I’m never sure how I feel about Michael Keaton. He always has such unorthodox delivery in his performances. I can’t deny the personality he brings to his characters. And a lot of the time that’s what makes certain performances so good. But he has such a specific style, that at times he seems a little out of place. Not every role is fit for his idiosyncrasies.
At times you feel that way about his role as Bruce Wayne. He does an okay job as Batman, but his usual tongue-in-cheek style gets somewhat stymied as Wayne. You can tell he’s holding back, but then other times he doesn’t, and it seems out of place. The result is a character who is neither stoic nor hyper. He’s just lethargic.
The premise is pretty convoluted, so I’m going to bare-bones it. The Joker (Jack Nicholson) becomes Batman’s first true supervillain as the Caped Crusader tries to clean up the streets of Gotham City.
Nicholson is the obvious standout in this film. He’s a psychopath who makes you uneasy just because you know he literally has no conscience.
Over the course of the film, the story turns into the Joker attempting to create some sort of political race with Batman to become the city’s favorite bad guy. It’s twisted and doesn’t make much sense–but in the most intentional way possible. The way only the Joker could pull off.
But this trend continues as other characters have muddled motives also. The Joker’s motives are supposed to not make sense, but the rest of the characters’ still should.
There’s some backstory in the first 45 minutes of how the Joker comes to be, but it’s confusing as well.
Watching the film now, it’s an exercise in nostalgia, but it’s still a very slow watch, sagging all throughout. However, the dialogue is snappy and holds up pretty well (the dialogue does–not the movie as a whole). The movie is definitely dated and would never fly as a Batman movie these days. Post-Christopher Nolan, we as a society have become extremely picky about our Batman films.