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4.2 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 25, 2009
Tim Burton's Batman is made for blu-ray, and fans of the movie will love seeing all the artistic details. When originally released (20 years ago), theaters were not equipped with today's technology, so you haven't really seen it, until you see it on blu-ray. It's gorgeous. Additionally, there are many extras including a couple of great documentaries, many featurettes, commentary etc. (from 2005 - probably from previous dvd releases), plus a 50pg. in-case booklet with Batman notes, history, production pix and comics. The bonus material is new to me, so I'm happy with it all in total. I always liked the film (especially Nicholson's Joker and Keaton's Batman), but now I love it, thanks to the blu-ray quality.
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There are rumors of a six-foot bat in Gotham City. Whispers. Suggestions. Nothing concrete. But all that changes after the Batman confronts Carl Grissom’s men at Axis Chemicals and Grissom’s top hood, Jack Napier, gets dropped into a vat of chemicals, transforming him into the maniacal Joker. Discovering he had been set up by his boss to take the fall at Axis, Joker takes over Grissom’s operation, in turn allowing him to try and take over Gotham City itself, with only the Dark Knight to stop him.

This was the film that gave us the “movie Batman” we know today: dark and armored. If it wasn’t for director Tim Burton’s gothic and grim vision of crime-ridden Gotham City and its brooding protector, I suspect the edgy superhero movies of today wouldn’t exist.

Michael Keaton takes on the title role as billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne and his rubber-clad alter ego Batman, delivering one of the greatest Batman performances that many, at the time, hadn’t expected from “Mr. Mom.” And after his memorable line during the opening rooftop scene, “I’m Batman,” from that moment on he had you sold that his version of the Dark Knight meant business and quenches any lingering thought that Batman, thanks to the 1960s TV series, is a campy superhero.

Stealing the stage is Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Basically take the Jack from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and crank it up to a hundred and you have the Joker. Nicholson does a brilliant job of blending the serious and twisted Joker while also playing the crazy, laughing, psycho killer. I’m sure when Batman: The Animated Series came along, Nicholson’s Joker was the template for Mark Hamill’s performance when he voiced the character. Awesome.

Danny Elfman’s haunting and lonely score only adds to the movie’s eeriness.

My only problem with the film was there wasn’t enough Batman. I remember that bothering me as a kid. Batman shows up all of four times in the film, the first being something, like, only for a minute. Each subsequent time gets progressively longer, thankfully.

