Bloggin' The Bat-Films: BATMAN '89
Author: Bill "Jett" Ramey (Follow @BATMANONFILM)

In honor of both the 75th anniversary of Batman and the 25th anniversary of the film BATMAN, here's my blog of BATMAN '89. This article was originally posted on BOF on March 22, 2008. Enjoy! - Bill "Jett" Ramey

I love this film!

Not because it's the best Batman film, but it was the first "serious" one and helped stomp out "Pow!," "Zap!," and "Wham!" from folk's minds when they thought of Batman. I just hit "play" and here goes...

 BATMAN has a great opening credits sequence and you’ve gotta love Danny Elfman’s Batman theme. I can still remember sitting in the theater 19 years ago thinking “what the hell is THIS?” before finally realizing it was the Bat-Logo!

 The “I’m Batman” scene that opens the film is still one of my favorites of all the Batman films. But one thing has always bothered me about it. When we first see Batman move from overhead as the mother screams, it’s blatantly old school animation! Couldn’t they have done it better than that?

 How long did Nicholson work on his card shuffling skills before he made this film?

 I’m sorry, but Robert Wuhl’s “Knox” character is obnoxious.

 Why didn’t Bob Kane himself make a cameo in BATMAN? You know, that scene where the cartoonist hands Knox (did I say that he’s obnoxious?) the drawing of “The Bat-Man?”

 OK, Jack Napier turning over a joker card was just a little too convenient and contrived, don’t you think?

 Jack Palance was damn good in this film. “Jack. You…are my number one guy.”

 OK, here’s one of the biggest problems I have with this movie. Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy from one of Gotham’s first families. No one -- especially the press -- knows what he looks like?! Knox for sure should have known Bruce Wayne when he saw him. That’s absurd!

 Keaton just doesn’t do it for me as Bruce Wayne. Big fan of his Batman, but not of his BW.

 From watching this film again, it’s clear that Pat Hingle was wasted in the following three films. BATMAN was the best depiction of Gordon in the Burton/Schumacher series.

 Michael Gough was a great Alfred.

 Vicki Vale asking Bruce what he does for a living is a STUPID QUESTION! He’s a billionaire, what do you think he does girl?!

 I love the part where Bruce is sitting at the Bat-Computer and reviews the tape of Gordon being informed that “Napier is cleaning out Axis Chemicals.” Keaton is very subtle here -- no words -- but it’s clear what he’s thinking.

 Great shot of Batman descending down into the factory and firing his grappling gun at Napier’s two lackeys.

 Watching Keaton walk on those catwalks in costume, you can tell how damn heavy that suit must have been.

 OK, I know Batman is strong, but him grabbing Napier and easily lifting him up high over is head is a stretch.

 So why didn’t the bullet that ricocheted off of Batman and hit Napier in the face, blow out all of his teeth?

 If Batman can easily lift grown men up off the ground, wouldn’t he then be strong enough to lift Napier and prevent him from falling into that vat of acid?

 Keaton’s Bruce Wayne might not have done it for me, but he is a PLAYA! He gets Vicki drunk on wine and then gets her into the sack on their first date. You go boy!

 So Jack Napier took a gunshot wound to the face, fell into a vat of acid, and had bootleg surgery all in one night? Um, OK, sure. But like The Joker says, “Oh, what a day HAHAHAHA!”

 The first appearance of “Sugarbumps” -- err The Joker -- is fantastic. You set me up over a woman. A WOMAN!” Love it.

 I’m glad I finally found out why The Jack-Joker has that big purple smear across his neck. So, no one noticed that in post?

 “Winged freak. Terrorizes. Wait until they get a load of me! HAHAHA!” Good stuff there. But the purple smear is gone.

 Alfred! You dogged out your boy Bruce to Vicki Vale! “We’re going to be here from quite a while Ms. Vale.” Doh!

 “Oh, I gotta live one here! HAHAHAHA!” “I’m glad you dead.” Another good Joker scene. That “discussion” with the corpse -- classic.

 So, The Joker hired Marshall Rogers to make a logo for his goons to wear on their jackets?

 “Who is this guy,” Vicki Vale says to Knox about Bruce Wayne. Don’t you think the Wayne Murders some 20 years ago was one of the most famous crimes in the history of Gotham? Yet, the press doesn‘t have a clue about who Bruce Wayne is or his history. Ridiculous!

 So I guess The Joker wears lipstick and makeup, right? OK, then why in the hell does he have goofy, drawn-on eyebrows and his lips are white except for right in the middle when he takes out that mobster on the steps of City Hall?

 “Batman. Batman? Can somebody tell me how a guy dressed up as a bat, gets all of my press?” Another great example of Joker dialogue in this movie.

 As much as I have criticized the Jack-Joker for basically being “Jack Nicholson as The Joker” and not “The Joker,” the character was written really well. The Joker was presented pretty much as the character was in the comics of that day.  OK, Smilex gives its victims the exact same smile -- red lips and all -- as The Joker himself. Sure.

