38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2000
Batman Returns is very much a Tim Burton film. It is a stranger and darker film than Batman, netherless it is a striking film on several levels.
Michael Keaton returns as the stoic and haunted Dark Knight. Danny DeVito is Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin. In the comic book he's a short rotund man who has an affinity for birds and umbrellas. The character is reinvented here. Born grotesquely disfigured, as an infant, he's cast into the river where he's brought up in a criminal circus gang that lives underground in an abandoned Zoo. Michelle Pfeffer is Selina Kyle aka Catwoman, a beautiful yet mousy secretary who's been pushed too far (of a window) and is out for some serious payback.
These three disturbed characters make this Batman film more adult oriented than the first one. DeVito's Penguin is a tragic figure but is very evil and is looking to strike back at Gotham City any way he can. The grotesque make-up is impressive and DeVito delivers a powerful performance. Michelle Pfeffer is haunting as the mousy secretary who is pushed over the edge and finds herself battling with her new alter ego Catwoman. A nice chemistry is struck between Keaton & Pfeffer as the conflicted couple. Christopher Walken is on hand as the manipulative and power hungry businessman Max Shreck. Michael Gough returns as Alfred the butler as well.
The stunning production design by Bo Welch extends the look from the previous film and Danny Elfman's score is a bit more subdued but retains the perfect atmosphere. The story is solid but the plotline regarding the circus gang is thin.
Batman Returns isn't a film for small kids either. Between the overall look of the characters and some racy dialogue, this is a Batman film for more of a mature audience. If you're a fan of the first film, you'll enjoy this Batman film that has a few new twists to it.
61 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2003
The Dark Knight Bruce Wayne/Batman makes a roaring return in the second outing in the legendary Batman trilogy in a darker & much colder undertone with the mysterious hero now up against two menacing villains. One is a corrupt company CEO named Max Schrek (Christopher Walken) and the other is a deformed murderer named Oswald Cobblepot aka Penguin. A third rival character in this movie is difficult to categorize as a villain or a hero. That is the twisted seductive Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer). Although I don't categorize her as a dangerous murderess, it's very difficult to really say if she's truly a villainess but it's easy to say that she isn't exactly the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of heroism but on the other hand, she's an extremely complex character whose eccentric personality renders one unable to help but really pay a lot of attention to her.
The movie begins in the cold snowy & remote stretches of a haunted mansion somewhere I'm guessing in upper New York state where a couple are the parents of a young but very odd child. The oddness of the child becomes highly evident after he pulls a cat into his cage and presumably killing it. Unable to handle the psychological burden of raising him, the Cobblepots toss him in his crib into the river and flee into the unknown. Many years later on, Cobblepot also known as the Penguin, runs in the election for the next mayor of Gotham City. The citizens though are unaware that he's actually plotting against the population and is in fact plotting to take over the city and kidnap the city's children. Meanwhile, The Penguin attracts the attention of a corrupt corporate CEO named Max Schrek (Christopher Walken), who wants to team up with him against `both' Bruce Wayne, and Batman, considering how much "they" oppose his plans for a toxic waste power plant. Schrek on the other hand also has to deal with a more vicious foe, and that is Catwoman, formerly Selina Kyle, a former employee who he had abused and tried to kill, and she is now out for revenge against him and also for competition against Batman. Now, with three major foes butting heads against him, Batman now has a dauntingly dangerous mission to stop the three from causing havoc and destruction across Gotham City and protect the citizens.
