Batman was a good movie, as I said in the earlier review. Good performances all around by Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Pat Hingle, and Robert Wuhl, who played newsman Alexander Knox. Kim Basinger is a good actress, but I didn’t like Vicki Vale much. Too much screaming. ;) A woman who is a photojournalist should have more kick-ass in her and less damsel-in-distress. Guess I’m just spoiled by Lois Lane. J
Gotham City looked like it was set down in the Golden Age: the newshawks wearing old-fashioned hats, the dark streets, the excitement over ‘The Bat’. The movie was more realistic than the sequel (keeping in mind that ‘realism’ is a relative term when discussing the world of costumed superheroes!), and the focus on Bruce Wayne’s Mission and the reason behind it was a good start to the first film cycle. Alfred (Michael Gough) was a fine confidante and partner in the Mission, and Michael Keaton’s intense performance was convincing, though he seemed a little goofy to be Bruce Wayne.
While Batman Begins is my favorite so far (I haven’t seen the third and fourth films in the first cycle yet), this first movie had a style and charm that I liked, even when details like making the Joker the killer of Bruce’s parents instead of Joe Chill irked me.
The second movie?
It started out quite well. I liked the Burtonesque look of the film, and it reminded me strongly of one of my favorite animated movies, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Gotham looked like the Halloween Land’s version of Christmas, and was just as fantastical. When I saw that, I knew this movie was going to be far more fantasy-like and drop any pretenses of realism.
And, it must be that people are too poor to move from Gotham. And if they’re rich, they like being big fishes in a small pond, because the city is constantly under attack!
From the beginning, the darkness overwhelmed. Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin) is thrown into the river as a baby in his carriage by his parents, due to monstrous deformity (as we know from the movie stills), as we haven’t been shown what he looks like.
We also get the story of Selina Kyle, secretary to scumbag industrialist Max Shreck. She discovers a plot of his to steal from Gotham and he throws her out a window.
A weird origin for Catwoman as cats lick her bloodied body and she becomes…weird. I can’t remember all the different origins that DC has cooked up for Catwoman over the years, but this movie sure has an odd one.
Michelle Pfeiffer is excellent as Catwoman and the chemistry between her and Batman is good, as it is between Bruce and Selina.
Even though Pat Hingle had very little screen time as Commissioner Gordon, his loyalty to Batman was clear.
And the first time we see Bruce? Sitting alone in the dark, brooding and not touched by Christmas at all, until the Bat-signal flashes in the air. Then he comes alive.
The best moment in the film? When the Penguin speaks on TV of his yearning to find his parents and learn who he is, and Bruce understands.
There were moments that could have made this a very good film.
The second half of the movie?
Was anyone else turned off by the plot to kill the first-born sons of Gotham? What is this, the days of Pharoah in The Ten Commandments? I don’t even watch that scene in that film and they barely showed anything. This movie showed the Penguin’s henchmen kidnapping babies in order to murder them! Even one of the Penguin’s flunkies objected and got killed for his trouble.
That really left a sour taste in my mouth, and the rest of the film degenerated into senseless violence. Is it a requirement of filmmakers to always show bodies burnt to a crisp, as we saw in the first movie and now as Shreck’s end? Disgusting.
A nice touch at the very end with Catwoman still alive, but by then I felt like, who cares? What a grim, dark, hopeless movie. Even the first movie had hope. Christmas in this movie’s Gotham was tired, drab, and hopeless. Even The Nightmare Before Christmas was more cheerful!
Hey, this may take second or third place once I’ve seen the final two films in the first cycle, but they’d really have to be awful.
I read on Wikipedia that Burton and the co-writer, Daniel Waters, despised the character of Robin, who was supposed to be in the first film. Quote by Waters: “Tim and I personally hate him, he's just the most worthless character in the world, especially with Tim's conception of Batman as the loner of loners.”
Apparently that hatred of Robin continues with Nolan. Amazing.
I wouldn’t recommend the second movie to anyone unless they wanted to give it the equivalent of a Razzie. It was filled with characters who are grotesques, badly broken in mind and spirit (and that could include Bruce Wayne). I wouldn’t let young children see this disturbing film: the proposed murder of babies and young children, the squicky sexual byplay between Catwoman and the Penguin, the attempted drowning of a baby (Penguin) in the very first minutes, and mind-numbing violence. The good was buried beneath the bad in this movie, IMO.