Batman Returns- (1992)
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken
I know some people don’t like this movie, but I personally love it. Of course, any movie without the Joker is a let down. However, Tim Burton is able to bring to life his own twisted version of classic villains. The Penguin was perfectly (if not insultingly) played by Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfieffer played by far my favorite version of Catwoman ever (though she was far from the comic book version of Selina Kyle).
Christopher Walken (is the man!) plays a brilliantly corrupted businessman with political dreams who has an interesting relationship with both villains.
This movie is really twisted. Burton made a darker film compared to his original (this would be his undoing sadly). Still, the film has humor and that comic book charm to it. Add in a lot of leather, chains, and whips (If you are into that sort of thing- I don‘t judge.) and you have a wonderful film.
The movie has flaws, the villains are more cartoon like and they don’t have much of a philosophy to guide them. Then again, they can’t all be The Joker. I prefer the original Penguin look (like from Batman: The Animated Series) compared to Danny DeVito’s Penguin which seems more monster than man at times.
This Penguin is a different take than normal, but I do respect Burton’s twisted version of the character. I did not like Selina Kyle in this film (Christopher Nolan’s version was far superior.) However, once she becomes Catwoman, everything changes and she was perfect. Catwoman was beautiful, clever, witty, she was evil, but not quite like the other villains (she had a soft spot for cats and people dressed as bats).
I love her love-hate relationship with Batman/Bruce Wayne throughout this film. (Again played by Michael Keaton).
I like the addition of Christopher Walken as Max Shreck (not Shrek) is awesome because it shows that Gotham is not only home to the animated and outwardly demented, deformed individuals, but also evil that looks good in the spotlight. There are layers to the evil of Gotham.
Finally, the ending is brilliant. This film brilliantly sets up the future of this franchise. (Oh, the potential it had!)
Little did I know that this movie would be so dark and violent that people would complain to the studio. (How dare you make Batman dark and twisted. It’s only about a young boy who watches his parents get murdered in cold blood before his eyes. He grows up so psychologically scarred that he seeks justice by unconventional means. Surely, there is nothing dark or twisted about that.)
Batman Returns was a lot of fun, I love the design, the characters, and their dynamics. Still, this film would play a part in signalling the near destruction of comic book films. However, that is a topic for another post.