This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Robert Shupe’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Batman is a stylistic and very sleek film which added greatly to the overall mythos of Batman/Bruce Wayne.
It came out when superhero movies were not the rage. Also, lest we forget the prerelease controversies of Tim Burton directing and of Michael Keaton being cast as Batman.
This is technically the fourth Batman movie. The first two were the 1940's films Batman and then Batman and Robin. These movie each had different actors playing Batman and had Batman working for the government as movies then did not show law breaking vigilantes. The third movie was the 1960's Batman: The Movie with Adam West and Burt Ward. This was the fun and campy movie that gave us shark repellent.
Then this film is announced to mixed anticipation. Then it is released and it is darker and gritty. This was influenced by the graphic novels The Dark Night Returns by Frank Miller and The Killing Joke by Alan Moore.
The visual styles of the movie made Gotham a character unto itself and added to the different tone of this Batman.
There is a lot of interesting behind the scenes stuff. Jack Nicholson negotiated a percentage of gross profit and of merchandising. This was a genius albeit risky move that paid off for him in a lot of money. When Nicholson as initially balking at signing on Robin Williams was then considered and the producers used this as leverage to get Jack. Robin Williams never forgot this and later turned down an offer of The Riddler because of it.
Geek Alert: It followed the comic ideas nicely and also took some deviations. Joker has never had an official name or backstory in the comics creating his own obscurity that keeps him interesting. Also, he did not kill Bruce's parents in the comments. In the comics, it was a regular criminal named Joe Cliff. Plus, in the comics the Joker is still going strong with his Mayhem.
The castung turned out to be excellent. Jack Nicholson came in and absolutely owned that role. Michael Keaton silenced us all with his moody yet relatable Bruce Wayne / Batman anti-hero portrayal. Kim Basinger delivered as Vicki Vale. It was great to see Jack Palance as a heavy villain and Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent was fantastic. (As good as Tommie Lee Jones was as Dent/Two-Face in a later film, the producers should have kept Billie Dee instead of buying out his contract.)
Even with the darker tone to the film, it still had some camp and humor. That long barreled pistol, the handshake death and the Batwing against the moon are just so.e examples. This film shows us the Batcave, the Batmobile, Wayne Mansion, and the utility belt.
Music was provided by Danny Elfman composing the soundtrack. Prince gave us songs for the film.
My rating will flip back and forth with either a 4, 4 1/2, or a 5. It is not a flawless film. The Prince songs are one of the few things that date the film. The two female leads each faint in a separate scene and those moments don't hold up strong. Vicki Vale also screams too much.
There you go. This film had a strong release, it brought more gravitas to the Superhero genre in film, and it remains a great watch.
Peace. Always be yourself and if you can't then be Batman.