Batman

Batman_28198929_theatrical_posterYear: 1989

Synopsis: Bruce Wayne almost cautiously begins his career as the Caped Crusader, and is soon up against the maniacal schemes of the Joker.

Pros:
• A successful confirmation of the darker, more adult directional shift of the DC superhero.
• Jack Nicholson stole the show as the Joker of Controlled Chaos. Keaton’s Batman succeeded as a counter, if only just.
• Kim Basinger succeeded as being a bit more than a damsel in distress as Vicki Vale, bravely throwing herself into the fray.
• Had a sense of humor equal parts as self-aware as dark, mostly seen via the Joker.
• The groundwork for the franchise was strongly laid, even if that ground work was unfortunately renovated in the Schumacher installments.
• The overall construct of the film (visual, themes) were so perfectly done at the time that other superhero films largely emulated this film’s construct for over a decade.
• While Danny Elfman’s whimsical musical scores can sometimes feel cookie cutter, Elfman’s style fit the film perfectly.
• Easily better than the already positive nostalgia for the film might suggest.
• Perhaps one of the best main-stream arthouse films ever made.

Cons:
• The film lacked any real explanation of why billionaire Bruce Wayne of Gotham City was seemingly not well known to anyone. This confusingly contrasted with not only the fact that he obviously had endless pockets of money, but also how the comics and the other adaptations often depicted his ownership of Wayne Enterprises.
• Some might not have been pleased with the liberties taken with Batman’s and Joker’s origins, particularly how they were intermingled.
• Keaton’s performance can come off as overly controlled and wooden next to Nicholson’s free-spirited performance.

Discussion:
“I say that I made you, you’ve gotta say that you made me. How childish can you get?” The Joker

This film was made at a time when there might have been less of a hunger to spend an entire film on a character’s origin, opting for that to take up half at the most. We can see how Batman is at his start, stumbling with enough wit that the early thugs never really noticed. He was clearly being cautious, not necessarily even knowing how to save everyone yet from the most mindless of street thugs. Batman indeed seemed years away from even thinking about taking out the present crime lord, Grissom. All that caution was thrown out with the appearance of the Joker, whom Batman knew was more than just a crime lord. They might as well have been the same person on different sides of someone else’s spectrum. One cold, calculated, and filled with righteousness, and the other out to show how terrible people really are deep down. The Joker expertly exploited Gotham’s vanity and greed. His point was proven, but he unlikely expected most of Gotham to flock to a ray of hope after, instead of all dying with a wad of cash in hand. The people of Gotham were more than their greed and vanity. Batman was living proof of that.


Official Website

Rotten Tomatoes –72%

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