Quick-Thoughts: Tim Burton’s Batman (1989)

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Good Lord, did I watch the Tim Burton Batman countless times as a kid. Bias effect may be at play here, but I’ll try my best to keep this as impartial as possible.

The Tim Burton Batmans are rather overlooked critically in my opinion when compared to others of its genre. Yep, I said it. Due to Nolan’s godly acclaimed trilogy on the famed caped crusader that structured a deadly realistic foundation to the superhero’s chronicle, it’s almost seen like its a joke now to compare this or Returns to something such as Begins, The Dark Knight, or Rises. Be that as it may, this favoritism to treat grittiness over campiness may be justified in the case that 66% or 33% (IDK, I haven’t seen Nolan’s saga in awhile) of those movies are legitimately better than Burton’s adaptation simply as artistic pieces in general, I cease to understand why someone would find the 1989 Batman to be anything less than great as not only a revolution for the cinematic comic-book genre, but also, just an enjoyably creative piece on its own. 

Danny Elfman’s musical work in Batman is possibly more defining than any superhero score out there, at least for me. It’s a shame that superhero and supervillain set-pieces and props aren’t often as characteristic or memorable in most comic-book films out there as they are in Tim Burton’s reconstruction, which outdoes these factors. Also, I never noticed how solid Roger Pratt’s cinematography is in this. Sometimes it’s quite standard, but at the very least, it elucidates a lot more visual storytelling to the audience than what most modern-day comic-book movies seem to be communicating with their impeccably boring shot composition practices. 

Jack Nicholson’s Joker has been overshadowed by Heath Ledger’s Joker in recent years, but in many ways, Nicholson’s performance, compared to the wide range of villain-esque performances we have gotten ever since, is still one of the greatest in the genre. He’s a marathon of quotable lines and of sporadic mob-gangster tendencies. He’s furthermore though quite spooky in the Joker’s shoes, whether he be hiding in the dark like a ghost, electrocuting victims to death, or killing people on live TV with these anomalously unsettling imageries of victims smiling to their grave; these assets to me are when Tim Burton’s distinct attributes especially come in handy. Michael Keaton’s rendition of Bruce Wayne is actually quite comedic in this motion picture and adds a lot of charm to his character. Both Batman and Joker’s introductions in this movie are so damn iconic and striking, as well. As different as these characters may be to the OG comic-book personas, I can’t deny that I love what Burton has done to reshape them. 

As far as flaws go, some of the acting here from mostly the side performances are extremely amateur. There are a few continual plot eras that are featured in last-minute-styled execution or unnecessary story reveals. The order of events is occasionally sequenced pretty questionably in the film too as if some of it was planned on a wild card. And, the Bruce + Vicki romantic side story feels painfully underdeveloped as well as needless. Also, the finale of Batman is a bit dated; I know, the movie is meant to periodically be embracive with its campiness, but the ending hits a whole other level of cheese to a point where it echoes more as a rushed plot device than one that adds to the viewers’ enjoyment. 

Decades later, there are problems with Batman, but not nearly enough to call it worn. I’d probably say it’s in my top four, maybe even top three favorite Batman movies? Who knows, memory lane is a bit hazy as of now; maybe, I should revisit every one of DC’s cinematic adaptations of the legendary hero in order to determine something of that sort…

Verdict: B

“Batman” is now available to stream on HBO Max.

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