‘Batman’ (Film)

‘BATMAN’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Batman with the Joker and Vicki Vale

The Batman in this movie series is a Time Lord! Wait until ‘Batman & Robin’ for me to explain why!

In December 2016, I purchased the DVD box set of ‘Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology’ (as well as ‘The ‘Superman’ 5-Film Collection’ DVD box set) whilst shopping in Cardiff after Christmas. I watched all four movies of the original ‘Batman’ movie series from 1989 to 1997 and enjoyed them!

It was after my enjoyment of ‘Batman Forever’, which my best mate from school Stephen purchased for me on my birthday in May 2016, that I got into these ‘Batman’ movies more. I wanted to see these original four ‘Batman’ movies on DVD and to also find out what each of them were like in turn.

I thoroughly enjoyed each of the ‘Batman’ films in this DVD collection. They include ‘Batman’, ‘Batman Returns’, ‘Batman Forever’ and ‘Batman & Robin’. Each film was different in terms of taste and style. It was very interesting and fun to see how Batman was made during the late 80s/early 90s.

My thoughts about these ‘Batman’ films since first watching them have changed a bit. But that’s what time and reflection will do for you. I found the entertainment in each of the four films, but they’re not all necessarily great. Each film was made differently in terms of direction as well as taste.

The first film ‘Batman’ was directed by Tim Burton and it stars Michael Keaton as Batman. I think this is the best ‘Batman’ movie ever made! It was also the first ‘Batman’ film I saw in its movie collection.

I recall seeing the first ‘Batman’ movie from 1989 when my Dad purchased the DVD for me to watch, whilst I was in the heyday of ‘Spider-Mania’ in the 2000s. I must admit I didn’t take an interest then.

Don’t get wrong, I enjoyed watching the 1989 ‘Batman’ movie with Michael Keaton. It’s just I wasn’t ready for Batman since Spider-Man was for me. Batman was also rather dark for me as a superhero.

By the time I purchased the ‘Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology’ DVD box set and saw the 1989 ‘Batman’ film a second time, I greatly enjoyed it. Watching it a third time has given me more insight.

The film’s director Tim Burton is the perfect choice to direct a ‘Batman’ movie. I’ve seen other films directed by Tim Burton before ‘Batman’. These include ‘Edward Scissorhands’, starring Johnny Deep

Tim Burton delivers a dark quality to this first ‘Batman’ movie as well as edges of black comedy. This suits the movie very well and the plot and the characters are engaging throughout from start to end.

There’s also a sense of atmosphere that matches well to the dark quality in the film. This is reflected in the musical score composed by Danny Elfman as well as in the lighting for many scenes in the film.

Michael Keaton is very good as Batman/Bruce Wayne in the film. Keaton plays the two roles very distinctly and you would not tell that Batman and Bruce Wayne were the same person during the film.

I like how Keaton balances the charm and humour of Bruce Wayne in the movie as well as in Batman. When he’s Batman, he’s pretty stern-looking especially when he’s out fighting the criminals.

The film also stars Jack Nicholson as the Joker, the arch-enemy for Batman. Jack Nicholson is very good as the evil Joker. He’s both funny as well as very scary throughout when becoming the Joker.

From watching the film, you can see that the Joker is pretty insane as well as murderous through his clownish behaviour and appearance. It was interesting how the Joker was created from an accident.

An interesting revelation takes place during the movie. It seems that Jack Napier (before he became the Joker) murdered Bruce Wayne’s parents when he was a child. This led Bruce to become Batman.

Kim Basinger stars as Vicki Vale, Bruce Wayne’s love interest in the movie. I enjoyed the romance element of the movie with Vicki Vale. Vicki is a very talented photo journalist that visits Gotham City.

It was interesting to see how Vicki and Bruce fell in love with each other in the movie. Vicki also gets desired by the Joker, as he sets up a meeting between him and her as well as visiting her apartment.

