Tag Archives: 1989

Licence to Kill (1989) Review

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Licence to Kill

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Timothy Dalton as James Bond
Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier
Robert Davi as Franz Sanchez
Talisa Soto as Lupe Lamora
Anthony Zerbe as Milton Krest
Director: John Glen

After his friend, Felix Leiter, is gravely injured by a drug lord, James Bond (Timothy Dalton) seeks revenge. With the MI6 refusing to back him, Bond takes matters into his own hands.

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Of the James Bond movies I had yet to revisit, Licence to Kill was the one I was most looking forward to the most. Timothy Dalton’s second and final entry is now seen as being ahead of its time, doubling down on the serious and gritty take on the character and series from The Living Daylights to deliver a darker movie. It was not received exactly favourably by audiences at the time. Today it’s much better appreciated and I can say that it’s for good reason.

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Licence to Kill felt like a very different Bond than its predecessors, because it really was. Essentially the premise is that James Bond goes searching for revenge after his friend Felix Leiter is gravely injured and his wife is murdered on their wedding day. As such it drops the entire spy espionage aspect and goes straight for a revenge action route, ditching the formulaic plot structure of the franchise. There isn’t even a mission, Bond in the first half has his licence to kill revoked and goes on his own without help from MI6. It is a smaller and more personal story, straying from an espionage plot typical for a Bond film, which is probably why people in the late 80s weren’t feeling it. However it does give the story and Bond an emotional core, as all of his actions are personally motivated by him alone. The film continues with the darker, more serious and grounded tone from The Living Daylights and turns it up. The movie definitely pushed the limits to what PG-13 was at the time, it’s really violent for the Bond film, and cuts down on the wisecracks. That’s not to say that the film is overly self-serious, there’s a lot of fun to be had with it. It retains some of the familiar Bond conventions, including some gadgets surprisingly. However it chooses the right conventions to retain, while remaining true to itself and not forcing in classic Bond aspects. In terms of issues, I do think the ending is the weakest aspect and resolves the plot and characters a bit too neatly for my liking, with more of a typical lighthearted Bond ending.

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Timothy Dalton is once again great as James Bond although this time we see a different side to him, and overall delivers a better performance than in The Living Daylights. Here he is driven by rage and revenge and while we still get to see his humorous side through some one-liners and interactions, he usually doesn’t have much time for the charm or wit, for the better. The Living Daylights occasionally had moments that felt out of place for Dalton to deliver as no doubt carryover from the Moore era, Licence to Kill thankfully strips all that away. Dalton’s Bond also has depth, layers, and felt like an actual person with weaknesses. Also he really benefits from having the plot driven by him. Carey Lowell is the main Bond Girl named Pam Bouvier, and she was a very likeable and prominent presence in the movie. She is established as an equal to Bond, even saving him in their first encounter. Also like in The Living Daylights, there’s legitimate romance explored as the film progresses, and the two are very believable together. Q as played by Desmond Llewyn has a more prominent role in the movie compared to some of the other Bond instalments, as he decides to assist Bond with his vendetta by providing some gadgets. It adds depth to Q and Bond’s unique friendship, and I liked their interactions together. Another way that Licence to Kill is distinct as a Bond movie is the villain. The villain this time is Franz Sanchez, a drug lord played by Robert Davi, and seems to be one of the most grounded and realistic Bond villains. Sanchez doesn’t have any world ending plans, he’s just wanting to become more powerful as a drug lord and isn’t pushing any global plan by the time Bond comes hunting for him. He’s simple yet incredibly effective. First of all he feels like a real threat and is very intimidating in both character and performance. He’s also surprisingly human and isn’t cartoonishly evil, for example it is established that loyalty is very important to him. This goes to make Sanchez an interesting and unique Bond villain, and it’s helped by a strong performance from Davi. Another performance worth highlighting is that of Benicio del Toro in an early role as a henchman, who is very memorable in his screentime.

