Gotham City. Crime boss Carl Grissom (Jack Palance) effectively runs the town but there's a new crime fighter in town - Batman (Michael Keaton). Grissom's right-hand man is Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson), a brutal man who is not entirely sane... After falling out between the two Grissom has Napier set up with the Police and Napier falls to his apparent death in a vat of chemicals. However, he soon reappears as The Joker and starts a reign of terror in Gotham City. Meanwhile, reporter Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) is in the city to do an article on Batman. She soon starts a relationship with Batman's everyday persona, billionaire Bruce Wayne. Written by
Jack Nicholson received top billing on the opening credits, a fact that wouldn't be repeated until the release of Batman & Robin (1997), when Arnold Schwarzenegger (Mr. Freeze) would be billed over the actor playing Batman (however, during the ending credits of Batman (1989), Michael Keaton, who plays Batman, is top-billed followed by Nicholson). Both Nicholson and Schwarzenegger played the primary villains in each film. See more »
The film is set in Gotham City, USA, but the bottle the Joker holds up in his "Smilex" commercial is for a "Moisturising" creme (instead of "moisturizing"), a tip-off that the bottle was created in England, where the film was shot. See more »
I'm sorry, this is my cab.
Listen, I was here first!
[as the cab drives away]
Oh, God! Oh, taxi? Taxi!
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The opening credits run with a 3-D Batman symbol being explored by a flying camera in extreme close-up. See more »
No radioactive spider bites or guys turning green or supermodels painted blue here. Campy television series aside, Batman has always seemed the most serious, the most grounded, the most real of all the comic book sagas. Our hero has no magical, mystical superpowers...he's just a guy in a suit. But where does he get those wonderful toys? In this film Tim Burton does a very good job of bringing the Dark Knight to life while also seemingly giving the dark, foreboding city of Gotham a life of its own. Gotham is dark, gloomy, and dreary...almost oppressively so. The city is almost a character unto itself in the film...dark, mysterious and somehow quite real. The brilliantly conceived, stunning visuals are the perfect backdrop for the story which will unfold.
The story follows our Caped Crusader in his quest to clean up Gotham which is in the midst of a frightening crime wave. There was much unnecessary angst when comic actor Michael Keaton landed the title role with fans feeling that was a sure sign the film would lean towards the campy style evident in the famous television series. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Batman would be a serious film (well, as serious as a comic book movie can be) and Keaton was perfect in the Bruce Wayne/Batman role. Keaton's Wayne comes across as an ordinary guy doing extraordinary things. Keaton brings all the required seriousness to the role but also can add a little comic touch when necessary. Inspired casting pays off big time.
Good as he is Keaton is actually overshadowed in the film. Who else but Jack Nicholson could cause the actor playing Batman to get second billing in a movie titled Batman? Nicholson's performance as the Joker is simply terrific. Maybe a little over the top at times but, hey, it's the Joker...he's supposed to be over the top. Nicholson livens up every scene he's in, he simply owns the screen. With two terrific actors doing outstanding work bringing our hero and villain to life the film can hardly go wrong. It's certainly entertaining enough but the film as a whole doesn't quite match the brilliance of the two lead performances. The supporting cast, led by Kim Basinger as the requisite love interest, doesn't add much. Instead of leaving well enough alone with a fantastic Danny Elfman score the whole movie comes to a screeching halt a couple of times while we're forced to listen to some inane Prince songs. And the story just seems to lack a certain zest. We want to see the conflict between Batman and the Joker, these two great characters played by two great actors. And for too much of the film that conflict simply isn't there. But all in all, Batman is certainly a worthy effort. Some top-notch acting, stunning visuals and a story that does just enough to draw you in and hold your attention throughout. To call this film great might be a stretch but one could say it is very, very good. Certainly good enough to be worth your while.
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