Director Tim Burton effectively echoes the visual style of the original Bob Kane comics while conjuring up a nightmarish world of his own.
Going back to the source elements of the cartoon figure, who made his debut in 1939 for Detective (now DC) Comics, the Jon Peters-Peter Guber production [from a story by Sam Hamm] will appeal to purists who prefer their heroes as straight as Clint Eastwood.
In a striking departure from his usual amiable comic-style, Michael Keaton captures the haunted intensity of the character, and seems particularly lonely and obsessive without Robin around to share his exploits.
It comes as no surprise that Jack Nicholson steals every scene in a sizable role as the hideoulsy disfigured Joker. Nicholson embellishes fascinatingly baroque designs with his twisted features, lavish verbal pirouettes and inspired excursions into the outer limits of psychosis. It’s a masterpiece of sinister comic acting.
What keeps the film arresting is the visual stylization. It was a shrewd choice for Burton to emulate the jarring angles and creepy lighting of film noir.
1989: Best Art Direction