Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
Michael Keaton plays the Caped Crusader and Jack Nicholson his enemy, The Joker, in Tim Burton’s Oscar-winning dark vision of the comic book hero. Also starring Kim Basinger.
Tim Burton’s previous film was the comedy horror Beetlejuice, released a year earlier, which I really like a lot.
Now, Burton chose to do a superhero film for his next effort. Batman is the first instalment in the original Batman franchise and sees the director reunite with his Beetlejuice star Michael Keaton.
Keaton’s casting did cause a stir at the time, as many believed by this point he had become a comedic actor and wouldn’t be able to play a serious role.
For me, the doubters were proved wrong and it proves that no actor or actress likes playing the same type of part continuously. The final product of Batman is a very decent one indeed.
Having observed his parents' horrible murder as a child, very wealthy humanitarian Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) battles crime in Gotham City camouflaged as Batman, a costumed protagonist who strikes anxiety into the emotions of rogues.
But when a malformed madman who calls himself "The Joker" (Jack Nicholson) snatches control of Gotham's unlawful gangland, Batman has no choice but to fight his most cruel arch-rival ever while shielding both his distinctiveness and his love interest, journalist Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger).
Michael Keaton gives a very good performance in his double role as Bruce Wayne and Batman. Bruce is the millionaire industrialist who meets and falls for Vicki, while Batman is the hero attempting to stop trouble from happening. He suits his roles very well and makes the most of the time he has on the screen.
Elsewhere, there is a very solid supporting performance to be had from Jack Nicholson in his double role as Jack and The Joker. Jack is the gangster involved, while The Joker is causing all sorts of disaster to Gotham – and he is also all prepared to take on Batman. Nicholson suits his parts well and also makes the most of his screen time.
Kim Basinger offers fine support in her role as Vicki Vale, a reporter who Bruce falls in love with but she must be rescued from the evil hands of the dark destroyer.
The direction from Burton is very good because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong effect throughout, while also keeping a tense atmosphere happening as well and the script is written to a decent standard by Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren as they make the movie good to follow.
The set, camera, costume, sound, makeup and visual effects stand out best in terms of the technical aspects, because the set is terrific to look at; the camera makes very good use of the dark locations and also captures the tense and dramatic moments well, which deservedly get the edge-of-the-seat status; the costumes are very nicely designed; the sound is excellent as you have to listen carefully; the makeup is outstanding; the visual effects dazzle whenever they appear on screen.
In terms of major awards, the movie deservedly won the Academy Award for Best Production Design (Anton Furst and Peter Young) and Jack Nicholson got a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in the Musical or Comedy category.
At the British Academy Film Awards, the movie got nominated for 6 prizes: Best Supporting Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Production Design (Anton Furst), Best Costume Design (Bob Ringwood), Best Sound (Don Sharpe, Tony Dawe and Bill Rowe), Best Makeup (Paul Engleen and Nick Dudman) and Best Visual Effects (Derek Meddings and John Evans).
Overall, Tim Burton’s Batman is a very decent superhero action film, due to the very good performances in particular from Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, along with the direction, script, tense atmosphere and technical aspects.