With so many different entertainment options out there for your children, we at PopcornBiz thought we'd take a moment each week to dissect one piece of family entertainment strictly from a parent's perspective, so that you know what parts are appropriate for your loved ones, and which are not. This week's COVER YOUR EYES subject: “Batman.”
The year 2012 is going to be broken down into two parts: the lead-up to "The Dark Knight Rises" and the reaction to it. A nuclear bomb could go off in Montreal and it still wouldn't get as much attention from the collective populace as the final installment of Christopher Nolan's hyper-serious superhero trilogy. The success of the Christian Bale Batman movies has been so massive, it's all but wiped the first series of Batman films off the pop culture radar for good. This is a shame, because there's still entertainment value to be had with Tim Burton's first "Batman" movie, starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. Sure, it's a bit more fanciful than Nolan's vision, but that doesn't mean it's all kitsch (that came later when Joel Schumacher was put in charge). It's still a fine movie, but is it okay for your little Batman-obsessed son to watch? Let's consider a few factors.
The “Will Parents Be Able To Tolerate It?” Factor: Yes. Thanks to Keaton and Nicholson, along with Danny Elfman's big score, the first "Batman" movie (CLARIFICATION: I refer to this as the first Batman movie because the original Adam West Batman movie was a TV movie) still has plenty going for it. I was alone in a hotel a few weeks ago and this was on TNT or something, and I was more than happy to watch it for six minutes before passing out.
The Dead Parent Factor: HUGE. Not only are Bruce Wayne's parents dead, but you see them gunned down by a young, psychotic Jack Napier in a harrowing flashback sequence. So if "The Dark Knight" gave you the illusion that Tim Burton's "Batman" was somehow gentler, you're in for a surprise.
The Sexy Sex Sex Factor: Minimal. You get a drunk Vicki Vale hooking up with Bruce Wayne, and the Joker does his best to seduce her as well. But the closest thing you get to a bedroom scene is Basinger waking up after a dalliance with Batman and realizing her camera film has gone missing. That Batman. So charming when he's violating your civil liberties!
The Scare Factor: There are big scares to be had here, including the first scene where Batman is the one jumping out of the shadows to commit wanton acts of violence. There are also any number of smaller, creepier moments, like Napier's tumble into a pit of green acid, the Joker mutilating Jerry Hall's face, and the Joker poisoning citizens of Gotham so that they die smiling. Again, the movie is loaded with macabre moments like those. You could argue that Nolan's first Batman feature, "Batman Begins," isn't anywhere near as scary as this.
The Violence Factor: Also big. There are shooting deaths, assassinations, electrocutions, acid baths, and even a touch of genocide, with the Joker gassing a packed Gotham crowd. This is all done with a minimal amount of blood, but the bodies stack up quickly.
Age Range: 12 and up. This older Batman isn't any more kid-friendly than the Nolan films. For younger children, you're much better off going with the old Adam West shows. "Remember the Bat-tusi?"