Batman Returns (1992)
Just as the title dictates, Batman Returns. But, no, he does not return as some pseudo-emo character in an upscale, art house version of his mythos. Batman Returns darker, bigger and a bit more twisted. This sequel of the Batman Burton-verse steps to the plate and raises the bat-bar.
Much like its predecessor, Batman Returns sets the tone of the movie right from the beginning but this time with a prologue. The prologue sets up the Penguin’s origin and does so in a very dark way. This flick really builds on and adds to the darkness established in the first one. The look of Gotham city has also evolved. The city is bigger and looks more grand and there is different, almost art-deco, style to the buildings. The first action scene of the movie comes quick and works well. It has a good pace and really gets the adrenaline going. There is more humor in this movie than in the previous picture but it all comes from a darker, almost morbid place. There is definitely a certain sense of humor that this movie operates from . Danny Elfman also returns as the composer for this movie and comes back with a full bag of tricks. The score for this film is much more full, and lavish, and sometimes operatic than that of the first. Much as the first installment does, Batman Returns works similarly to a comic book but also has a more obvious cinematic structure to it. This is something that, unfortunately, causes the film to feel long is some areas. Granted, it may also feel long because a butt-ton happens in the flick, but sadly the second run of Batman feels a bit lengthy.
One of the strongest selling points of the picture, of which there are many, is just how well acted it is. Every role is cast superbly and is acted with equal conviction. Christopher Walken, as Max Shreck, is a very interesting character that commands the attention in all of his scenes. Michelle Pfeiffer is terrific as Sleina Kyle/Catwoman. She plays early Selina Kyle brilliantly with a mix of being goofy and nerdy. Then, the switch she makes as she becomes Catwoman is amazingly chilly and spot on. There is also a very noteworthy scene between her and Walken that is full of tension, acted well, and lit very interestingly that includes an air of foreshadowing. But Danny DeVito steals the show as his Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin. First off, his Penguin is the best looking this reviewer has ever seen. It mixes realism, with a deformity, and has a creepiness to it, but still has an unreal, fantastical element to him. Then, Devito just brings it on with this part. His grunts and twitches, his voice, his physical acting all brings to life a Penguin that feel like it could almost fit right into the Batman Nolan-verse, if it didn’t’ take itself so seriously all the time.
There are some that would consider Batman Returns to be lesser than its first. While it may not have been as groundbreaking, different, and original as the first one, I think it still at least matches the tone and quality established by Burton’s first Batman. However, many still would agree that Batman Returns is the last “good” Batman movie until Chris Nolan steps in with his films. While an argument can be made against that point, it would be a hard one to make. Either way, aside from a lengthy plot and a narrative that takes a few things for granted, this picture still works. As stated earlier, Batman Returns and he returns well.
- When Batman Returns, “The Force is strong with this one.”