Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?

Na na na na na na na na… Batman! The one, the original, the film that started it all (ignoring the campy Adam West version, of course), Tim Burton’s adaptation truly set the mold for practically every superhero film to follow; the genre is of course ever-evolving and changing, but it couldn’t have done so without a film starting the trend, setting the bar for each film to move further afterwards, and Tim Burton’s Batman is clearly the film that did it. Now, that doesn’t exactly mean this is a masterpiece; there’s a lot of material here that’s dated significantly since the film’s release, but that doesn’t mean there still can’t be some entertainment value to be had from this one.

Everything, from the cinematography to the special effects to, hell, even the acting (especially from Nicholson), is straight out of the textbook for how to make a summer blockbuster. This film essentially came from the era of when the textbook for how to make a successful film was just being rewritten, so it adheres to the formula pervasively. Being a Hollywood blockbuster of the 1980s, the film couldn’t be less on-the-nose if it tried, and it doesn’t try in the least, but given how much this has influenced nearly every superhero movie to follow in the next two decades, I doubt we would have it any other way. The one big quibble I had, with the story, was the decision to have the young Joker be the mugger that kills Bruce Wayne’s parents. I felt it was too much of a shoehorn to tie the entire film into a neat, tidy bow, when it really wasn’t that necessary, and the aspects of the plot that did involve it could just as easily been rearranged in different ways to serve an even better story. Some have also criticized the use of Prince songs for the soundtrack, but I didn’t pay it too much mind; to me, it fit right in with the whole late-80s mindset of the film’s entertainment value.

I’m really at a loss for how to rate this one. On the one hand, it was entertaining, and extremely successful at the type and style of movie it wanted to be. On the other hand, it was way too formulaic (the romantic subplot, for instance, that seems to be there solely because every successful wide-demographic film needs to have a romantic subplot), and in my opinion the film hasn’t aged all that well, given the state of superhero movies today; even Nolan’s trilogy. Still, there’s no denying that superhero flicks, and summer blockbusters both, have a lot to be thankful of Batman for, but I’m still not too convinced that warrants inclusion in the list automatically. But I guess I can live with it.

Arbitrary Rating: 8/10


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