Bold, atmospheric and downright fun, Batman is one for the ages. It was where the modern dark superhero movie started.
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on March 31, 2004
I can still remember as a 4 year-old being completely obsessed with the Batman character. And I loved the movie. To put it simply, Batman was my hero. Of course this isn't the case anymore but I still think that "Batman" is a great film.
One of the most striking things about "Batman" is the set design by Anton Furst, which is very Gothic and bleak looking (during the outdoor scenes there is no sun whatsoever). The Gotham City that looked like any other in the TV series is transformed into dark, slimy crime pit in which good is basically nonexistent. Tim Burton gives the film some good direction, keeping things tight and interesting. He executed the action scenes nicely as well. Aside from the impressive set design and direction, the movie is also well acted. Michael Keaton played the role of Batman very well, giving Batman a powerful presence and a sort of everyman personality (which is even a bit off-the-wall) when he's Bruce Wayne. Jack Nicholson, meanwhile, was excellent as the Joker. He hams things up a lot, which makes sense since the character of Joker is supposed to be a complete, smart-mouthed maniac. I did notice a few problems with this movie though. The story, for the most part, focuses too much on the Joker, which is silly. I mean, isn't the movie called "Batman"? The plot is bit shallow as well, which probably explains why I found it a bit difficult to pin point exactly the Joker wants to do with Gotham City. The love story was bit weak as well. While Kim Basinger did good job as Vicki Vale, she and Keaton didn't develop a lot of chemistry to make their pairing believable.
If you can ignore some minor problems, "Batman" stands as pretty good comic book adaptation. If you like superhero films, then this one is certainly worthy being included in your collection.
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on April 27, 2016
I was a bit disappointed. I was told it was gonna come with a booklet on the behind the scenes making but only. Had the movie one disc. For steel edition it's pretty dull. But the movie was great quality.
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on September 21, 2002
It's a shame they released this DVD in the condition it's in. This was a huge, blockbuster movie that made a ton of money and it's not that old so there's no excuse. Also, there are hardly any extras.
The movie starts out with some obvious defects and spots on the film in the opening. It's like they didn't even try to find a good print from which to master the DVD. The 5.1 dolby digital soundtrack is among the worst I have heard. This is supposed to be a loud, movie with lots of action. Things like explosions barely even register on the subwoofer. The movie makes almost no use of the surround speakers. It might as well be mono. It's that bad. Then again, the DVD is better than any VHS and at least it's in widescreen which is how it should be unless you enjoy seeing only half the movie. My advice, wait until they remaster this and issue it as a special addition. I wish I had waited to buy it because the shortcomings of the DVD stood out for me so much that it detracted from my enjoyment of the movie.
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on July 20, 2007
i had seen this movie several years ago,and remember enjoying it.however,after recently watching again it,i think it is better than i remembered.this is a darker more stylistic version of the caped crusader than the recent "Batman Begins."both movies are great in their own right,and i think they are pretty equal,all things considered.i have to mention the musical score by Danny Elfman,which in my mind is pure genius.the acting is also very good.Jack may have stolen the show as the Joker but i think it is the understated broodiness that Michale Keaton brings to both Bruce Wayne and Batman that was really impressive.i also don't think the character is just two dimensional,as some people might suggest.i think the character has many dimensions,but they are hidden below the surface and you have to kind of look for them,but they are me crazy,but that's just my opinion.i think its all in how you view the character.anyway,my vote for "Batman"is 5/5
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on August 24, 2008
This is one of my most favorite batman movies of all time! I love the Joker & Jack Nicholson makes the caracter completely mental & insane. You must see just to see his performance as Joker. The surreal world of Tim Burton makes this movie a masterpiece.... Until the "Dark Nights" with Mr. Ledger came along...
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on January 27, 2012
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I hadn't seen the original Batman movie since it was released in 1989, and I have to say that it is not quite as good as I remember it being the first time. Sixteen years later, I'm still trying to figure out how Michael Keaton got the Batman gig. He was actually pretty good in the movie, but it just doesn't really feel like Batman when Keaton is behind the cowl (nor does Keaton really exude the proper Bruce Wayne aura). When you get right down to it, Jack Nicholson pretty much carries this film on his shoulders, as it doesn't have the greatest of plots, the whole modern remaking of the Batman mystique results in several drawn-out, somewhat boring scenes, and there really isn't all that much action. And who decided that Batman has to have romantic relationships all the time now? The real Batman certainly doesn't have a sleepover on a first date. The whole Vicky Vale storyline just didn't work for me in this film, largely because Keaton doesn't effectively sell the whole Batman vs Bruce Wayne conflict that lies within him.

This film basically introduces Batman to his fellow Gothamites. Gotham City is a veritable cesspool of crime and corruption, and I can't imagine how Commissioner Gordon kept his job with all of the organized crime operating throughout the city. It takes Batman a little while to find his niche as a crime-fighter. Once people actually start believing the wild stories about a dude in a bat suit, they question whether or not he is good or bad. The Joker helps resolve that little dilemma, as he doesn't really hide his definite bad-ness under a bushel. Of course, The Joker wasn't always the Joker, and this movie gives us one version of The Joker's origins. Jack Napier was just a high-ranking henchman before an encounter with Batman left him, uh, changed. Then it's green hair and Fantasy Island smiles all around. His first big caper consists of poisoning household products with the Smilex chemical that made the Joker the Joker - not exactly a money-winning venture. The Joker is basically all about killing people and upstaging Batman in the Gotham City headlines. He and Batman do come across one another a couple of times in the film, but they don't really square off until the end. The film does at least show some of the special relationship between good guy and bad guy - this is, after all, Batman's primary personal enemy. To some degree, The Joker created Batman and Batman created the Joker (and they also seem to share the same taste in women).

Jack Palance and Billy Dee Williams are sort of wasted in this film. This was good news for Jack Nicholson because Palance is one of the few actors who could have held his own and taken some of the spotlight away from him. The scene where Nicholson impersonates Palance is priceless, though. Nicholson really gets all of the good lines here (e.g., Wait'll they get a load of me), and he pretty much lets himself go wild playing this insane character. It's interesting that the guy playing Batman doesn't get top billing in a Batman movie, but Nicholson definitely deserved that honor for this film. Without Nicholson, Batman would be an insufferably flat, tedious film.

