What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that kids watching this movie will see the murder of parents before their own kids, disfigurement, a quill pen jabbed in a man's throat and another electrocuted to death, along with numerous shoot-outs, wild chases, and vigilantism portrayed in a favorable light.
What's the story?
After witnessing his parents' murder by a criminal as a child, millionaire Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) grows up to track and apprehend criminals in the guise of Batman. When crime lord Grissom decides to dispose of a troublesome henchman, Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson), by sending him on a fool's errand to a chemical factory, Napier battles Batman and winds up falling into a vat of toxic chemicals. Napier lives, but the fixed grin he has acquired as a result of the chemicals leads him to call himself The Joker. The Joker kills Grissom, and then sets his sights on courting Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger), a photographer currently dating Wayne. The rest of the movie rotates around the Joker's plan to poison the city's cosmetics supply and his abduction of Vicki.
Is it any good?
Director Tim Burton is skilled at depicting the whimsical, the demented, even the nightmarish. If this movie is any indication, however, he has little talent for creating "normal" people or telling a logical story. BATMAN does have its virtues: eye-catching production design, and Nicholson's joyfully hammy turn as The Joker. Nicholson holds viewers' attention during the movie's first quarter, before the Batman/Joker conflict kicks in.
Keaton, however, sleep walks through his performance as the Caped Crusader. While the armor-covered Batman is nearly always in motion, Bruce Wayne barely puts out any emotional energy. Though he improved a bit in the superior -- but darker -- sequel Batman Returns, Keaton's casting as the muscular Bruce Wayne remains one of the most wrongheaded decisions in movie history. The talented supporting cast can't overcome the stiff dialogue, and so it's up to Nicholson to steal the show by quipping, shrieking with laughter, and boogying down to several catchy Prince tunes.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about vigilantism. When Batman decides to punish or kill criminals himself, instead of handing them over to the police, is he doing the right thing? For younger kids, you might discuss whether Batman acts like a good guy when he dangles people over city streets or kills criminals. Older kids might be interested in discussing real life instances of vigilatism and contrasting that with what happens in the movie.