Monday, June 22, 2009

Tim Burton's "Batman"...20 years ago.

Do you remember what you were doing 20 years ago this evening? I do. I had a date! I know it probably doesn't seem that big of a deal to you, but you don't realize how rare of an occasion that was. A good friend took pity on me and accompanied me to a late evening showing of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," which I had already seen once. As we exited the theater around 11:00 that evening, we passed by the line that had formed for the midnight showing of the summer of 89's most anticipated movie..."Batman." The June 23rd release date had been stamped on our brains many months before, and now the day was upon us. Part of me wanted to suggest to my date that we just turn around and make the night a double feature, but I ended up waiting for the first showing the next day. My movie pals and I lined up early and we had such a great time. The movie was worth the wait. It's hard to believe it's been 20 years.

With all the excitement, deservedly so, over Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" last year, I fear that many have forgotten what a great movie Burton's "Batman" is. This was only Burton's third feature. With only the bizarre fun of "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" and "Beetlejuice" under his belt, he seemed an odd choice for such a potentially big franchise. But Burton's take on the material was spot on. Jack Nicholson was an inspired choice to play the Joker and Michael Keaton gave the fanboys who whined about his casting a swift batkick to the pants. Mix it with the incredible production design and what is still one of Danny Elfman's best scores, and you've got a classic.

Happy 20th to Tim Burton's "Batman!" You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?

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