Then there's “The Night Wing”, I don’t know if this film is what introduced use to the night wing but it did introduce me to it and it looked amazing. That shot of it flying in front of the moon is something I’ll always remember, certainly more memorable than in “E.T. The Extraterrestrial”. The night wing will be featured in three more Batman films, “Batman Mask of the Phantasm”, “Batman Forever” and "The Dark Knight Rises". Some may argue that it’s to unrealistic to have Batman flying something that “NASA” hasn’t been able to construct yet but all the same, it's a trade mark vehicle of the character and probably my favorite of his. Now about the plot, well, there really isn't much of one and that's the films only real weakness. The real strength of the picture comes from its strong atmosphere and creative visuals. My favorite scene is when Batman and Vicky Vale are ridding in the Bat mobile, there's hardly any lines, the shots combine with the music beautifully and it fully allows you to just relax and let the music and atmosphere sink in.
The supporting cast is small but functional, the butler Alfred is played very well by Michael Gough, who continued his role as Alfred throughout “Batman Returns”, “Batman Forever” and “Batman and Robin”, just like the reliable butler that he is. Pat Hingle also continued his role as Commissioner Gordon throughout the 4 Batman movies but he just doesn't stand out in any appreciable way and is more often then not an extra. Now unlike Superman or Spider-Man, Batman has never had a single girl friend, in fact the girl friends change in every movie, much like James Boned women. Our lead girl friend in this film is Vicki Vale played by Kim Basinger. She’s a fun character and a perfect, cliched, damsel in distress, always in need of rescuing, always losing her shoes and always screaming. Despite being such as obvious cliché, she was also insightful and kind while also being quick and coming. Vale was supportive but she had her limits, making her a fun and sometimes interesting character. Also I really like Vales wardrobe, most of Batman’s girl friends are always in black attire but Vale was always in white and that was a much cooler contrast to Batman and the dark, gothic surroundings.
Now excuse me for getting off topic for a moment but there are a few connections between Batman and Dracula that I thought would be fun to mention. First of all, Michael Gough (Alfred) also starred in “Horror of Dracula” and in that film he aided Van Helsing with slaying vampires. Interesting, he went from vampire killer to serving a man who dresses up like a bat, coincidence or a clever choice by Tim Burton. In 2005 there was an animated crossover movie titled “The Batman vs. Dracula” and the lead girl in that film was none other than Vicky Vail. In the sequel “Batman Returns”, there’s a character named Max Shrek, which was also the name of the actor who played Dracula in the oldest existing vampire movie “Nosferatu”. Also, doesn't the opening title of the 1931 “Dracula” look a lot like the chapter openings to the 1930’s Batman serials, which coincidentally featured Vicky Vail. Here’s another fun bite of trivia, in a latter Tim Burton movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, Wonka's dad works at a dental place called “Smilex”, this was the name of the poison the Joker used to kill people with permanent smiles.
Overall, This is what I like to call an experience film, I love being submersed in this comic book style world and experiencing all the visuals, the sets, the music, the clichés, the film noir and just the whole artistry of how the film is brought to life. It doesn’t need a strong script or intense character depth, it already makes for a worthwhile film on its own merits. Now that’s not to say that I don’t care about strong scripts and character structure, I love all that stuff too, but sometimes I just like to take a break from all of that and just experience something that’s technically brilliant. Finally, that closing shot of Batman on top of the building with the bat signal in the background is one of the most memorable and triumphant closings to a superhero movie I've ever seen. For all its problems I still look at this movie as a classic and a great entry in the series, it’s not a masterpiece but it doesn’t need to be and it still did its job making an icon out of this character. I give “Batman” 4 stars.
Stay tuned for part three, things are going to get darker as we look at “Batman Returns”.