Bomb Rating: 

One must assume that after all those years of getting beaten up inschool, ├╝bergeek-turned-director Tim Burton saw actor Michael Keaton as a guy who could kick some ass, or, at least, kick Burton's ass. Unfortunately, this pathetic bit of casting has led to a series of increasingly feminine Batmans; first Keaton, then Val Kilmer and then George Clooney. Who's next? RuPaul? The male stars of "Friends"? Keep this progression up, and in a few years it's going to be Richard Simmons as Batman, trying convince Robin that just because Batman can't get into the Batsuit anymore doesn't mean he can't slap-fight with the best of them.

This long-awaited adaptation of the famous comic-book hero turns the Dark Knight into a sad, wimpy joke -- it's a film about a clown wielding dangerous cosmetics to the music of Prince.

Another precedent set by Burton is the focus on the bad guy, in this case, the Joker (Jack Nicholson), whom Batman drops into a vat of acid, giving his face a permanent smile. This inspires the Joker to terrorize Gotham City with poisoned cosmetics while Batman tries to keep Vicky Vale (Kim Basinger) from becoming one of the resultant fashion disasters. This film should just have been called "Joker," because Batman barely puts in an appearance.

The only interesting relationship in the film is the one between Alfred (Michael Gough) and Bruce Wayne. Bruce tells Vicky something to the effect of "Alfred is the only family I've ever known," thus furthering the upper-class notion that forcing one's help to lick the toilet bowls for minimum wage does not preclude one from pretending that they are equals. Clark Kent, at least, was a working man. Bruce Wayne is nothing more than an effeminate capitalist with a rubber fetish.

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