STARRING: Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough, Jack Palance, Jerry Hall, Tracey Walter, Lee Wallace

1989, 126 Minutes, Directed by: Tim Burton

Description: Thanks to the ambitious vision of director Tim Burton, this blockbuster hit of 1989 gives the caped crusader a thorough overhaul in keeping with the crime fighter's evolution in DC Comics. Michael Keaton strikes just the right mood as the brooding "Dark Knight" of Gotham City; Kim Basinger plays Gotham's intrepid reporter Vicki Vale; and Jack Nicholson goes wild as the maniacal and scene-stealing Joker, who plots a takeover of the city with his lethal Smilex gas.-

Comic hero Batman sees the light of the cinema screen for the first time in several decades in an explosion of Batmania.

Director Tim Burton's Batman isn't the camp 1960s Batman of the television show and for this he should be thanked. Instead he takes the Batman legend seriously and his film re-invents the story in manner closer in the spirit of the various 1980s revisionist graphic novels written by the ilk of Frank Miller.

Batman is a fearful character that inhabits the dark alleys of a decrepit Gotham city striking fear into the hearts of ordinary criminals. For once there is no Robin to share in all the antics. (Thankfully.)

Anton (production designer for Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket) Furst's Gotham City is an unique creation: a dark, brooding and oppressive yet fantastic place that "seems like hell has burst from the pavements" as someone has put it.

Along with Los Angeles in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and Fritz Lang's Metropolis, it is one of the most unique unbuilt architectural cinema wonders of our times.

Jack Nicholson as the Joker, of course, steals the show through his sheer maniacal intensity. He's like a crazed Dadaist on speed! Michael Keaton, despite having previously played only comic roles, does a deadpan Batman. His Batman/Bruce Wayne is a scowling, neurotic, full of nervous twitches.

In all, Tim Burton's Batman manages to avoid all the potholes that the Batman story might have strewn in the way of an unwary filmmaker and he manages to avoid them all with aplomb.

Any lesser director would have failed - as we would see several years later when Joel Schumacher was allowed to lay his hands on the Batman story in Batman Forever.

Many thought Burton's Batman too dark for small children. To my mind this is the one movie that both pimply school kids and university graduate types can watch together - both enjoying it equally much.


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