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Sunday, March 13, 2011

G's Siskel and Ebert Classic Review: BATMAN (1989) & BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (1993)

G’s Take: BATMAN (1989) - *** - Michael Keaton was an odd choice to play BATMAN, he looks nothing like the tall, muscular character from the comics, but he fits in perfectly with Director Tim Burton’s vision of Gotham. Jack Nicholson steals the show as the Joker, the scene in the Gotham Art Museum shows both the insanity of the character and the brilliance of Jack (and is by far the best action set piece in the film). What holds the film back from greatness is a plot that often lacks focus and the pacing of the film suffers because of it. Burton’s second Batman film, BATMAN RETURNS (1992), remains my favorite of the two due to a more well thought out story and humor that was lacking completely from the first film. Thumbs up.

G’s Take: BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (1993) - *** 1/2 - BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES premiered in 1992 and ran through 1995. It represents some of the best animation I have seen. It is a tough, hardboiled take on Batman based partially on Frank Miller’s comic BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (which Director Christopher Nolan would also use as source material for his vision of the character). The success of the series would lead to this film helmed with precision by the animated series vets Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm. The characters are smart, the action scenes are inventive, and the voice acting in this film is phenomenal. Mark Hamill is far from the X-Wing as the Joker, and he delivers the voice that I feel like I always had in my head when I was reading the comics. Batman is voiced by Kevin Conroy who’s Batman voice sounds like he is chewing on nails and his Wayne voice is calm, patient and thoughtful. Conroy gives the character a complexity we had not seen on-screen at this point. Both actors still voice the characters today. This remains one of my favorite Batman films to this day (second only to Nolan’s 2008 THE DARK KNIGHT). Thumbs WAY up.

See you on forty deuce,