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Batman (1989 film)

The 1989 superhero film based on the DC Comics character and directed by Tim Burton.

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How to turn an average movie into a great one, add Jack Nicholson!

  • Sep 30, 2009
  • by
The first major Batman movie was like a nuclear bomb's fallout in 89.  It didn't matter where you hid, it didn't matter where you go, Batman was going to get to you.

A dark direction, controversy in casting and a unique look add up to what becomes a real experience but one that isn't quite as great once you peel it's main appeal away, in one Jack Nicholson.

Jack Nicholson who walked away reportedly $70 million richer from ticket sales, merchadizing proceeds and a cut above his normal salary to me still remains the best Joker and is the movies biggest asset.  He steals every scene he's in, gets the best lines and the fact he's playing one of the most famous villains-ever and does a good job at it says alot.  Does the movie have a hard time synching up to his level of espectations?  Yes it does.  It's not a bad movie don't get me wrong but at times the stroy is meandering only giving us a mention here and there about The Joker's plan to use his Smylex gas to kill everyone in Gotham City and other mentions are about Bruce Waynes past with a recurring thread about Gotham City's crime wave and a celebration to bring business back to the city.  The storys come in fits and surges and you can lose a piece of information while other subjects are discussed before the movie comes back to them again.

The good is that the sets are miraculous if drab.  Everything looks like a big bucket of ashes was dumped on them and Anton Furst's conflicting architectual styles makes the city look unique to say the least.  Gotham may be "Gothic" but it the grays and blacks everywhere keep the movie brooding.  Again, Jack steals the show as The Joker, a criminal disfigured by chemicals and going off the deep end with madness.  Say what you want about Heath Ledger, and sure he was great, but this Joker is a more traditional one and one who is insane and giddy rather then sadistic and crazy.  Michael Keaton I'm torn on, he definetely has his moments and has a few great grins and scowls in the suit, but his quirky attitude sometimes really makes me wonder if people don't simply love him as Batman solely because he wasn't nearly as bad as people thought he was going to be after his comedy roles.  Oh, and I can't forget all those "wonderful toys" The Batman suit, the Batmobile, the Batplane, his assortment of boomerangs and grappling hooks and darts.  This Batman is loaded with goodies.  Robert Wuhl's reporter Knox almost belongs in another time period as a slick reporter trying to find out about Batman and almost speaks in old slang reporter talk.  Kim Bassinger as Vicki Vale I'm honestly neutral on.  Not hard on the eyes, but she's almost a plot device to bring Joker and Batman together.

The first Batman is certainly a fun movie to watch and the best up until the new Nolan movies came out, but I can't help but feel that Jack Nicholson really didn't have a major hand in making this movie what it was.  I can answer this question and quell any who doubt my aligence to Jack over Heath Ledger.  Take Heath Ledger out of The Dark Knight, is it still a good movie?  I thought so, of course it is, NOW think about it....take Jack Nicholson out of THIS movie.  Is it still good?  Betcha it isn't.
Jack is the Joker Michael Keaton as Batman Boss Carl Grissom and his men Gotham City Alexander Knox and Vicki Vale track Batman Harvey Dent and Gordan

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October 21, 2010
This is a classic, great review, Jack was great here.
October 21, 2010
I still maintain him being left out would have sunk this.
More Batman (1989 film) reviews
review by . December 12, 2010
Stephanie's Favourite Films: Batman      While some people may not agree with me, I think that this is the best Batman film. Granted, I love the Nolan films, and they are definitely their own creations, but this film just seems like the more traditional film, and sometimes, the traditional way is the best way to go. The joker overshadows batman a lot, and in some ways I don't like that, because in most of these cases, less is more. The casting is great, the story is …
review by . July 04, 2011
Since this is my first review of anything Batman-related, I should share my history with this superhero since he's such a huge part of American culture. From the early 90's up until around 2000 or so, I was actually a pretty big Batman fan. I loved this Batman and Batman Returns, along with the Batman Animated Series during my years of fandom. However, after the turn of the century, my interest in Batman steadily declined as I moved on to other interests (like anime and death metal), but …
review by . September 26, 2010
I was at the perfect age when Batman came out, 12, which was not so young that the movie was over my head and not quite old enough to start being jaded about adaptations.  More personally, I was also a year into collecting comics pretty heavily so I felt like I was at the forefront of the entire comic industry boom that literally blew up overnight after the release of this flick.  This film also marked another turning point in my life as it was what was bouncing around my head right before …
Quick Tip by . August 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
my second favorite batman movie next to the Dark Night. i liked the costumes a lot in this one.
Quick Tip by . July 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
For as much accolades that this still gets, without Jack Nicholson as the Joker, this movie strings together a few too many undeveloped stories. The wonderful toys and other production save it in other places.
Quick Tip by . August 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
When I see this on the Tim Burton poll, I want to sing "One of these things is not like the others...." It just seems out of place compared to the usual Tim Burton fare.
Quick Tip by . May 10, 2010
A medicore Batman movie is made into a great one with Jack Nicholson as the crazed Joker. Fun to look at otherwise.
Quick Tip by . September 29, 2009
Awesome blockbuster that 's a little too dingy and could have used had better story telling. Jack's Joker makes up for plenty shortcomings.
review by . May 15, 2009
When Tim Burton put out Batman in 1989, comic book fans and movie fans alike were pleased with this movie about the caped crusader. Coming in at 2 hours in length, this was the first "modern" comic book movie. Starkly different from the optimistic Superman movies of Christopher Reeves with its bright colors and undercurrents of patriotism and American greatness, Burton's Batman was more of a drama than a comic book come to life. Good and evil often fought it out at night, in hidden places, away …
review by . October 27, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Havingly recently seen Christopher Nolan's spectacular "Batman Begins", I thought it was time to go back and re-visit Tim Burton's "Batman".     Tim Burton has long been one of my very favorite directors. With his taste for dark, humorous, wacky and often weird films, he was the perfect choice to direct "Batman".     Michael Keaton plays Bruce Wayne, who - shhh - is actually Batman. Keaton was an interesting choice for Wayne/Batman, and he gives a great performance. …
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John Nelson ()
Ranked #8
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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About this movie


Thanks to the ambitious vision of director Tim Burton, the blockbuster hit of 1989 delivers the goods despite an occasionally spotty script, giving the caped crusader a thorough overhaul in keeping with the crime fighter's evolution in DC Comics. Michael Keaton strikes just the right mood as the brooding "Dark Knight" of Gotham City; Kim Basinger plays Gotham's intrepid reporter Vicki Vale; and Jack Nicholson goes wild as the maniacal and scene-stealing Joker, who plots a takeover of the city with his lethal Smilex gas. Triumphant Oscar-winning production design by the late Anton Furst turns Batman into a visual feast, and Burton brilliantly establishes a darkly mythic approach to Batman's legacy. Danny Elfman's now-classic score propels the action with bold, muscular verve.--Jeff Shannon
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Director: Tim Burton
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
Release Date: June 23, 1989
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Sam Hamm, Warren Skaaren
DVD Release Date: February 10, 2009; May 19, 2009
Runtime: 126 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
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