Batman Returns was the second Batman film to be directed by Tim Burton. It was also the last. It once again follows the Dark Knight as he battles not one, but two major villains: The Penguin and Catwoman. The best quality of this movie is the amount of time focused on establishing the villains. By the time Selina Kyle is transformed into Catwoman, Batman has only gotten a few minutes of screen time. Most of the first act is spent fleshing out Batman’s foes: the first scene chronicles Penguin’s birth and abandonment by his parents.
Let’s talk about the villains. Penguin is played by Danny DeVito in this film, and he plays him wonderfully. Now, if you compare Penguin from the 60’s TV show to this Penguin, you’ll find many differences. In the TV show, Penguin isn’t a complete psycho, he’s just a fat mob boss who smokes up a lot and, in the end, gets locked up in prison. This Penguin? He is completely crazy. He has deformed hands that resemble flippers, his evil plan is to kidnap every first-born child in Gotham and drown them in toxic sewage water. But behind the sociopath that he is, there’s still a sense of humanity left in him, and it’s not hard to tell. Catwoman is played by Michelle Pfeiffer, and she pretty much kills it as the character. Her chemistry with Michael Keaton is very good, and just like Keaton did in the first film, she handles her character’s duality very well. I liked her suit, and I think the visible stitches make the costume stand out among others. And her laugh is so great.
The script is an improvement over its predecessor, but still isn’t that great. The story is great, though, along with (yet again) Danny Elfman’s score. “Birth of a Penguin” and “Selina Transforms” are both haunting yet emotional tracks that are so, so well done. I’m not usually one to advertise, but do yourself a favor and buy this score right now. It is one of the greatest movie scores of all time.
This is honestly one of my favorite Batman films. I really enjoy Tim Burton’s take on Gotham City, and I only wish it could’ve lasted longer, but alas, it did not. The casting is great in this film, and so is the story and score, while the script still isn’t that good. I’m going to give Batman Returns a B+. Next week, join me on a trip through a Batman era that we all wish never existed: The Schumacher era.
Batman Returns stars Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito , Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, Michael Murphy. Directed by Tim Burton.