‘Batman’ Was Entertaining, and That’s What Mattered

“You ever danced with the Devil by the pale moonlight?”

The Joker (Jack Nicholson)

I can remember the first time I saw Tim Burton’s “Batman, king77 which premiered 25 years ago on June 23, 1989.

I was on my way to St. Louis to visit some friends, and, en route, I stopped off in Little Rock for a few days to visit some other friends. While I was there, they suggested that we all go see “Batman,” which had been in the theaters for about a week.

So we did.

My friend Steve was eager to hear Jack Nicholson deliver – in context – the line we had been hearing in trailers: “Where does he get those wonderful toys?” I was just eager to see the movie. It had been getting a lot of press, and it was shaping up to be the summer blockbuster that year. puss888

And I liked it.

Roger Ebert didn’t. He said the movie was “a triumph of design over story, style over substance – a great-looking movie with a plot you can’t care much about.”

Well, see, that’s where we come to a parting of the ways. My friends and I enjoyed it – maybe because we didn’t bring such lofty expectations to the experience.

I thought Nicholson had a blast playing the Joker. Maybe he didn’t, but he certainly seemed to be having a blast. (Considering the reported terms of his contract, slot35 which insisted on a high salary and a chunk of the box office receipts – which must have been considerable, given that the movie made more than $400 million – he had every reason to enjoy himself.)

“Batman? Batman? Can somebody tell me what kind of a world we live in where a man dressed up as a bat gets all of my press?”

The Joker (Jack Nicholson)

I don’t know if Michael Keaton had a blast playing Batman – but he must have had fun and a certain sense of satisfaction, since my understanding is that he was primarily pigeonholed as a comedic actor before “Batman” was released. He put that reputation to rest and started landing some more dramatic roles, presumably as a result.

(Ebert wrote that Keaton’s performance as Batman and Bruce Wayne was “so monosyllabic and impenetrable that we have to remind ourselves to cheer for them.”)

As for Kim Basinger, well, she was 35 and a darned good distraction. I don’t think her performance as Vicki Vale was her best – that would probably be her Oscar-winning turn in 1997’s “L.A. Confidential” – or, for that matter, her most demanding. betflix789

Basinger wasn’t the first choice for the role; Sean Young was. But Young fell from a horse and broke her arm during rehearsals. Burton chose to drop the horseback scene entirely – and go with Basinger instead.

“[A]lthough [Basinger] and Wayne carry on a courtship and Batman rescues her from certain death more than once,” Ebert wrote, “there’s no chemistry and little eroticism.”

I’m not sure I would go that far, but I must concede that Ebert had a valid point when he wrote, “The strangest scene in the movie may be the one where Vicki is brought into the Batcave by Alfred, the faithful valet, and realizes for the first time that Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same person. How does she react? She doesn’t react. The movie forgets to allow her to be astonished.” zodiac888

Or a photojournalist.

To me, that may have been the most blatant false note. The true identity of a masked superhero is always a huge mystery, whether in a comic book or a movie – and the source of endless speculation among both those who wish him well and those who wish him ill. As much as I enjoyed “Batman,” it was impossible for me to believe that Basinger, playing a photographer working with a newspaper that was eager for scoops, had zero interest in the subject, even when she figured it out. For more info visit these sites: lucia168
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Which she must have done. Vicki Vale was simply too sharp to miss something like that.

I saw the sequel to “Batman” – “Batman Returns” – and Basinger’s character wasn’t in it (except in conversation). Her almost casual discovery of Bruce Wayne’s other identity was never addressed.

Maybe my friends and I didn’t particularly care about the plot – but we were entertained by it.

 

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