While Batman deals with a deformed man calling himself the Penguin, an employee of a corrupt businessman transforms into the Catwoman.
The Age of Commercialism
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A terrific literary drama and character piece that shows how the process of creating art can be seen differently by those doing it and those looking at it from the outside.
"Batman Returns" feels a lot like its predecessor "Batman(1989)" before it, but everything turned up a notch. It's darker, even more atmospheric and more violent. It also started the trend of two villains per movie, and was one of the few to pull it off, at least back then! The Christmas setting is great and works like a charm with the already overly gothic tone and look. Action is great and stylish, Batman is cool and intimidating. There is a lot of new gadgets and the Batmobile has also new tricks up it's sleeve. Full of dark humor and a bit twisted moments. Both villains are memorable for different reasons. Michelle Pfeiffer is the perfect Catwoman and Danny DeVito is great as a disturbing and grotesque version of the Penguin character. To top that off Christopher Walken has also an awesome part! This is the logical and awesome continuation from Batman(1989) and it remains one of my favorite comic book films to this day. Perfect Christmas viewing :)
Hot off the heels off his hugely successful predecessor, Tim Burton was quickly snapped up to harness the reigns to it's sequel. But only if he had total control. Which as this film shows, he most certainly got.
Visually different, (I miss Anton Furst's lavish sets, though the sets created here are still worthy of merit), the film doesn't really seem to be in the same universe as the first film, whereas the first one was a straight up good vs evil superhero crime flick, this one lingers more on fantasy and a freak show element that fully embodies Tim Burton's creative talent. I feel that if the viewer isn't a fan of Burton, or felt disappointed with Batman '89, probably won't appreciate 'Returns, although it's definitely worth a watch, the film seems to almost play out like an opera.
Keaton returns also as Batman, albeit I feel not quite giving such a strong performance as he did in the first one, despite getting more screen time. Although he doesn't give a bad performance by any means, he does seem to just simply breeze through the film.
Danny DeVito is the next star to portray one of Batman's rogues, The Penguin. He couldn't be any more different from every incarnation of the character before it, instead adopting shades of Killer Croc's origin. He is grotesque, tragic, a freak with the worst case of sexual frustration arguably in existence, he is a Tim Burton creation with the Penguin moniker pinned to him. I like this incarnation however, it fits in perfectly with the themes Burton is trying to convey. Whether he comes across as a strong villain though is up for debate. There's potential, but the plot involving him running for Mayor I feel instead could've taken a different route, focusing more on his bitterness and hatred more directly, allowing us to see just how twisted his mind has become because of his very unfortunate circumstances, clearly painting the picture of the old school horror villains that Burton clearly has been inspired by.
Which he references head on with the casting of Christopher Walken as Max Shreck, a corrupt businessman with plans to drain the city of power for his own benefit, using Penguin as means in the process. Although he is played well by the ever reliable Walken, he also doesn't really feel like a strong villain, although he is at least a "real" villain. You can see at certain points where this character was originally supposed to be a return for Harvey Dent, which had they kept could've been quite effective, showing how Dent is leaning towards villainy because of circumstance before he actually succumbs to his Two Face persona. Could've made the ending to the film pack more punch too, pernaps even bettering the third entry in this franchise...
Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman is also vastly different to the source material, no longer an agile jewel thief, she is a supernatural, tragic character who befriends Bruce Wayne, while their alter egos clash. I like how their romance plays out in the film, it never feels forced, and the contrasts between themselves and their other halves proves to be quite effective. Some still insist she IS Catwoman, and sometimes it's hard to argue against it.
The film is greatly boosted by the return of Danny Elfman, who brings back his bombastic Batman theme, as well as creating beautiful themes and riffs for Penguin and Catwoman. Elfman's contributions lift this film far higher than it ever would be without him, giving the film a grandiose feel, and further reinforcing the "opera" feel the film has throughout.
Despite having more flaws than its predecessor in my opinion, the good vastly outweighs the bad, making this film at least on par with Batman '89, but not better. Being a Tim Burton fan greatly helps the appreciation of this film, but I can see how even a fan could find difficultly enjoying this as a Batman film. I however find this incredibly easy. And will return to this film time and time again.
