Back in 1990, following the huge success of Batman, Warren Beatty brought back another comic-book superhero for a modern, darker big screen outing: Dick Tracy, the yellow trench coat-wearing detective who punches grotesque-looking enemies with silly names in the face.
The film stars Beatty himself as Dick Tracy with Madonna in the femme fatale role and the likes of Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, William Forsythe and James Caan playing some of the wacky villains. Armed with a cool Danny Elfman score, songs by musical maestro Stephen Sondheim and an impressive visual art style, the comic strip-turned-blockbuster received mixed reviews upon its release but did well at the box-office. Unfortunately, no sequel or reboot was ever produced and, as a result, people tend to bypass or forget the movie altogether. Which is a shame seeing as, if this film is any indication, it's a franchise with tons of potential.
The plot sees Dick Tracy and his girlfriend Tess (Glenne Headly) take a young orphan living in the streets under their wing before Tracy starts to investigate the hostile takeover of the mob by Big Boy (a hammy-as-hell Pacino). Sexy yet potentially dangerous nightclub singer Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) finds herself stuck in the middle of Big Boy's war, occasionally flirting with Tracy who is eventually framed, kidnapped and left for dead. Plus there's a mysterious faceless baddie pulling the strings throughout.
Whether the critics back in the day liked the film or not, it still picked up some deserved Academy Awards and, even though it was a bit of a nightmare to bring to the screen in the first place, the result was a gorgeous-looking, very colourful, entertaining comic-book movie with a stunning pseudo 1940's Gotham City-esque look, a great cast and excellent music. Really, the only thing I'd say is a down side to the film is its over-reliance on musical montages. A couple of those could have easily been sacrificed in exchange for another straight-up action sequence. The film offers a nifty twist in its third act so make sure you stick around for that.
We'll probably see Dick Tracy come back in some form but for now, we still have Warren Beatty's movie which is definitely worth checking out if you haven't already. It may not be in people's consciousness these days but it remains one of the most ambitious and fun comic-book movies out there.