The most memorable segment of the movie is when Batman rescues Vicki Vale from the Joker and she gets to ride in his Batmobile. Batman drives Vicki with him back to the Batcave in the Batmobile.

The cast also includes Robert Wuhl as Alexander Knox; Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon; Billy Dee Williams (from ‘Star Wars’) as Harvey Dent and Jack Palance (from gangster movies) as Carl Grissom.

There’s also Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler at Wayne Maynor. For me, Michael Gough starred in two ‘Doctor Who’ stories including ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ and ‘Arc of Infinity’.

The 1989 ‘Batman’ movie is one of the finest pieces of cinema history! I consider it one of the best ‘Batman’ movies ever made and Michael Keaton is certainly one of the best Batman actors ever!!!

‘Batman’ was released on a 2-disc special edition DVD in 2005. It was also later released on Blu-ray. The DVD/Blu-ray special features are as follows. There’s an audio commentary with director Tim Burton and the ‘On The Set With Bob Kane’ featurette.

There’s also the ‘Legends of The Dark Knight: The History of Batman’ documentary; the ‘Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of The Dark Knight Parts 1-3’ documentary and the ‘Beyond Batman’ documentary gallery. There’s also three Prince music videos.

There’s ‘The Heroes and The Villains’ profiles galleries; the ‘Batman: The Complete Robin Storyboard Sequence’ and a theatrical trailer for the movie.

‘Batman’ rating – 9/10


‘BATMAN’ (NOVELIZATION)

Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Tim Burton Universe of ‘Batman’ Begins In Book

I read this ‘Batman’ movie novelization whilst attending two comic cons in March 2019! 😀

In 2018, I read the move novelization of ‘Batman Forever’! I greatly enjoyed reading that novelization by Peter David. I read it because ‘Batman Forever’ is one of my favourite superhero movies. It may not be to everybody’s tastes, but it’s a guilty pleasure and I can’t help what I like. And of course Peter David wrote the book! 😀

I originally planned to read the move novelization of ‘Batman & Robin’ next in the line-up. But in November 2018, my Dad had purchased the Blu-ray edition of the first ‘Batman’ movie from 1989, directed by Tim Burton. We watched the first ‘Batman’ movie on Blu-ray and it was really good indeed.

Therefore, I decided…oh what the heck! Let’s go back to the beginning of the ‘Batman’ movie series in novelization form by reading the movie novelization of the first ‘Batman’ movie by Tim Burton. I purchased the novelization in November 2018 before I read the book from February to March in 2019.

Reading the book has been an enjoyable experience for me. It wasn’t the same as Peter David’s novelization of ‘Batman Forever’, but I enjoyed reading the story of what was in the Tim Burton movie, comparing how different it was from film to book. I even re-watched scenes of the film to compare it.

I also read the book during the period I attended two comic cons in March including the ‘London Comic Con Spring’ and the ‘Film & Comic Con Cardiff 2019’. Reading the book in London was different in Cardiff, as I was staying overnight at a Premier Inn in London whilst I read the book at home in Cardiff.

There was an audio cassette reading of the first ‘Batman’ movie novelization by Roddy McDowall, who played the Bookworm in the 1960s ‘Batman’ TV series as well as voicing the Mad Hatter in the ‘Batman’ animated TV series. I decided not to read the book with the audio cassette reading in the background.

This was because of the limited availability of the audio cassette reading by Roddy McDowall and also because I wanted to read the book myself without any audio background to help me. I didn’t do it when I read the ‘Batman Forever’ novelization, so it’s only fair I applied the same for the first ‘Batman’ film.

The first ‘Batman’ movie by Tim Burton was novelized by Craig Shaw Gardner. I haven’t come across the guy before and apparently he did movie novelizations of ‘Back to the Future, Part II’ and ‘Part III’ as well as the movie novelization for ‘Batman Returns’. I must check out those novelizations someday.

