Batman [1989]: The real comic book experience

Cast: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger

Directed by: Tim Burton

Also featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

If you watch 1989’s Batman right after watching Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, you will end up comparing the two franchises and won’t be able to relish this great Batman film Tim Burton made.

Batman was made 25 years ago and still it’s one of Burton’s best works, perhaps the late 1980s and the early 1990s was the time when Tim Burton made his greatest films. Beetlejuice, Batman, Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands and what not; we can easily say that Tim Burton’s best is now behind him.
Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson 
Before watching a Batman film, a true Batman fan must have imagined a Gotham City pretty similar to what we see in this film. The Gotham here was dark, mysterious and unsafe, a place which deserves a vigilante, with the right mix of colors to not make it look too realistic and thus retaining the Comic book impression. This is one of those details where I find Burton’s Batman better than Nolan’s Batman.

Although I believe Christian Bale was the better Batman actor of the two, I have no hesitation saying that I found Michael Keaton much more convincing as Bruce Wayne. He was unbelievably charming and complacent as Bruce and even as the Batman he looked terrifying in that Batsuit.

Jack Nicholson’s brilliant portrayal of The Joker is always overshadowed by the iconic Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker. This is an uneven comparison and is unfair for both of them, the films were different in tone and so is the interpretation of that character, which suited their respective films. The Joker played by Nicholson was actually Jack Napier who was a mafia rank and worked in a gang. It was only after his boss planned his execution; he survived and became the Joker after his face is damaged in a chemical factory. On the other hand, the Joker played by Heath Ledger was more dark and mysterious with a mentality to extract evil from the best of people. He was a loner, a psychopath and had more issues than just money. Ledger will always be my pick, but Jack Nicholson was great in his own way.

The Dark Knight Trilogy films were way better but Burton’s Batman was a better Batman film, especially for a Batman fanatic, this is gold. The over the top acting by Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Christian Bale, the technically sound fight sequences and that remarkable background score by Hans Zimmer makes the dark knight trilogy an outstanding action film franchise and also enlist it with some of the greatest films ever made but for a batman film, this one is closer to my heart because of the non-realistic and conventional approach with which it was made.

The conventional Batman and Gotham City I am talking about was pretty much visible in Batman Begins. The other two films were better movies but lesser batman like. I am not here to criticize Nolan’s Batman films but only because Christopher Nolan made such amazing Batman films, it is important to talk about it when you are talking about Batman. Any review of any Batman film is compared with the kind of benchmark Nolan created with The Dark Knight Trilogy, so even being a critic here, I am admiring his films in the first place.

Burton’s Batman has many flaws all through but still very delightful and the gadgets were funny yet intriguing. Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent were not significant at all in this film but nobody cared about them till we came across Gary Oldman’s Gordon and Aaron Eckhart’s Dent in the Nolan’s Batman films; full marks to Nolan there for emphasizing those important characters.

Nolan’s batman was definitely a better film according to me and a majority of people but it can’t be denied that Burton achieved the feat to make the comic book world look real whereas Nolan’s Dark Knight was more realistic and totally out of the comic book world. Burton’s character weren't deep and it was something Nolan perfected in his films.

This is not a typical review where you talk about a film for its own substance; I have reviewed it while keeping Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy in the background. Only because Batman is a subject where one cannot talk about a film without comparing it with the Nolan’s films.

Movie Geek’s Rating★★★★

[This post is a part of the A to Z Challenge in April 2014. Let's celebrate blogging.]