Saturday, August 7, 2010

The 100 Best Movies: #25

25. Batman (1989)

Sometimes in show business, timing really is everything. Tim Burton's dark and stylish re-imagining of the Caped Crusader seemed to come along at the right time (the summer of 1989). It felt needed. Until then, the only representations the character had (other than the comic books, which were going through a revamp themselves) were the 1960's TV series (which was a sitcom) and the 1970's animated Superfriends series (which was aimed at children of course). Burton's vision seemed to fit for more mature audiences and certainly made the higher-ups at Warner Brothers Studio quite happy by being the blockbuster of the year (fighting with Disney's The Little Mermaid to be the year's top earner).

The movie itself has some reworkings of the superhero's origins to fit the film's plot (and the retoolings work). As I said before when discussing #91: Batman Returns (Tim Burton's dynamic sequel), Michael Keaton is perhaps my favorite Batman. He had the nonchalance that fit Bruce Wayne and the strong intensity necessary to play the masked hero. He also is perfect to be opposite the brilliance and full-on-over-the-top qualities of the villain. Was there ever a better person to play the Joker in 1989 other than Jack Nicholson? Once again, timing is everything. In Burton's film, Jack equals the Joker and just sets the screen ablaze. Nicholson put such a mark on the role that he was hard to forget (that is until Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning performance in 2008's #43: The Dark Knight). The supporting performances from Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Michael Gough and (in an interesting cameo) Jack Palance are all perfect for the world of Gotham City that Tim Burton has created. It is my favorite of all the Batman films because of the dark qualities and designs, the intense performances and the stark direction (as only Burton can do it).

Next Post: #24

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