The novelization is based on the story by Sam Hamm as well as the screenplay by Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren. It is also of course based on the character by Bob Kane. In terms of a novelization, it is fairly faithful to what was in the film. Mind you, as with most novelizations, there are some changes.

I imagine Craig Shaw Gardner novelized this book based on the original screenplay as opposed to what ended up in the film. I say that because certain scenes in the book are different to how they’re portrayed in the film, especially in how characters delivered their lines of dialogue in alternative ways.

First of all, the book is divided into 19 chapters with a prologue at the beginning. The prologue is essentially the first few scenes building to Batman’s first appearance in the movie where he captures two crooks who stole money from a family that left a theatre in Gotham City. The build-up is different.

When it comes to Batman telling the criminal who he is, he doesn’t simply say, “I’m Batman!” like he does in the movie. Batman, to the criminal, says the line, “Tell your friends, tell all your friends, I am the night!” Um, I prefer the move version of that scene compared to the novelization. Yeah. Sounds obvious.

But honestly, I don’t see how telling the criminal “I am the night!” is better than “I’m Batman!” I’m glad this was changed in the movie version compared to the book version. Somehow “I’m Batman!” sounds memorable and recognisable, especially when Batman pulls the criminal up close for a kiss. 😀

The first chapter then has us introduced to Harvey Dent, Commissioner Gordon and Major Borg in the movie. Now from reading the book initially, you’d think that Harvey Dent was going to be the focus of the story, especially when an emphasis is placed upon him via the criminal viewpoint e.g. Jack Napier.

But of course, the book misleads you to think like that as we eventually discover that it’s Bruce Wayne who’s the focus, not Harvey Dent. I’m not sure if that was the movie’s intent to mislead the audience into thinking who Batman was since it could be either Harvey Dent or Bruce Wayne. It sounds plausible.

I’m just saying from reading the book, a lot of the attention gets put on Harvey Dent first before it drifts away onto other characters like Bruce Wayne, Vicki Vale, Alexander Knox and the Joker. It would be a while before we get to ‘Batman Forever’ where Harvey Dent becomes a focus again as the villain Two-Face.

The relationship between Knox and Vicki Vale is interesting in the book compared to the movie. From my point of view, when Knox is trying to hit off with Vicki, she seems gentle as well as alluring when turning him down. That’s not the impression I got from Vicki when watching her played out in the film.

It was quite a surprise by the end of the book when Vicki actually kissed Knox before saying goodbye. I’m not sure if the script’s original intention was to have Knox more appealing to Vicki before it got toned down when Tim Burton directed the movie. Either way, it was interesting to read it in the book.

The dating between Vicki and Bruce in the book is different compared to how it was portrayed in the movie. In the movie, Bruce and Vicki had an awkward dinner together before joining Alfred in the kitchen. That doesn’t happen in the novelization. Instead, we have Bruce and Vicki riding on horseback.

Apparently, the horse-riding scene at Wayne Manor with Bruce and Vicki in the book was a deleted scene from the movie. The scene was written for Sean Young who was originally cast to play Vicki before she got injured in preparation for that horse-riding scene. She was taken over by Kim Basinger.

I’m not sure if it was decided to not have Kim Basinger prepare for the horse-riding scene in the movie due to Sean Young’s injuring herself or whether they ran out of time for Kim Basinger to prepare. In any event, the scene’s not in the movie and is in the novelization instead. It was intriguing to find it here.

Bruce and Vicki have champagne together after their horse-riding scene before they go upstairs to spend the night together in Wayne Manor. Some lines of dialogue from the movie version are featured in the book, including Bruce’s comments about Alfred to Vicki e.g. Alfred being good finding Bruce’s pair of shoes.

There’s also the omission of Bruce hanging upside down when he and Vicki are spending the night together. I imagine it’s not in the original script when Gardner novelized the story. It doesn’t make sense in the movie either since why didn’t Vicki question Bruce hanging upside down the following morning?

