Reviews & Counting
# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Tim Burton

Michael Keaton/Bruce
Jack Nicholson/Joker
Kim Basinger/Vicki
Pat Hingle/Gordon
7 10
When Batman (Michael Keaton) throws mobster Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) into a healthy toxic waste bin, the lad survives to become The Joker. Now a laugh heavy buffoon, Joker tries to bring Gotham to its knees and it's up to Bats, his hair piece and his constrictive costume to stop him!

After my –revisit of (the f-ing awesome) BATMAN RETURNS (MY TAKE ON IT HERE), I got lots of e-mails, all 3 of them from my mom ;) asking me to give Tim Burton’s 1989 BATMAN (WATCH IT HERE) another look and to spill my thoughts on it. Joking aside, I wasn’t going to check it out again. In 1989 the hype was INSANE about this flick. I saw it twice on the big screen and I f*cking didn’t get it. Sure, it had its moments but to me, back then, it wasn’t all that and a bag of tits. That feeling has stayed with me ever since. But due to popular request (again, my mom, great lady) I decided to give it another shot and…

...well it was probably not a good thing that I saw BATMAN RETURNS before I checked this one out again, as it so paled in comparison. Funnily enough, right after my watch, I went and did some research on the film and found this quote by Tim Burton, which totally echoed how I felt about the film.

"I liked parts of it, but the whole movie is mainly boring to me. It's OK, but it was more of a cultural phenomenon than a great movie."

AGREED! I have to give the film its dues though, there would be no Nolan BATMAN trilogy if it wasn’t for Burton’s film that took the Dark Knight out of that campy 60’s TV Show and placed him in a bleaker setting. Sure watching it today, and comparing it to say BATMAN BEGINS, it comes off as fairly kitschy – but back then, this was THE DARK KNIGHT at his darkest! Comic book movies today owe a lot to Burton’s BATMAN in my opinion, so for that alone... respect! We also had the dark and stylized set designs (by Anton Furst) to dig into, Michael Keaton (a controversial casting choice at the time) made a for a solid Bruce Wayne (and Batman), there were all kinds of clever lines (Joker had the best ones) and some of the action scenes hit the spot (personally that hand to hand fight with that dude with the swords and the bit with the Batwing were my favs).

And man did JACK NICHOLSON kill it as the Joker with his "Cesar Romero" (who tackled the role in the 60's TV show) meets Nicholson on speed showcase. Torrance in makeup was a hoot to watch! No doubt about that. The Batmobile design (although looking heavy and slow moving) was dope as f*ck, the flashback of the Waynes' getting murdered was iconic in execution (I still prefer the one in Batman V Superman though), the immortal score by Danny Elfman was bang on and the line “I’m Batman” sill came through, even today (Bale’s copycat of it in Batman Begins was not nearly as effective)! Finally, when allowed to be Burton, Tim was in tip-top form, serving up a plethora (I know big word) of iconic shots and embracing his “freak” fetish whole heartily. Sadly, the problems I had with the film in 1989, still shined through today.

For the first hour or so, not much happened and SLOWLY at that. There was too much DEAD time spent with the always-yelping Vicki Vale (Kim Basigner), the Knox (Robert Whul) character was not only grating but useless and there was so much focus on the Joker's story before and after the fact that I almost forgot the flick was called BATMAN. And was I alone in thinking that Keaton looked stiff as board in that Bats costume? The man could barely move his head, I was surprised he (and his stunt double) could pull off them fights. The flick also handled its love story in an unconvincing way (Vicki says: “I loved you since I met you.” – really? Didn’t get that.) and that dance number in a museum set to music by the late Prince almost made me hurl.

Speaking of Prince’s stuff; look, I dig some of the man’s work (the Purple Rain album was genius) but his music here always put a bad taste in my ears (in short; I think it's shit). It also totally dated the movie! Tag to that some dumb ass moves to serve the plot and Batman not able to hit SHIT in that Batwing when aiming for a KILL and you get an ambitious yet mucho flawed effort. NOTE: I always thought that Alfred bringing Vicki Vale in the Batcave unannounced was stupid. Little known fact on that: that scene was actually a Studio induced rewrite during production (it was not in the original script) Screenwriter Sam Hamm actually jabbed at it in BATMAN RETURNS when Batman tells Alfred: "Who let Vicki Vale into the Batcave?"

So yeah; this brings me to how the movie felt: a compromised vision. Burton trying to do his thing but with a Studio up his ass getting in the way. Of course as we all know, the flick made all kinds of coin and by result Burton got to do his TRUE Bats movie with BATMAN RETURNS. Hence as-is; although I admire and I am grateful for what BATMAN (1989) has done for the character and comic book films in general, even today, it came as half the picture it should have been. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?

We get gun shot wounds, a bloody face, a stab in the throat (with a pen) and ugly acid scars.
T & A
None but Kim Basigner was in her prime at the time. And even all dressed, she was a sight to behold.
BATMAN (1989) pimped out dark and sleek visuals, the set designs were ideal, Keaton surprised us all and rocked it as Wayne/Bats, Nicholson chewed into the role of the Joker like an animal with rabies, Danny Elfman's score owned and the memorable action bits were esteemed with the Batwing let loose being my personal fav (come on, when it hit the moon... OH YEAH). On that, it did come off as a compromised vision; the first hour lumbered forward, too much time was spend on everybody else BUT Batman, Prince’s music didn't do it for me (and dated the film) and the fact that Batman couldn’t hit jack or shit in his Batwing always bothered me. But... I cannot deny the influence this film has had on comic book movies of today, so I owe it some f-ing respect. Tim Burton made his TRUE Batman film with BATMAN RETURNS in my book. I’ll revisit that one again and again in the future no doubt, this one though, I doubt it, unless hand-jobs are part of the deal! So I'm giving it a 7 on 10 due to how "avant guarde" it was and its legacy it left but as a movie by itself, it would be a 6 on 10 from me.
Robin Williams was given the role of the Joker when Jack Nicholson hesitated. When Jack heard Robin wanted the role though he took it. Yeah Robin was used as bait.

Sean Young was cast as Vicki Vale, but got hurt when filming a horse-riding scene for the flick. The scene was cut out and Kim Basigner took over the role.

Jack Nicholson wouldn't do the part unless they cast his bud Tracey Walter as Bob. So they did.