Batman ★★

This is not a terrible movie but I just can't stand it. I remember waiting in anticipation for it as a kid and wanting a certain kind of movie that it seemed to promise it would be: sophisticated, challenging, artistically adventurous, NOT comedic. And it sort of is that, but it's also so much…less.

First it just looks like crap; it's shadowy and grim but not in any kind of aesthetically impressive way. It just looks murky and muddy like it was shot on a cloudy day. Second, it's just stagey in all kinds of ridiculous ways, from the obvious fakery of the soundstage sets to the absurd plot that wants to tie everything up too neatly.

And finally the casting is just a disappointment. I have a lot of respect for Michael Keaton as a dramatic actor but he seems lost here, as if he's continually waiting for a chance to break out his comic persona. He's also got as terrible a haircut as Jack Nicholson has a middle-aged waistline. Actually, if you can set aside your familiarity with these actors, you might look at this interpretation of the character in the same way westerners look at foreign interpretations of familiar franchises: they always seem somewhat off, kind of odd, and you can never really square your vision of the character with the weirdly pedestrian actors they hired to portray them. Burton's "Batman" is almost a Bollywood Batman.

There is some interesting stuff at work here, like the gothic overtones and Burton's commitment to Bruce Wayne's psychosis, but there's really not enough to ever make me want to rewatch this again.