machine, this flick did very little to entertain me during its two hours, and actually managed to piss me off more than anything.
The super-gruffy phony voice of Lieutenant Eckhardt starts things off badly. Things downshift into Bruce Wayne's life and geez, is he ever BORING or what?!? The story barely gives us any insight into his head, and when he finally decides to let his "girlfriend" Vicky Vale (with whom he has no chemistry) into his deep dark secret, she barely reacts. Uuuuuhhm, hullo...your boyfriend just told you that he wears tights and fights bad guys...GET EXCITED...DO SOMETHING....!!!
I also found the Prince songs to be extremely annoying, especially after all these years, since it's quite obvious that they were there mostly as a marketing thing. They actually set up two scenes specifically to play his songs (I thought movies were supposed to be more about uuuhhm...the story!), and the museum scene in particular is just plain embarassing (and the whole thing looks very much like a set!).
Sure, Vicky Vale was nice to look at, Alfred was solid and Jack Palance, well, kicked some major ass, but what about the lame reporter character of Robert Wuhl, what about the fact that I barely gave a shit about Bruce Wayne by the end of the movie and the fact that I wanted the Joker to kick his sorry ass by the final sequence??
And speaking of the final sequence, how in God's name did the Joker's henchmen get to the top of that edifice?? Why were they able to kick Batman's ass for quite some time (I though Batman was a little tougher than that?) and how on God's earth can the Joker shoot down the Bat-Wing with one shot from his gun!?!?!? And did anyone else notice that they had a henchman approach Batman with blades/numchucks wildly swinging in 2 different scenes in this movie, and that he responded both times by pulling an "Indiana Jones" and just kicking them down in one-shot??! Ha-ha...I guess Batman is one tough mutha, huh?? Not really!
I love Tim Burton and I thought I loved this movie but I'm afraid that after seeing it again here in 2001, I can't really recommend it to anyone on an action/adventure or even a "good story" level, but might suggest you check out for the fantastic score, the pretty awesome set designs and Bat-toys, and the cool performance as the Joker by Jack Nicholson.
Man-o-man, I sure hope my memory of BATMAN RETURNS isn't as skewed as was my memory of this flick. They were the only two flicks that I enjoyed out of the series....