Thanks to the ambitious vision of director Tim Burton, the blockbuster hit of 1989 delivers the goods despite an occasionally spotty script, giving the caped crusader a thorough overhaul in keeping with the crime fighter's evolution in DC Comics. Michael Keaton strikes just the right mood as the brooding "Dark Knight" of Gotham City; Kim Basinger plays Gotham's intrepid reporter Vicki Vale; and Jack Nicholson goes wild as the maniacal and scene-stealing Joker, who plots a takeover of the city with his lethal Smilex gas. Triumphant Oscar-winning production design by the late Anton Furst turns Batman into a visual feast, and Burton brilliantly establishes a darkly mythic approach to Batman's legacy. Danny Elfman's now-classic score propels the action with bold, muscular verve. --Jeff Shannon
The first Batman sequel takes a wicked turn with the villainous exploits of the freakish and mean-spirited Penguin (Danny DeVito), whose criminal collaboration with evil tycoon Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) threatens to drain Gotham City of its energy supply. As if that weren't enough, Batman (Michael Keaton) has his hands full with the vengeful Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer), who turns out to be a lot more dangerous than a kitten with a whip. As with the first Batman feature, director Tim Burton brings his distinct visual style to the frantic action, but this time there's a darker malevolence lurking beneath all that extraordinary production design. --Jeff Shannon
When Tim Burton and Michael Keaton announced that they'd had enough of the Batman franchise, director Joel Schumacher stepped in (with Burton as coproducer) to make this action-packed extravaganza starring Val Kilmer as the caped crusader. Batman is up against two of Gotham City's most colorful criminals, the Riddler (a role tailor-made for funnyman Jim Carrey) and the diabolical Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones), who join forces to conquer Gotham's population with a brain-draining device. Nicole Kidman plays the seductive psychologist who wants to know what makes Batman tick. Boasting a redesigned Batmobile and plenty of new Bat hardware, Batman Forever also introduces Robin the Boy Wonder (Chris O'Donnell) whose close alliance with Batman led more than a few critics to ponder the series' homoerotic subtext. No matter how you interpret it, Schumacher's take on the Batman legacy is simultaneously amusing, lavishly epic, and prone to chronic sensory overload. --Jeff Shannon
Batman and Robin
Following Val Kilmer's portrayal of the caped crusader in Batman Forever, the fourth Batman feature stars George Clooney under the pointy-eared cowl, with Chris O'Donnell returning as Robin the Boy Wonder. This time the dynamic duo is up against the nefarious Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who is bent on turning the world into an iceberg, and the slyly seductive but highly toxic Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), who wants to eliminate all animal life and turn the Earth into a gigantic greenhouse. Alicia Silverstone lends a hand as Batgirl, and Elle McPherson plays the thankless role of Batman/Bruce Wayne's fiancée. A sensory assault of dazzling colors, senseless action, and lavish sets run amok, this Batman and Robin offers an overdose of eye candy, but it is strictly for devoted Bat-o-philes. --Jeff Shannon
Boxed set including the first four Batman movies.
Batman: Inspired by Frank Miller's graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, this gothic, Wagnerian treatment of the Batman mythos explains the origins of Batman and his nemesis, the maniacal Joker (a ripe Jack Nicholson), who has sinister plans for the citizens of Gotham City.
Batman Returns: As the pitiful, orphaned psychopathic freak the Penguin and the power-hungry capitalist villain Max Schreck (named after the actor who played Nosferatu) plot to gain domination over Gotham City, the Caped Crusader battles an equally fatal distraction... Cat Woman.
Batman Forever: Gotham City is once again under siege, this time by the mind-controlling Riddler and the diabolical Harvey Two-Face. The Caped Crusader cleans up with the help of his new side-kick Robin in this effects-laden thrill ride.
Batman And Robin: The Caped Crusader returns to battle the abominable Mr. Freeze and green-thumbed Poison Ivy. To save his ailing wife, Dr. Victor Fries turns to a life of crime after a hideous accident makes him unable to tolerate even moderate temperatures, while Dr. Pamela Isley falls victim to mutated plant DNA when things go awry in a jungle laboratory funded by Wayne Industries. Of course, though their interests are diametrically opposed (Freeze wants another Ice Age; Ivy wants to make the world safe for plants), the two villains team up to defeat Gotham's dynamic duo of Batman and Robin, who are joined by butler Alfred's motorcycle-obsessed niece as Batgirl. And when Alfred is diagnosed as having the same terminal disease as Freeze's wife, the trio find themselves not only fighting an altruistic battle, but a personal one as well. A frenetic, colourful, and often overwhelming sequel to the films that precede it.
- Actors Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, Billy Dee Williams, Mich