Friday, July 3 - Saturday, July 4, 2015

DCP projection

“Dark, haunting and poetic, Tim Burton’s BATMAN is a magnificent living comic book. From its opening shots, as the camera descends into the grim, teeming streets of Gotham City, the movie fixes you in its gravitational pull. It’s an enveloping, walk-in vision. You enter into it as you would a magical forest in a fairy tale, and the deeper you’re drawn into it, the more frighteningly vivid it becomes.

“Ultimately, that’s what BATMAN is — a violent urban fairy tale. And it’s as rich and satisfying a movie as you’re likely to see all year. But though it springs from American pulp origins and provides comic book pleasures, it expands upon them as well, transmuting the raw material into operatic gold. Burton’s pop vitality and his ability to make the world over in surreal cartoon terms could have been predicted from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice, but nowhere in those films is there a sign of the muscularity and emotion he shows here…

“Clearly, the movie’s Gotham is meant to be a nightmare variation on present-day New York City. (It even has Ed Koch and David Dinkins stand-ins, played by Lee Wallace and Billy Dee Williams.) As its 200th-birthday celebration approaches, it is in the grip of a brutal crime wave, orchestrated by Carl Grissom (Jack Palance), the boss of bosses, and his head henchman, Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson). In his stylish threads, Napier is the most dapper of the crooks, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by Grissom’s moll, Alicia (Jerry Hall), who’s two-timing the capo with his lieutenant…

“Nicholson, too, seems to be having a blast, and he brings a sense of dangerous hilarity to the character. Dressed in lurid lavender suits with orange silk shirts and aquamarine ties, he plays his green-haired trickster as a prancing, camp maniac. Beneath the Joker’s killer jokes, though, the violence is palpable. Nicholson’s acting here is dexterous, dancerly; physically, he’s a wild-man combination of Barrymore, Baryshnikov and Jackie Gleason. Ogling a picture of the famous photojournalist Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) — who becomes Wayne’s girlfriend — he hisses, “She could put steam in a man’s strides.” This may be the nuttiest serious performance ever given by a major star. Nothing Nicholson does is expected or mundane — he’s brilliantly bonkers.

“But if Nicholson’s maniacal Joker is the movie’s engine, Michael Keaton’s Batman is its cool, forceful center. Burton specializes in freaks, and in this sense the comic book characters that Bob Kane and others created are certainly prime subjects. What he does, simply, is make them and their world real. Miraculously, he does this by heightening the story’s fantastical theatricality. When Batman makes his entrance, unfurling his cape to display its full wingspan, the image carries a charge of supernatural grandeur. In black from ear-tip to toe, this Batman is truly a larger-than-life figure, potent and terrifying, and the flourish with which he’s brought onstage allows him to rise to his full superhero stature…

“Inspired by the classic Batman stories in DC Comics and the revisionist versions of Frank Miller, Alan Moore and others, this Batman tale is very much Burton’s and very much centered in the physical world of gravity and human limitations. These heroes are our metaphorical selves, colorful externalizations of our psychological conflicts, and therefore, at times, overwhelmingly potent. They’re our pop archetypes, and Burton applies a flamboyant showmanship to bring them to life. The adversaries’ final danse macabre — or, as the Joker calls it, ‘the big duckeroo’ — is an electrifying bit of moviemaking. Your emotions are plugged right into it in a way they seldom are in movies like this. But then again, there haven’t been many movies like this. In some ways, it’s a masterpiece of pulp, the work of a true artist.” – Washington Post

  • Country USA
  • Rating PG-13
  • Running Time 126 minutes
  • Director Tim Burton

IFC Center does not generally provide advisories about subject matter or potentially triggering content in films, as sensitivities vary from person to person. In addition to the synopses, trailers and other links on our website, further information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense Media, IMDb and as well as through general internet searches.