Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA/United Kingdom, 1989. Warner Bros., The Guber-Peters Company, Polygram Filmed Entertainment. Story by Sam Hamm,Screenplay by Sam Hamm, Warren Skaaren, based on characters created by Bob Kane. Cinematography by Roger Pratt. Produced by Peter Guber, Jon Peters. Music by Danny Elfman. Production Design by Anton Furst. Costume Design by Bob Ringwood. Film Editing by Ray Lovejoy.
Movie screens saw the arrival of the first blockbuster in years when this film was released, and what resulted was a terrific combination of audience-pleasing action film and a dark and mysterious work of art. Tim Burton’s take on the winged superhero has a moody, depressed Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) take to the streets of Gotham City late at night as Batman in order to make up for the loss of his parents when he was a little boy. When a madman (Jack Nicholson) whose face has been disfigured in a toxic waste accident starts to cause trouble in the city and calls himself the Joker, Batman must put his pedal to the metal and stop him any way he can. Possible casualties include the city itself, its museum artwork and a very beautiful photojournalist named Vicky Vale (Kim Basinger, who has a terrific time screaming like a damsel in distress for two hours). The film is a healthy combination of character study and gadget orgy, and factoring in Anton Grot’s stunning production design you’ve got one of the most original and enjoyable films to be made in the now popular superhero genre. I still think that Burton’s sequel is the best of all the Batman movies, but this one is not that far behind. Nicholson’s salary on the profits of the film made about as many headlines as ticket sales did after this film was released.
Academy Award: Best Art Direction
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Actor-Musical/Comedy (Jack Nicholson)