My Review of Batman Returns

Started by Gotham Knight, Fri, 4 Jan 2008, 03:46

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Fri, 4 Jan 2008, 03:46 Last Edit: Fri, 4 Jan 2008, 20:06 by X2Magneto
After completing BATMAN, Tim Burton went to work on what would become a classic coming of age tale, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, hitting theatres in 1990. From that film he would develop what would become his trademark style for his many films to come, including the unnamed BATMAN sequel that fans were buzzing about almost from the second the first picture exploded in the summer of 1989. Of course, WB executives approached him about dawning the director cap and once again visiting the dismal world of the Dark Knight. At first, Burton was hesitant, believing he'd said all he had to say about Batman. However, he was coaxed into the idea at the possibility of it being a more personal, 'Tim Burton' film. Interested in the idea of shedding the 'studio' feel of the first picture, he went to work. After rejecting a script by BATMAN writer Sam Hamm (whew! Anyone who's read the BATMAN 2 script knows what I mean by halleluiah!) Burton had Daniel Waters pen what would eventually come to be called BATMAN RETURNS.

Return he did.

In this reviewer's opinion, what Tim Burton and company created is the greatest Superhero film of all time, bar none.

Oh sure, the film has it's fanboy critics, claiming that its just a 'Tim Burton' film, and not a 'Batman' film at all. I disagree to the fullest extent. With more ability to do so, Burton did what any great director would. Any director with any sense of himself as a DIRECTOR and not some STUDIO MACHINE wants to make a film as personal as possible. It's the utmost importance to a filmmaker to feel what they are working on. True, Burton's style is unique and often quirky, but I believe that style of filmmaking fits Batman better than anyone else's who has taken the reigns of the director's chair on a caped crusader film project.

The Review

From the word go I love the film. Rather than taking place right on BATMAN's heals, it takes place some years later as a stand alone sequel. Gotham has changed a lot since we last left it. Things seemed to have gotten better because of Batman's influence. But, there's an evil white-collar crook looking to take Gotham by storm, sucking the very life from it for his own twisted means. Little does he know, a true underworlder will offer him a deal he can't refuse, and a scorned and murdered employee, victim of his will to keep the plan secret, will take her revenge. Batman must destroy a host of evil alliances while wooing Selina Kyle and battling the erotic Catwoman. However some victories are hollow and empty despite what good is done for the sake of a city.

Michael Keaton is the perfect Batman. He's dark and mysterious. His presence onscreen makes the audience wonder if heis  indeed aware of them. Batman, now more geared as a hero, is still terrifying and vengeful for Gotham's salvation. He plays the Bruce Wayne role quirky and out of place, perfectly portraying that the Wayne personality is quickly becoming little more than a part he plays when not Batman, and often badly. When discovering the similarities between himself and Selina, it begins to make Batman consider he can be himself around her, giving Bruce Wayne new meaning as a person, without having to hide behind ill-fitting facades.

The biggest complaint about Bats in this one is that he is very brutal. To this I answer, if you watch the first film, you'll notice his 'war' seems starkly personal and just as cold untill toward the end of the film after his experience with Vale showed him what he lost and what he could lose if he continued to sprial in revenge. His humanity. See, I feel the story of Batman and Returns is very much Batman's search for Bruce Wayne. Through Vicki and Selina, he adds pieces of his humanity back on to his scarred psyche. In BATMAN's finale he chose the path of the hero. After seeing Selina walk the same dismal road of destruction similar to his own in BATMAN, he realizes there is a difference between knowing the path and walking it. Example, through the film he brutally kills several people, yet, after he finds out Selina and Catwoman are the same and what she has done, he pleads to her like the hero he should have been after he sent gotham pd the signal, and not a killer, "Lets take him to the police."

Michelle Pfeiffer is perfect.

Danny DeVito methodically enters the life and world of the Penguin. He generates a sad humanity and the same time a grotesque monster all in one physically and mentally damaged shell. The character grew a lot in the translation, and was no longer just a little man with a top hat who stole jewels. He was so much more. He was the same intelligent man, but twisted and turned inside a retching speak and horrific deformity. Abandoned and alone, he rises up to take his revenge, doomed by the sins of the father.

