Batman Returns

Posted: January 10, 2018 in Movies
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Aw man. Batman Returns, now this one, is my favourite Batman movie. When it came out in 1992 my excitment was off the charts. 1989’s Batman had cemented the iconic DC hero as the comic book icon of the decade. Anticipation for Michael Keaton’s return to the role, Tim Burton once again directing and the new additions of Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) and The Penguin (Danny DeVito) was at an all time high. In the lead up to the film’s release Batman was all over posters and TV. Batman Returns was the first comic book movie I saw at the cinema and the fact that it’s a great movie has only helped to imprint the film in my mind as one of the genre’s best.

The Burton Batman movies and subsquesent sequels always had the fact they fcoused on the villians more than the hero throw at them. It’s true. Tim Burton always seemed to be more interested in the dark and twisted rogues that surrounded Batman than the man himself and this sequel is no exception. Batman features throughout, make no mistake, yet the focus of the movie and arguably it’s ‘new leads’ are Pfeiffer’s Catwoman and DeVito’s Penguin and both actors are excellent in their roles.

King of Cool Christopher Walken (True Romance) makes a big impact as the true villain of the movie Max Shreck. This guy puts a heavy empthasis on the dime and to hell with whoever stands in his way. Shrek’s interactions with Penguin being just some of the films many highlights. The plot, in simple terms, sees the villians team up to frame the Bat and turn Gotham against him. Ideally eradicating Batman and leaving the city wide open for thier own criminal desires. A scaled down plot, than more modern audiences are used to, but one which works brilliantly. Batman’s worse fears being to become what he despises and the horror he feels at thinking that’s how his city sees him is as impactful as any world ending event.

Yet Burton, nor the film, is in no big rush to get to the main plot. As I said the film loves it’s villians and so we spend a lot of time with Catwoman and Penguin as both adjust to their Gotham debuts and each one sets out to make their mark on the city. For me I loved it. Catwoman/Selina Kyle is a damaged and twisted figure but never a victim and her sly sense of humour makes this films version – dare I say it – more engaging than her comic counterpart. The same can be said of DeVito and Penguin. It’s clear he’s the less sympathetic of the two leads yet his arc is not without it’s own tragic origins.

Batman Returns is an important legacy component of the DC hero in other areas. For one the look of the film and Gotham would go on to play a massive influence in  Batman: The Animated Series. As would the excellent score from Danny Elfman. Batman has never sounded more iconic and needed as when Elfman’s tremendous theme is signaling his arrivial on the streets of Gotham City.

The action is well shot and staged, again not as loud and as big as what those who saw 2017’s Justice League may expect, but by no means less impactful. It works because it stays true to the foundations of the films plot and it’s characters. Seeing Batman and Catwoman face off amongst the rooftops of Gotham City is boss. Like a living comic. The final confrontation(s) are just as pulp/comic book like yet filled with real stakes.

The film has one of the all time best final shots of a comic book movie too. Oh when ____ rose my face must have looked like I had a coat hanger in my mouth. I was that happy and it still gets me now every time all these years later. If only Burton, Keaton and those lucky enough to live through the movie could have returned for one more go around I can say without hesitation THAT trilogy would have been MY treasured Batman trilogy. I’ll get to Nolan’s someday. I love them, but not without seeing flaws, at times they feel almost like apolegectic comic adaptations. Not so with Batman and Batman Returns, and hey two great movies is better than one great movie so I’m just glad Keaton and Burton managed to make two flicks together.

 

 

 

 

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