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TIM BURTON & MICHAEL KEATON ORIGINAL 'BATMAN' REVIEWED

Joker's Commercial Logo from BATMAN Year: 1989
Since the extremely dark Christopher Nolan DARK KNIGHT trilogy, the original Michael Keaton BATMAN is viewed as too shiny, vapid, dated... for kids and kids only: The campy Adam West television series in theatrical wolves clothing...

Which gives former fans of the 1989 Tim Burton vehicle a sort of dizzy amnesia to what was actually a cool-looking, ominous locale for the City of Gotham...

A sinister-chrome, matte-painted cross between Film Noir gangland and a spooky children's pop-up book, truly deserving of a vigilante swooping down upon bad guys: Starting out with two kitschy crooks having just robbed a family, reminiscent of our masked hero's own tragic childhood that led Bruce Wayne into the isolated, thankless life of a multimillionaire hybrid of Charles Foster Kane and Charles Bronson.

Say what you want, but Tim Burton painted a cool matte Gotham
In the title role, Michael Keaton is extremely dry and without his usual spontaneity, remaining enigmatic in human form and not seeming altogether separate from the mask and costume, which makes "The Batman" a hushed whisper throughout town except for a painfully miscast actor with far too many lines up front...

Forced comic relief Robert Wuhl plays an obnoxious, expository-spouting journalist with a lame quip for just about everything: remaining annoyingly envious and caustic even after receiving an undeserved grant. As for Keaton, after mostly playing energetic, middle-class family men for nearly a decade, he seems to genuinely embrace switching gears to an untouchable hermit/recluse mogul. Unlike Wuhl, Keaton fits. With BEETLEJUICE, he'd been to Burton Land before. He even ruled it. And for every good guy there's a greater-looking woman...

Jack Nicholson and Jerry Hall in BATMAN
Enter old-school voluptuous Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale, a newspaper photographer who captures Wayne's heart: especially after sleeping with him on their first date, a few steps from the wine-ample living room table, leaving no room for an intriguing romance to flourish...

And on the other side of the coin, and not so lucky, is Jack Nicholson as The Joker: though his best scenes are too short-lived before morphing into inevitable Jester form...

During a bust/setup, mobster's henchman Jack Napier (illogically sleeping with mob boss Jack Palance's beloved moll Jerry Hall) gets dropped into a vat of acid, winding up a disfigured, guffawing lunatic: But was it because his mouth was surgically shaped into that demented smile? Shouldn't he have been a more offbeat and gregarious, jokey gangster to begin with? If his mouth were surgically shaped to a frown, who'd he become then? The Pisser?

Joker saves this one because it's dark and gloomy... Get it?
While Joker spouts zany monologues that never cease, his jeers are hit and miss: some are funny while others seem like awkward, improvisational rehearsal tests the director was afraid to reject...

And, alas, right as the plot thickens, he takes over a museum with a can of spray paint and a "Ghetto Blaster" radio with the Soundtrack-ready Prince track blaring: A sell-out of epic proportions, and the story goes downhill from there but not without a semi-suspenseful investigation involving not only who Batman is, but what makes him tick: Peaking in an iconic moment where the flying Bat Mobile makes its own insignia against the darkly-glowing Gotham moonlight.

A neat nod to Bob Kane: creator of BATMAN Year: 1989
After the followup, BATMAN RETURNS, Michael Keaton had grown tired of riding shotgun to the villains, which was even worse as three antagonists inhabited the exhausting, convoluted sequel...

But in actuality, it all began here since Nicholson stole what was his own movie to begin with (think of Bruce Wayne as Emilio Estevez and The Joker as Judd Nelson from THE BREAKFAST CLUB: Who would you root for?)

And yet, some fans thought Wayne's passive persona, and how Keaton underplayed it, is what made him that much more dynamic once he becomes his alter-ego, lurking within shady alleyways while partaking in neatly-timed action sequences, ultimately marred by a hackneyed conclusion when the ingenue is predictably kidnapped: Followed by a high-rise battle with no more distractions, and, basically... BATMAN is a pretty good time, overall. But audiences didn't know then, that this — the original Tim Burton/Michael Keaton venture — was merely the beginning of the end.
In a post about BATMAN, here's Michael Keaton with a lesbian haircut, and a deadly mime
Kim Basinger and a gun-toting clown in Tim Burton's BATMAN
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