Thursday, January 13, 2011
BATMAN (1989). Director: Tim Burton.
"I am the world's first fully-functioning homicidal artist." -- The Joker.
In Gotham City there are rumors of a bat-like creature preying on criminals. A mobster named Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) falls into a vat of chemicals while battling this creature -- Batman (Michael Keaton) -- and turns into the grotesque Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker, who causes numerous deaths by poisoning various cosmetics and household supplies. Batman must then stop his nemesis from not only slaughtering thousands of Gothamites at a celebration, but must rescue his lady love, reporter Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) from the Joker at a climax in a cathedral. Batman, whose human dramatics are awkwardly written and played, is more a campy black comedy than anything else, and is a bit slow and dull to boot. The movie is overlong and over-produced, although it gets points for its striking scenic design if little else. Keaton is miscast, and Nicholson walks off with the movie, although his psychotic Joker is never really scary. There are some moments that are dumber than anything in the old Batman serials. The climax, which may or may not have been intended as a homage to Vertigo's bell tower sequence, is stretched out to a tedious degree. Jack Palance and Michael Gough are good as hoodlum Grissom and Alfred the butler, respectively.
Verdict: All too typical of movies that pay more attention to production design and FX than they do to story and character. **.