Batman (1989)

Source: Warner Bros: DVD, 2000.

Year: 1989

Director: Tim Burton

Action Stars

Kim Basinger

Michael Keaton

Jack Nicholson

Jack Palance

Billy Dee Williams

Genre: Superhero film

Country: United States

Story Duration: 1:54:56

Act Duration:

1st Act: 00:26:43

2nd Act: 00:27:55

3rd Act: 00:33:13

4th Act: 00:27:02

Plot Turns:

1st: Jack Napier falls into chemical vat

2nd: Vicki Vale tricked

3rd: Discovery of Joker’s past identity

ASD Ratio: 43%

AAD Ratios:

1st Act: 32%

2nd Act: 11%

3rd Act: 48%

4th Act: 80%

Action Structure: 2134

Action Scenarios

Capture

Escape

Fall

Fight

Heist

Rescue

Pursuit

Speed

Total Action Moments: 15

 

1. X-axis and ground level action as Vicki Vale spots gas release.
2. Y-axis fall connecting aerial and ground level planes of action.
3. Batman in Batwing with action staged at skyscraper level.
4. The Joker captured by grappling hook.
Action Structure

Notable Action Sequence: Gotham Parade

Duration: 00:20:20

Act: 4th

Action Scenarios:

Capture

Escape

Fall

Fight

Rescue

Speed

Description: The Gotham parade set piece in Batman (1989) is another final act extended action sequence, a trend that became more predominant during the 1990s and 2000s. Over 20 minutes in duration, and comprising 80% of the 4th act, the sequence exhibits the features of action complexity as discussed in the action profile for X-Men (2000). The sequence has distinct plotlines that primarily follow the story paths of Batman, the Joker and Vicki Vale. What is noteworthy is that not only do these plotlines converge as a means to signal to the viewer that the sequence is coming to its climax but also the converge is executed on the planes of action.

The sequence commences when Batman arrives in his Batwing on a rescue mission to save the citizens of Gotham City from a gas attack from the Joker’s parade balloons. Batman’s aerial position is contrasted with ground level x-axis action when Vicki spots gas being released by using the telephoto lens of her camera [Figure 1]. Unlucky citizens die from the gas while others flee. One of Joker’s henchmen hanging from a rope attached to a balloon loses his grip and falls downward, a y-axis descent that connects the aerial and ground planes of action [Figure 2]. Batman dives downward to skyscraper level to snag the balloons with the Batwing as the action and plotlines remain and different planes [Figure 3]. This changes when the Joker, also at ground level, shoots down the Batwing with an enormous gun, causing it to crash at the steps of the Gotham Cathedral. The crash also initiates the major plot turn in the sequence when the Joker kidnaps Vicki at gunpoint and heads to the summit of the Cathedral to escape by helicopter. Batman emerges from the wreckage of the Batwing and follows them up the Cathedral stairwell, with the action shifting to the y-axis. When Batman reaches the summit, the action returns to the aerial plane, as he must first contend with the Joker’s goons. The fight with Joker’s goons underscores the addition risks of falling from such a great height. When the Joker attempts to escape in the helicopter, Batman fires a grappling hook that snags the Joker to a gargoyle statue, an action that momentarily invokes the capture scenario [Figure 4]. As the helicopter ascends, the gargoyle statue comes loose pulling the Joker downward. Unable to hang onto the helicopter’s rope ladder, the Joker falls to his death, bringing the story to its climax and re-enforcing the Y-axis staging of action that is prominently used in the sequence.

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