Batman (1989)

3 stars

Cast: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Gough, and Robert Wuhl

Director: Tim Burton

Synopsis: The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker.


When Tim Burton came onto direct Batman he gave a much darker and violent take on the caped crusader, instead of cheesy humour and fight scenes, and made Gotham City look gothic and dangerous.

Out of the original 4 films (Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman & Robin) This one is by far the greatest and easily on par with Nolan’s The Dark Knight, that introduces audiences to the joker (Jack Nicholson), and if there’s anyone that’s born to play the Joker then it’s definitely Jack Nicholson!, and gave audiences a new perspective on Batman thanks to Burton’s direction.

Like ‘Returns’, Danny Elfman’s score is excellent and as iconic as the Star Wars theme! It perfectly suits the character of Batman with it’s sense of mystery and tension, we can learn so much about this character just from the opening song.

Michael Keaton’s first outing as the caped crusader is great! He plays the character naturally and without struggle, which is clear as he’s still considered the best actor to ever play the ‘Bat’, even today with the likes of Bale and Affleck taking their turns, both brilliantly too! All of the performances in this movie are flawless and bring their characters to life in a way that is fresh, unique, and interesting.

The iconic cinematography creates a gothic, dark, eerie, and violent interpretation of Gotham City, which sets the mood for the entire duration right from the opening shot. The lighting and use of colour make Gotham feel desperate and deserted, but also gives it a lot of character and mystery. The shots during action sequences are quite amateur and the don’t flow well, plus the costume design for Batman is perfect.

The production design and sets are extremely detailed, realistic, and beautiful, but ugly at the same time, fitting the tone of Gotham. The pace was very consistent, with exciting scenes and slower scenes, that honestly don’t drag, due to the excellent screenplay and group of interesting characters that bring the film to life, and keep the plot intriguing with thought-provoking storytelling techniques such as tension, suspense and the audiences disbelief, from twists and turns throughout the narrative.

Overall, Batman is definitely flawed and tries to juggle the tone and narrative throughout and is not the best depiction or representation of the character. Regardless, there’s no denying how influential and iconic the original Tim Burton classic is.