Tuesday, July 15, 2008

REVIEW: Batman


Year: 1989
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Michael Gough
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

After the success of Superman in 1978, Warner Bros. wanted to bring the caped crusader to the big screen too, but it wasn't an easy task. In 1980, Tom Mankiewicz who co-wrote the screenplay for Superman wrote an early draft of Batman and sent it to Warner Bros. for approval. The movie was set for release in 1985 until the producers stopped production of the movie because they weren't happy. After the success of Pee-wee's Big Adventure, the studio offered the job to Tim Burton. Burton wasn't satisfied with Mankiewicz's script so he wrote a short draft of his own and the studio approved it. It wasn't until the box office result of Burton's Beetle Juice that Warner Bros. finally green lighted this project. All that wait and script trouble finally paid off because Batman ended up grossing an estimated $411 million worldwide on a mear budget of only $35 million.

Plot Outline:
Haunted by the death of his parents as a child, Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) takes on another identity and goes by the name of Batman to exact justice from those who are beyond the reach of the police. The appearances of Batman are being followed by investigative reported Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl), joined by photojournalist Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger), who quickly develops an attraction to Wayne. During a late night attempt at a chemical facility, Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) is trapped by both police and Batman and accidentally falls into a vat of chemicals that transforms his skin chalk-white and a botched surgery attempt gives him a permanent smile, sending Napier over the mental edge thus creating a new persona: the Joker. It is up to Batman to stop the Joker from taking over Gotham City.

As a fan of the comics and the hero himself, I was thrilled to see what Burton can do with the the dark knight. The plot is interesting and kind of keeps the movie going. Burton's dark vision for this movie really shows. The streets of Gotham seem filled with many criminals and villains. It is up to Batman to save the day and keep Gotham safe from danger. As a fan of Batman, its so wonderful to finally see him on the big screen in a movie that's nicely paste and full of entertainment. However not everything is perfect because we do get some plot holes. I respect Burton for his dark vision of Batman and he mostly stays to the basic concept of this hero, but he also changes a few things. I cant really talk about these changes because they would kind of ruin the movie. These aren't big changes, but they are changes that fans of the comics will pretty much notice. With that said, this movie is still really fun. Its action packed and full of good performances. Even though the movie doesn't stay 100% true to the comics, I respect Burton for his attempt and vision for a much darker Batman film.

Michael Keaton plays as Batman/Bruce Wayne and he does a good job. You wouldn't expect a person like Keaton who has played in many comedy film to be playing as the dark knight and yet he does a good job at it. I really enjoyed him as Wayne and thought he was great as Batman. In my opinion, Keaton was Batman and always will be. Jack Nicholson plays as Joker/Jack Napier and he gives an outstanding performance. Its not easy playing an insane character like the Joker and yet, Nicholson does just that. He had me convinced he was the Joker and I'm happy he at least got an Oscar nomination for this role. He simply was the star of the movie. Kim Basinger plays as Vicki Vale and she does a pretty good job at it. I wasn't expecting much from Basinger, but I found her to be a delight next to Keaton. We also have Michael Gough playing as Alfred Pennyworth and he too does a good job. I think hes the perfect Alfred. His voice and characteristic makes him the ideal choice of playing Bruce's butler.

The visual look of Batman is dark, but good. The movie was released in 1989 and its no surprise that we get alittle bit of film grain here and their. It isn't distracting and the film looks pretty damn good for a film of its time. There isn't much CGI, but for the parts that do have, it looks good. Colors have a washed up feel to them. They aren't vibrant the way I would have liked them to be, but their still pretty good. Blacks are spot on great with that inky feel to them. This is by far a dark film so don't go in expecting to see some colorful scenes because there hardly ain't any. Detail is pretty good, but not great. There are some scenes that show some detail to them, but as you would expect from a 19 year old movie, there are also some soft scenes. This is still a good looking movie for its time and I just love Burton's art direction here.

The soundtrack for Batman is outstanding. Mastermind composer Danny Elfman composes a wonderful score for this film. It easily matches Burton's dark vision punch to punch and is something people will remember Batman for. Can you believe Michael Jackson was once asked to score this film? I'm glad he had to turn it down since he was busy because Elfman's work here is simply perfect. His talent with Burton's art direction makes this an easy win. We also get other orchestral work from Elfman that is equally as impressive as his score. The movie also features some bass that goes pretty good with its action scenes. Since the movie came out 19 years ago, the bass isn't really as clear and loud as I would have liked, but I cant complain. It delivers on being good for its time so I cant be upset about it.

Batman was one of the few superhero movies that actually worked. It was a first attempt by Burton and I think he did a damn good job. Even though the story has some plot holes and doesn't stay 100% faithful to the comics, its still an entertaining film. The cast is great with Jack Nicholson giving a brilliant performance and Michael Keaton will always be Batman to me. The visual look of the movie is dark and yet it still looks god for a film of its time. The soundtrack is great and Elfman's score easily belongs in this movie. I loved this movie when I was a kid and I still think its great even to this day. I can easily recommend this to superhero fans or for those seeking a fun film because this film definitely delivers.

Grade: B


Nayana Anthony said...

I love Tim Burton... but I admit I prefer the new Batman style, a la Batman Begins, to his version.

Jaccstev said...

I have to honest that I'm a little bit have forgot the story of this film. But i really love the new version of Joker in “The Dark Knight”

Farzan said...

I havent seen The Dark Knight yet, but you can bet Ill be there on opening day