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Director John Glen does a very good job at directing this film. First of all, I really liked the deliberate grounding of the movie. The action is strong, well shot, and has some impressive stunts. As I said earlier, the film is more violent including people being eaten by sharks, people being lit on fire, and a man literally being exploded in a pressure chamber. All of this is fitting for the much darker tone of the movie. The third act is also very satisfying with its climax.

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Licence to Kill is a fresh movie in the Bond franchise, a stripped down and more personal film for the lead character with a darker tone and grounded take, while also being very entertaining to watch. The action is entertaining, the cast of characters are all memorable and solid, and I was invested throughout. Honestly it is my favourite Bond film outside of the Daniel Craig era. It’s a shame that Timothy Dalton didn’t get to do more Bond movies because both this and The Living Daylights rank among my favourite Bond films. If you like the Bond movies but haven’t watched Dalton’s movies, I highly recommend checking them out, an underappreciated set of movies in the franchise.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) Review

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Halloween 5 The Revenge of Michael Myers

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd
Ellie Cornell as Rachel Carruthers
Beau Starr as Sheriff Ben Meeker
Wendy Kaplan as Tina Williams
Tamara Glynn as Samantha Thomas
Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard

After lying in a coma for a year, Michael Myers (Donald L. Shanks) awakens and stalks his way back to his small hometown in Illinois, intent on killing his niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris), who has been confined to a mental institution since Michael’s last attempt to slay her. Suspecting a psychic link between Michael and Jamie, psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) joins forces with Sheriff Ben Meeker (Beau Starr) and attempts to stop Michael’s latest rampage.

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I was continuing the Halloween movie series, and I arrived onto the 5th movie, with the hard to take seriously title of The Revenge of Michael Myers. Halloween 4 wasn’t that good, but the ending was solid and had a possibility for the where the next movie could spring off from Unfortunately the follow up doesn’t take advantage of that, and on top of that, the movie on the whole ends up being bad by itself.

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The most interesting aspect of Halloween 4 was the ending. Halloween 5 doesn’t forget that ending, but they followed on from it in quite possibly the worst way possible. First of all, the film opens with a retcon of part of 4’s climax. The opening shows the moment in the previous movie where Michael Myers supposedly dies (again) in the graveyard, and shows him escaping by floating down a stream and being taken in by a hermit with a parrot, then there’s a time jump and then Myers gets up and decides to kill again. So that’s strange enough, but that’s not all. 5 flat out retcons the very end of the last moments of 4. As a reminder, 4 had the ending of Jaime finally snapping, and killing her stepmother in the same way that a young Michael Myers killed his sister. It was a good point to end the movie on, but they changed story direction here. It is worth noting that Donald Pleasence was also disappointed with this change in direction, wanting the character of Jaime to be portrayed as “all evil”. That would’ve been an interesting and fresh direction to take the story, even if the idea of Jamie being Michael’s sidekick seems strange, it would’ve been much better than whatever they chose to go for. In the revised events, the stepmother didn’t die, and Jaime just attacked her, she didn’t try to kill her. Jaime is also now in a children’s hospital, not a mental institute and is in a bad state. Loomis also no longer wants to kill Jamie like he tried to at the end of the 4th film, but is instead her doctor and is convinced that the ‘attack’ happened because Michael Myers made her do it through a psychic connection. Yes, it’s bizarre and the worst part is that he ends up being right and there’s not explanation for how he figured it out. Right out the gate with this opening section it doesn’t bold well for the movie. So all the potential is pretty much gone.

