Batman (1989)

PG-13   |    |  Action, Adventure


Batman (1989) Poster

The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker.

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  • Winona Ryder at an event for Batman (1989)
  • Michael Keaton in Batman (1989)
  • Michael Keaton in Batman (1989)
  • Michael Keaton in Batman (1989)
  • Batman (1989)
  • James Brolin at an event for Batman (1989)

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28 January 2002 | bob the moo
Good attempt to translate the comics to the big screen
In a Gotham City overrun by crime a new menace exists. In the shadows and rooftops a giant bat is terrorising the criminals who live in the night. Elsewhere crime boss Grissom's right hand man Jack Napier is trapped in a chemical factory by police. With Batman's intervention Napier is accidentally dropped into a vat of chemical. Considered dead he later turns up, scarred and twisted with a new sense of humour. Calling himself the Joker he takes over the city's gangs and begins to terrorise the city. Millionaire Bruce Wayne begins relationship with reporter Vicky Vale and finds himself personally drawn into conflict with the Joker as both himself and his alter-ego.

This was very much a huge blockbuster and had a great deal riding on it in terms of merchandising and a possible franchise. As such Burton always seemed like a risk - although his dark toned work and complex characters probably made him a great choice. The film starts promisingly, many questions are asked - is Wayne totally balanced? What drives him to become the bat? etc - and the tone of the movie is darker than a friendly blockbuster. This is continued by the investigation by reporters Vale and Knox, but starts to wane (pardon the pun) with the development of Vale as a love interest and the hamming of The Joker. At some point the film loses the character complexities and decides to become a straight up good v's evil with plenty of effects and gadgets. That said it's still very dark and the set pieces are well handled. In fact it's the best of the Batman franchise so far.

The problem is that it lacks a bite for Batman fans. I've always felt that Batman was always a few steps away from the criminals he's chasing, surely he can't be totally balanced and right in the head? Here these questions are half touched but never developed.

Keaton is an unlikely Batman, but is the best so far. He deals well with Wayne's past when it is brought up, but is an unlikely action hero. Nicholson is pure ham, but is good for it. He hogs all the best lines and is clearly enjoying himself - the only downside being that he regularly eclipses Keaton's Batman. Basinger's Vale is built up far too much and should have been cut out of the story rather than become a key part of it. The rest of the cast are good and I always like to see Tracey Walters in a big screen film!

Overall this is a good stab at the Batman legend. It's dark tone gives it the feel of the comics without the characterisation, but at the end of the day it comes down to good guy v's bad guy.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Corto Maltese is also an island country in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, one of Tim Burton's inspirations for Batman. It is named for a man from Hugo Pratt's Italian series of comic books, of which Frank Miller is a fan.


Quotes

Passenger: Excuse me.
Tourist Dad: I'm sorry, this is my cab.
Passenger: Sorry.
Tourist Dad: Listen, I was here first!
Tourist Dad: Oh, God! Oh, taxi? Taxi!


Goofs

(at around 1h 30 mins) When Batman goes to blow up Axis Chemicals, he uses pop-up machine guns to cut down a door. We see the guns bouncing up and down with the recoil and with the swaying and bumping of the car, but the bullets still cut a straight clean line without any stray bullets.


Crazy Credits

The opening credits appear as the camera goes through/around a giant Batman symbol.


Alternate Versions

In order to put the 126m. movie in 120m. video cassette, South Korean video distributor cut two scenes when the movie was first released on VHS. The first one is a whole sequence where The Joker kills a mob with a quill pen in front of the city hall. The second is the arrival of Batman on the rooftop of the cathedral and a few fight scenes with the goons. After the police sweeps the cathedral with searchlights, the scene abruptly cut to the scene where a goon with rope(the third goon that attacks Batman) desperately seeks Batman. Also, the initial South Korean DVD release has only widescreen version of the movie, so it featured a strange cut where Vicki pretends to tempt The Joker. This scene has been fixed on the special edition DVD.


Soundtracks

Partyman
Written, Produced and Performed by
Prince

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Action | Adventure

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