The Prince music is still kicking, Tim Burton's directorial vision retains its intriguingly dark quality, and the Joker is still lighting up the screen, but Batman just doesn't have the same punch it had when comics' most celebrated crime fighter came to the big screen in 1989.
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on April 9, 2006
Until Sam Raimi made Spider-Man, I think we all regarded Tim Burton's Batman as the best superhero movie (even though I actually don't consider Batman to be a "superhero" because he has no superpowers). Burton directed this movie, and did a great job - this movie looks like it takes place in the 1920s, except that society is a lot more technologically advanced than it really was back then.
Michael Keaton is Batman/Bruce Wayne. Needless to say, Batman is Wayne's alter ego. Keaton is magnificent at playing the character's alter ego. Keaton also does a good job playing the character when he's not in costume. Keaton's Bruce Wayne isn't as gloomy as Christian Bale's was in Batman Begins, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But I would say Bruce Wayne was a little too cheerful for my liking in the Schumacher movies. But overall, Bale's Bruce Wayne is superior to Keaton's because Bale has a much more developed character to play. HOWEVER, Keaton plays a better costumed Batman than Bale.
The problem with this movie is that the Joker (Jack Nicholson) steals the show - the whole movie revolves around him, so this isn't Batman's movie. This movie should have been called "The Joker." So if you ever wondered why Nicholson got a higher billing than Keaton, now you know. The thing is, the writers never bothered to give Bruce Wayne a personality, and they barely scratch the surface of the character's background - we know practically nothing about Wayne. You'd think the guy that's Batman wouldn't be so uninteresting, but we're bored to tears everytime Wayne's onscreen (and out of costume). But when Keaton is onscreen in the Batman costume, Batman seems so menacing and captivating that you enjoy all of his scenes. He plays an even more menacing Batman than Bale - so I say that Keaton does a better Batman than Bale, but that Bale does a better Bruce Wayne than Keaton. But Keaton didn't have anything to work with, so it's not his fault his Bruce Wayne is so weak. But one of the strengths of Keaton's performance is that if you ever met Wayne, he'd seem like the last guy in the World that could be Batman. That's something Kilmer and Clooney failed to accomplish, but thankfully Bale was able to do it.
Michael Gough is a delight as the old butler Alfred. It's hard to believe Gough was a villain in so many horror movies over the years. I assumed Michael Caine's Alfred wouldn't compare to Gough's, but I was wrong - they're both great. Pat Hingle was really good (as Commissioner Gordon) in this movie. Hingle and Gough were in all four movies of the original series, and I enjoyed them both in Batman Returns. But in Batman Forever I didn't like them nearly as much, and in Batman & Robin I found their characters annoying as hell.
Vicki Vale's (Kim Basinger) investigation into Bruce Wayne's background is completely uninteresting. But I already knew what she would find out, so maybe that's why I didn't like those scenes. I also found the Vicki character annoying, screaming in terror every three seconds she was onscreen.
There's lots of little things I love in this movie. The sight of Batman rising off the ground after the two muggers shoot him, (and the terrified expression of the gunmen) with Elfman's dramatic music blaring. The look on Napier's face when he sees the emptied safe. When the guy got fried by the Joker's joy-buzzer (one of the worst deaths I've ever seen in a movie). When the mimes close in on the press conference and unleash a surprise, and the Joker's speech right before a mob boss dies. The first Action News report of the movie. The way "URGENT" is written in messy crayon on the parcel. When Batman jumps through the skylight (accompanied by Elfman's music). The design of the Batmobile - minor changes make the car even cooler in Batman Returns. When the Batmobile speeds toward the Batcave (again, Elfman's music is awesome). The grin on the young Jack Napier. The Batmobile attacking the chemical factory. The Joker's facial expressions when he speaks in the microphone right after throwing lots of money to the crowd. When the bat signal is lit - but it's not as awesome as the first time it's lit in Batman Returns, or when it's lit at the end of Mask of the Phantasm.
And now a few complaints. This movie featured too many songs by Prince. After a while, they get unbearably annoying. There were lots of other great '80s pop songs that could have (and should have) been used in this movie. Another thing is the Joker seems completely helpless without his goons to back him up. So I found the final showdown at the bell tower a little boring. By the way, you can tell that Nicholson's make-up job would look a lot more realistic in this day and age of filmmaking. Burton's Batwing is cooler than Schumacher's Batwing (but not as cool as the one in Mask of the Phantasm). Anyway, the targeting system of Burton's Batwing seems a little screwed up - Batman has a big red target locked on the Joker, but the plane's missiles and machine guns miss their target. And the Joker didn't even try to get out of the way! Looks like Batman paid the price of designing his own weapon systems.
I always overlooked this movie's flaws (until I saw Batman Begins) for two reasons. First of all, I found Keaton's Batman to be so cool and the Joker to be so entertaining that I ABSOLUTELY LOVED this movie. Second of all, the poor quality of the sequels make this movie seem a lot better than it really is. Pretty much everytime the Joker or the Batman aren't onscreen, the movie is boring. But I must say that Batman was even cooler in Batman Returns than he was in this movie - and nastier.
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