The wit is all pictorial. The film meanders mindlessly from one image to the next, as does a comic book. It doesn't help that the title character remains such a wimp even when played by Michael Keaton.
An exhilarating mix of cartoon lore (though not nearly enough for rabid Batpurists), screen presence (this is pretty much the Jack and Mike Show), psychological murkiness (though it could have used even more) and demented Gothic goofiness.
The idea of doing a dark, neurotic, highly stylized and highly claustrophobic superproduction is an audacious and appealing one, but director Tim Burton has only made it halfway there.
It's an unforgivably flat ending for a movie of such astonishing contours. But its first two-thirds -- which should be called The Joker's Big Misadventure -- is probably the best film of the year.
[Nicholson] has never been more commanding. Not only because he does an outstanding job, but also because so much of the movie's creative energy is devoted to making the Joker one of the most startling movie characters in recent memory.