Batman (1989)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Superhero Film, Master Criminal Films  |   Release Date - Jun 23, 1989 (USA)  |   Run Time - 121 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Matthew Doberman

At once whimsical and somber -- and, above all, dark -- Batman remains one of the better adaptations of a comic book character to the screen, and certainly one of the most stylized. This is not your father's Batman, and, given its relentless grimness, it perhaps shouldn't be your kids' either, if they are very young. In a broad sense, the film, falling on the cusp of the 1990s, reflects a final departure from the innocence of previous filmgoing generations to the cynicism and angst of a new one. Cinematic superheroes had moved from the simplicity of Christopher Reeve's Superman to the brooding, tormented, shadow-enshrouded Dark Knight. Michael Keaton, better known for light comic fare at the time, is surprisingly effective as the mysterious Batman, while Jack Nicholson hams it up to perfection as the maniacal Joker. Rounding out the leads, Kim Basinger's slinky, film noir heroine fits the spirit of the film well, even if she and Keaton don't develop much chemistry. More than just a solid achievement of Tim Burton's direction, this is one film in which the contributions of the set designer and the composer go a long way toward rounding out the full experience. Anton Furst won a set design Oscar for his vision of a bleak, soaring urban wasteland, a hodgepodge of architectural styles, reminiscent of Blade Runner and Metropolis, that suggests no particular time period; and Danny Elfman's score is appropriately dark and dramatic.