Having defeated the Joker, Batman now faces the Penguin - a warped and deformed individual who is intent on being accepted into Gotham society. Crooked businessman Max Schreck is coerced into helping him become Mayor of Gotham and they both attempt to expose Batman in a different light. Earlier however, Selina Kyle, Max's secretary, is thrown from the top of a building and is transformed into Catwoman - a mysterious figure who has the same personality disorder as Batman. Batman must attempt to clear his name, all the time deciding just what must be done with the Catwoman. Written by
Graeme Roy <email@example.com>
Batman Returns is a perfect film to watch during the holiday season as the winter/Xmas atmosphere that Burton creates for Gotham City is wonderful. It's weird that Warner decided to release this as a summer film. It doesn't fit.
But what's even weirder, when you consider the content of this film, is that it was aimed at families. An upper-class family throws their mutant baby down the sewer, a socio-phobic billionaire dresses up in leather as a flying rodent, a lonely secretary has a mental breakdown and dresses up in leather as a feline, and said grown-up mutant baby freak runs for political office. Not to mention the S&M subtext that Tim Burton somehow managed to get away with. His eccentric visual style fits this film best, and is the height of his career, IMO.
This and the Dark Knight are the only true live-action incarnations of the comic-book character. True, Batman Returns is not as grown-up and serious as the Dark Knight, but it's a helluva lot atmospheric, and I just prefer the oddball character development here than in TDK. I rate them both equally, but scoring points on different levels.
Darker and more violent than the first movie, the sense of Gothic pathos reaches a new high. I was quite keen on Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne (don't even get me started on George Clooney!), he displayed the right balance of weirdo loner and cool crime fighter. Michelle Pfieffer is great as Catwoman (much sexier and more 'realisticly' cat-like), she wears that leather outfit better than Halle Berry. And Danny DeVito was so convincing as the Penguin that his scenes become disturbing to watch. Special mention must be made of Christopher Walken, who is brilliant as the spooky Max Shreck (if you think you recognise Chip Shrek it's none other than a very young Leatherface/Butterfinger).
Danny Elfman's score is also even better than it was first time round. His powerful and engaging themes are way better than the dross that followed in the later Schumacher movies. This movie is the Batman phenomenon at its Zenith. Forget the following sequels and stick to the animated series after this. Christopher Nolan brought integrity back to the series, but before Schumacher destroyed it, Burton gave the original series integrity too.
A great Xmas film, and my favorite Batman adventure.
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