All of the cast in this movie are superb beyond any words that I can muster up. Michael Keaton IS Bruce Wayne/Batman. Neither George Clooney, nor Val Kilmer (No offense to them. They did well too) could compete against Keaton in the role as the dark Knight Batman. Danny DeVito brings a truly chilling acting role that is worthy of remembrance with the deformed Penguin. Michelle Pfeiffer brings the odd and often extremely complex character Catwoman to life. Christopher Walken is totally awesome playing the corrupt CEO of the Schrek Corporation. Michael Gough is absolutely brilliant as Bruce Wayne's/Batman's caretaker and aide, Alfred and is the only one who I felt kept all of the talent of his acting intact throughout the entire movie series. Combine the brilliant cast with a dark and truly foreboding atmosphere, and you have what I considered Tim Burton's crowning achievement at this point in his career (Before he outdid himself with "The Nightmare Before Christmas")
I can easily remember how this movie seemed to shape this period in my life around late 1992 and early 1993 and now in its 11th year of existence, "Batman Returns" has lost none of it's power and continues to be a thought-provoking masterpiece. Tim Burton did stunningly well on the first Batman movie from 1989, but he blew me away with "Batman Returns". Although it may sound like "Returns" is better than the first one, it's actually a tight toss-up between the two movies. The first one has a more fun atmosphere combined with a dramatic overtone to it. The second one, has a much darker, much colder, and more bleak atmosphere. The two perfectly complement each other so well that one's movie collection would be incomplete without them. Although I thought "Batman Forever" was a great follow-up, the more flashy direction that the movie saga went into would sadly go in a nosedive, sacrificing the drama, thoughtful plot, and intelligent dialogue, for excessive hodgepodges of colors and excessive flamboyance, ultimately killing the movie series with the campy, god-awful P.O.S. that was "Batman And Robin". Even to this day, I still cannot believe that the Batman series went from the dark, brooding, drama of "Batman" and "Batman Returns", and even the fun of "Batman Forever", down to just lowlife cinematic sewage that was "Batman & Robin". I just hope that Batman will recover soon and someday in the future, bring back the dark undertones that defined this incredible movie. Perhaps it was the stupidity of the entertainment industry at the time that they were disturbed at the `failure' of "Batman Returns" with "only" 280M dollars at the box office. I mean come on! 280M is HUGE! That's far fram a failure. It was when they turned Gotham City into a giant circus that caused the franchise to fail later on. It might have also been the stupidity of a large part of the audience that caused the franchise to die off later on after this movie. Of course for me, I was loving this movie when I was just ten years old when it came out, and loved far more than I `enjoyed' "Batman & Robin" when I was 14 when that came out. Even with all this I'm writing with this review, there's so much more from this movie that I can be able to explain with this review. The series would take a nosedive into campy oblivion later on in time but for me, give me the dark, dramatic, thought-provoking, and depth of "Batman Returns" anytime over the MGM grand flashy colors of "Batman & Robin".
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2012
I recently acquired Batman Returns on Blu-Ray, having not seen the film in a very long time, but always remembering that I liked it better than the original Batman (1989). The first thing that stands out about this movie is how visually stunning it is, and this is all done, for the most part, with sets, miniatures, costumes, and lighting, without relying on the crutch of CGI. Regarding costumes, Keaton's Batman, in particular, looks much sleeker and elegant in this one, compared to the original, and Michele Pfeiffer's Catwoman absolutely lights up the screen in skin-tight shiny black. Of course, Danny Devito's Penguin is made up to be absolutely repulsive and pitiful, but it is, in my opinion, an effective portrayal of Penguin as a horrible little monster. Bo Welch's production design and the cinematography is very sleek and sharp looking, and, although still dark in its hue, the picture is much more crystalline and less murky than the original. In 1080p Hi-Def, Batman Returns looks superb. While the plot is not the most brilliant thing ever written, it is a good story, with lots of sharp dialogue that underscores the sadness beneath the characters. In addition, the finale of the movie is much more dramatic and more satisfying than that of the original. Also, the film, overall, has a much looser feel than the original, which I always thought was a little too stiff in its presentation. Watching the film, after not seeing it for so long, makes me wish that Tim Burton and Michael Keaton had teamed up for a 3rd installment, but alas, the franchise was derailed by the neon-cheese of the people who took over. Recalling 1992, and the bad reactions that this movie elicited, I remember actually being proud of how much some people disliked it. Seeing it again, I regard Batman Returns as a classic, that has gotten better with time, much more so than the first Batman. In addition to the superb visuals of this Blu-Ray, the commentary track by Burton is enjoyable, and the special features are loaded with lots of good stuff. I highly recommend Batman Returns as one of the best Blu-Rays to own !!
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2001
Oh, this movie is so sad! It really is! This is a fantastic movie simply because it isn't afraid to be all of the other things that the original "Batman" was, also: Funny, exciting, thrilling, haunting, dark, romantic, and endlessly clever. It also features three terrific performances from the three leads; Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight (Bruce Wayne), Michelle Pfeiffer looking hot as ever as the sleek and smooth Catwoman (Selena Kyle), and Danny Devito as the diabolically demonic Penguin (Oswald Cobblepot). And we can never forget Christopher Walken, playing Max Schreck (yeah, just like the guy who played Nosferatu), who is quite the fiend.
