Batman (1989)

PLOT:

As a child, Bruce Wayne saw his parents killed by a young criminal. He grows up, avenging their death against the criminals in Gotham City. He takes a disguise as Batman, while keeping his public image as a billionaire heir to Wayne Enterprises. Years later, Gotham is under control by crime boss Carl Grissom. Despite the best efforts of newly-elected district attorney Harvey Dent and police commissioner James Gordon, the police department remains corrupted. Reporter Alexander Knox and photo-journalist Vicki Vale begin investigating the rumors of a shadowy vigilante figure dressed as a bat, who has been terrifying criminals throughout the city.

Vicki and Knox attend a benefit at the mansion of billionaire Bruce Wayne, who is taken by Vicki’s charms. Knox, however, appears somewhat jealous of the chemistry between Bruce and Vicki. That same night, Grissom’s second in command, Jack Napier, is sent to raid Axis Chemicals factory. After the police receive a tip-off and arrive to arrest him, Jack realizes he’s been set-up by his boss, angered by his affair with Grissom’s mistress. In the midst of the shoot-out, Batman arrives and takes out Jack’s henchmen.

In a bizarre accident caused by his own ricocheting bullet, deflected by Batman’s metal-reinforced gauntlet, Jack’s face is ripped open. Reeling from the pain, he topples over a platform rail but manages to grab a lower rail with one hand. Batman momentarily clutches Jack’s free hand, but the grip is soon broken, and he falls into a large vat containing an unknown chemical solution. Shortly thereafter, he emerges from an adjacent reservoir, his hair and skin permanently discolored. Following a botched surgical attempt to repair his face, Jack is left with a permanent grin, which becomes his most distinguishing feature as “The Joker”.

After killing Grissom, the Joker takes over his empire and holds the city at his mercy by chemically altering everyday hygiene products so that those using a certain combination of products die. Batman attempts to track down the Joker, who has become romantically interested in Vicki. It is revealed that Joker, as a young criminal, killed Bruce’s parents. He holds a parade through Gotham, luring its citizens on to its streets by dispensing money, intending to kill them with a lethal gas. Batman foils his plan, but the Joker kidnaps Vicki and takes her to the top of a cathedral church. After a fight with Batman, the Joker falls to his death from the bell tower. Commissioner Gordon unveils the Bat-Signal along with a note from Batman read by Harvey Dent, promising to defend Gotham whenever crime strikes again.

REVIEW:

Let me make this perfectly clear…THIS IS WHAT A BATMAN FILM SHOULD BE!!!! Tim Burton captures the darkness of the character as well as throws in a little bit of the campiness from the old TV series and the 60s era Batman. Having said that, I’m a little biased because this is my favorite of all the Batman films.

When this film came out, along with everyone else, I was in shock when they announced Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Keaton is best known asa comedic actor, not an action star. However, after all was said and done, he stands tall as one of, if not THE best Batman to grace the screen. Personally, I think that has to do with his offbeat personality which fit Bruce Wayne’s dual life perfectly.

Kim Bassinger was one of the hottest women around when this film was released. I don’t know what she’s currently up to, but I have to commend her for making an obscure character from the Batman universe relevant. If I’m not mistaken, after this movie was released, Vickie Vale returned to the comic with a whole new look that resembled Kim, but I’m not 100% sure, but just the thought of that happening should let you know the effect she had on this character.

What can I say about Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker that hasn’t already been said. No disrespect to Heath Ledger or Cesar Romero for their takes on the character in The Dark Knight and Batman (1966) ,  respectively, but Nicholson’s take on the character is closer to what I expect the Joker to be like. Literally a psychotic clown, not a mysterious, moody guy with a white face, or an over the top prankster. Still, all 3 versions of the character work for their universe, but if you were to stack them up side by side, Nicholson gts my vote for bringing life to the dark and lighter sides of the Joker. I guess you can say his Joker is the middle ground between his predecessors.

The action in this film is awesome, highlighted by the chase from the Guggenheim and the crashing of the Batwing. Of course, this is a superhero movie after all, so action is not optional.

If there is one thing I didn’t care for in this film, it is the slight deviations from the source material and the fact that we don’t really know what happens to the Joker. I mean we see him fall to his “death”, but we also see them take something out of his pocket that seems like it could be a tape recorder of some sort. Just a thought I have everytime I watch this film.

So, I’m sure many of you out there think that The Dark Knight was God’s gift to cinema. Well, I’m here to tell you, that’s not the case. This is the better, more entertaining Batman. He doesn’t go flying off to foreign countries, possibly causing international incidents, nor does he drive around in a tank for a Batmobile, and he also doesn’t sound like he’s burping when he talks.

Speaking of the Batmobile, the version used in this film is my favorite.

Action, adventure, beautiful women, intrigue, deception, and Tim Burton directing…do you really need any more reasons to watch this film? If you haven’t been brainwashed into thinking Nolan is Jesus Christ, then give this one a look.

5 out of 5 stars

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12 Responses to “Batman (1989)”

  1. […] direction was too cartoony. Nothing wrong with cartoony, but in comparison to the darker tone of Batman and Batman Returns, it just doesn’t work. I’m a firm believer that a director should […]

  2. […] with unique vision. Edward Scissorhands was fast-tracked into production following the success of Batman. That decision ay have turned out to be a good thing, as it capitalized on Burton’s […]

  3. […] the first animated appearance of Vicki Vale. You remember her from the Michael Keaton version of Batman, right? Personally, I think that is the best version, but that’s a debate for another post. I […]

  4. […] treatment”. What I’m referring to is how Billy Dee Williams portrayed Harvey Dent in Batman , only to be replaced a couple of films later with Tommy Lee Jones (his contract was bought out, […]

  5. […] are minor. I really did enjoy this film and think it may very well be the best Batman film since Batman (1989). Definitely a fitting end to the trilogy. Sure, some people are going to be disappointed, but […]

  6. […] early 90s, the Flash had a TV series that lasted one season. It is best known for being a ripoff of Batman (1989) (compare the theme music) and reintroducing the world t Mark Hamill (he played the Trickster, I […]

  7. […] As a matter of fact, I’m not really a fan of his trilogy. My favorite Batman film is actually Batman (1989). That being kept in mind, it seems that everyone likes to forget the campy 60s Batman. Yes, Batman […]

  8. […] comedian and arrogant, murderous “ghost with the most”. Since taking the lead role in Batman, we haven’t seen Keaton do roles like this, so it is nice to see him back in the days when he […]

  9. […] were trying to get superheroes out to the public and recreate the success of Tim Burton’s Batman. I can’t think of any that were as big of a success as most were commercial flops and reviled […]

  10. […] success up to this point, but as we settle into the our seats the trailer for Tim Burton’s Batman comes up and we are blown away by what we see! Can’t you just wait for this to hit the big […]

  11. […] of Tim Burton lately, this is one of his better, non-goth films that you should see (also check out Batman and Batman Returns). The man has talent. We just seem to have forgotten it with all the crazy goth […]

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