 Obnoxious character #2: The Mayor.

 The Joker’s “Party Man” entrance into the museum = stupid.

 The Joker’s meeting with Vicki Vale in the museum = pretty darn good.

 The Batman crashing into the museum via the skylight -- another great iconic shot of The Dark Knight!

 Maybe it’s just me, but I never cared for the “Where does he get those wonderful toys?!” line from The Joker.

 Nice chase scene in BATMAN, but the one in BATMAN BEGINS topped it hands down.

 OK, The Batman and Vicki are being chased by The Joker’s goons as well as the cops. Why in the HELL would they stop in the middle of the city and get out of the Batmobile? Oh, to set up a mandatory fight scene!

 Now I do like the Batcave scene between Batman and Vicki, but this is where I start of have serious problems with this film. This is the beginning of the whole “Batman’s as crazy as The Joker” angle. Meh.

 She has something he wants? Hasn’t he already had it?

 Bruce Wayne: “Nice place. Lot’s of space.” The Joker: “Nice place. Lot’s of space.” See, they are the same -- NUTS! *rolls eyes*

 Why in the hell would Bruce Wayne tell Vicki he was Batman?! They met once at his party and then went on one single date! Yet he knows she’s “The One” and is going to tell her his biggest secret? Please!

 More of the “They are BOTH crazy” angle: “Now, you wanna get nuts? Come on, let’s GET NUTS!” *rolls eyes*

 Finally! The Gotham press figures out who Bruce Wayne is! Some crack reporters in that town, I’ve gotta say! And Knox throws in his assessment of Mr. Wayne: “He’s really screwed up!” I guess they are trying to hit us across the head with the fact that Bruce Wayne is a nutter. Sheesh.

 Alrighty, the big plot twist is revealed! Jack Napier is really Joe Chill! Well, you get the point, right? Now, not only are Batman and The Joker both wacky, they made each other! How convenient!

 First The Joker killed Bruce’s parents, now Alfred lets Vicki into the Batcave. “I just gotta know, are we going to try to love each other?” Blech.

 Now we’ve got The Batman driving into Axis Chemicals and blowing the joint up -- with all those people in there. Yeah, they are The Joker’s men, but isn’t that flat-out murder? And his intent was take out The Joker. Yeah, yeah, I know that Batman killed in his earliest comic book adventures, but for 99% of his existence, he didn’t kill. Big mess-up here by the filmmakers in my opinion.

 The Joker’s parade is stupid. Another opportunity for a Prince song and for The Joker to dance I guess. Where the hell is the Gotham Police Department? Wouldn’t The Joker have had to gotten a permit from the city for a parade? *winks*

 Here comes Batman in the Batwing to save the day. OK, I’m fine with that. But why come back firing away into the streets of Gotham? Oh that’s right, this Batman kills!

 Perhaps the most preposterous moment of this film: The Joker pulls out a long-ass gun out of his pants and takes down the Batwing in a single shot!

 The Joker takes Vicki Vale into the church, right? Why didn’t he just order his men to come get him right there on the ground? And how in the hell did at least two of The Joker’s goons get into the cathedral before The Joker or Batman? BATMAN‘s entire climax reeks of a last minute addition to the movie while still filming.

 And now Gordon and the GPD show up! Where the hell were they during that parade?

 Batman takes a serious ass-whipping by one of The Joker’s goons. I thought he was one of the greatest fighters in the world? And the only way he “wins” is by tossing the guy to his death!

 A line that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever: “Waddaya talking about? I was a kid when I killed your parents.” So The Joker knows that Batman is the son of two people he murdered years ago? And if so, HOW?! Don’t you think Jack Napier whacked A LOT of people?

 It’s like they backed themselves into a corner with this climax. The only way to get out of it was to have The Joker die -- which shouldn’t have happened. You got to think that they could have come up with something better than that?

 Shouldn’t The Joker have been smashed to smithereens by a fall like the one he took off the top of that cathedral?

 Now Gotham City considers Batman a hero -- after he’s blown up Axis chemicals and killed who knows how many people. Bad people, but people nonetheless.

 Batman’s letter to Gotham that Harvey Dent reads to the crowd? Cheesy. Do you think Batman would really write such a letter?

So there you have it, my blog of 1989’s BATMAN. Although it may sound as if I’m not too fond of this film, that is definitely not the case. BATMAN is one of my favorite films of all time.

With that said, I do think it’s a flawed film with a lot of plot holes and no real concrete storyline. I still believe that BATMAN greatest achievement was to show people -- the mainstream audience -- that Batman is not like the old campy TV show.

It may not be the best Batman movie, but it still is the most important one.

comments powered by Disqus

BATMAN ON FILM, © 1998-present William E. Ramey. All rights reserved.