Warren Beatty’s adaptation of the 1930s comic strip is certainly visually striking. As a matter of fact, the set design, makeup effects, cartoonish backgrounds and graphic novel color palette are fascinating to watch, so much so that they constantly threaten to overwhelm the narrative. There’s so much going on at any time that it’s hard to get organically interested in the plot: As director, Beatty is more interested in showing off the movie’s internal universe than develop its characters or establish an atmosphere, and ultimately the movie becomes something that’s fun to look at but narratively negligible. The all-star cast seems to be having fun with their hyper-stylized characters, but Al Pacino steals every scene as Big Boy Caprice and he’s a delight to watch. Stephen Sondheim’s score is perfectly tailored to the movie’s theatricality, and there are a number of terrific Madonna songs peppered that add a little panache to the whole thing.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)