The classic. The one that started it all. While it is true that Superman came first, this was a flick that changed the comic book movie genre forever. This movie revolutionized the perception, reception, and care in the making of comic based films. Granted it took about ten years for this revolution to take hold but X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and The Avengers (just to name a few) would never had become the films there were and are today had it not been for a certain shot in the dark, in 1989, that became Batman.
The film opens with the Warner Brothers logo, then it cuts to a series of close shots of the Batman emblem as the title credits roll. But these images are made infinitely more dramatic, and the tone of the film is set, by the excellent score from Danny Elfman. That iconic Batman score really sets the mood of the film and fits the dark, Gothic look of what follows. Gotham city, its people, its buildings, its streets; the look of this film really evokes that brooding, almost noir like feel seen in and expected from some of the Dark Knights best comics. The film also matches the style and pacing I feel when reading a, or several, comic book(s). It truly feels like a comic book brought to life while watching it. The way that Batman himself is handled is also well done. When the Batman is on screen his strong and ominous presence looms off of the screen not unlike he would when bearing down on the various undesirables of Gotham. Obviously this is flick is an example of the Batman done right.
The casting in this flick is pretty spot on from the top billed actors all the way down to the character players. Michael Gough is a terrific Alfred. He brings a great balance and realness to the extraordinary surroundings the story takes place in. Kim Basinger plays Vicki Vale with an excellent balance of charm and slight weirdness. Michael Keaton masterfully plays Bruce Wayne with that constant torment matched with that determined will. The seriousness of Batman is also displayed well by Keaton while managing not to be too overbearing. While the flick is about Batman, it is the Joker that works in spades in this movie. Jack Nicholson delivers a nuanced and hilarious performance that has now become one of the most iconic and identified turns as the Joker. While parts of his delivery is very much still classic Nicholson, those times when he steps out of that box and turns in that other direction are what bring levity to the scene and breathe life into the Joker.
There were many areas this film got the Batman idea just right. The music of Prince adds to, and fits well with, the Joker character. The Batmobile looks Ridiculously Awesome. And, for the time, the gadgets look cool and believable. However, its pretty much a consensus that it should’ve been Alfred’s last day on the job when he (Spoilers!) just let Vicki Vale into the Batcave. And it would seem, somewhere down the line, that someone forgot that Batman does not kill people; while he did not go so far as to actually do so , it was shown that he was seriously trying to do A FEW people in. However, on the whole, the picture just works. It, now, just feels like a classic and has brought a legitimacy the Batman and to comic book movies as a whole.
- As is clearly represented by Batman, “The Force is strong with this one.”
I know. Batman has no superpowers! Just run over to RAMARS!!! to get the DL on the rating.