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(1989)

CAST

Batman/Bruce Wayne........Michael Keaton
The Joker/Jack Napier........Jack Nicholson
Vicki Vale........Kim Bassinger
Alexander Knox........Robert Wuhl
Alfred Pennyworth........Michael Gough
Harvey Dent........Billy Dee Williams
Com. James Gordon........Pat Hingle
Carl Grissom........Jack Palance

Screenplay by:
Sam Hamm and Warren Skarren

Directed by:
Tim Burton

"I'm Batman!" And yes, he was. Michael Keaton proved thousands wrong (including this webmaster) with his dark, brooding portrayal of the Dark Knight. Director Tim Burton brought the Bat back to his original dark form in this terriffic film.

Set in an ageless time period, we find a crime-ridden Gotham City that is overran with mobsters and street punks. Two reporters, Viki Vale and Alexander Knox are hot on the heals of a story on the mythical "six-foot bat." Meanwhile, high-level mobster Jack Napier, the "number one guy" to boss Carl Grissom, secretly plans on stealing away the boss' job--and his girlfriend. When Napier's intentions are discovered, Grissom plans a set-up at Axis Chemicals. Tipped by the crime-boss himself, both the police and the Batman move to capture Napier and his gang. While trying to escape, the Batman corners Napier and through accident and fate, Napier falls into a vat of acid...and the Joker is born!

The Batman's alter ego, Bruce Wayne, soon falls for reporer Vicki Vale; as does the Joker who is now waging an assault on Gotham. The Joker has planted a nerve toxin, "smilex," in everyday grooming products striking terror throughout the city. The Batman soon discovers the secret of the Joker's plan and supplies it to police and the press--thus saving the city. Revenge on the Bat now becomes the Clown Prince of Crime's number one goal.

When Bruce discovers a dark secret in Napier's and his past, a final confrontation between the two is on.

Overall, Burton does a great job bringing Batman back "to the dark." Up until this film, many people's idea of the character was the 1960's TV series. The picture does have its' problems. Commissioner Gordon's relationship with Batman is never developed. Batman is shown shooting guns from a plane and killing--something that he would actually never do. At times, Batman is a secondary character to the Joker. And to the horror of many fans, Vicki Vale is let into the Batcave and discovers Bruce's secret.

Burton's direction is classic Burton: dark, off-beat, and moody. Nicholson is great as the Joker--a bit over-the-top at times though. And Micheal Keaton does a great job in "both" roles: Bruce and Batman. He plays Waye as constantly depressed and always seemingly preoccupied. With the body-armor costume and camera angles, Keaton's does well as Batman--although he seems a bit physical slight at times. Overall, a very good movie for both Bat and movie fans.

Jett's score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Remembering BATMAN

I first heard about this film in a mall bookstore, reading some sci-fi mag, in 1988. I was about 22 years old and still in college (DAMN! Has it been THAT long?). I remember reading that Jack Nicholson would ply the Joker and Micheal Keaton was signed to be Batman. And I was pissed! My first thought was that it was going to be like the old TV series. See, I liked Keaton. I had been a fan of his since NIGHT SHIFT. But I just could not see him playing The Batman. Anyway, I filed it away in the back of my mind and went about with my business.

Then sometime in the spring of '89, I just happened to be watching ENERTAINMENT TONIGHT, and I got my first glimpse of Keaton as Batman. I thought, "Damn, he looks pretty good!" The costume was WAY cooler that I had thought it would be. So I started thinking that maybe he could pull this off. Then the whole protest about Keaton playing Batman hit the media. But at the same time, Bat-hype and Bat-mania began sweeping the country. There were Batman tee-shirts and toys, etc. everywhere you went. I got on the bandwagon and bought a Batman tee--and I still have the thing! The build-up for the June 23rd premiere was growing like a tidal wave.

I graduated college in May of '89 and got a coaching/teaching job in Houston. As happy as I was to have my first "real" job, I had bats on my brain! I could not wait to see this movie! So, on the evening of June 23, 1989, my then girlfriend and I head on over to the local mall/theater to catch the early everning feature. The freaking line was HUGE!! Luckily, it is being shown on two screens. So we are waiting in line, chatting with the people around us, blah, blah, blah. That was fine and good--I wanted to get my ass in that seat and see this damn film!! The line starts to move. We make it to the box-office window. I get our tickets. It is ON!!

We sit down in the theater and watch the trailers, the concession stand plugs, yada, yada. The eternity! Then the screen goes black. The first sounds of Danny Elfman's theme starts to play. "A Peters-Guber Production...A Tim Burton Film...BATMAN!!!" Yes! I was finally watching the movie that I had been waiting months to see! I was a kid again. And that is what I love about Batman. It doesn't matter that I am now 30-something. That I have a job, kids, resposibility. When I put in that tape or DVD, I AM a kid again! And now with my kids, I am passing that on to them. Both are Bat-fans!

Anyway, back to '89 and the film. I loved it! I thought Keaton did a hell of a job and Nicholson WAS the Joker. I ended up seeing BATMAN about 5 times that summer. I got the video later that fall. I must have seen this film well over a hundred times! But when I slip it in to watch. And I hear that theme start to play. I AM a kid again! And isn't that what life is all about?