Happy Batman Day! Siskel And Ebert’s 1989 Review

You probably have already noticed from various online sources that today is in fact National Batman Day. So why not join us on the The Retroist as we dance with the Devil by the pale moonlight and see what the late great Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel felt about Tim Burton’s Batman?

[Via] 1989 Batman Movie

Was Ebert being fair in his criticism with Batman?

Yes and no. My takeaway is that Ebert didn’t hate the movie. He just couldn’t get past some of the story elements like Vicki Vale, played by Kim Basinger, not kind of freaking out more when she discovers that Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) is Batman. Not enough at least to enjoy it as much as Gene Siskel did in this case.

Here though is why I respectfully disagree with Ebert’s argument:

  • Early on in the movie, Bruce demonstrates some rather odd behavior, right? After spending the night together Vicki wakes up to see Bruce “exercising” and looking very much like a hanging bat.
    batman-1989
  • Vicki also spots Bruce on the streets of Gotham visiting the spot where his parents were murdered in crime alley. Something that causes her to research what happened to him as a kid – to which even the character of Knox mentions that he thinks Bruce is messed up in the head.
  • Then of course there is Bruce’s confrontation with the Joker in Vicki’s apartment. Which results in Vicki losing a perfectly good vase and watching Bruce get gunned down by the jealous Joker. Then he ends up literally leaving the apartment without her seeing him…probably climb out the window.
    batman-1989-bruce-and-the-joker
  • Vicki is a reporter besides being a well known photographer – she is not stupid. It only makes sense that she would put all of those pieces together and come to the conclusion Bruce is also Batman.
    batman-1989-vicki-and-batman
  • Plus I bet there was a scene before Alfred escorts her down to the Batcave where she grills him about knowing Batman’s true identity. Probably a threat about revealing who Wayne really is if Alfred doesn’t let her see him.

So today why not take a moment and join in on the celebration of National Batman Day? Re-watch 1989’s Batman or one of the other films – or better yet pick up and spend some time reading some Batman comics?

Who knows…maybe you should keep an eye on the night sky?

Back To The Future Part II Trailer (1989)


Towards the end of 1989 I had already witnessed the glory of Tim Burton’s vision of Batman as well as Spielberg’s epic Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade…but then, and if I remember this correctly, on Entertainment Tonight one evening I learned that Back to the Future II was headed to theaters in November. I couldn’t believe it. Finally a sequel to one of my favorite movies from 1985…I wouldn’t be this excited for a sequel again until Tron: Legacy!

I remember talking to my friends at school the next day…what would the movie be about? Obviously it had to do with Marty and Jennifer’s kids, right? Like many times in my life I quickly came to the realization that my friends could never get as excited as I did over movies and they certainly hadn’t spent as much time thinking about the possibility of future stories as I had.

That is probably because while on Friday and Saturday nights they were going to the movies and on dates…while I stayed at home playing my NES and watching movies. Hm, I don’t think much has changed actually.

I couldn’t resist picking up the novelization of the movie when I saw it at a store in my neck of the woods, I tried to wait but I just had to have the answers. I wasn’t disappointed by what I read either and at the very least it prepared me for the “surprise” ending.

I vividly remember sitting in a packed theater watching the film and seeing all of these little watch lights shining, my fellow movie fans were realizing that either this was going to be a three hour movie or something wasn’t right with the story. Then the end of the movie came…quickly followed by the teaser for the third Back to the Future film. As the words “To Be Concluded…” were shown on the screen, half of the audience jeered while the other half clapped, but by the end of that teaser everyone was clapping. I wonder…if you were able to see it in the theater, how did your audience react?

A big thanks as always to the IMP Awards for that awesome poster image up top and to Cherokee Brave for uploading RetroJunk.Com’s trailer over on YouTube.

Tim Burton’s Vincent (1982)


When I bought the Nightmare Before Christmas on Laserdisc, I made sure to throw down the cash for the Deluxe Edition, which included a treasure trove of behind the scenes goodies. One of those goodies was Burton’s 1982 love letter to the legendary Vincent Price entitled Vincent which Burton originally intended to be a children’s short story book.

Burton came up with Vincent while working as an animator at the Walt Disney Studios, his style didn’t exactly mesh with that of the studio but Disney Executive Julie Hickson and the head of Creative Development, Tom Wilhite, secured $60,000 for Tim Burton to produce an adaptation of his poem. With the aid of Rick Heinrichs, stop motion animator Stephen Chiodo and cameraman Victor Abdalov, Burton was able to complete the project in Two Months and get his idol to narrate the short!

A big thanks to petrover over on YouTube for uploading this fantastic short.

Beetlejuice (1988)


I remember seeing an edited version of the movie trailer posted below for Beetlejuice like a day before it hit the theater in my neck of the woods, my Father didn’t seem to think it looked even remotely interesting but I can tell you that as we left the theater he was claiming it was his favorite comedy of all time!

Thanks to Eddie4518 for uploading the trailer on YouTube.

I have a soft spot in my heart for this dark comedy and I still think it stands the test of time, do yourself a favor and watch this fantastic collaboration with Michael Keaton and Tim Burton this weekend!