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Retconning aside, 5 ends up being a worse version of 4, and is beyond a generic slasher film. Apparently the filmmakers didn’t have a finished script when they began filming and it really shows here. The atmosphere and tension is practically non existent. 4 had its issues and wasn’t good in those areas but in 5, most of the time all the attempts at horror fall flat. There’s really only one moment that’s actually really good but that’s it. The pacing is off, and the characters range from being dull to being annoying. In fact, there’s a big chunk of it focused on some annoying characters. Imagine some of the characters in a slasher movie that fake scare each other, and then eventually gets killed. Then imagine that they have twice the amount of screentime that they would normally have. That’s what happens here, and it can be really frustrating to sit through. There’s even a couple of dumb cop characters thrown in for some bad comic relief, and there’s even a little comical theme music that plays for them when they are on screen. Something worth noting is that 5 introduces ideas about what is happening with Michael Myers, and try to give some sort of an explanation for him and why he’s killing. Now I’m not opposed to the series trying new things, it’s just that these new things that they are attempting don’t work out at all. The movie also introduces hints of what would happen in the next movie and try to add something to the Myer’s Mythos, with a mystery man dressed in black with a thorn symbol tattoo. This mystery man appears every so often throughout the movie with no explanation and even by the end of the movie he’s not given any explanation. What’s worse is that the writers genuinely didn’t know who this person was, they just added him as a potential thing to follow up on the sequel. When it gets to its cliffhanger ending, you realise what Halloween 5 really was, not a sequel but rather a 90 minute long trailer for Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers.

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Danielle Harris and Donald Pleasence were among the better parts of the 4th movie, they are still good here but even they have some problems here. Danielle Harris returns as Jamie Lloyd, and in a large portion of the movie she’s basically been reduced to a mute that go into convulsions every so often when that psychic connection plays up again. Credit to Harris, she’s putting everything into her performance here, and she does especially well at seeming scared, especially in the third act. Donald Pleasence returns as Dr Loomis and he’s good as always, however the writing of his character is a bit weird to say the least. I get that by this point he would’ve lost his mind a bit, but some of his actions (especially in the third act) are out of character. Loomis is comically crazy like a raving madman for much of the movie, and I’m surprised that he didn’t end up as some surprise villain by the end of the movie. There’s nothing really to say about the rest of the cast and characters except that they are either forgettable or obnoxious.

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The direction by Dominique Othenin-Girard is not very good. In fairness some of the shots and the blocking is good, but most of the direction with regard to horror and scares falls flat. The kill scenes are just fine, but there’s nothing really memorable and as previously said the tension and atmosphere is practically non-existent. In all fairness to the movie, there actually is one sequence with Jamie in the third act which does actually work quite well, involving a laundry chute. That part stands out to me and was definitely a highlight. The Michael Myers mask in the 5th movie somehow looks worse than the one in Halloween 4. Instead of looking cheap it looks quite dumb, it is barely ever tucked in, and it looks constantly stretched so it barely fits the actor’s head. The movie already has problems with being tense or scary but Michael Myers looking quite silly with that mask doesn’t help matters. The score is just there, it just uses the typical iconic theme from the series at points but it doesn’t actually build any suspense. In fact there are some sequences where the score playing is bad and takes away from those scenes.

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Halloween 5: The Return of Michael Myers is likely one of the worst movies of the Halloween series. Despite some good performances from Harris and Pleasence as well as one good scene, it’s just not good. On top of squandering the potential that was practically gift wrapped to them, its just generally a worse version of the 4th movie. Despite some of my issues with 4, this is where the series is first taking a big sink for me, and it’s showing that this current storyline that started with 4 is not going to get any better.

Black Rain (1989) Review

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Black Rain

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Michael Douglas as Nick Conklin
Andy García as Charlie Vincent
Ken Takakura as Masahiro Matsumoto
Kate Capshaw as Joyce
Yūsaku Matsuda as Koji Sato
Director: Ridley Scott

Nick (Michael Douglas) and his partner, Charlie (Andy Garcia), are New York City policemen who must track down Sato (Yusaku Matsuda), a Japanese gangster, who gives them the slip while being transported to Osaka for his murder trial.

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I came across Black Rain at some point, I initially heard that it was a decent crime thriller starring Michael Douglas. Then I found out that Ridley Scott directed it so that got me interested in checking it out. I was actually pleasantly surprised by Black Rain, it is actually one of Ridley Scott’s more underrated movies, and it’s one worth checking out.

