1989, man that was long time ago. I still remember going to the Theater with my mother and brother and being blown away by this film. Since the new Batman Begins is out, I thought I’d better review the Burton film first, before going in to see the New one.
Tim Burton did a fairly good job with this film. There is very little of Burton’s Freakyness to be Freaky in the actual movie. Before I go any further, I really should get this off my chest, I am not a huge fan of Tim Burton. I think he’s had some great movies in his strange career, Batman and Pee-Wee. He’s let his freaky vision get in the way of storytelling at times (Remember Planet of the Apes). I feel people give him too much credit for the “vision” of this Batman Film. However, this wasn’t his vision of the film, because it was Frank Miller’s (Sin City) “vision”. Want to see where Burton got all his ideas from, read Dark Knight Returns. If you want to see Tim Burton’s “vision” of Batman, watch the dreary Batman Returns, yuck.
The film opens up with a White-Bread family of three walking down a dirty street of Gotham City. Thugs attack the family and steal their cash. High above, Batman is watching it go down. You see, Batman sees history repeating itself with another family being attacked by thugs. Luckily, no one is killed in this incident. We get our first look at Batman in the Film, and it is impressive. Listen as the music swells when he shows up full screen, very powerful.
Michael Keaton is pretty good as Batman/Bruce Wayne. When he puts on the mask, he just morphs into the Character. But, there isn’t much of him in the movie, and Burton seems to be more interested in Jack Nicholson’s performance. Then again, the Movie really comes to life with Jack Nicholson as the Joker anyway. Make no mistake, this Joker is a terrorist. He kills an entire building of people with his joker gas, followed by a very funny dance number to a good Prince song, Classic scene.
Kim Basinger is alright as Vicki Vale, but man she screams way too much for my blood. Every five seconds, she screams. There should be a drinking game in this somewhere, every time she screams, take a drink. This of course doesn’t not take away from her looks. She’s never looked better.
This is Danny Elfman’s best score besides Spiderman 2. He scores the movie as set pieces, with each area having a theme and progression (Similar in style to John Williams in his Star Wars scores). There is a clear Main Theme and action cues. Hell, even the Joker has a theme. All of it is done really well.
Despite some major flaws, this movie stands up pretty well over time. A very good movie as long as you don’t get too upset with the changes to the comic book character. Batman Lives!
Things to look for.
~In the Jack (Joker) flashback with the young Bruce Wayne with his parents, watch Jack’s partner when Jack shoots both Parents. There is sense of pure shock on his face when he sees how far Jack takes the theft.
~Unlike some people, I actually liked Robert Wuhl’s zany Reporter Knox. He gives the movie a nice warm-hearted smart-ass kick. In some ways, this guy was a hero, standing up to the cops and the bad guys. “I smell fresh ink here, boys.” “What a D*ck.” “Can I have a grant?”
(Note: Knox had a much bigger part in the 2nd draft of the script. Moreover, he was supposed to die. In one version, which might’ve been filmed, people think he’s Batman! In that version, Knox lives.)
~Since I rented the old “flipper” DVD, each side has one different scene! Remember that scene toward the end of the film where Joker is dancing with Vicki Vale, well there is a slight difference from the widescreen to pan-scan.
When Vicki sees Batman in the shadows behind her, she “comes on” to the Joker, kissing his suit. In the Widescreen, she simply acts as if she enjoys kissing his dirty-a** suit. However, in the Pan-Scan, she chokes on a piece of lint from his suit. This was the one in the movie theater version, I remember people being grossed out by her gagging.
~Bob was a great right hand man for Joker wasn’t he. “Bob, gun.”
~With the exception of the poorly done Bat-wing, all the model work is very good.
~When Bruce Wayne visits Vicki Vale’s apartment, listen for The Joker’s Boombox playing his theme just outside. It happens before he even knocks. Nice touch.
~This is the Best version of the Batmobile. However, I really hate the machine guns and bombs. Batman doesn’t kill or use guns.
~Is it just me or is Vicki Vale a slut! She sleeps with Bruce only after one brief date! Sign me up Vicki Vale!
~Got to love that Smilex commercial. “He’s been using brand Xsssssssssss.”
~ Alfred is very warm in this movie. He has a weird relationship with Vicki though. He let’s her in the Batcave, with little reaction from Bruce. Strange…
~The Drive through dark woods to the Batcave, when Vicki is in the car with Batman is nicely done. Love the voices singing the Batman Theme and the style of direction in that scene. Just great!
~The Joker really hates TV screens, destroys at least two of them.
~great lines, “I’ve got to get you on church on time.” “Another Rooster in the hen house.” “never rub another man’s rhubarb.”