Saturday, November 1, 2014

Batman (1989) Review

How can you not trust a guy with a face like that?

Batman feels a bit like a missed opportunity. The movie has become immensely popular and marked the debut of the titular hero(and everyone's favourite villain) on the big screen.
But in my humble opinion, the movie is overrated.

I'm not being biased here. I really wanted to like this movie, I LOVE me some crazy Jack Nicholson and Batman himself is kinda cool. But mostly, all the movie did was just confirm all three rather than amaze me. 

Let's first talk about what they got right then. Michael Keaton is great. He comes across as a man with the weight of the world on him, although he's excellent at hiding it. Batman isn't a whole other persona to him, it's just a job he does. It also parallels the Joker, who in this film is basically Jack Napier with make-up and a nutty persona.

When Nicholson really hits it, it. Is. Amazing. My favourite scenes with him as the Joker were when he went in that museum, dancing to pop music and nonchalantly destroying everything and the film's climax in the Gotham city cathedral, where I feel he finally nailed that master of chaos character that the Joker is.
Even though his henchman, Bob barely says a word, I thought he was genius. He reminded me of Baldrick from Blackadder. Hilarious that he doesn't care his boss has gone from gangster to crazy supervillain.

Lt. Eckhaldt was also a favourite, just because he didn't give a crap about anything. 

The design of Gotham city was fantastic, a sort of dark metropolitan nest city of madness. The Batmobile was fast and slick and badass. The Batsuit itself was tougher than diamond.
It was Tim Burton's direction that made this movie a visual experience.

Now to the bad stuff...
The film's writing is bollocks. It's littered with scenes that go nowhere and lines that don't make sense. Characters frequently make big and ultimately, right conclusions on very little information. Heck, I can't even remember the plot besides "Evil Joker on the loose!"
The character of the Joker is kept inconsistent throughout the film. Is he a master of chaos or just a nutty(er) gangster? Why does he lie to his co-gangsters about Carl when he can force them to work for him anyway? What's with his super-deep voice in the flashbacks, couldn't they get Nicholson to dub it? 
Sometimes he's pretty much just Jack Napier with make-up and a goofy exterior as I mentioned above, other times he's the Joker of ages. While this might technically be in-character, it feels like he keeps going back and forth on just how sane he is instead of being mysterious and creepy and all that good stuff.

The film feels rushed for over half of it's running time, with the Joker's transformation being done very unbelievably. He just gets dipped, comes out nuts and ready and then starts going back and forth before finally settling down towards the end. But the climax with him and Batman on the roof of the cathedral is pure genius, the way he dances with Vicky, pops his gun and makes puns right before he died.

I loved the shot of his dead body, with the laughing doll or something in his pocket. It perfectly embodied the Joker for me: he's not really a person, he's just pure nonsense in a good way.

Overall, the film was dark and stylistic and had a great concept, however it suffered from awful dialogue and writing and was rather disjointed.

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