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The plot of Black Rain is nothing too special despite some interesting turns here and there. Basically the main two characters must escort the dangerous Yakuza gangster to Osaka, Japan, they are dragged into the Japanese underworld where things are done much differently. Don’t go in expecting a whole lot other than that really. The dialogue is occasionally cliched for this genre, and the plot occasionally relies too much on the expected tropes of the genre. This is as 80s cheese as it could be, it can get silly and over the top at times. However Scott’s take on the “tough cop” action movies that were more than prominent throughout the 80s was a step above other cop thrillers in that period. It is probably worth knowing going in that Black Rain more of a straight thriller than a pure action flick, so don’t expect a massive amount of action. It is also paced on the slower side, and the movie is a tad too long. However it is a well structured movie with a great atmosphere, and that atmosphere goes a long way towards getting you invested.

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There are some strong performances throughout. First of all there is Michael Douglas as the lead character of Nick Conklin, and this is the closest that Michael Douglas has been to leading an action movie. He plays a NYPD officer who plays by his own rules and the character is in many ways unlikeable and corrupt. However it works because the movie doesn’t try to make him more likable, Douglas adds a level of charm to the character (while not overdoing it), and he brings an intensity to the role. Andy Garcia is also good as his partner Charlie, offsetting Nick’s chaotic nature by being comparatively soft spoken and the voice of reason, and the two of them are quite believable as partners. Ken Takakura is also great as a sympathetic Japanese policeman who joins with the two to track down the Yakuza gangster. He has a great screen presence, and he shines from the moment he first appears till the end of the movie. The relationship between Douglas and Takakura is the heart of the movie and it was quite interesting see these two very different characters try to work towards the same goal. Yusaku Matsuda plays a yakuza boss, the scene chewing villain of the movie, and he is also great in every scene he is in.

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Ridley Scott directs this, and his work here as a director is one of the main reasons why this movie works as well as it does. Strangely enough, it is so stylised that you might actually mistake this as a film from Tony Scott instead of one from Ridley. There’s an art to the cheesy 80s action flick, and Ridley seems to know it quite well. It is visually stunning, the cinematography from Jan De Bont is amazing. It particularly shines when it takes place at night. Ridley shoots much of the movie in the same way he did Blade Runner with the heavy focus on streets with fog and neon lights, and contains some of the dark cityscapes and industrial looks that film has as well. Black Rain isn’t loaded with non stop action, again it is more of a crime thriller than an action thriller. The few action sequences aren’t absolutely bonkers, but they are well executed, and you feel the thrills and suspense. Its use of slow motion is corny at times, but this actually works in the movie’s favour. The sound design is great, and the electronic and orchestral score by Hans Zimmer is top notch, really adding to the movie.

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Black Rain is not one of Ridley Scott’s best movies, but it is one of his most underrated. The plot isn’t anything special, but it is elevated by the strong cast who give good performances here, and of course Scott’s stylish direction. So if you like 80s crime thrillers, you’ll definitely be on board with this movie.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) Review

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Kiki's Delivery Service

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating:  
Cast:
Minami Takayama as Kiki
Rei Sakuma as Jiji
Kappei Yamaguchi as Tombo
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

In this anime feature, 13-year-old Kiki moves to a seaside town with her talking cat, Jiji, to spend a year alone, in accordance with her village’s tradition for witches in training. After learning to control her broomstick, Kiki sets up a flying courier service and soon becomes a fixture in the community. But when the insecure young witch begins questioning herself and loses her magic abilities, she must overcome her self-doubt to get her powers back.

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Kiki’s Delivery Service was the second movie from Studio Ghibli that I watched, this was after watching Spirited Away, which I loved. I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie, I just knew that it was about a young witch on her own and she has a black cat, I had also heard that’s recommended as one of the first movies to check out from Ghibli. I unexpectedly ended up loving it quite a lot, more than I thought I would.

