Batman (1989) Or Holy Awesome... Batman

I wanted to find a horrible poster.. .and Hooo boy!
I wanted to find a horrible poster.. .and Hooo boy!

 

Genre: Action Crime Thriller

Starring: Michael Keaton (Beetle JuiceMr. Mom), Jack Nicholson (Mars Attacks!The Shining)

Directed By: Tim Burton (Big FishEdward Scissorhands)

Overview: Millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne is The Batman by night, a superheroic dark knight that doles out justice in the streets of Gotham City. The archvillanous Joker, however, has more than a couple aces up his sleeve with his plan to bring Gotham to its knees.

Not much need be said about Tim Burton's attempt at making the first live action Batman film… not counting that 1966 Adam West thing. Every attempt at making a sequel was so much worse to the next power that by the fourth film, Batman and Robin (1997), Joel Schumacher (The Number 23  • Phone Booth) apologized to fans who had wanted something truer to the dark mood of the original film and comic series. Warner Bros. also canned the next sequel, Batman Triumphant, because of how poorly in did in theaters. It took Christopher Nolan, auteur extraordinaire of Memento, to pick up the crappy pieces, go back to the drawing board and once again do The Dark Knight justice. But we're here to talk about THE Batman, the Burton Batman, the one that I saw in theaters on opening night, and was included in the stats that made Batman '89 the biggest opening night box office hit ever.

Still, it came as a pleasant surprise that 20 years later, and on Blu-Ray no less, a solid and strong work in Burton's fare. With epic images of a dark city worthy of Metropolis backdrops, and characters that are still larger than life, with a performance by Jack Nicholson so impressive that it could easily compete with his role of Jack Torrance in The Shining. In short, as you already know, Batman delivers darkness deliciously.

But I know you're here for a rant, so allow me. <AHEM>

Highlander, The Graduate, Batman. What do these films have in common? A soundtrack credited entirely to one person or group. Highlander's soundtrack was credited entirely to Queen. The Graduate has all songs from Simon And Garfunkle, and Batman, unfortunately, was all Prince.

Ouch.

The only gripe I have with Tim Burton's Batman film is how completely pervasive I found Prince and his soundtrack. If you have even a faint recollection of Prince's huge #1 billboard hit song "Batdance", including a video full of fruity choreography, then you will most likely have a similar experience to mine, namely cringing whenever you hear any of the lines Prince sampled 20 years ago, namely because his song repeated them ad nauseum into the dirt.

The film shows occasional signs of being dated, but none so horrible as a scene where The Joker throws a cash grab party in the streets complete with floats and musical accompaniment. Personally I'd be torn. Do I want hundreds of dollars for a few minutes of work, but suffer the indignity of being caught in the vicinity of that cacophonous din? It would serve as a moral quandary for eternity.

 And who wouldn't want this in their driveway?
And who wouldn't want this in their driveway?

Performance: 9 Cinematography: 9 Script: 8 Plot: 8 Mood:8

Overall Rating: 84% (Well, What You Think Of Bat?)
Aftertaste:

What I don't understand is how a goth like Tim Burton would go with a weirdo Pop poofter like Prince… Oh, I just figured it out.  If they make friends, they both double their frilly lace wardrobe.

Oh and really, checkout that Batdance link to the actual video, it's so much worse than you remember.

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Prince's music is in this film because Jack Nicholson wanted his music in this film. Burton had to prove to the studios that he could do a blockbuster, so he had to allow it.


Thanks for the backgrounder Chris, that explains a lot!

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