Batman (1989) 126m
Director Tim Burton
Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Palance, Robert Wuhl, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, Jerry Hall, Tracey Walter, Lee Wallace, William Hootkins.
The first of the ‘modern’ Batman movies, that took more of a serious tone with a gothic and noir type Gotham City. Before this was the movie based on the television show starring Adam West.
In this origin story, Gotham City has a new vigilante, The Batman (Keaton), who is helping rid the streets of crime. His main adversary is Nicholson’s Jack Napier who has his own origin story in how he becomes The Joker.
I am reviewing this in 2022, having grown up on this film – it has always been a great watch. Now I am a little older and understand the plot a little more, it is quite a bit better than I remembered.
Burton’s gothic style is beginning to grow here, (he was only 30 when he made this) and there is strong character development – especially in the fact it is our first introduction to Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman. The haunting music style of Danny Elfman (one of Burton’s frequent collaborators) adds to the dark style of this film, and would go on to work with Burton frequently throughout the next couple of decades.
Nicholson is still fantastic as the version of Joker here, and while yes there are erroneous ret-cons to the mythos of Bruce Wayne (Joker did not kill his parents), he is still a wonderfully colourful villain. Both his creation and scenes after his creation have been recreated and referenced in pop culture since then.
Some criticisms are that watching today is that some of the graphics seem somewhat dated, however this is to be expected since the movie is 33 years old.