“IT’S THE BATMAN!” MOVIE REVIEW (MICHAEL KEATON EDITION): The first movie in this short marathon is “Batman” (1989) which stars Michael Keaton (Birdman: Or [The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance], The Other Guys), Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Shining), Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential, 8 Mile), Michael Gough (Sleepy Hollow , The Age of Innocence), Robert Wuhl (Good Burger, Good Morning Vietnam), Pat Hingle (The Land Before Time, Batman Forever), Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back, The Last Place on Earth), Jack Palance (Tango & Cash, City Slickers), Jerry Hall (Freejack, Popetown [TV series]), Tracey Walter (The Silence of the Lambs, Matilda), and William Hootkins (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Flash Gordon). It is directed by Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas). Gotham City is known as a city riddled with crime, having everyone always looking over their shoulder in case a criminal sneaks up on them. That is, until the Batman (Keaton) showed up. A masked vigilante, this hidden hero pursues the scum that troubles Gotham’s citizens and puts them up for the police when even they can’t even do their job. But, Batman may finally meet his match when an evil-turned-psychotic man going by the Joker (Nicholson) tries to take over Gotham and bring back crime to the stabilizing city.
Always known for being a classic, I had high hopes for this film, having only seen bits and pieces of it in the past. To be honest, the only Batman movies I have seen to their full extent are “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin”, the two that mostly everyone hates. I know who he is and his story, but other than the “Arkham” video games developed by Rocksteady and Warner Bros. Montreal, I haven’t really been involved in anything Batman. Then I started this marathon. I had to start somewhere in this long history of Batmen and I think I chose well. Tim Burton is a fantastic director, having movies ranging from average to incredibly good, never being horrible. I enjoy his style of films, with his dark tones and atmosphere. He never misses a beat with his style in this movie and the plotline is well-thought out on its own….for the most part. Before I discuss the plot, I want to get some other pros on my mind out-of-the-way, the first being my favorite part: the acting. Jack Nicholson is fantastic, portraying a Joker that is fun to watch throughout the film and being my favorite of its entirety. Michael Keaton plays a great Bruce Wayne, but the thing I find troubling is how he plays a better Bruce Wayne than he does Batman. I’m kind of on edge of his performance as Batman, with most of his scenes being awesome, but others end up being goofy. It mostly has to do with the way he is choreographed in fighting styles. It is nothing major though because when I say some it isn’t many because one thing this film succeeds in is keeping Bruce Wayne on the screen more than Batman. I believe Batman only showed up three times during the film: the beginning, middle, and end. Some of the screen time was long, some was short, but that is what made it epic: you anticipated his arrival and the more you were kept away from Batman the more you wanted to see him. Besides Batman himself, all the other characters around him held up their own. I do think that some of them were thrown in at the last-minute, like Harvey Dent portrayed by Billy Dee Williams, but it wasn’t too bloated to the point where they hogged up screen time with no importance. The second pro, and last official one, is the musical score. Goodness, was it spectacular! I’ve heard the main theme before, but to really find its roots and to try to think about how someone could envision it is truly amazing. I loved hearing the music all the way through and it’s easily recognizable. Now, with that out-of-the-way, Robin, to the plot! What makes this storyline so good is how dark and yet lovable it is. I don’t really understand, but I had a deep connection to this movie and was interested throughout it. Everything, from Joker’s funniness to Bruce’s talks with Alfred (Gough) make it all worth while, no matter what bad things happens. But that is the problem, there are bad things that ensue, and it isn’t Joker’s schemes this time! This film tends to have plot holes, not many, but they are noticeable. One to mention is when the Joker randomly storms into Vicki Vale’s (Basinger) apartment on her and Bruce. I don’t know how he knew where she lived because they never showed him finding out, and the odd thing is, he never stole her away. He just chatted with Bruce and left. Or how the Joker’s original persona, Jack, was set up in the beginning by his boss. I don’t believe they explained why his boss set him up, they just wanted you to roll with it. It drove me crazy sometimes, but then there are scenes like Joker at the art museum that make me feel better (though I don’t forget those unexplained scenes). Speaking of the art museum, let’s talk about this movie’s special effects. I will not take off a lot of points because of the effects of this movie because, come on, it was made in the late 80’s. It will be crude, but in a way it can blend in with the dark tones of the film if you look at it a certain way (like tilting your head and squinting [just kidding]). But, there are certain things you shouldn’t mess up on. How I was reminded of the special effects with the art museum I will explain. There is a scene where Batman flies in. The scene looks epic, but it falls short when I can clearly see the wire attached to Michael Keaton. It is really noticeable and they should’ve at least used some sort of effects to clear it up. Even if it develops a shadowing effect around the wire, at least it won’t be there. With that little rant out-of-the-way, I seem to be coming to a close with this review. Some aspects of this film feel comical compared to its dark counterpart, but it makes it all the more cynical. You can take the Batman in this movie any which way, but I think overall, he is awesome and despite some goofiness Michael Keaton is always fantastic. In the end, is this a masterpiece of a film? No. But, is it a classic? A growing one. I will say that the more I think of this movie, the more it grows on me and I am sure the more time that passes by after reviewing this, the more of a score I would give it. With that said, watch this movie. You’ll have fun! FINAL SCORE: 91%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: