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Batman (1989)

Who is Batman?

Directed by:

Tim Burton

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 126 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

I’ve never really been too sure about Batman’s credentials as a bona fide superhero. Sure, he’s got a secret identity, he fights crime, and he wears a ridiculous tight-fitting costume. But he doesn’t really have any super “powers” per se. In fact, he’s really just a rich guy who can afford lots of gadgets. In fact, he’s not really doing anything that Bill Gates, for example, couldn’t do if he REALLY wanted to.

While we’re at it, it’s fair to say that ‘Batman’ isn’t a movie I’ve ever been too sure about either. Equally as silly as it is dark and gothic, it’s often difficult to know just how seriously director Tim Burton is expecting us to take it. Just as significantly, Burton pays painstaking attention to getting the look and style of the production just right, but in the process of doing so neglects the other components necessary to make a truly great film.

The script is weak and the plot, save for a genuinely exciting climax, is generally unengaging. It pits Michael Keaton’s restrained and brooding Batman against Jack Nicholson’s OTT Joker, a perma-grinning albino intent on wiping out the people of Gotham City via a contaminated range of cosmetics. Given the state of the bloke’s kisser, you’d think that the town’s make-up would be the LAST thing he’d want to render unusable, but there you go. Kim Basinger is amongst the supporting cast as our hero’s love interest, and Jack Palance is also in there as a crime uber-lord.

It’s a daring effort, some of which works and some of which doesn’t, but what’s perhaps most impressive about it today is that it hasn’t dated at all – despite now being 14 years old. That’s possibly got something to do with the bizarre alternative reality created by Burton, where 1930s-style mobsters mix freely with futuristic gadgets and cutting-edge technology. That alone gives it a uniqueness that’s certainly worth a look.

It's Got: “I’m Batman!”

It Needs: For Prince’s specially-penned cacophonies to stop interrupting Danny Elfman’s terrific score.

DVD Extras Production notes and cast details. DVD Extras Rating: 2/10

Alternatives:

Batman & Robin, Batman Forever, Batman Returns, Spiderman, X-Men

Summary

Much darker than your average superhero flick, ‘Batman’ goes for style over substance but just about makes a success of it.

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