Batman

Oh, look. It’s another movie review! You are allowed to sing with happiness. If you’d like, given the subject of this post, you can hum the theme from the [recent] Batman trilogy. Actually, don’t. Seeing as that theme only comprises of two notes, it would get rather monotonous. So just ignore that suggestion.

Anyways, this time on Andrea’s Movie Reviews, we (well, I) will be reviewing Batman–the 1989 version. I’ll get around to reviewing some or all of the Nolan Batmans once I watch them again, for clarity’s sake. However, during this review, I will be drawing parallels between the older movie and the new trilogy. If you don’t like comparisons, this review probably isn’t for you.

Also, I’m only going to review the first movie in the older series, so aptly entitled just Batman. I haven’t watched any of the other installments, and probably won’t for a very long time, or ever.

Another thing I would like to make clear: I will not always be reviewing new releases, or movies that are still in theatres, just because I don’t constantly watch movies at the theatre (though I do so an awful lot…). I hope to review almost every movie I watch, be it at the theatre or at home.

Now that we have the all cleared up, onto the review…

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The storyline of Batman is very similar to the storyline of The Dark Knight–although both of them vary in some major characters, such as Batman’s love interest, the two are pretty much the same story of the conflict between Batman and the Joker. To make a long summary short, the character of Jack Napier–a member of a crime organization–is sent on a mission and fights with Batman. During the fight, Napier shoots at Batman, who deflects the bullet on his super-strength ninja armor, sending it back at Napier, where it rips his face open. Despite Batman’s attempts to save him, Napier falls backwards into a vat of chemicals. He survives, of course (this isn’t a spoiler). But his injuries deform his face, and upon seeing his reflection in a mirror, Napier is driven to insanity and transforms himself into the Joker–one of the most iconic villains in Batman’s history, and just a creep in general. Because he’s so insane, obviously he wants to blow things up and destroy the world, beginning with Gotham City (where the entire film takes place). So, Batman needs to stop him. Why? Because he’s Batman.

Let’s begin with the actors.

Michael Keaton plays Batman (also known as Bruce Wayne, the multi-bajillion-millionaire who lives all by his lonesome except for his good and faithful servant, Alfred). He didn’t do a terrible job at it. But I just wasn’t impressed. Truth be told, I didn’t love Christian Bale when he played Batman in the Dark Knight trilogy. But I did like Bale’s acting style better. He brought more…emotion to the character. And yes, the script of the 1989 film wasn’t the greatest–you have to work with what you have, and they didn’t have much. But still, Keaton just didn’t impress me at all. He didn’t stand out as a superb actor, or even a great actor. Which isn’t good, because when you’re playing an iconic superhero role model what-have-you, you have to be at least memorable. What good is a superhero if nobody remembers he’s there? There’s no point.

Jack Nicholson plays Jack Napier/The Joker. I was very apprehensive when I began watching this movie, because I knew the Joker would be the central villain. Having already seen The Dark Knight, I didn’t think anybody could even come close to being as brilliant as Heath Ledger in the role of the Joker. And guess what? I was right. Now, this is not to say that Nicholson did a bad job. In fact, I think he did a perfectly splendid, great job. He certainly has the maniacal thing down. But that’s where it goes wrong: Nicholson’s Joker, while infused with so much insanity, so much hysteria, failed to make me really fear him. Sure, he was pretty frightening–but only in the kind of way children are scared by circus clowns. I didn’t really get a “maniacally lethal” vibe from Nicholson. I only got a “maniacal” vibe. And it’s true that the Joker (as a general character) is completely off his rocker–he’s a psychopath, no doubt about it. But he’s an intelligent psychopath. And he’s a terrifyingly dangerous psychopath. And I didn’t really feel that, watching the movie.

Kim Basinger played Vicki Vale–Batman’s romantic interest. There is no Rachel Dawes here. And that’s okay, because the character of Vicki Vale is pretty great, too. While not a district attorney, Vicki is a reporter, which gives her a solid reason to be interested in what Batman’s doing. And Vicki is a strong character (although she certainly screams a lot when in danger), and uses her brain instead of fainting in times of distress. Basinger did a fine job with the role, in my opinion.

Before we move onto other topics, I’ll just make a quick note about Alfred, because, really, a Batman without Alfred is a Batman with no point. Michael Gough played Alfred in this version of Batman, and I think he’s equal acting-wise with Michael Caine, who played Alfred in the Nolan trilogy. They both add a sense of humor to the role, and they both make the character lovable.

Well, now that the actors have been addressed, we have to move onto the serious issue that has caused my rating of Batman to decrease:

The logo.

I mean, it’s just so…meh. Compared to the new logo, it’s…well…crappy.

Just look at it:

Black and yellow? Who even does that?

Black and yellow? Who even does that? It kind of looks like some toddler toy logo–not the symbol of a great and powerful superhero.

And then look at the new one…

Batman logo_new

So sleek! And also, weapons can be made (and were made) from it because of the pointiness of the wings. Quite an improvement.

Anyways. You can just tell that there’s mastery at work in the new logo, while in the old one…not so much. What kind of bat has rounded wings like that? It looks like some kind of cheesy bumper sticker.

Batman was directed by Tim Burton–yes, really. I didn’t believe it, but it’s true. So that’s pretty cool. Burton has improved over the years, but Batman wasn’t bad at all. (Although perhaps it’s a good thing Burton directed this in his earlier years, because can you imagine if Batman was portrayed like Willy Wonka in Charlie in the Chocolate Factory? Goodness gracious.)

I was also surprised and very pleased [Translation: I screamed.] when I saw in the credits that Danny Elfman composed the music. Having seen and loved the original Spiderman trilogy, which Danny Elfman composed the music for as well (those famous arpeggios! Heavenly…). This score, while not as genius as the Spiderman score, was quite excellent. Very action-y. :)

Having seen the epically cool Bat-cave and Batman’s armorer-thingy (with the cool white ceiling and all of his screens) in the Nolan trilogy, I was…pretty disappointed with the two in this version. Well, actually, there’s only the Bat-cave, which holds his armor and all of his screens as well. There are not as many screens in this Bat-cave. Which makes it appear less…daunting. Cool. Whatever. But for an older-ish film, it did a pretty cool job.

Also, one aspect that didn’t change from the older Batman trilogy to the Nolan trilogy was Batman’s Batman voice. You all know it. The low, slightly raspy voice in which he proclaims his signature catchphrase: “I’m Batman.” And I found that voice just as hilarious as in the Nolan Trilogy.

Well, that commences this review. In (almost) conclusion, my overall rating of Batman is: 3/5

In (actual) conclusion, I shall again leave you with a quote from the movie which is more or less iconic, and which I shall certainly be spouting off over the next week or so,:

“I’m Batman.”

Talk to me.

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