Monday, December 24, 2012

Batman (1989) review

The Caped Crusader is probably my favorite superhero. I love Batman because he doesn't have any powers, he lives in a grungy, fictional city, and his rogues gallery is the best there is. I think that Batman is my favorite also because I read the old comics, which are the gold standard of Batman. I also love the Christopher Nolan films. Nolan is the best director around and his trilogy is everything that I want from movies. They are exciting, well made, and contain some of the best performances of the last decade. So when I sat down to watch Tim Burton's Batman for the first time, I really wasn't sure what to expect. It was certainly different and there are things I like and things that I dislike but I will say that it is a very good film.

Batman centers on Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) after he has already become Batman. It doesn't tell his origin story but it sort of focuses on Gotham getting to know the Caped Crusader. District Attorney Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams) and Jim Gordon get their first taste of Batman after he pushes Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) into a vat of chemicals. After that, Napier seizes Gotham by poisoning various toiletries and sends them into fear. But eventually he has a bigger plan to destroy Gotham and only the Dark Knight can stop him. Also in the film is Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger), a love interest for Wayne and a Time Magazine photographer trying to know more about Batman.

First off I will say one thing about Tim Burton's version of Batman: his stylized version of Gotham city is amazing. One thing that I loved about Batman Begins is that Nolan gave Gotham a sort of noir makeover but Burton's Gotham is even better. It perfectly fits the more fun, and less intense tone that Burton gives his film. I can't really describe it but it fits the movie really well. Another thing that I loved about the Nolan version is the acting and the casts he puts together for any one of his films. Burton's cast is nowhere near as good as Nolan's but contains one fantastic performance: Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Heath Ledger's performance has been the gold standard for villain roles since The Dark Knight was released, but in some ways I honestly think that Nicholson is better than Ledger.

But I definitely had some problems with the film. It takes a while to get into. Unlike any one of Nolan's films, it takes a ton of time to establish the story and the characters, maybe a little too long. The action is also really choppy partly because Keaton can't move his neck in the batsuit. Also, for those people who complained about a Batman shortage in The Dark Knight Rises, go watch this film again. I guarantee you, the amount of Batman in this film will surprise you.

All in all, this film is a trip worth taking. I really enjoyed seeing a different take on the Caped Crusader and in a few ways, this film is superior, but Nolan's films are still much better. I apologize if I'm comparing the films too much but it's just my instinct. It is a very solid film with a great performance from Nicholson as the Joker.


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