Batman ★★

The cultural influence of Tim Burton's Batman cannot be denied, but it is an ideal example of style over substance. Both plot and character are thrown out the window in favour of things that look 'cool' but serve no purpose beyond that.

The problems start with the flat screenplay by Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren (did your name have to rhyme to write on this?). I'm willing to give comic book movies leeway in this area, but the film's lack of emotional connection and messy tonal shifts don't help matters. The Joker's scheme is so lacklustre when you consider the possiblities and Batman's entire narrative is just a bland quest for revenge. Then there is the fact that Batman kills which is problematic not just because it goes against his entire ethos, but because it also begs the question of why doesn't he simply buy a gun and shoot the Joker.

Batman is a boderline psychopath here (I mean it opens with him watching a family being mugged, ''been there'' I assume he said to himself), whilst Bruce Wayne has the personality of cardboard. Michael Keaton tries to create some quirks, the ridiculous ''let's get nuts'' scene for example, but the character is such a mess. Jack Nicholson does better as the Joker but that mostly comes from his indisputable charisma seeing as he is effectively playing a slightly more manic version of himself.

Kim Basinger's Vicki Vale is blandly written, doing nothing but assaulting eardrums with constant shrieking and Robert Wuhl's Knox feels wasted as if he were here solely for comic relief, except his jokes are more like tedious drunken improvisation. Michael Gough does well as more gentle Alfred, but characters like Gordon and Harvey Dent feel like they're here for fan service only as they do nothing of note.

Nearly all the postivies are the impressive visuals. Anton Furst's production design is fantastic, the costumes are excellent and the indeterminable time period is a unique touch. Danny Elfman also deserves a mention for composing what is the definitive Batman theme. Tim Burton wears his Noir and German Expressionism influence for all to see which does lead to some striking imagery. However, he simply can't handle the action sequences with most of them being unimaginative and the stiff batsuit makes the lack of fluidity all the more noticeable.

I have massive issues with The Dark Knight trilogy but the fact people point to the Burton films as the gold standard is pretty laughable. I think he either doesn't understand what makes the character tick or simply doesn't care. The emphasis on spectacle above all else results in a film that is a series of significant moments with nothing but white noise between.

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