Batman ★★★½

One couldn’t escape the Batman symbol in the summer of 1989. It alone became an influential way to create brand awareness with a simple but eye-catching design. Cruelly, I wasn’t old enough to see Tim Burton’s Batman during its theatrical run that summer, so my first experience of it was later on video, but I remember being underwhelmed. It played as very serious and slow to me, with peculiar moments and lots of talking. I hadn’t been raised on the 1960s Batman television series, so my reaction wasn’t a negative response to how this film destroyed preconceptions of what a live-action Batman should be. But I certainly expected something more accessible and fun, as my benchmark for superheroes was Superman II (1980).

I’ve watched Batman many times since its release, and started to warm to it following the even better Batman Returns (1992). While I much preferred Burton’s bizarre sequel, it led me to appreciate the character and how Burton took unprecedented chances. We’re currently onto the third iteration of the Caped Crusader at the cinema — following Joel Schumacher’s tasteless 1990s sequels, Christopher Nolan’s “realistic reboot” from the mid-2000s, and Zack Snyder’s brawnier spin in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), so 1989’s Batman now feels as classic as Coca-Cola.

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