Batman ★★★★★

*Was a 78, now a 96*

Tim Burton's Batman is such a fascinating relic because of what it recalled and what it seemed to embody. Its references, from The Wizard of Oz to King Kong and Public Enemy; to The Band Wagon and Vertigo, not to mention its array of expressionistic modes; are immense, in a sense operating as the ultimate detective comic-book romance horror movie. It has everything you could want in an intro picture, being both a grand backlot studio pageant and a tortured battle for individual expression. The analog dexterity of the model work, matte paintings, optical effects, in addition to the tangibility of the set-design, suggests a pinnacle of what blockbuster product would evolve into if not for computer effects and digitized imagery. As intimate as Batman is, with the quiet familial dynamic between Bruce and Alfred and the distanced, romantic tension of Vale and Wayne, it's also so deliciously expensive, fueled through a unique vision yet built to satisfy conventionally. It's such a comic-book, from the first frame to the last, but it doesn't neglect its characters or treat their moments like filler. The introduction of batman, from following the mugged family to the robbers on the rooftop above, is classic mythic heroism that still finds interest in not just the idea of the caped crusader, but the personification of his being. Keaton is a hokey Dark Knight, but there hasn't been a Batman like him since.

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