Christopher Walken is pure evil. The focal point of all the insanity without a shred of humanity can be found on the face of Max Schreck. Much like Jack Napier, he has no goodness or kindness in his soul. There is only himself and his desires. Walken delivers one of his greatest performances as a calm cool collect madman who is in complete control until the very end.

The Music

Danny's music takes new heights. It's no longer an action score; rather, it is a dramatic one, filled with swooping melodies and dark themes. Fear not Batfans, the boisterous march of the Dark Knight finds its place, erupting forth to send chills up your spine as the Batman brings order to the chaos. Truly, without Danny, the world created in BATMAN and RETURNS could not exist effectively.


I stated earlier that this film was the greatest superhero movie ever. Strong words, and I won't neglect reasoning. BATMAN RETURNS has one of the most complex and riveting character studies ever seen in a film of its genre. While maintaining the same flipping of character roles in keeping The Batman suppressed (See BATMAN Review), you not only get an in depth look at three other characters, but from those characters, you get a piece of Batman himself. Through the Penguin, Catwoman, and Schreck, you get the three sides of Batman's personality while at the same time diving into their stories.  From Max Schreck, you see the joyless millionaire, surrounded by coldness, from Penguin, you see the scarred orphan falling into the darkness, and from the Catwoman you get the clash with revenge (Reflecting Batman's journey in the first film) and duel identities. All the while, seeing Bruce continue to brood, fight, and romance in vain against dark forces.

Meanwhile, an awe inspiring plot unfolds, converging to one of the most dramatic climaxes ever seen in a hero genre film as Batman/Bruce pleads with Catwoman/Selina to come with him, to abandon the same dark path he has lead for so long, unable to reach her. The film concludes, carrying the solemn down note ending that is Batman's life. Yes, Gotham is saved, but at the cost of yet another piece of Bruce Wayne's soul.

A hallow victory. A brilliant film.

Great review. You really summed it up when you said Gotham is once again saved, but at the cost of another piece of Bruce Wayne's soul. The movie was beautifully dark to me, not because of the visuals so much as because of that plot point in the Burton movies: if he is to be Batman, he has to basically sacrifice any happiness as a human being, and be completely Batman... there's no riding the fence for this guy, it's all or nothing. Victory for the Dark Knight is always empty, unfulfilling... which I guess the reason is because if he ever found complete fulfillment, he would never have to be Batman, and Gotham City would again be host to a rampage of insane criminals, preying upon the innocent. The more Batman hurts internally, the safer the city is.
The B89 photos you refer to will soon be back in our hands.

It's amazing how may bat-fans simply don't GET Returns.  It really does require analysis, and your review does that in spades.

Fri, 4 Jan 2008, 20:12 #3 Last Edit: Fri, 4 Jan 2008, 20:16 by Gotham Knight
Again I give thanks for kind words. Particularly in the case of BATMAN RETURNS it makes me very happy there are those who haven't forsaken this masterpiece into limbo.

I will continue to review the the other films in the order of their release.

Great site btw. I've been waiting for a fan site like this to come around. Well done. :D 8)

I agree with your review word for word... and i love when people truly discover the metaphorical implications behind movies!!!

You have quite a way with words, good sir!

I'll miss you dad xx

Another great review. For the longest time I debated over which of the 2 Burton films I liked more beause Returns was so damn There was a time when I was watching Returns once a week, I kid you not.

The first time B89 appeared on tv, I taped it.  I would come home from school everyday and watch all the action pieces (AXIS chemicals, museum and the finale) just to get my fix.  I did it amost everyday for months.  So the amount of times must be into the hundreds.

Now that's what I call fanaticism.
The B89 photos you refer to will soon be back in our hands.

Quote from: Darth Vader on Sat,  5 Jan  2008, 11:14
Now that's what I call fanaticism.

don't be silly.  fanaticism would be spending hours on a website..........
:-\........ah crap! ;D

I can proudly say I watched it darn near every day for a while back in the day. BATMAN or RETURNS. Now, the SE dvds sit peacefully in my collection where every now and again, I bust 'em out for some back to back action.