Vicki’s interest in Bruce Wayne gets expanded upon in the book compared to the movie. She’s intrigued about why Bruce lied to her about leaving town when following him to a certain Gotham street to place roses in memorial of his parents. This is explored further in the Joker’s day-time attack.

The scene where Bruce meets Vicki at her apartment before the Joker comes in is handled differently in the book compared to the movie. The dialogue’s different when Bruce and Vicki talk to each other. Bruce doesn’t tell Vicki to ‘shut up’ when he talks to her. I’m glad it’s omitted as it was uncalled for in the film.

In the book, Bruce struggles to tell Vicki what’s been going on with him, though we don’t get an indication that he’s trying to tell her that he’s Batman as he seemed to do in the movie. When the doorbell rang, Vicki receives the package first before she receives the Joker. In the film, it was the other way around.

When Vicki receives the package first, Bruce stops her from opening it and opens it himself in the kitchen with the use of his Batman utility belt, concealed from Vicki of course. This of course reveals the dead flowers with the hand holding them inside the package. Then, the Joker and his goons enter.

It’s interesting how it works differently in the book with the Joker coming into Vicki’s apartment by sending the flowers first before he enters himself first with his goons. There’s another difference where the Joker kidnaps Vicki before he shoots Bruce with a gun. Next chapter, Batman rescues Vicki.

I actually prefer the book version of this scene compared to the movie version. The book version feels tense than the movie version. It also makes sense to have the Joker kidnap Vicki rather than just visit her with Bruce at her apartment in the film. Why would the Joker depart without actually taking Vicki in the film?

Jack Napier’s journey to becoming the Joker was enjoyable to read in the book. It was interesting how Jack takes orders from his boss Grissom before being thrown into acid by Batman; then becoming the Joker before he shoots Grissom and taking over his crime business. His antics later on are disturbing.

I also enjoyed it when the Joker seems to rely on Bob, his henchman, and often calling him ‘Good old Bob’ throughout his thoughts. It was a shock when the Joker actually shot Bob in the movie after Batman stole his balloons, still calling him ‘Good old Bob’ despite shooting him. The Joker’s clearly warped. 😀

In the book, the climactic scenes of Batman chasing after the Joker with Vicki in Gotham Cathedral and eventually fighting him are interesting to read. He struggles not to faint after his Batwing plane crashed down and he keeps on thinking about his parents’ murders, as he is fading in and out at times.

It’s also emphasised that Batman has had his ribs broken following the crash of his Batwing in the movie. I don’t think it was made clear in the book, even though he did send down a row of pews in the cathedral like dominos. But you do feel Batman’s pain when he’s chasing after the Joker with Vicki.

In the book, there’s a strange moment towards the end when Alexander Knox is in the Batman suit and the assumption is made for a brief time that he is Batman. Not sure why that was done in the story or how Knox got into the Batman suit in the first place. I’m glad this was not included in the movie.

The book ends of course with Harvey Dent and Commissioner Gordon reading the letter from Batman to the citizens of Gotham about his service to help and revealing the Bat-signal in the sky. And of course, Vicki gets into the limo-scene car driven by Alfred, who informs her that Mr. Wayne might be a little late.

Batman’s appearance at the end of the book when he steps out from among the gargoyles up high of Gotham City as the Bat-signal is being shown in the sky is well-handled in the book. It’s an iconic image to end the story both in book and film. I do like how the novelization’s final sentence happens to be…‘It was Batman’.

The ‘Batman’ movie novelization by Craig Shaw Gardner is pretty good. There are some notable differences from the book to the film that are either pleasing to make you wish could’ve been in the film; moments that work well in book than film; and moments from the film you wish could’ve been in the book.

Overall this is a fairly faithful novelization of the 1989 ‘Batman’ movie by Tim Burton. It was enjoyable to compare what was similar and different in the book from the film. I still consider the 1989 ‘Batman’ movie to be a great film and it was nice to re-explore it by reading the novelization by Gardner in tow.

