Time and Christopher Nolan have not been overly kind to Tim Burton's 1989 hit BATMAN, but it still holds up beautifully.
At the time, it was a revelation, a much darker and more serious take on Batman than the TV series that had been most people's exposure to the legendary DC character.
Michael Keaton was a huge comedy star but was a startling choice in the late 80's to play Bruce Wayne/Batman, a role he made his own, to great success.
We meet the caped crusader in a crime ridden and somehow futuristic yet retro Gotham City, taking out bad guys on rooftops and mid-crime, spreading the word that he's arrived. Keaton's "I'm Batman" as he dangles a thief off a roof was a revelation early in the film that made audiences cheer Keaton in the role.
When organized crime's Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) becomes The Joker through a series of events, he puts his sights on ruling Gotham, stealing Bruce Wayne's new flame, reporter Vicky Vale (gorgeous Kim Basinger) and ridding the world of our superhero.
Nicholson is at full volume from the moment he unwraps his new Joker face, nicely pivoting off his quieter moments as Napier, but hitting the top of the emoting charts so early, there's nowhere to go but sideways. He's great, but way over the top.
If anything, one of the film's flaws is that the villain is so much more impactful than the hero. That being said, Keaton is really good in the role and a nice fit.
Tim Burton brings his usual visual style to the film, aided this time by production designer Anton Furst (Full Metal Jacket, Alien), Art Director Terry Ackland-Snow (Aliens, Superman II) and composer Danny Elfman, supplying one of his all time best scores.
In watching the film now, it seems odd that we all found this Batman so serious. Little did we know that Christopher Nolan would take the character and the legend to an entirely different universe with his amazing Dark Knight trilogy.
Seen through the history of those films, Burton's films pales a bit by comparison.
BATMAN is still a ton of fun though, Nicholson is a blast, the batmobile scenes are great, Alfred (Michael Gough) is a scene stealer and its fast & fun.
Batman holds a special place in both movie history and my film memories and gets a dark black, winged A+.
Followed in 1992 with Keaton in his second and final appearance in the role in "Batman Returns".