Running time: 126 mins
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger
Genre: Comic book, Action, Adventure
Eventually all good things come to an end. After it’s third season Batman starring Adam West would leave the Caped Crusader out in the cold, 20th Century Fox’s interests in all things
seemingly gone. It would be twenty years
later, when the rights passed to Warner Bros, that director Tim Burton would
cause controversy in his casting of Gotham’s
saviour. Adam West would be furious that
he was not considered “first refusal” for the role, the rest of the world would
be wondering why he would choose Beatlejuice to don the cowl in the heavily Weimar influenced
Burton’s vision was one of moving forward, Michael Keaton would step into the tailored suits of Bruce Wayne and Batman alike, Kim Basinger was brought on as love interest Vicki Vale, Michael Gough would not only own the role of Alfred but also begin a long working relationship with the director, Jack Palance would be the mob boss, we’d have an African American Harvey Dent in Billy Dee Williams (one of Burton’s most frustratingly undeveloped master strokes) and the Studios worries that the film would be too dark to make money was calmed with the casting of Academy Award Winning grinner Jack Nicholson as The Joker.
The design of the Batmobile and the Batwing were, at the time, phenomenal. The Batmobile would take it’s first step towards the impenetrable tank of Frank Miller’s graphic novels and ultimately Nolan’s Tumbler while the Batwing, though looking fantastic and paying off with the fans with the creation of the Bat signal against the moon can be downed by a handgun…really? Holy cheap manufacturing Batman!
Michael Keaton (as Batman/Bruce Wayne) is an incredibly comfortable fit. Like West before him he is not physically powerful, though he doesn’t need to be - his suit is his protection. He’s a fantastic piece of casting and one they will struggle with replacing for some time when he departs
Gotham post Batman Returns. He is,
however, all too easy in the role of Bruce Wayne. He’s charismatic, likeable, funny…if a little
awkward and painfully without any motive to dress as a bat and stalk the
streets of the city in which his parents bleed to death. He seems well adjusted, ok with it and
frustratingly little different to the Martinson era. Jack Nicholson is, of course, Jack
Nicholson. His Joker is dark but dark in
outlook alone and he’s not, as you would hope, twistedly funny. He has a handful of truly genius moments but the
reworking of the origin story to make Joker (aka Jack Napier) the killer of
Thomas & Martha Wayne is needless and seems to exist within the film to
give Joker an origin story and foreground him as “The Star”. It is the Joker’s film, Batman has no origin
and seemingly no second gear. Basinger
gives a solid performance as Vicki Vale and her love story with Bruce is
required to give him something else to do outside of the cowl (though her
discovery of his identity is not!).
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