Will I read the ‘Batman Returns’ novelization next? Well, wait and see!

‘Batman’ (Novelization) rating – 8/10


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10 thoughts on “‘Batman’ (Film)

  1. Awesome review, i love this film & it’s up there with the Dark Knight Trilogy for me, i remember causing my parents a ton of grief because they decided we were going on our yearly 2 week caravan holiday the day this film was released 11th August 1989 if i remember correctly & boy was i a nightmare for the first few days of that holiday until my mom found a cinema in the city near our campsite & went with me to see it.

    I ended up buying two Batman movie tie-in T-shirts & a ton of other merchandise including the audiobook read by Roddy McDowell.

    Cheers Tim for writing a excellent review & bringing back fond memories of when i seen this film.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Simon.

    Very pleased you enjoyed my review on the 1989 ‘Batman’. Glad you love this film and thank you for sharing your memories of when you saw it at the cinema all those years ago!

    I’ll have to watch and review ‘The Dark Knight Trilogy’ sometime! Thank goodness I’ve reviewed the first four ‘Batman’ movies. I’ve got the Adam West stuff to do next. 😀

    Oh I didn’t know there was an audiobook of the ‘Batman’ movie by Roddy McDowell. Is that still in print or available to purchase on Amazon? I can’t seem to find it.

    Thanks for your comments, Simon. I’m pleased I brought back fond memories for you when you saw this movie.

    Tim. 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks Simon.

      The 1989 ‘Batman’ and ‘Batman Returns’ novelizations happen to be penned by Craig Shaw Gardner. Should I ever get round to reading and reviewing these novelizations (with the first one by Roddy McDowall), I’ll let you know.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

  3. There’s photos of me looking grumpy on our holiday because my parents took us to these caves & i wanted to go see Batman I’m even wearing the T-Shirt, i laugh about it now but i was in a mood until i got my way lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Funnily enough i read this novel during the same holiday i went to see the film, a excellent review Tim, I’m perplexed as why Knox weres the Batman cape & cowl in the stories conclusion, it also featured in the graphic comic adaptation too with Knox saying “can i make the late edition” or something along those lines, I’m glad it didn’t feature in the movie as the scenes makes no sense whatsoever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Simon.

      Ah now that’s interesting you read the ‘Batman’ novelization at the same time you saw the film on your holiday. Must have been quite a treat for you back then. 😀

      Glad you enjoyed my review on the ‘Batman’ movie novelization. Yeah that scene where Knox is in the Batman cape and cowl makes no sense when reading the novelization as it came out of nowhere. I’ve seen a review of the comic book adaptation of ‘Batman’ by Linkara and the Nostalgia Critic on Atop The Fourth Wall. Apparently a few things in the novelization were in the comic book adaptation too like the “Tell your friends, tell all your friends, I am the night!” instead of the memorable “I’m Batman” line Batman says to the crook in the early scene of the movie.

      Many thanks for your comments, Simon. I look forward to reading the movie novelization of ‘Batman Returns’ someday whenever that may be. 😀

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

  5. This is a really awesome review Tim. Batman 89 is among my favourite films of all time, up there with The Ten Commandments, Toy Story and Senna. I have watched all four films in a Blu-ray box set and I am even thinking of rewatching it starting tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Media Lover.

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘Batman’ (1989).

      I’m pleased it’s one of your favourite films. My parents and I saw it earlier this year during the lockdown. Still love it to this day.

      ‘Toy Story’ is one of my favourites too. Haven’t seen ‘Ten Commandments’ in a long time. Haven’t seen ‘Senna’ yet.

      Many thanks for your comments. Got the four ‘Batman’ films on Blu-ray too.

      Enjoy your rewatch of ‘Batman’ tonight.

      Tim. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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