Batman (1989)

You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts!

By far my favorite of the pre-Nolan Batman movies and one of my all-time favorite Burton classics, Michael Keaton’s turn donning the cowl in Batman has to be one of the most fun times I’ve ever had watching a superhero movie.

Now the Nolan trilogy is amazing. It’s truly a feat of cinema. But this 1989 masterpiece is truly fun. Even with keeping with the dark tone that is essential to the Batman mythos, Burton is in true Burton fashion, adding just enough over the top touches that allowed this film to feel truly epic. Even if it fudged with the timeline a bit, but that would only bother nerds like myself, it is a great rendition of the Joker/Batman story. And let me tell you Nicholson’s Joker is one of my favorite renditions of the character because he embraces the zany fun that is central to the character. Nicholson looks like he is having the time of his life, while maintaining the sinister edge of the character. The museum scene alone is just really fun. He’s just destroying things because he can and he’s having the time of his life.

Keaton as Batman is one of the most surprising castings but he does a fantastic job. Especially in this era of Batman where the casting went haywire after Keaton, cycling through Kilmer and Clooney before the era ended. He is such a good Bruce Wayne because he looks and acts like a normal guy. Christian Bale was so ripped and handsome that it wouldn’t surprise anyone that he was Batman. Of course he was Batman. But Keaton is just a regular looking guy so it would make sense why his two identities are so polarized. Even Vicki Vale asks him “Do you know which guy is Bruce Wayne” and when he says no she just leaves. It was brilliant casting, never mind the fact that Keaton’s natural charisma is just always fun to watch, and he adds a level of humor often missing from Batman films.

This is just such a good Batman movie; with its dark yet grandiose sets of Gotham City to the makeup designs behind the Joker; the detail is exceptional (Joker without his makeup…. not so much). And of course we can’t forget the beautiful partnership between Danny Elfman and Tim Burton. The music composition is fantastic as always. To be totally honest the only part I wasn’t thrilled about had to be Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale, she always felt kind of flat to me. Plus god her scream is just piercing. But that’s really it. Everything else is phenomenal. In this point in time a lot of the superhero movies are losing the fun factor they were built upon, opting for more cinematic drama and grandiose effects. If you want to return to a time when they were still dark, but also supremely fun, this is the perfect film for you. Hop on board to Batman before they lost Burton and subsequently totally lost their minds in Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. Just sit back and enjoy the lovely time when Batman was Keaton and Batman was cool.

Amy’s Recommendation: 9/10

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