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Something to note early is that everything about Kiki’s Delivery Service is just incredibly nice all around. Almost all of its characters are nice people, the narrative is comprised almost entirely of those nice people doing nice things, and the overall tone of the film is incredibly friendly and nice in the best way possible. This film is extremely relaxing to watch, it’s charming throughout and I loved every minute of it. It’s fairly plotless, and while I’m not always on board with plotless movies, I got invested in this one. It definitely concentrates more on characters over plot, and the characters are incredibly easy to like and are entertaining. It’s such a good natured and wholesome film as we just follow Kiki and Jiji the cat on a series of adventures. The stakes are incredibly low in this movie, there’s little to no conflict, yet somehow keeps your attention the entire runtime. There is no contrived villain or antagonist, or some forced plot-driven third act, it’s all just small-scale and intimate. When an external conflict does arrive later in the film (with actual life or death stakes), it doesn’t feel contrived and doesn’t overshadow the main internal conflict, instead working naturally with the rest of the story. Another strength of the movie is that Kiki is a fully rounded and believable character. The mixture of enthusiasm, boredom, excitement, and self-pity makes her unapologetically human. Additionally, it’s easy to relate to her. Many of us transitioning into adulthood and all the fears that come with it, handling independence, finding a job, trying to make friends, etc. Kiki has with similar experiences as other people growing up as she’s discovering her place in the world, it just so happens that she’s a witch as well. It’s a perfect coming of age story that everyone can relate to. It should be noted that most coming of age stories just don’t work that well for me, but this has to be one of my favourite coming of age movies. As a story about how hard it is to make your own way in the world, this movie is truthful and sincere. It manages to do all this while remaining consistently funny, optimistic and exciting.

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Kiki’s Delivery Service is excellently directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It wasn’t quite as creative as say Spirited Away, but is still visually and narratively beautiful, with a stunning colour palette. The environments are fairly familiar and not fantastical, but the movie really captures every location wonderfully.

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Kiki’s Delivery Service was such a wholesome experience, a delightful and optimistic yet sincere coming of age tale that I was invested in from beginning to end. I love this movie, and I can see this upon rewatches becoming firmly one of my favourite movies. Definitely watch it if you haven’t already, if you haven’t watched an anime film before, this is a great place to start.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Review

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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence127
Cast:
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
Denholm Elliott as Marcus Brody
Alison Doody as Elsa Schneider
John Rhys-Davies as Sallah
Julian Glover as Walter Donovan
Sean Connery as Henry Jones, Sr.
Director: Steven Spielberg

In 1938, after his father Professor Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery), goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. (Harrison Ford) finds himself up against Adolf Hitler’s Nazis again to stop them from obtaining its powers.

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The main Indiana Jones trilogy is one of the most iconic cinematic trilogies of all time. After Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones goes back to familiar territory with the third instalment with The Last Crusade, but this leads to possibly the best movie in the entire series (at least close to it). Everything from the writing, direction and the performances are great, it is really entertaining and among my favourite movies.

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The movie starts off on a high note with its introduction featuring a young Indiana Jones played by River Phoenix, and it only gets better from there. It keeps you constantly entertained from beginning to end with a great adventure that never has a dull moment. With that said it, it really picks up in such a massive way from the moment that Indiana Jones meets with his father, then it’s pretty much perfect all the way right to the very end. It is also the funniest of the movies by far, with some effective comedy that hits every time, and never gets annoying like how it got to at many points in Temple of Doom. Even the slapstick really ends up being quite funny. The biggest source of comedy in this movie as I’ll get into later is the interactions between Jones and his father. One thing with Raiders of the Lost Ark is that the third act while not bad wasn’t quite as strong as the rest of the movie. The climax of The Last Crusade on the other hand is creative and exciting, and by far the best of the series.

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Harrison Ford is effortlessly great in his role of Indiana Jones, as to be expected. He sells every part of the character well, including the action and the comedy. Sean Connery was great as Jones’s father in one of his best performances (possible his best). It’s an unexpected casting considering Connery’s past roles with the likes of James Bond, but he works perfectly in here and was a perfect contrast to Ford. The dynamic and chemistry between these two just works excellently, which is good because they are a big focus of the movie from the first act onwards. The rest of the cast are good, including returning actors from the first movie with Denholm Elliott and John Rhys-Davies, and the main villain played by Julian Glover. It’s also worth noting that River Phoenix plays younger Indiana Jones for less than 10 minutes, but yet he played that part pretty much perfectly in his screentime.

