Director: Tim Burton
Tim Burton does a good job with bringing the story to life. It sheds the hokey tongue-in-cheek type of portrayal we got from the television series by portraying a gritty, crime-ridden Gotham City and hints of a more disturbed history behind Batman. While it doesn't go into this too much, it's just enough to lift this movie from its adolescent comic book-oriented roots. But that is kind of the beauty of this film, that it definitely has that alternate universe kind of feel of the static images taken from the printed page and thrown up there and animated on the screen. Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson play their parts perfectly to make it a true "Super Hero" kind of film.
A city plagued with crime and a gothic mentality is facing the grim reality of being a true shithole as it approaches its 200th anniversary. Despite the good intentions of some of the major politicians, the crime bosses seem to truly run the city. But there is an interesting development, a vigilante has recently taken to the streets, seeming to randomly bust crooks in midst of their crimes. And the word on the street is he's like a giant bat and leaves no trace, to the consternation of both the police and the press. But this Batman ends up coming more to the forefront as shit goes down with the local crime bosses, with the power being grabbed by a new insidious villain who goes by the moniker "The Joker." Throw in a goofy reporter (Robert "Hollywood Knights" Wuhl) and a beautiful, "serious" photographer (Kim Basinger) who apparently isn't as ditzy as we think she is (but we know better), and you have some comedy relief and love interest. There ya go, all the pieces of a "great" Hollywood story.
This is the first and by far the best in the steadily declining fare known as the Batman franchise (to date). There have been a lot of rumors tied to the character as to how WB wants to revive the franchise, the most promising being Darren Aronofsky (π, Requiem For A Dream) taking on the super-gritty Frank Miller adaptation of how the character got his start in Year One, but alas, it seems to be a no-go, at least not at this present time. The follow-up may be a different take by Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia), but again, the rumor mills have about as much validity as the story a politician gives when caught in a whorehouse. There is potential here, but there's too many factors involved in the big studio system to guarantee anything at this point in time...
Great Scene: Jack Nicholson's Joker & Crew as they desecrate the works of the local art museum to the music of, well, Prince. Would've preferred something a little more hard-core, but it does the trick, I guess.
DVD Notes: Alright inexpensive DVD put out by Warner Bros. includes both Widescreen and Standard format and some brief Cast & Production notes. The graphic Scene breakdown is a bit lame, though, as it only breaks the film into 15 points of entry. Use your remote if you want to get more specific.