Batman ★★★

Relieving the crap rom-coms usually shown at my gym was this landmark in tentpole filmmaking, which I enjoy revisiting every so often. I first saw it on laserdisc in Hong Kong in the fall of 1989; by the time it hit theaters there, which was Chinese New Year of 1990, it had no audience, as everyone had already seen it on LD and VHS. Lesson learned, Hollywood blockbusters soon began turning up day and date, more or less, around the world concurrent with their US releases.

I've always been mixed on the movie. The producer-driven stuff gets in the way: The Prince songtrack (lampooned in SHAUN OF THE DEAD, though it's not that bad on its own), the Ninja eruptions, and perhaps an over-reliance on Jack Nicholson, who has his best moments early on with a menacing Jack Palance, then struggles with weak material by the end. That said, the Tim Burton elements, including Danny Elfman's score, still work beautifully, and the movie sets up one of my very favorites, 1992's BATMAN RETURNS. Warts and all it's still a quirkier, livelier picture than most of what comes off the Marvel and DC product assembly kits today.