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Gotham City: dark, dangerous, 'protected' only by a mostly corrupt police department. Despite the best efforts of D.A. Harvey Dent and police commissioner Jim Gordon, the city becomes increasingly unsafe...until a Dark Knight arises. We all know criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot...so his disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. He becomes a bat. Enter Vicky Vale, a prize-winning photo journalist who wants to uncover the secret of the mysterious "bat-man". And enter Jack Napier, one-time enforcer for Boss Grissom, horribly disfigured after a firefight in a chemical factory...who, devoid of the last vestiges of sanity, seizes control of Gotham's underworld as the psychotic, unpredictable Clown Prince of Crime...the Joker. Gotham's only hope, it seems, lies in this dark, brooding vigilante. And just how does billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne fit into all of this? Written by
Gregory A. Sheets <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The name of the Joker's Alter-Ego, Jack Napier, was created by the filmmakers. In the comics, The Joker was never given a real name (and his anonymous status is often crucial to the plot), and whatever real name he has is yet to be definitively revealed. The name Jack Napier is intended to be a play on the word "jackanapes" (a medieval English term for a foolish fellow who resembles an ape) as well as a reference to actor Alan Napier, who played Alfred in the TV show Batman (1966). See more »
After Jack takes the axe and smashes it into the acid vat, we see the acid on his jacket (very visible when we see him running up the stairs to escape the police shooting at him). But when Jack is on the catwalk, with his back to the camera, his coat is perfectly dry. See more »
I'm sorry, this is my cab.
Listen, I was here first!
[as the cab drives away]
Oh, God! Oh, taxi? Taxi!
See more »
The opening credits run with a 3-D Batman symbol being explored by a flying camera in extreme close-up. See more »
Good attempt to translate the comics to the big screen
In a Gotham City overrun by crime a new menace exists. In the shadows and rooftops a giant bat is terrorising the criminals who live in the night. Elsewhere crime boss Grissom's right hand man Jack Napier is trapped in a chemical factory by police. With Batman's intervention Napier is accidentally dropped into a vat of chemical. Considered dead he later turns up, scarred and twisted with a new sense of humour. Calling himself the Joker he takes over the city's gangs and begins to terrorise the city. Millionaire Bruce Wayne begins relationship with reporter Vicky Vale and finds himself personally drawn into conflict with the Joker as both himself and his alter-ego.
This was very much a huge blockbuster and had a great deal riding on it in terms of merchandising and a possible franchise. As such Burton always seemed like a risk - although his dark toned work and complex characters probably made him a great choice. The film starts promisingly, many questions are asked - is Wayne totally balanced? What drives him to become the bat? etc - and the tone of the movie is darker than a friendly blockbuster. This is continued by the investigation by reporters Vale and Knox, but starts to wane (pardon the pun) with the development of Vale as a love interest and the hamming of The Joker. At some point the film loses the character complexities and decides to become a straight up good v's evil with plenty of effects and gadgets. That said it's still very dark and the set pieces are well handled. In fact it's the best of the Batman franchise so far.
The problem is that it lacks a bite for Batman fans. I've always felt that Batman was always a few steps away from the criminals he's chasing, surely he can't be totally balanced and right in the head? Here these questions are half touched but never developed.
Keaton is an unlikely Batman, but is the best so far. He deals well with Wayne's past when it is brought up, but is an unlikely action hero. Nicholson is pure ham, but is good for it. He hogs all the best lines and is clearly enjoying himself - the only downside being that he regularly eclipses Keaton's Batman. Basinger's Vale is built up far too much and should have been cut out of the story rather than become a key part of it. The rest of the cast are good and I always like to see Tracey Walters in a big screen film!
Overall this is a good stab at the Batman legend. It's dark tone gives it the feel of the comics without the characterisation, but at the end of the day it comes down to good guy v's bad guy.
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