The film opens with a rather heartbreaking scene that sets the tone for the entire movie, which takes the lightheartedness of the Joker character in the original and tosses it right out the window. Instead, we have the emotionally scarred darkness of the Penguin, who was literally sent up the river like Baby Moses in a covered wicker baby basket on Christmas Eve simply because he wasn't a normal child born with five fingers instead of the shiny flippers he has extending from his wrists. Despite his ghastly, unsightly appearence and mangled people skills, we sympathize with the Penguin's plight simply because we would never wish what happened to him on our worst enemy. Sure, being sent up the river worked out fine for Moses, but Penguin is no Moses, and he is not on a mission from God. He's on a mission for a simple reason: Revenge. Revenge of biblical proportions by kidnapping every first born child in Gotham City, in honor of his own castaway status on Christmas Eve, more than 30 years prior. Meanwhile, we have the newly resurrected-from-cat-saliva Selena Kyle, who decides to try on a skintight vinyl suit with a whip draped around her feminine feline torso, desperate to avenge her "death" at the hands of her boss, Schreck. And amongst it all, Bruce Wayne is in love with Selena Kyle and trying to shut down the blatantly illegal operations of Schreck, trying to connect him to the Penguin, who he theorizes runs the Red Triangle Gang that terrorizes the streets. His hands are quite full as Batman, too: He is trying to stop Catwoman, is unaware of Selena's murder at the hands of Schreck, he knows that Penguin is up to something but can't prove it, and he is being framed. It's an amazingly confusing plot to explain, but it all works seamlessly through the carefully constructed pace of the film, for which I credit Tim Burton, whose direction is flawless, as usual. He keeps the characters interesting while making sure the background is just as visually stunning as Pfeiffer in that catsuit.
"Batman Returns" may take a few viewings to totally appreciate it, but you're astounded a little more each time. It's one of the best comic book movies ever made.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2005
This Batman was just as good as the first one. However, it is much darker, sexier, and more mature than the first one. Burton evidently had a lot more freedom with Batman Returns than he did with Batman.
Catwoman is a looker (sorry... but yes... even moreso than the most recent Catwoman), and Danny Devito as the Penguin is absolutely incredible. This Penguin is so much better than the original Penguin, and he is much more demented.
Overall, this movie is just incredible, luscious, and downright inspiring. It continues in the same vein as Batman, but, unfortunately, it was the end of the good half of the series.
You see, after this one, the WB handed wanna-be director Joel Schumacher the reigns, and Batman died from there. I have no problem understanding while Michael Keaton didn't do any more Batmans.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2000
Although this DVD comes with the least amount of extra goodies (it doesn't even have it's trailer!), it is still the DVD I cherish the most out of my collection. On top of that, it is likely my favorite movie of all time. Sure, LOLITA, FIGHT CLUB, LOST HIGHWAY and DEAD MAN are epic films in my mind and heart, but BATMAN RETURNS is the only movie I can simply never get sick of.
Always I have felt attachted to the characters of Gotham, and never have I seen it portrayed better then in this film. I like the first BATMAN movie, but thought it was slowed by the borish Kim Basinger, the awful Prince songs which really didn't fit, the brass and gold hues which were so predominate throughout the film, and the presence of the Joker which was so everpresent. I absolutely love Jack as the classic cackling clown but he controls the movie so exceedingly that it might as well have been called JOKER rather then BATMAN. The first BATMAN film is great but, nevertheless, BATMAN RETURNS was the first DVD I went out and bought.
One of the things that does make the DVD so worth owning as well is that this is exactly the type of movie that DVD's are for. Gorgeous films which can only be fully grasped by widescreen. This film seems to leap out of your television as you watch it, and the clarity and quality of the DVD is earnestly captivating.
Keaton is the only Batman, despite his lack of bulk. Devito is pure genius as the waddling mutant. Pfeiffer is brillant in the sultry, dramatic, legendary role of a lifetime. But Walken is overlooked. People often forget he was even in this movie, but he has some of the greatest lines and is, in every right, a very classicly Batmanian villian.
The irrational romance between the torn souls of Batman and Catwoman (and their other egos) drives this movie for me, even more then the fantastic skeletons on motorcycles, the Arctic World domain, and all the other bedazzling aspects of the film.
Simply get this!
Many people I know who saw it once in the theater were blown away when I played it for them again on DVD. The sheer cinematic garbage that was BATMAN FOREVER and the abomination of BATMAN AND ROBIN seem to have brainwashed people into thinking all Batman films are lousy, commercial flops of idiocy. But once someone sits down to watch BATMAN RETURNS, they are reawakened to the power of the bat, and of the magesty of Burton's gift.
I CANNOT RECOMMEND ANYTHING MORE HIGHLY!!!!!!!!!
