Batman ★★★½

The scene where Bruce Wayne has a flashback to the time his parents were murdered, and the killer was old Jack Napier/Joker himself, provides a dual purpose. The first, and most important purpose, is too reinforce the theme that these two outsiders, Batman and Joker, are responsible for creating each other. That these two freaks are destined for each other. The other purpose is basically to give fanboys anuerisms. Because there is nothing funnier than going to comic book conventions or sci-fi conventions or Magic: The Gathering tournaments and thinking "What can I do to really mind fuck these people? I got it! Joker killed Batman's parents!".

Batman is greatly similar to Blade Runner in that this is really an exercise of great style over substance. The production and art design is amazing. It's such a wonderful film to look at. Sometime it's not so wonderful to listen. The chemistry between Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger is no bueno. Michael Keaton can hardly move in the batsuit! There is a scene near the end when he looks up, and his whole upper body moves with his neck. So the role has physical limitations that Keaton cannot quite rise above, especially during fight scenes.

Jack Nicholson gets top billing (per his contract) but he also steals the show. Usually a villain needs to be entertaining and interesting in a film of this nature, and Joker definitely is that. However, he is far and beyond anything that Keaton presents as Wayne/Batman. This movie is rather dull when Nicholson is not on-screen.

There is no denying the influence of Batman however. This film was directly responsible for the style and mood of Batman: The Animated Series which everyone loves, myself included. Tim Burton and company crafted a very comic-book, pulpy style that fits the material like a glove. The surface of this film is glossy, even when the interiors are dark and murky. At the time, we all thought Jack Nicholson's Joker was going to be hard to top for comic book villain performances. Batman doesn't really remain the template for comic book films, but it still retains its spot at the top for practical production design and artistic inventiveness. Now everyone just performs in front of a green screen and me make sad face :-(

The score, the production, the sets, and Nicholson ; they all contribute to making Batman a pleasure to watch, even if Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger make up one of the weirdest on-screen couples.

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