I say that this film probably had the best depictions of death out of all the Batman movies, especially with all of catgirls deaths and the guy trying to take over the city. DeVito does a excellent job playing the penguin and he is probably the best villain in the series. However the dialogue is beyond painful and the performance from Keaton while great in the first film was not really all that good at all in the second one and honestly felt like he did not care at all. The action and effects also do not hold up at all. That being said, compared to its two sequels, this was a masterpiece of all cinema.
"Batman Returns" is by no means a bad movie. In terms of action, set-design, scoring and acting, there's nothing to envy from its predecessor of1989. Yet something was lacking, definitely. Whatever it was, I was so turned off that I'd rather explain why the original was so good instead."Batman" had that Gothic atmosphere that fitted the tormented mind of Bruce Wayne, billionaire, vigilante and misfit, and the noir tone of the film fitted a city where organized crime reigned supreme; but had it been just an exercise in style and design, "Batman" would've been poisoned by its own depressing mold, the film worked because it had an antidote, a grinning psychopath played by Jack Nicholson, a Joker who, as far as characterization went, was no joke.I said in the review of the first film that Nicholson's Joker scared me because of the way he enjoyed killing and made every homicide, an art, something fun actually. What it reveals about the performance doesn't need to be over-analyzed, you could tell Nicholson had fun playing the Joker, and that fun was communicative without making his actions any less impacting. The Joker, played by a deliberately over-the-top Nicholson was a histrionic bastard intoxicated by his own flamboyance and yet making the whole film a real macabre dance between organized crime and the Dark Knight.Keaton wasn't too present in the picture but his investigation on the Joker's action and the interludes with Kim Basinger were actually the moments we could catch our breath between two Joker's scenes. Now, to put it simply, Keaton isn't any more present in "Batman Returns", which makes the title a bit misleading, he's even a rather tertiary character, but the villains in the film could have made his absence unnoticeable except that they were as much in need of a psychotherapy as Bruce Wayne himself. The film got too psychological and dark for its own good.There is basically one villain too many, and I guess that is Max Shreck, Christopher Walken as the evil businessman who wants to control Gotham City through electric power. He doesn't have many shining moments, except for throwing his secretary Serena Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) out of the window once she unmasked her evil project, he does look good in an odd sexy way, but he's never as impacting a presence as Danny De Vito playing the Penguin or Pfeiffer as Catwoman, which is the height of irony since he's the actor most used to play creepy guys. You would think De Vito and Pfeiffer would spice up the film a little and "have fun" like good old Jack, but they're actually victim of the plot's intricacy.Indeed, "Batman Returns" feels more like an assemblage of many subplots that were certainly mouth-watering on the paper: Schrek's s plans, the penguin's quest to find his parents echoing Wayne's own trauma (he was abandoned an orphan child and was raised by penguins, living in the sewers for three decades), Serena Kyle seeking revenge against Shreck and criminals of male persuasion. There's also something interesting in the ambiguity governing the so-called villains, the Penguin wants to be loved by Gotham City community, Catwoman is a vigilante but her actions are often antagonistic to Batman, not to mention the romance growing in subtext.To make things even more complicated, you have Christmas in the backdrop, the City undergoes many assaults from the Red Circus Triangle, and many love or hate triangles from one character to another make the plot quickly derail. The original "Batman" had one villain, not the subtlest plot but that was enough, by trying to make many antagonists and make them as three-dimensional as possible, the film went in too many directions, creating a Rubik-cube of a plot, without the colors to make the final result look good.Indeed, each of these stories, was depressing as hell, there was something fun in Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman but like the Penguin, like Bruce Wayne, they were characters turned to the past, to the initial struggles of their human counterpart while the Joker was from any trauma. The only villain with a focus on the future was Schreck but he could only be underused, and so was Batman.In the end, you have a Christmas movie whose action sequence provided nothing new once you enjoyed the original but whose tone is so dark and depressing you might enjoy the film for the actors, the atmosphere, but you wouldn't think of watching it again.