Thursday, April 28, 2011

797. BATMAN (1989)

Running Time: 126 minutes
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: Sam Hamm, Warren Skaaren, Bob Kane
Main Cast: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle

"WAIT 'TILL THEY GET A LOAD 'A ME"

Jack Nicholson has eleven (yes, eleven!) films in the "1001..." book and while this isn't my first one (that would be "Broadcast News"), this is my first one where he has a major role...and what a role it was. "Batman" is leaving the streaming portion of Netflix on May 1st, so I decided to go ahead and knock it out, while I still has easy access to it.

I think we all know the story of Batman, but for those of you who don't, I'll recount it and his antics in this film. Batman (Keaton) a.k.a. The Caped Crusader of Gotham City, is at first thought to be a vigilante. He swoops in at night, at the mere breaking of crime and saves the innocent, leaving the guilty shaking in their boots. He wears a cape, mask and body armor and has a bevy of "toys" that he uses to catch the wrong-doers of Gotham City. In reality, Batman is really Bruce Wayne, billionaire who spends HIS free time throwing gala events at his home, Wayne Manor. In the meantime, Jack Napier (Nicholson) is the kingpin of all criminals, only second in command to Carl Grissom, the crime boss of Gotham City. When Grissom gets word that his girl is two-timing him in favor of Jack, he sets Jack up, sending him out to raid the Axis Chemical plant. When a shootout ensues at the plant, which also involves Batman, Jack takes a tumble into a vat of chemicals and The Joker is born. Also in the meanwhile, Vicky Vale is in town, a prize winning photographer who wouldn't mind getting a couple shots of Batman and who's sharing a bed with Bruce Wayne - unbeknownst to her, they're the same person.

Ever since I was a little kid, I've been the brother of an avid comic book reader and aficionado and with that, came a little comic book reading of my own. Now anybody who partakes in a little comic book reading here and there has probably read a Batman story and that applies to me too. So "Batman" has always been a fun movie for me to watch, as I believe it to be the greatest superhero/comic book movie ever made and yes, I still think that today in 2011. I've always loved this version of "Batman" and think that director Burton nailed everything on the head as far as sets and mood go. Burton's films have always kind of been off in another world of their own, with "Batman" being no exception and Burton's world really houses the comic book characters brilliantly. If you were a comic book reader pre-1989, this is exactly what you should have picture Gotham City to look like, if ever portrayed on film.

And what about Nicholson? He was in his early 50's when "Batman" was being filmed and you'd think he wouldn't have the gusto to play a maniacal, comic book villain, but he totally nails it. I was in the theater the night "The Dark Knight" opened in 2008 and I heard all the praise that Heath Ledger got regarding his portrayal of The Joker, but (and not to take anything away from Ledger's fantastic performance) Nicholson, in my opinion, was just as good as Ledger and maybe, in some ways, even better. Without a doubt, Nicholson's Joker was the best part of "Batman" and I enjoyed every second that he was on the screen, as I ate his performance up with a spoon and asked for seconds. And honestly, Michael Keaton wasn't bad either as Batman. I know he gets a lot of flack sometimes for being a less than perfect Caped Crusader, but I thought he held his ground very well and did a fine job. The whole film just clicked with me and for my money, this is the ultimate comic book film, for which all comic book films should be compared against.

RATING: 8/10 Great film and not just a great comic book film. Nicholson is fantastic and Burton provides an immaculate setting.

MOVIES WATCHED: 265
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 736

April 28, 2011 11:39am

2 comments:

  1. Great blog! I'll definitely be coming back here! Yeah, I would rate it the same. Nicholson is one of my all time favorite actors. I would actually prefer this to Nolan's Batman Begins, and I think this particular version is the best of its series, which drastically fell downhill after the second film in my opinion.

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  2. Matt, thanks for swinging by, your presence is very welcome. I totally forgot to mention the rest of the initial four Batman flicks. Yes, you're absolutely right, this one blows the other three out of the water. However, I did always enjoy "Batman Forever". Kilmer wasn't a bad Batman and Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones turned in some good performances, if I remember correctly.

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