Batman

Batman ★★★

Batman (aka wealthy industrialist Bruce Wayne) must stop the psychotic Joker from taking control of Gotham City. At the same time he flirts Vicky Vale, an investigative journalist that is determined to discover the Caped Crusader's true identity.

It's been more that a quarter of a century since "Batman" premiered and it's easy to forget that this was one of the most overhyped films not named "The Phantom Menace". Unfortunately the final product didn't live up to that hype, which is perhaps the reason why superhero movies had to wait until 2000 and "X-Men" to hit their stride. Tim Burton's gothic vision of Gotham City and its citizens was tailor-made for Bob Kane's dark universe. But the half-baked script and some questionable casting choices, obviously made with commercial, not artistic criteria, eventually make this feature fall well short of its potential. Set design, cinematography and Danny Elfman's iconic music, all are impeccable. But as a whole, the experience feels incomplete.

There has been a lot of talk about Michael Keaton, but nobody can deny that he is probably the best actor to portray the Dark Knight. He is credible both as Batman and Bruce Wayne. OTOH, Jack Nicholson as Joker might have been considered a stroke of brilliance in 1989, but his performance hasn't aged well. His clownish scenery chewing might have been fun back then. But today, after having witnessed so many powerful villain portrayals in comic book adaptations (McKellen and Fassbender as Magneto, Heath Ledger's version of the Joker) he comes across as an impostor.
As for Basinger's Vicky Vale, let's just say that she is the most forgettable female character in all Batman chapters. Even Katie Holmes had a more memorable turn.

Despite its flaws, this is undoubtedly an above average flick and a successful attempt to show that there was such a thing as a comic book movie for adults. And thankfully for cineastes, Burton and his crew identified these childhood diseases and proceeded a few years later to make a sequel that became arguably one of the best films of the 90's: "Batman Returns".

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