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Steven Spielberg’s direction was great, it’s got a very good look throughout at the various locations. There are some great set pieces from start to finish, in great locations. From a boat chase through Venice, to a tank battle with Nazis, all of these set pieces are fantastic, and are even just slightly a step above the action from Raiders of the Lost Ark (and that’s saying a lot). The score by John Williams was great as to be expected, it’s more upbeat and triumphant compared to the other scores in the series, and it’s very memorable.

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My favourite Indiana Jones movie jumps between this and Raiders of the Lost Ark, for now I’ll put them on the same level. The direction is great, it is witty and entertaining from beginning to end, Harrison Ford and Sean Connery are excellent, and overall it very well balanced. This and Raiders of the Lost Ark are firmly among my favourite movies, and are definitely worth watching (as is the whole series).

Batman (1989) Review

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Batman

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier/The Joker
Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale
Robert Wuhl as Alexander Knox
Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon
Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent
Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth
Jack Palance as Carl Grissom
Director: Tim BurtonIn Gotham City, a dark knight known as Batman (Michael Keaton) helps to defeat evil and keep the city’s citizens safe. When Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) is transformed into the evil Joker, he promises to take over Gotham City. It is up to Batman to stop him in his tracks before it is too late.

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With Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy being one of the most well-known comic book adaptations of Batman, it’s easy to forget where it started (not including Adam West). Tim Burton’s Batman had an immense impact on many things, culture, superhero movies and movies in general. It still does hold up to this day and even though I like Christopher Nolan’s trilogy more, Batman is still a great film that is worth watching by everyone.

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First, what should be mentioned is the differences between Burton’s and Nolan’s take on the Caped Crusader. This film starts out with Batman already existing in Gotham City, we don’t see an origin story of how Bruce Wayne became him. We do eventually learn about his past later on but we don’t learn about it in the order of a usual origins story. It actually shows how The Joker became how he is, whereas the roles are reversed in the Dark Knight Trilogy (Batman is really Joker Begins as opposed to Batman Begins). I like how they showed Batman’s origins in Batman Begins more, but this version works quite well. One other great thing is the tone used, it was a darker sort of movie than most superhero movies at that time (like Superman) and it was really a changer for superhero movies. Batman also has the right around of dark comedy infused (mostly with The Joker), which is something that Tim Burton is mostly good at.

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Michael Keaton was really good as Batman, he is able to play both Bruce Wayne and Batman, which is also something every actor needs to do with every superhero character; they need to be able to play both the person with and without the mask. We don’t see as much of Wayne’s past and he manages to act mysteriously with subtlety. Jack Nicholson was fantastic in the role of The Joker. He is really funny, gleefully evil and he absolutely steals every scene he’s in. It’s like they took The Joker directly out of the comics. Now in comparison to Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight, Nicholson’s performance isn’t as realistic or scary, but it doesn’t take away from his enjoyable and entertaining performance. Other actors like Kim Basinger and Michael Gough are also great in their roles.

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The look of the film is dark; particularly the set designs such as the city and they suit the movie, Tim Burton can always be trusted to at least get the look right and he does so with flying colours. The action was also pretty good, they aren’t really comparable to modern movies, but back in the days you didn’t really get action scenes like these. The soundtrack by Danny Elfman also suits the tone; it’s dark and brooding and very suitable for the movie.

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Apart from the first two Superman movies, no other superhero movies in the 70s and 80s really succeeded in being really great films. Even though I prefer Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy in terms of Batman adaptions and comic book movies in general, Batman is still a big part of the history of superhero movies and should be given credit. It is visually great with an interesting story and great acting from everyone. Batman is in my opinion Tim Burton’s best movie and it’s played a significant part in film history.