I don't have all the words right now but this film is a work of art.
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I cannot think of one single thing that I would change about this film. The acting is incomparable, the directing deft, and the writing poignantly brilliant.
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It is an exhilarating, distressing, funny and profound film, with one of the more memorable film scores in years,
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This is actually probably the most well acted out of all of the Batman movies, even more so than Batman Begins. However, the way that the Joker was handled was not really all that stand out to me and while I do think Dark Knight is over rated, I will admit their Joker was better. I really also think that the action was pretty good in this movie, at least for the time. But I don't think it is the best today, and if for nothing else, I think that the chemistry between Batman and his girlfriend in this movie was actually probably the best between a Batman and their love interest in any of the adaptations to this day.
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Batman released with great hype in 1989 kicked off the superhero craze that lasts till this day. Sure the road was bumpy with flop films such as The Shadow and even Batman sequels declined in quality with Batman & Robin being a nadir.Tim Burton brought a particular dark version of Batman. The makeup and art direction had a 1930s skid row look with people's faces looking pallid.The film was shot in England and made use of CGI, elaborate sets and even animation. Burton teamed up again with Michael Keaton who plays the Dark Knight. Keaton's Batman is eons away from the campy Batman of Adam West. I was not sure he excelled as Bruce Wayne though coming across as rather bland but miles better than some of the actors that succeeded him.The film is stolen by Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier who transforms to the psychotic Joker after falling into a vat of acid. I still believe his portrayal was better than Heath Ledger's. Nicholson mixed jokes, campiness and evil. The Joker just wants to kill in his twisted ways. Poisoning random makeup products, throwing a party where he would give free money but then poison the crowd.Kim Basinger brought glamour as Vicki Vale and Robert Wuhl provided the laughs as the dogged reporter.It is surprisingly watching the movie again after all this years I still knew the lines from the Joker and the film still stands up well even though it is noticeable that the movie is rather set bound.
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Keaton and Nicholson are making the movie worth watching, but just barely. Basing's character behaves oddly, one moment she is the strong woman taking initiative, the other she is the victim.The fundamental issue with the movie is the screenplay; it's just poor, with things occurring that doesn't make any sense. Comparing it to the Nolan trilogy (that has excellent writing) this movie is almost laughably bad, although super hero movies did not take themselves seriously back in the day, the writing could have been so much better.I rate it 6/10, worth watching if you like Batman, but it's actually a rather dull movie. Don't expect it to be anywhere near the quality of the new Batman films.
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Remember that scene from an old "Simpsons" episode where a movie producer was shuddering at the memory of a scene from the 60's live-action series "Radio-Active Man", when in the middle of a fight (naturally punctuated with these onomatopoeic card-boards), everyone, villains included, broke into a hilariously campy monkey-dancing choreography. That scene summed up the general conception of "Batman" (with the late Adam West) at the dawn of the 90's, before Tim Burton and the animated series changed the face of the popular superhero forever.But to give each one the overdue credit, the trigger was the consecutive publication of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's "The Killing Joke" and Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" in 1988 and 1989, that contained the "noir" and "Gothic" elements Tim Burton would associate with his aesthetic instinct and sense of exuberance he initially displayed in "Beetlejuice". Burton would even recast Michael Keaton as the legendary Dark Knight, igniting a controversy among the fans since the actor was mostly known for comedic roles. The film isn't flawless but I don't think that today, the casting of Keaton is regarded as a flaw, maybe it would if the film was focused on it, but based on the scene-stealing performance of Jack Nicholson as Napier, Keaton is almost relegated to a secondary status.Speaking for myself, I have never read a Batman comic before, I'm more into the French-Belgian school of comic-books and (forgive the blasphemous ignorance) I still I haven't watched the Nolan's movies, but that's just a matter of a few weeks, by the time you read this review, I might have reviewed them already. I just felt like in order to judge the quality of the reboot, I had to get back to the first significant cinematic adaptation, the one I saw when I was a kid in the early 90's and all I can say is that I remember I was impressed by Burton's "Batman" and that Jack Nicholson's Joker scared the hell out of me. I guess what scared me the most besides the face, the grin, the make-up and the killings was how totally oblivious to his own vileness he was, how he was actually enjoying it, not to mention that creepy laugh. At twelve, you're not quite accustomed to psychopaths.Watching the movie again, the special effects are a bit overplayed but I'm pleasantly surprised to see that Nicholson's performance hasn't aged badly and hasn't lost its relevance. It's also worth mentioning that his performance works like a double-edged sword, because he's obviously the main player in the film. Batman is the hero but he's more of a "reacting' agent than a 'protagonist' in the real meaning, when there's no crime, he's the handsome socialite Bruce Wayne. You might say that's the purpose of any "superhero" is to keep a low profile until the call of rescue but Bruce Wayne is no superhero as purist will point out so a "Batman" movie can't totally focus on a villain, no matter how charismatic he is (well Burton's film gets away with it, to a certain extent). So "Batman" injects a sort of childhood trauma in Bruce's memories, involving the death of his parents, a relationship with butler Alfred (Michael Gough) and a romance with journalist Vicki Vale, played by Kim Basinger.The interactions are predictable and allow to take a few breaths between two Joker's stunts, but the romance does work in an awkward and puzzling way, adding to that aura of weirdness that surrounds the film although Keaton doesn't have the 'heroic' look though he's quite efficient as Batman, just like Basinger impressed me with her vocal abilities as a scream queen. Globally, the animated series which I grew up provided a more believable Wayne but despite these technicalities, a rather passive hero and a too simplistic plot relying on cosmetics, Tim Burton proves that he took Batman quite seriously, the Gothic settings of Gotham City are rendered with even more impressive design that we weren't at the time of CGI, something Nolan could benefit from. And the result is a delightfully weird mix of film-noir 30's elements where men wear hats and dress like people from old-fashioned comic-books with modern gadgets and Prince's music.So, if you judge a movie on the basis of its villain, its atmosphere, marvelously rendered by Danny Elfman's operatic score (re-used for the animated version) and the believability of its world, "Batman" is a winner. Indeed, can you make scarier than a villain who claims to be the unique "homicidal artist". I know Ledger's performance has been praised as the best, but there's just something about Nicholson's acting that drives the film and transcends it. It's to be noted that the film is one of the few whose hero and villain have been listed in the AFI's Top 50 Heroes and Villains, but I suspect Batman was there because you couldn't have a list with Superman and Tarzan and not Batman. Now, if the list was to be remade, I doubt Keaton would be there, I'm sure Ledger's Joker would but oddly enough, I'm sure there would still be room for Nicholson's Joker as well.Nicholson's clauses to play for Batman were quite expansive but he played it as if his life depended on it. His performance was pivotal to the film's appeal, as the man who made us wonder if we ever danced with the devil on the pale moonlight. It is possible that Nolan totally changed the cinematic vision of Batman forever, and now Batman fans might remember the Burton's version and react the same as that producer from "The Simpsons" but the film is really good in its own right, just watch the sequel "Batman Returns" and you'll appreciate it even more.