By Ed Grant,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Stylish, violent, and dark superhero adventure.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The lines between good and evil are not clear-cut, and though Batman/Bruce Wayne are the heroes, their motivations are as much rooted in vigilante justice as the desire to do good -- perhaps even more so.
Positive Role Models
Though Batman/Bruce Wayne is the "good guy" in the movie, he is also shown as a flawed hero -- someone motivated as much by vigilante justice as he is by the desire to do good.
Violence & Scariness
Numerous shoot-outs, killings, chases, and fight scenes. In a flashback, Bruce Wayne remembers witnessing his parents' killing; the film's first scene parallels this with a present-day child seeing his father killed by a mugger. The Joker kills one victim with a quill pen in the throat and electrocutes another. Batman and Vicki nearly die at the movie's end while hanging from a ledge. Fights with knives and swords. Talk of the Joker's ex-girlfriend committing suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Implied sex between Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Vicki Vale. The Joker makes sexual advances toward Vicki Vale. Prostitutes walk up and down a bustling and crime-filled city street; one of them accosts a young boy.
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"Son of a bitch," "s--t," "dick," "bastard."
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Products & Purchases
Movie based on iconic comic-book hero created by DC Comics, which has also led to the merchandising of toys, clothing, games, and so on.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cigar and cigarette smoking. Champagne drinking -- a woman acts drunk with a man after a dinner date, stumbling, slurring her speech.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Batman is the 1989 movie starring Micheal Keaton as "the Caped Crusader"; this was the first reintroduction to the darker, more "noir" Batman instead of the campier 1960s Batman that was the most well-known version. 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 man electrocuted to death, along with numerous shoot-outs, wild chases, and vigilantism portrayed in a favorable light. Expect some profanity, including "bitch" and "s--t"; cigarette and cigar smoking; and champagne drinking -- a woman acts drunk before an implied one-night stand with Bruce Wayne. The Joker makes sexual advances toward Vicki Vale. Prostitutes walk up and down a bustling and crime-filled city street; one of them accosts a young boy.
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Based on 32 parent reviews
Good movie for budding action-flick fans
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tim burtons dark adventure may be scary for young kids
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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?
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 while director Tim Burton is skilled at depicting the whimsical, the demented, even the nightmarish, if this movie is any indication, 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, sleepwalks through his performance as the Caped Crusader. Though the armor-covered Batman is nearly always in motion, Bruce Wayne barely puts out any emotional energy. (To his credit, he did improve a bit in the superior -- but darker -- sequel Batman Returns.) Here, it's up to Nicholson to steal the show by quipping, shrieking with laughter, and boogying down to several catchy Prince tunes.
Talk to Your Kids 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? Why, or why not?
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 vigilantism and contrasting it with what happens in the movie.
This version of Batman was released at a time when the most popular conception of Batman was from the campy 1960s TV show. How is this version of Batman similar to and different from the other versions from TV, movies, and comic books?
How are these versions of the Joker, Alfred, and Vicki Vale similar to and different from other characterizations past and present?
- In theaters: June 23, 1989
- On DVD or streaming: August 22, 1997
- Cast: Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton
- Director: Tim Burton
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Run time: 126 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- Last updated: May 4, 2022
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