Quick Hit: The darkest of the Batman films, Tim Burton’s style and terrific turns by the cast lead this to be one of the best.
Welcome to Christmas season here at DoubleFeaturePreachers. As usual, life has gotten in the way, but we’re still working to try and bring you content when we can. Shannon and I put our virtual heads together and decided that something fun and different for Christmas was in order. So, for the next few weeks, enjoy some Christmas films that just didn’t know they were Christmas films! Starting with, 1992’s Batman Returns!
Batman Returns is the only sequel that Tim Burton has ever directed to one of his own films. That is a bit outrageous to think about when you consider the creativity that has sprung from his mind, and the uniqueness of expression in many of these films. But the giant success that was Batman pushed Warner Brothers to essentially write Burton a blank check to do what he wanted. That means that he worked to have the original sequel script completely rewritten, and remove a lot of the elements that made it a sequel overall. That also made the story much darker - the film opens with Penguin’s birth and subsequent abandonment by his parents - in true Burton fashion. But how does it hold up today, under the scrutiny of someone that has followed the development and release of nearly all the current superhero content? Find out below!
Frankly, not only do I think the movie holds up despite being nearly 20 years old, I think it’s better in a lot of ways. First, let’s go into the bit that I talked about before. Most people’s main complaint about the MCU, when they have one, is that (at least up until Thor: Ragnarok) the movies did not seem to have any flair regarding who was directing it. Each movie had the MCU flavor, but in doing so, it drove out the director’s flavor (this also had the consequence of losing directors like Edgar Wright from doing Ant Man). But from the opening sounds of Danny Elfman’s score all the way through the opening credits, this is clearly a Tim Burton film. I love the darkness of the lighting, which juxtaposes very well with the scenes in Selena’s apartment later. I also love the clear themes that run through the film with Selena and Penguin. These villains are villains because we MADE them such. There may have been perfectly fine people had they not been treated as lesser or as freaks. That’s something that runs throughout all Burton’s films - people are to be accepted just as they are.
I also find Keaton to be the best Bruce Wayne/Batman combination. Though he rarely speaks as Batman, he finds the stoic nature and the strength to look believable. As Bruce Wayne, he is believably suave and charming. But this movie belongs to the supporting cast, namely Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeifer. DeVito is absolutely manic throughout the film, with very few lines that aren’t delivered shouting or in a growl. He also gives the Penguin a touch of childlike anger along with the energy, which in turn, leads to several things that can only be called temper tantrums. Pfeifer delivers one of the sexiest villains ever to be put on screen as Catwoman. The change between her personality in the beginning of the film until the end is so tangible that you can almost taste the leather. And yet, you really root for her throughout the film. I cannot imagine a person that could ever play that role better than she did.
I pretty much love everything about this movie - it’s my second favorite of any movie featuring Batman. I’m giving Batman Returns an “A+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
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