Tuesday, August 6, 2013

1989 - BATMAN, first revamping of the comic book character

This film looks a lot more conventional 14 years after its initial release.  Warner Bros. studios hired at the time weirdo director Tim Burton who had made a couple of interesting films like Beetlejuice and Pee Wee's Big Adventure.  Watching the film now it's clear that the studio was calling most of the creative shots not the director.  The film is tailor made for a summer popcorn audience.  It has songs by Prince, lots of larger than life actors like Jack Nicholson and a semi campy tone that almost teeters over into comic book stupidity.

The film tries for the gothic look but the photography is fairly conventional.  This version of Batman actually has a "stop the presses" newsroom which could have come straight out of an old movie. 

The casting is kind of interesting.  Michael Keaton was an unconventional choice for the Caper Crusader but the rubber Batman suit helped bulk him up.  Besides Nicholson scenery chewer Jack Palance played a crime boss who tries to give Nicholson a run for his money hamming it up.  Some comedian named Robert Wuhl plays a reporter right out of The Front Page.  Billy Dee Williams and Pat Hingle had nothing parts as Harvey Dent and Commissioner Gordon.

However most amusing is Kim Basinger cast as Vicki Vale a supposedly world famous photographer.  Basinger is fun to watch, she changes her hair style and clothes in almost scene she appears in and it seems like she is constantly screaming, her performance is a real piece of work.

This version of Batman looks positively quaint these days and is probably of interest as an example of a movie studio going to the proverbial well repeatedly with the same character and usually hauling in a lot of money everytime.

126 minutes

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