Orphaned when his parents were shot in front of him by a laughing robber when he was a child, Bruce Wayne (Keaton) has a split personality. By day he is a suave millionaire, but by night he dons a cape and rubber mask to become Batman, a superhero on the edge, dedicated to ridding the streets of Gotham of criminals. Helped by his trusty butler, Alfred, our hero has gadgets galore (including, of course, the Batmobile) hidden in the caves beneath his imposing home (actually Knebworth House in Hertfordshire) and they come in handy when a new bad guy comes to town, the cackling Joker (Nicholson).
Director Tim Burton was the perfect person to make a dark, stylish version of the Batman comics for the big screen, and he made a terrific choice hiring Keaton, who is just right as the conflicted, brooding crimefighter. It’s certainly nothing like the campy sixties TV series (and because of some creepy moments, probably isn’t suitable for the under-elevens – when released at the cinema it had a ‘12’ certificate), instead it’s a beautifully realised adventure, featuring a glamorous Basinger as reporter Vicki Vale, a brilliantly bonkers turn from Nicholson and a catchy soundtrack from Prince.
Is Batman (1989) suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Note that this film is aimed at teenagers, not younger children, and is dark throughout.
The early scene in which Bruce’s parents are killed is upsetting.
The Joker is scary, and children may be frightened by the sight of the victims of his laughing gas (their faces are hideously frozen into grins).