Vision not fully realised, but still a template of sorts.
It could never have lived up to its hype back in 1989, it was hailed as the film to rival the impact of Jaws & Star Wars as regards historical cinema conventions, it was, we were led to believe, a new age in cinema, or so it seemed. As it was, the film went down a treat for the modern cinema going audience, it raked in cash galore and spawned a raft of very inferior sequels, but ultimately critics of the time were less than impressed.
So it makes for something of an interesting experience viewing it again as it approaches its 30th birthday in 2019. More so in light of Christopher Nolan's bank busting Dark Knight series of films. I remember the hype and marketing campaign that ensured that the film could never live up to the gargantuan hype, and I'm honest enough to say that I was a little underwhelmed on first viewing. Yet time has been very kind to it, now showing that Burton had the nous and foresight to reignite a genre. Visually the film still stands up with the best that today's genre pieces can offer, the sets are incredible, with Anton Furst rightly winning the big award for his work here, whilst Burton's dark and deep tone captures the essence of Gotham City and Bruce Wayne's troubled mind perfectly, but does the cast fully realise the potential on offer?
Sadly for me I just don't buy Michael Keaton as the troubled and vengeful Bruce Wayne, he is a fine actor that just doesn't quite cut it in the brooding close to madness department, and yet he's outstanding in the cape, arguably the best Batman ever. Jack Nicholson has the time of his life camping it up as The Joker, he steals the film for sure, but not because he is acting with great poise and class, but purely because in a film calling for the battle of two unhinged characters, he is the one awash in colour and overacting the maniacal side of the character to the max.
Kim Basinger looks great and doesn't have to do much as Vicki Vale except say her lines right, pout, look scared when required and scream with conviction, and she does all these. But really any other actress could have done the same thing - though I'm personally relieved that Sean Young dropped out of the film and thus allowed some other actress to step in. The supporting cast do OK, and although the soundtrack by Prince pushes the boundaries of annoying caricature indulgence, it does work and the film remains today a very entertaining watch, but you can't help feeling that there is some great Burton vision here that never got fully realised. And that is a damn shame. 8/10