24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2005
BATMAN RETURNS is the best piece of film work I've ever been witness to. It might be that it's only my personal taste but I don't care. I stand by my statements. When it was first released it got a lot of negative reviews, but just like Hitchcock's VERTIGO, it has garnered second opinions from many critics. This might in turn become Tim Burton's Vertigo. The writing is incredible for it's genre. The characters are so complex and so well played. Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman is the best to date. She has been quoted in saying that her part as Catwoman was the hardest roll she ever played. That she had to go through the script and meticulously outline what Selina Kyle's state of mind had to be. I have absolutely no idea how she missed a nomination for an Academy Award. Danny Devito does a beautifully gory interpretation of the penguin. Christopher Walken is awesome as the sort of the fun-house version of Donald Trump and I love to hate him. Michael Keaton's Batman isn't shown as much but Keaton still has him nailed. The chemistry created between each character is one thing that makes this movie so amazing. It's the tension between them that creates such realism in a surreal made-up world. Especially in my absolute favorite scene when Bruce and Selina find out who each other's opposite identity really is. It's not a coincidence that Rick James' "Super Freak" plays in the background. There are a lot of underlying themes in this movie that one can sit and think about. I think the writer was trying to say something about those times and about society. It's hard to put a finger on, but I know it's there. One complaint that most have of this movie is the lack of action. That's what I can warn about is the lack of action. This is like the Soup Opera of all comic book movies, and if all you want is action in your movies than you might as well go blow your head off cuz this world can't make much use of you. Anyway I could go on and on about the greatness of this movie, but I need to get back to MY life. So if you have a thoughtful head on your shoulders watch this movie and if all you like is your action go to K-mart and buy yourself a shinny new rifle.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2006
(4.5/5 stars) In some ways this movie is more entertaining than the first "Batman" from 1989, though the extent of your admiration might depend on how well Tim Burton's style suits you. For me, this one is the best of the 80's-90's Batman movies. This time, the Caped Crusader is up against evil magnate Max Shreck (the always peculiar Christopher Walken), the Penguin (Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer). Michael Keaton reprises the role of Bruce Wayne / Batman, looking a little less fit than the first time around. Even though I am not a fan of Michelle Pfeiffer, I must admit she turns in a very good performance as Selina Kyle / Catwoman. It helps that time is spent developing her character, though she is believable as the meek, passive secretary turned confident, vengeful vigilante. The Christmas setting adds a nice touch to the film's atmosphere, with the snow providing a false veneer of tranquility and peace. There are many memorable scenes in the film, though my favorite is the scene with Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle dancing, not aware at first of each other's identity. That scene is very well done and confirmed for me that Pfeiffer was the correct choice for that role. Gone from the first movie are the poorly chosen Prince songs and the annoyingly comical Robert Wuhl, though remaining are the impressive visuals, exciting action, cool gadgets and decent score. The only questionable element for me was the climax at the ending, which features penguins with missiles strapped to their backs. The scene takes too long to develop and doesn't pay off, even though I appreciate the truly bizarre nature of the concept. The final scene with Bruce Wayne in his car is a close second place for best scene in the movie. Great stuff.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2005
Batman Returns features the best film dipiction of Gotham City to date. The city is grim, always dark, even during the day, old gothic spires stab at the sky. This is Gotham the way it was intended: a dark pseudo 1800's looking city with a flare for 1940's decor. In this film, Burton once again weaves Batman's story into the lives of his villians, shown through Bruce/Batman's relationship with Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Burton did something most writers simply do not do: develop the villains. We witness both Selina's tragic transformation to Catwoman, and the origins of the deformed Penguin. In the comics, these characters were barely ever fleshed out, save for Frank Miller's Batman Year One, where he showed the beginnings of Catwoman as a dominatrix for hire, something to this day that DC would like to keep under the rug. In this film, Batman and Catwoman have a tremendously complex relationship. Batman this time around is far more in control of things, has a more streamlined and expanded batcave, and barely speaks while in the suit, all showing a more dead on version of Batman, the efficient strong, silent type hero. A lot of people critiqued this film as "not a kids movie" but I always wonder, who says Batman is a kids character in the first place besides Adam West? The comics of Batman nowadays are no where near kid friendly, his villians are darker, more twisted, he's had side kicks brutally murdered, tortured to death, and crippled. Not to mention that the whole story starts off with an eight year old boy's parents getting brutally murdered before his very eyes. yeah, shame on Burton for not making that all kid friendly... anyway, this film is an artistic masterpiece and set the tone for the aminated series which tried very hard to model itself after the Burton films, even going so far as to get the films composer, Danny Elfman, to do the cartoons theme. Burton realized that Batman's villains should be just as messed up psychologically as he is, and as such, should be given equal screen time and character development, something they didn't really start doing in the comics until about eight years ago, in the late 90's. Before that, they were just cardboard cut outs save for a few stories from Alan Moore and Frank Miller. Batman Returns has a constant theme of wearing masks socially, persoanlly, and in all other aspects of life, Burton shows what happens when those masks are torn away and people are forced to face their own dark secrets.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2002
Certainly the darkest 'kid-material' based film ever made.
