Film,  Uncategorized

Review/Reflection: BATMAN (1989)

Tim Burton’s original Batman, released in 1989, is one of
the most monumental films in comic book movie history. It formally kicked off
the long-running Batman film franchise, which is still going to this day. It
also showed that darker superhero movies can be very successful. But, does
Batman still hold up to this day?
There’s a lot to love in Batman 89. The dark tone works,
even when incorporating comic book-ish elements. It’s a good middle-ground
between the realistic tone of The Dark Knight Trilogy and the overt camp in
Joel Schumacher’s films. Burton’s directorial work was good, as was the
cinematography. And Danny Elfman’s score is just perfect.
The cast for Batman is pretty good. Michael Keaton is
great as the titular hero. While I never cared much for his Bruce Wayne –
Christian Bale’s is far superior, IMO – Keaton nails the Batman persona. From
the voice to the mysterious nature, it’s not hard to see why Keaton is still
many fans’ favorite Batman to date.
But the real star of Batman is The Joker, played by Jack
Nicholson. Arguably overlooked nowadays due to Heath Ledger’s incredible Joker,
it’s important to also look at Nicholson’s. Again, this Joker embraces the
comic book roots without being too campy. Joker is scary, amusing and written
with wonderful dialogue. I still find myself quoting some of his lines to this
day. I also think that the twist in making Joker the killer of Bruce Wayne’s
parents was very interesting, as it adds extra tension between the two
The film’s supporting cast is decent. Kim Basinger is good
as Vicki Vale, while Robert Wuhl’s Alexander Knox is mildly entertaining to
watch. I would’ve liked to see more of Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent, and I
missed the classic Batman/Jim Gordon (played by Pat Hingle) dynamic in this
movie. And of course, Michael Gough is flawless as Alfred Pennyworth.
I do have a few nitpicks for this movie, though. In this
universe, Batman doesn’t have an issue with killing criminals. I personally
prefer a Batman who has a “no-kill” rule (and actually sticks to it), so seeing
the character use lethal means of fighting crime doesn’t sit too well with me. Then
there are things like the Batsuit looking cheesy at times (mostly during the
fight scenes), Harvey Dent’s limited screentime, etc. But again, little
nitpicks here and there.
Overall, Batman 1989 is still a great movie that holds up to
this day. It played a key role in not only establishing Batman’s cultural
impact, but the comic book movie genre’s as a whole. The movie boasts an
intriguing story, a stellar villain, and a dark tone. It’s not perfect, but it’s
still one of the better Batman movies so far.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of WOBAM! Entertainment.

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