Batman (1989)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Dark and campy.

This film was selected from ‘The 250’

I was live-tweeting about Batman so much last night. While it may look like I was actually making fun of the movie, just know I don’t hate it. I actually have mad respect for it; I just decided to have a fun experience with it. Of course, this is the movie that really introduced the world to who Batman is supposed to be. You know, the dark, edgy, gloomy guy in the gloomy city? Sure, we saw Adam West with the Kapow! And Ker-Plops! But the world had no idea who Batman really was unless they read the comics – that’s what this movie did, and to be honest it did an okay job with it.

In the darkest corners of Gotham City, a rumor is being spread around about a Batman. Half man, half bat, who focuses his time on taking out criminals – so bad guys everywhere are really afraid. This is no rumor though, Batman is real, and when a psychotic mob-boss by the name of the Joker shows up, he has a dastardly plan against the people of Gotham…to make them laugh…to death.

I want to say why I have mad respect for this movie. First of all, it’s incredibly iconic, and it does an incredible job at introducing you to a great, great superhero. For 1989, it is pretty gloomy, but we’ve seen gloomier. The plot is very plain, but it is also a very solid man vs. man; hero vs. villain story. It’s got a good amount of vengeance in there, it’s got a subplot for Bruce Wayne…everything that I typically like about a superhero movie was in the movie – exactly where it should be. Jack Nicholson as the joker is very, very cartoony. He’s bouncing around the screen, he’s got goofy toys…whatever. At the same time, he does have an iconic look and laugh. He’s still a maniac, just in a different way.

It really is a very decent superhero flick, but my main issue is that I don’t think it translates all that well with a modern audience – which is very important for Batman. People didn’t know Batman very well in a live-action role in 1989. They know him better than ever now, and this in comparison is a little tame. It does need to be a little gloomier. The Joker, while Nicholson did an iconic job, feels campier than ever now, and the plot…

The plot, like I mentioned…is solid…but incredibly plain. I didn’t really feel the threat of The Joker. His main, maniacle plan, is to make people in a depressing town, die of laughter – and to give them all millions of dollars while they cheer for his existence. I get the fact that people are dying, but this is a gloomy town, at least they’ll be dying happy and rich. To break this down for you – they did an okay job making the town and Batman gloomy, but my God they needed to do the same with the Joker. Instead, he was the comedic relief. Why? Because he’s a clown? No! He’s a demented clown! He shouldn’t actually be funny! Sigh.

Before I forget to mention – one of the most interesting aspects to this movie is that this isn’t an origin story. For the world’s first real look at the Dark Knight, that was a really brave move. His past is mentioned in the movie, but way further down the line. Instead, we are introduced to Batman as the world is…as a rumor; a mystery – which was the right way to go. You actually don’t see Bruce Wayne until 20 minutes into the film. Yeah.

The Good:

This review has it’s ups and downs about the movie – but in the end – it is a very decent introduction to the Dark Knight. It has a solid hero vs. villain plot with a decent subplot for the secret identity. Jack Nicholson as the Joker is still a pretty iconic face as well as his maniacle laugh.

The Bad:

As iconic as the Joker was, they treated him as comedic relief instead of a demented psychopath that should be the scariest part of the movie. He is the bad guy – which in general means he is supposed to make an already gloomy city worse – not give them money, prance around on screen, and ultimately make them…kinda love him. If they just made him as gloomy as everything else, it could have been something that translates amazingly well.

Memorable Quote:

Batman: [to Joker] Hey. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? [punches him]

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