This film noir has great imagery, psychological depth and funny,
sad and outright dark black quotes plus brilliant, gothically
decayed nostalgic visuals. Also, four other characters represent the character 'Batman' in the movie. Max Shreck-the millionaire
businessman, Penguin-the orphaned outsider, Catwoman-the costumed
vigilante, and Bruce Wayne-the awkward, concealed identity of Batman, though his exact opposite, and the characters are all written to hint at it in the film, but it won't hit you over the head with it.
The characters that are alive at the end of the film speak to
reveal it's main character's current mental health state. The
films plot concerns a character abandoned, literally thrown away
in his childhood because of being born with his irregular hands
causing him to look like a Penguin. Out of what he sees as vengeful justice, he becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, gradually assuming the role of the horrible monster that he always looked like.
He is reluctantly accepted when he returns to society and is
given another chance. He decides somewhere along the way that he does not want to return to this city for some reason (or was it planned all along, while looking at the record list when he was supposedly searching for his human name, did he write down the first born sons of Gotham? Later Catwoman remarks that he already has an 'enemy list'
before staying long in Gotham).
He 'forgives' his parents but is secretly blaming the city for his woes. Penguin tries to live
there but he cannot fully, he finds his sense of belonging seemed
like an illusion (like most Tim Burton films portray), he then,
self-destructively gives up, betrays their trust and bitterly
attempts to murder the innocent before his mayoral bid can be won.
Gotham City represents a lot of evil in this picture, Batman is
a brooding, anti-hero and he's one of the only good people in the
town -in film noir there are no heroes, this is the essence of
Gotham. There's a consistent motif of having the Penguin character
see everything he can't have through bars, if you look you'll find
him eyeing his parents (as the camera) behind bars and Catwoman
after she rejects him, etc. yet he never enters a jail cell.
"Did you miss me... did you miss me?" Penguin, to his penguins
A notable amount of biblical resemblance's here, a basket
carrying a baby down a river that is like from a story about Moses,
Penguin is exactly 33 years old when he arises, like Christ is
said to have after death at that exact age. Originally he was
originally supposed to actually state "yes, Virginia, there is
an anti-Christ!" in the ballroom scene, etc. Penguin reminds
some people of an evil man from 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang', he later wants to drown infants.
"I am not a human being! I am an animal! Cold-Blooded!"
When the actress portraying Catwoman/Selina Kyle is making the cat
costume, she opens a drawer with about four different colored
scissors, on Edward Scissorhands, Burton explained having scissors
in his films "is about, trying to touch someone, and not being
able to." That was established, as one of Catwoman's many problems,
no real love life. We know why she destroys the Shreck building,
because he is guilty of crimes and she cannot prove it, she sees
this as revenge, like Penguin does. In 'Batman Returns' there are
no situations that have a black or white answer, like film noir. Burton also said
that dressing up changes every character.
As well look at how Burton depicts colorfully clothed overly happy people as stupid,
fake and annoying, without really changing much of anything about
people we know, this harsh contrast is obvious right before
the Penguin agrees to be mayor. Max Shreck (named after the
actor who played Nosferatu in 1922) is a murderous businessman
but in the ballroom scene he shows that even he loves his child,
unlike Penguin's parents, proving he does not deserve to die.
The star character hardly gets shown as often as the others do
(because studio limitations dictate Batman wouldn't be allowed
to be portrayed as messed up as the villains in the movie so
you can't show much of the character or really learn about him,
therefore, the villains represent Batman). The song
'Super Freak' is in this movie as an instrumental during the masked ball, I think that must say something
about Batman! At the end with when the car stops, a sign reads 'Super Drug'. It all is clothed a very unreal, hazy, dreamlike
quality. The image at the cemetery where the Penguin looks down
at the ground with a gravestone cross above him and the first
time we see Bruce, staring out the window reflecting the bat
signal are my favourite parts. In the sewer, close to the finish,
Batman/Bruce admits with Penguin, Shreck, and Catwoman there,
that he is Bruce Wayne, and that 'we're the same, split right
down the center'. He rips off his mask, and at that moment a
thread in Catwoman's mask breaks open to reveal her blond hair.
With an admitted (in the film) sad, though satisfying
Christmas-time end to it all, the movie was dismissed as a 'shallow'
script because of it's superhero nature (it does have some
bizarre fight scenes) and did not make as much money as was hoped.
Still, I think it's genius and it must be my favourite film,
nervous breakdowns and all. Batman debuted in 1938.
"Go to heaven!"