birdman reviewMichael Keaton is perhaps best known for playing Batman in a pair of Tim Burton-directed superhero movies, whose visionary tone has set the standard for the genre until this day. And now he's stepping back into the superhero suit (sort of) for "Birdman," the latest film from "Babel" director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

"Birdman" tells the story of an actor who has been immortalized in a series of superhero movies (played, obviously, by Keaton), who decides to attempt a comeback by writing, directing, and starring in a stage adaptation of a Raymond Carver story. Of course, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. (Andrea Riseborough, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, and Emma Stone co-star.)

So why is everyone talking about this relatively little movie that could conceivably do very big things? Read on to find out!

1. Michael Keaton Is Truly Incredible
Michael Keaton is kind of always incredible. Even when he is turning up as a supporting player in something like "Robocop" or "The Other Guys," he is very consistent about bringing it. But this is a showcase for his many talents, a tour de force performance that will hopefully make people reevaluate Keaton's entire filmography. It's that amazing. (Because, honestly, even when he's in lousy movies he still shines bright.) We don't want to talk about the specifics of the performance too much, because it's such a wonderful, multi-layered surprise, but Keaton is in a lot of the movie and he's always startling, revealing, and hilarious. Quite frankly, it's one of the finest performances of the year, period.

2. You've Never Seen Anything Quite Like It...
Tonally, "Birdman" is all over the place. This is, after all, a farcical comedy directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the man whose last film had Javier Bardem accidentally killing a room full of Chinese immigrants thanks to a faulty space heater. (Dear god.) It's a gonzo, off-the-wall movie that is peppered with extremely dark drama. More often than not it plays like an extended episode of "The Muppet Show," but filmed entirely inside the mind of a delusional schizophrenic. And we mean that in the best possible way. It's a disorienting, drunkenly wonderful experience and unlike any cinematic trip you've ever taken before.

3. ... Especially Since It's All in One Take
Part of its revolutionary flavor has to do with the fact that the way "Birdman" was shot, as a series of long, interconnected, uninterrupted scenes, makes it seem like the entire movie was accomplished in one take. It wasn't. That would be impossible and really exhausting. But the editing is seamless and it really does feel like a single swooping camera maneuver. The effect is that you don't watch it so much as you dance with it. How cool is that?

4. It's Really, Really Funny
All of this talk about Inarritu and existentialism and complicated camera trickery has made it seem like this movie isn't funny. It is. It's very, very funny. Everyone is really great and hilarious (more on that in a minute) and for all of its introspectiveness and occasional bleak tendency, it's a riot from beginning to end. Just remember that just because it's technologically groundbreaking and maybe a little dark doesn't mean that you won't pee yourself with laughter.

5. The Superhero Parallels Are Very Obvious (and Great)
So, obviously, Keaton was once Batman (as we mentioned above), but the supporting cast is actually full of comic book movie survivors: Emma Stone, who played Gwen Stacy in two awful "Amazing Spider-Man" movies and Edward Norton, who was, quite briefly, "The Incredible Hulk." (Andrea Riseborough and Naomi Watts, while never appearing in superhero movies, have had their own grueling experiences with studio tent poles -- Riseborough was in the underrated Tom Cruise vehicle "Oblivion," while Watts essayed the lead in Peter Jackson's reimagining of "King Kong.") This is one of those movies where the filmmaker wants you to think about the roles the actors have previously inhabited while simultaneously watching them in this new performance. It's a little bit of work, but it totally pays off.

6. Edward Norton Is a Hoot
The "Birdman" supporting cast is uniformly terrific, but Norton, as the trouble-making actor brought into the production at the last minute, nearly steals the whole shebang. Norton is an actor who has a similar reputation in real life -- for being something of a control freak and a little off-the-wall, and you can feel him channeling that into the character. The results are positively brilliant. It's easy to see him get overshadowed by Keaton, who really is dynamite, but Norton holds his own with a ferocity that you rarely get to see, especially since he himself has kind of dropped off the radar.

7. It'll Kind of Make You Want to See a Real 'Birdman' Movie
At one point in the movie, fantasy and reality blur for just a moment and you get to see what a real "Birdman" movie would look like. Inarritu has been outspoken about how much he hates superhero movies and how he finds a majority of them to be "fascist" Hollywood constructs, but he also kind of makes you want to see what a feature-length "Birdman" superhero movie would be like. Somebody get Tim Burton on the phone?

8. Multiple Viewings Will Be Rewarded
We've seen "Birdman" twice now and the second viewing might have been even more revelatory since we were able to catch little things, both visual and dialogue-wise, that we missed the first time, either because things were zooming by so fast or because we were laughing so hard we couldn't hear anything else. So seeing it a second time, even if you weren't over-the-moon in love with it the first time, is probably a good idea.

9. It Might Be Too Weird for the Academy
People have been talking about "Birdman" like it's a potential Academy movie, maybe because even as we are entering the winter months, the field is wide open and there are few (if any) sure things out there. But this might be too divisive, too weird for the Academy. So if you're thinking about seeing it just because it has the possibility of taking home little gold statues, that might not be the best approach. You should probably just go see it because it's so damn good.

10. You Don't Need to Know Anything Else -- Just Go Already!
It's one of the best movies of the year and a total gonzo masterpiece. Just go. Now. And bring everyone you know.

"Birdman" is in select theaters now.