I’ve decided to go back and watch a bunch of movies based on comic books. No real reason, just something I thought would be fun. This time it was the 1989 movie Batman.
IMDb Rating: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes critics: 72%
Rotten Tomatoes audience: 84%
My Rating: 7/10
One of the first things I thought after finishing the movie was that it’s a great Tim Burton film. I like Tim Burton so I like this movie. If I wasn’t a fan of Burton’s style, I probably wouldn’t like it as much. The tone of the movie is dark, but comedic. The sets are overly dramatic. The music is by Danny Elfman (again, great if you like him, meh if you don’t). The dialogue is okay, but has some pretty cheesy lines. It basically checks all the boxes you’d expect to find from a Tim Burton movie.
Like the original Superman, this movie is often considered better than it is because of the nostalgia associated with it. It’s a really solid movie, but it’s not great. It’s heavily based in the comics, with minimal alterations for the big screen. This is both good and bad. It’s nice to be faithful to the source material, but movies are also a very different medium and that needs to be taken into account. There are some fantastic elements to the movie. Jack Nicholson is fantastic as the Joker, almost perfectly capturing the dark, psychotic Joker of the 70s and 80s. He’s easily the best part of the movie. The rest of the cast is solid, but not spectacular. Michael Keaton is decent as Batman, but is more believable in his role as Bruce Wayne. Pretty much everyone else is just there. They don’t detract from the movie, but do nothing to really stand out either. I loved the music, and the effects haven’t aged as much as I would have expected (though the costumes and hairstyles make it very clear that it was made in the 80s).
I’m not sure I liked how Bruce Wayne and Batman were portrayed in the movie. There’s a scene near the end where Batman outright murders a group of thugs by dropping a bomb in the room, blowing them up. It’s not in self defense either as he’s seen doing it by remote. Batman just outright kills about 10 people. He’s always been one of the darker superheroes, but even Batman shouldn’t commit murder. I also noticed that Bruce Wayne is a real jerk in the first half of the movie. He lies to Vicki Vale at their first meeting, then on their first date he sleeps with her then lies again before making it very clear that he has no interest in continuing a relationship. He does not come across as a good person. The fact they she continues to pursue him makes very little sense to me.
Even with all these problems, the movie is really good. It’s not one that I could watch over and over, but seeing it every few years is nice.