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Batman is a clear case of style over substance. Burton's gothic visual aesthetic looms over every shot of the film, which guarantees that if you lose interest on the almost non-existent plot, at the very least you'll be amazed by the striking compositions. Rewatching the film after many years, I noticed the screenplay is its weakest link, filled with cardboard characters such as the boring love interest, the comic relief reporter and other forgettable characters.
The film often resembles a series of loosely connected sequences clumsily strung together, given that Burton is less interested in plot and the titular character and more interested in the crazy villain, vividly played by Jack Nicholson. Although admittedly dated by Heath Ledger's terrifying interpretation of the character, Nicholson's Joker still remains entertaining and proves as demented as his successor, just lacking the unstoppable terrorist quality of Ledger's turn. As a result of the focus on the villain and, inexplicably, in Kim Basinger's character, Keaton barely figures in the film.
The action sequences, which are surprisingly few, are more mediocre than I remembered. Suffering from poor choreography, they only serve to reinforce that Burton's always been poor at staging action. Despite this, its production design still remains as impressive as always, and Burton provides an undeniably comic-book look to Gotham City, which the recent Nolan films sorely lacked. There are also a number of sequences which play without dialogue, which is a fresh approach compared to Nolan's nearly non-stop expositional dialogue. And lest I forget, Danny Elfman's frenetic soundtrack is unforgettable and clearly compensates for Burton's clumsily staged action.
Batman is excessively stylish and clearly dated. However, its striking production design, greatly directed sequences and its stylish cinematography still make it an enjoyable ride.
Plot summary: Wealthy man assaults the mentally ill.
Jack Nicholson is so scary as the Joker! Not as scary as Heath Ledger. But at the time he must have spooked out a lot of kids!
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In 10 official lists
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This movie ranks #57 in Box Office Mojo's All Time Adjusted Box Office
This movie ranks #70 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #78 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #93 in Marshall Julius's Action! The Action Movie A-Z
This movie ranks #146 in iCheckMovies's Most Checked
This movie ranks #296 in Box Office Mojo's All Time Worldwide Box Office
This movie ranks #336 in Emma Beare's 501 Must-See Movies
This movie ranks #458 in Empire's The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time
This movie ranks #796 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #873 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films: 1001-2000