Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.