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.
Vincent Canby - New York Times
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.
Desson Thomson - Washington Post
Dark, haunting and poetic
Hal Hinson - Washington Post
A triumph of design over story, style over substance - a great-looking movie with a plot you can't care much about.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
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.
Dave Kehr - Chicago Tribune
The conceptual side of the movie--two rather sick two-sided antagonists having it out in a black and sordid context -- lingers.
Jonathan Rosenbaum - Chicago Reader
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.
Carrie Rickey - Philadelphia Inquirer
Director Tim Burton effectively echoes the visual style of the original Bob Kane comics while conjuring up a nightmarish world of his own.
Dean Essner - Variety
Variety Staff - Variety
The storytelling has weaknesses, but the characters are fascinating.
Jay Boyar - Orlando Sentinel
There are a lot of things wrong with Batman, but it still makes for decent entertainment in the fine tradition of the typical low-intelligence summer movie.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
Is it interesting? Fitfully. Is it fun? Not much, Gotham City fans, not much.
Sheila Benson - Los Angeles Times
As Robin might have said of this semi-boondoggle: "Holy overkill!"
Candice Russell - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Michael Keaton makes a credible hero, and Jack Nicholson is downright manic as his nemesis.
David Sterritt - Christian Science Monitor
[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.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
Even though its standing has diminished in the wake of the countless superhero flicks that emerged in the new millennium, the pros still outweigh the cons.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
Only minor Burton, with hindsight on our side, and its chief merits and flaws are as one of the formative texts of superhero cinema.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
While Keaton and Nicholson are dazzling in their roles, Burton never quite finds much to explore with Bruce Wayne, and that's wasted potential.
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
Jennie Kermode - Movie Gurus
Stylish, violent, and often dull Batman adventure.
Ed Grant - Common Sense Media
A dark and refreshing interpretation of one of comic kingdom's most beloved characters, Batman successfully wiped away the memory of the camp 1960s television show and proved that comic book movies can be highly entertaining viewing.
Matthew Pejkovic - Matt's Movie Reviews
The element of surprise appears in every frame of this motion picture, creating a rich sense of joy and mystery that seems to befuddle Burton and his primitive instincts.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
...Batman hasn't gone totally stale.
Bill Chambers - Film Freak Central
Visually arresting but dramatically undernourished, the film suffers from bland characterization (particularly by Basinger's Vicki and the other "good" crime fighters) and is ultimately saved by Jack Nicholson's bravura turn as the diabolical Joker.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
A void of underdeveloped style and halfhearted execution.
Rob Humanick - Projection Booth
Supposedly a superhero movie for grown-ups, this is actually a pretentious farrago.
Matthew De Abaitua - Film4
It was, however, easily the biggest box-office hit of 1989, and one of the highest grossing films in history, a testament more to its massive marketing campaign than to its quality.
Dean Essner - TV Guide's Movie Guide
Wow. I can't believe how little I enjoyed about this movie after all of these years of NOT having seen it.
JoBlo - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
Burton brings back film noir elements to the new Batman, elevating it to a dark, demented opera.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
In the end, one's reaction to Burton's blockbuster is little more than that of the Joker to Batman: 'Where did he get those wonderful toys?'
Dean Essner - Time Out
The movie that gave birth to the summer blockbuster remains impressive.
Andrew Collins - Empire Magazine
The story is a mess… Scenes and lines of dialogue make no sense… Keaton makes hardly any impression in the role, in or out of the mask.
Steven D. Greydanus - Decent Films Guide
...the yardstick by which all subsequent Batman movies are measured.
John J. Puccio - DVDTown.com
John J. Puccio - Movie Metropolis
Fred Topel - About.com
A cynical cinematic masterpiece.
James Brundage - Filmcritic.com
Despite a handful of good minor performances -- Michael Gough is the definitive Alfred -- and despite some striking bits of music from Prince, it really has nothing of its own to offer.
Jennie Kermode - Eye for Film
That Nicholson could make this homicidal maniac so sympathetic is a testament to his performance.
David Medsker - Bullz-Eye.com
As a movie spectacle, it delivered. As Batman, well...it got a lot of things wrong.
Luke Y. Thompson - LYTRules.com
Moriarty - Ain't It Cool Movie Reviews
Uneven in tone, but Keaton's great and the movie just looks like a million bucks.
Scott Weinberg - eFilmCritic.com
Philip Martin - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Despite its failings...a hugely influential movie with literally towering design, mordant wit, and a hall-of-fame performance by Jack Nicholson.
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
Greg Maki - Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
[It] provides two hours of more than solid entertainment.
Dragan Antulov - rec.arts.movies.reviews
Mark Palermo - Coast (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Thomas Delapa - Boulder Weekly
A dark reinvention of the Batman legend; the only offkey piece is Jack Nicholson's way over the top performance.
Bob Bloom - Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
Good film...it kind of reeks of the '80s now, but it's still dark fun.
Shawn Bowers - Kansas City Star
Bring back Adam West.
Kevin N. Laforest - Montreal Film Journal
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
Carol Cling - Las Vegas Review-Journal
Ryan Cracknell - Movie Views
Gloomy and not particularly entertaining
Jon Niccum - Lawrence Journal-World
Overly dark, broody, and campy. A disservice to the classic TV show and the more serious comic series.
Brian Mckay - eFilmCritic.com
An almost-great film -- a comic book movie that takes chances.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - San Francisco Examiner
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
Tim Burton is a genius when it comes to set design and atmosphere, but he can't film an action sequence to save his life.
James Rocchi - Netflix
Langourously paced, but compelling rethinking
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Dark, eerie, mean spirited, I love it
Stefan Birgir Stefansson - sbs.is
It's just plain fun.
Ted Prigge - rec.arts.movies.reviews
Tim Burton's Batman manages to avoid all the potholes that the Batman story might have strewn in the way of an unwary filmmaker and he manages to avoid them all with aplomb.
James O'Ehley - Sci-Fi Movie Page
A celebration of form over story
Steve Rhodes - Internet Reviews
I guess I did not expect better, but I had hoped for it nonetheless.
Mark R. Leeper - rec.arts.movies.reviews
Nicholson does indeed blow everybody else off the screen. Sometimes it seems this movie should be called Joker instead of Batman.
Chris Hicks - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Was it worth the wait? Actually, yes.
David N. Butterworth - rec.arts.movies.reviews
...a success for several reasons, but most of the credit goes to director Tim Burton's brilliant visual interpretation of a dark, ominous comic book.
David Keyes - Cinemaphile.org