Batman ★★

A dark turn in Batman comics in the 1970’s solidified itself as integral aspect of the Caped Crusader’s character a decade later with the success of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (1986) miniseries. That same paradigm shift made the leap to film with Tim Burton’s gothically stylized Batman (1989). Unfortunately, it’s far heavier on aesthetics than substance and a lot of the visual elements have not aged well. 

Michael Keaton’s performance as Bruce Wayne is wholly unremarkable. Kim Basinger’s Vicki Vale is nothing more than a very annoying, screaming set piece. Jack Nicholson’s Joker works, but not because of some fun transformation. Instead, Nicholson appears to be himself but with an uncomfortably unknown amount of extra crazy and a penchant for snappy one-liners. They cast remarkable talents as both Harvey Dent and Commissioner Gordon, but neither see enough screen time to be of any real value. 

There’s no denying the greatness of Danny Elfman’s iconic Batman (1989) score. It’s titular theme is now synonymous with the hero. And yet, someone saw what they had here and thought the inclusion of ill-fitting, momentum-sapping pop music was an improvement. It’s absolutely baffling!

Lastly, and most importantly we have Batman (1989)’s story, which is a dumpster fire of coincidence. No one believes Alexander Knox so they bury his story except it’s on the front page. What? The Batman Wing has all of the tools necessary for stealing poison balloons and also can be shot down by one pistol bullet. No. The Joker destroys the path down from the bell tower as he arrives at the top, but also has a crew up there somehow. Yikes! I could go on and on. 

The contributions that Batman (1989) made to the series are definitely worth mentioning, but alas, they don’t make this a good film.

McHomeschooled liked these reviews