“King of the Wicker People”

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Fire up the Batsignal, because Batman (1989) is the Greatest Movie EVER!

Click on the DVD cover or the title above to download our review of the film, featuring Sean ‘Hollywood’ Hunting.

Review in a Nutshell: Batman (1989) is an uneven, sometimes idiosyncratic film that in some sense set the pattern for later superhero movies, for good or for ill. Although the Nolan films have eclipsed the work of Tim Burton and his cast and crew in the pop culture consciousness, this version of Batman was instrumental in reintroducing the Dark Knight to an entire generation of movie-goers.

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16 Responses

  1. Polite correction: Denny O’Neil was the great Batman writer/editor. Kevin O’Neill was Alan Moore’s collaborator on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

  2. One More correction: Harvey Bullock was in the comics years before the film.

    Good review.

  3. Thanks for the corrections, Juan. I realized that Bullock was from the comic books during the editing process, but at that point it was too late to edit around my mistake. Mea culpa on mixing up Denny O’Neil and Kevin O’Neill. My bad.

  4. Oh, Dear, Paul – this isn’t going to be an hour of Sean trying out his Clint Eastwood With a Rubber Fetish imitations, is it…?

  5. My favorite Batman, live action film is Batman Returns. I just love the over the top, gothic aesthetic. Plus it has an evil Christopher Walken in it.

  6. Though Batman isn’t nearly my favourite superhero (I think he is way too overexposed with his 6 monthly books), this is my favourite Batman movie and may be my faourite superhero movie.

    Since the Nolan movies have come out, this movie has gotten a lot of internet hate and I still don’t understand it. This is still a good movie on a technical and stylistic level independant of the source material. The only glaring weakness I see is Kim Basinger being a dumb blond with a fetish for bats.

    I think the main problem with Burton is the problem with most directors that have make tonnes of money in hollywood, they get an ego and start making self-indulgent movies rather than good movies. Burton’s Alice in Wonder is a pile of crap, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is just mediocre, and Planet of the Apes is damn near unwatchable. The only Burton movie in the last 15 years that I’ve seen and liked was Sweeny Todd (though that was heavily based on the stage show.

    Anyway as always, great show keep up the good work. I just bough Paul’s two books, i’m about halfway through Porn Gnomes and loving it so far,

    P.S. Just watched Mask of Zorro on Netflix, seems like a good choice for an episode.

  7. Liked this film at the time as a stylized version, although now I think it does not hold up well at all. The sequel was OK, but does not work, and the rest were an insult to chemical plant.

    The Nolans were 2 good movies starring ALLOT of AMAZING talent doing great work in terrible cannon wrecking stories that were OK to watch. The last one is one of my most hated movies.

    I used to collect comics and most of the stories they are putting in movies today are from that period. Continually they make a movie by going “what were the great storylines fans liked” and then proceed to say “OK, we love that story, lets rewrite all the tenants of the story that made it great, the fans will love that!”. Of course they have to make some changes, but its like they have no concept of the characters they are making a film of.

  8. This movie was better than Nolan’s movies.

    Aesthetically, at least.

    Plus, Joker has this HUGE ego that is very reflective of the comics.

    Only thing I really hated was Joker killing Bruce Wayne’s parents. Unnecessary.

  9. I really love the look of this and Batman Returns, though I actually prefer the Nolan movies and the animated series. Like Michael, it annoyed me that the tacked Joker on to Bruce’s parents’ murder.

  10. Interesting review. I haven’t revisited this movie, but I loved it as a kid. I remember it being very dark and really liking the Jack Nicholson take on the Joker. Perhaps I should just let it lie.

    I’m curious if Sean likes the later Snyder arcs as much as Court of Owls. I found that one pretty darn engaging, but I thought Death of the Family was really frustrating and irritating on a number of levels. Everything from the Joker cutting his face off being way over the top to the stupid card reveal at the end to the stock Joker story end (which I guess Sean likes?) Meh.

  11. (Pennywise is the clown; Pennyworth is the butler)

    I like all the Batman movies, except for the Joel Schumachers (He apparently molested Corey Haim??? if you do a search for his name).

    I agree that the older Batman films have more of Batman being a detective than the Nolan ones do. In Nolan’s films, Batman is more of a guy with money who wants to stop crime than a guy who learned the skills necessary to fight crime.

    Paul, it’s funny that you gave up before the 3rd film Nolan’s films tried to be as real as a superhero film could be, but the 3rd film is the most comic book-y of them all! It goes off the rails, and Batman pulls off some “I’m Batman; don’t worry about logic” feats.

  12. I actually never watched this movie or Batman Returns when it came out. The first Batman move I ever saw in theaters was actually Batman Forever.

    I actually never got around to seeing this movie until a few years ago, and I have to admit that I kinda hated it. There was some really good scenes, like the museum sequence and that first moment where the surgeon removes the bandages from the Joker, but most of it was just painful for me.

    What made it really awkward though was I was watching it with a bunch of friends who had seen it as kids who still loved it. When it was over they asked how I liked it, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell them that I thought it was almost as bad as Batman and Robin.

  13. I really think, given the passage of two decades, that people have forgotten just how much of a game-changer Burton’s original 1989 BATMAN was. Despite nearly twenty years of a darker, more serious Batman in comics (O’Neil and Adams, hot off revitalizing GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW by presenting them as contentious partners in politically-charged stories, started the shift in 1971 – fifteen years before Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS), in films and television he was still basically Adam West’s goofily-costumed do-gooder who has a gizmo that saves the day for every occasion, and a teen-age boy sidekick. I remember that a lot of ideas for a new BATMAN movie in the Eighties wanted to continue in the direction of the Sixties show – including one that was going to star Bill Murray as a comic book-obsessed fan who decides to become Batman!

    At the time, Burton’s insistence that Batman should be a Dark Avenger was greeted with considerable trepidation by the suits at Warner (who thought mainstream audiences wanted the Sixties Batman) – and some of Burton’s choices (mainly Michael Keaton, who was at that point largely known as a cocky comedy star) were greeted with groans by comics fans who wanted Miller’s take on the character. That the movie came out as well as it did, and was as popular as it was, vindicated Burton’s vision that mainstream audiences were ready for a “darker” Batman.

  14. I’ve seen them all, and I couldn’t see how Batman could ever be compared to Batman and Robin. I’m not you, so I can’t see where you’ve found fault with the first movie.

  15. Tim Curry did play Alfred in the animated series, for like 2 episodes, before they got Efrim Zimbalist jr to play the part.

  16. I first saw that “Warner Bros. Ball Cap” (at that age, I knew what a ball cap meant, though I probably heard it as “baseball cap” where I am) ad on a tape of Beetlejuice, though what I noticed, there are variations to this ad. One that shows the catalog having the WB shield on it, and another with the Batman movie logo. There are slight differences in voice and phone number written. The ad always felt like something they would stick in the opening of the movie in theaters but I suppose that never happened.

    There was another ad made that has Daffy getting pissed that his name gets written as “Donald Duck” on a director’s chair I loved seeing!

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