Hello movie fans! This is my first movie review and I want to make something clear. Remember why it is we watch movies, is to be entertained. If I give a movie a bad rating or you don’t agree with my review it does not mean it is a bad movie, it’s only one person’s opinion. I’ll keep things simple and rate movies on a 5-star system but I will also go in depth on the plot and certain scenes or themes that I feel are worth mentioning. So if you haven’t seen the movie I review and don’t want spoilers, please refrain from reading. Ok, so without further ado here is my review of “Batman Returns”.
With the financial success of Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989, although fans had a mixed reaction, it was no surprise the caped crusader would return to theaters again in this re-imagining of the classic hero. The first film gave us a Batman I feel is still one of the best portrayals of Batman to date. In this movie we are introduced to two more re-imagined Batman characters, The Penguin and Catwoman. Playing the part of The Penguin was the great Danny DeVito and I must say he did an excellent job playing this character. And playing the part of Catwoman was Michelle Pfeiffer.
Alright so let’s talk about the film’s antagonists. Unlike the other incarnations of The Penguin, this version was a child born deformed whom the parents tried to kill by tossing him into a sewer. He survives and is raised by Penguins before becoming a circus freak. Back to Gotham 33 years later and we meet another of the film’s antagonists Max Shreck, played by Christopher Walken. Shreck is a millionaire industrialist who has strong ties with the politics of Gotham. His secretary is Selena Kyle, a feeble and quiet woman, and yes she’s a crazy cat lady. The Penguin wastes no time and has his cronies attacks a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, this is only a diversion as The Penguin’s true target is Max Schreck. Down in the sewers The Penguin blackmails Shreck into helping him by showing him all of the dark secrets he somehow managed to collect. Among these secrets are cans of toxic waste from his plants, shredded documents and even body parts of his former partner he had killed. Anyways, Shreck agrees and we get a somewhat plot for the movie to run with.
This is one of my favorite scenes/pictures even if it is a bit silly that Bruce Wayne would have Batsignals outside the mansion. Though it also makes a bit of sense as how else would he know when he’s needed unless he always stared at the sky. The Batphone was far more effective.
Back at the office Schreck finds Selena working late, she mentions that she got into his computer to help him prepare for a meeting with Bruce Wayne by guessing his password. Schreck being a man of many secrets tosses her out of a window, letting her drop to her death. I know this is a darker world but according to the beginning of the movie his office is a big building in the center of town…no one heard/saw that? Not to mention how would he explain that? She fell out of a closed window? Back to the deceased Selena Kyle on the ground, a heard of cats rush over to her and by meowing at her and nibbling on her finger she’s brought back to life…if this were a video this would be the part where you’d see me banging my head against the table. I mean at least with the Joker or the Penguin we could say that the waste/chemicals mutated them instead of killing them…but there’s not even an explanation on how the cats bring her back, and somehow she knows martial arts and has nine lives to boot. Well, only 8 since her first one was falling out of the window according to her. Which doesn’t make sense, wouldn’t the count start from 9 after being reborn?
After being magically revived by cats Selena returns home and has a psychotic breakdown, destroys her apartment and decides to stay up all night making a leather cat outfit to get revenge on her boss…cause that makes sense. Here’s where I question this, the idea of wearing a costume/mask is to conceal one’s identity, but it was established that she was in fact a nobody with no friends and no life, who the hell would recognize her? At least in other versions she was a CAT BURGLAR who wore a disguise so she didn’t get caught. And if she was so crazy why come up with a well thought out plan and disguise yourself? Why didn’t Selena just go into work one day and kill him? At least she’s hot in the costume…
The next day at Schrecks offices Bruce Wayne is having his scheduled meeting with Schreck, Selena shows up surprising Max and intriguing Bruce’s little friend below. This is a short scene that doesn’t really go anywhere, just gets Bruce and Selena to meet. Later, Shreck decides to get The Penguin elected as the new Mayor. There are a lot of good fight scenes/action scenes throughout this movie which do keep it exciting at least. While Batman is fighting a group of the Penguin’s goons a poodle takes his Batarang…not making this up. And I only mentioned it because it’s important for the story later on, not making that up either…I wish I were. Batman of course has his doubts about the Penguin’s intentions so he confronts him, at the same time Catwoman comes from a building she had just blown up thus getting the 3 main characters in the same scene. Batman chases after Catwoman, she stabs him in the side with a claw and he burns her arm with napalm gel, knocking her off the roof and killing her a second time. The next day Catwoman confronts The Penguin and tells him she wants to join forces to get Batman taken down. Part of his plan is to disassemble his Batmobile and rig it, on his wall he has blueprints of the Batmobiele….HOW THE HELL DID HE GET THOSE?(It’s not like he could have googled it). One thing I have to say I love about Tim Burton’s Batman is how secretive and quiet he is, he doesn’t even talk to Gordon. He goes in does his thing and leaves. All of his wonderful toys are made by him and Alfred…unless….ALFRED leaked them out somehow? I mean he did blindly lead Vicky into the Batcave in the first one. Maybe he’s going senile.
Later, Bruce runs into Selena on the streets and invites her to dinner at his place to which she accepts. This begins what could have been a well-done romance between these two characters as they are very similar, but in my opinion it wasn’t established well enough. By the time they actually have dinner together and talk for the first time the movie is more than halfway over. They notice on the television that the blonde bimbo who lights the tree was kidnapped by someone, and the primary suspect is Batman as they found his Batarang the poodle took earlier. THAT DAMNED POODLE is a key element to the story?? Bruce and Selena both sneak out to get to the scene in time. Batman arrives in the Batmobile and puts the shields up(like in the first one) as he rushes out to save the dumb blonde. Meanwhile the Penguin’s goons find the Batmobile and somehow deactivate the shields on something they should know nothing about, then successfully take it apart to rig it and put it back together all in the short amount of time Batman was away. If these damn people were this talented why weren’t they doing something more with their lives? I’m sure they could have gotten more money doing legit work than living in a sewer. Batman finds the girl only to be attacked by Catwoman who takes her to the roof, Batman catches up to find the girl on the edge of the roof standing there like an idiot instead of stepping down off of the ledge. The Penguin shows up and throws an umbrella filled with live bats(yes, that makes no sense) that scare her right off the edge and luckily onto the switch to turn on the tree, at least she completed her job upon death. Batman tries to rescue her but the crowd looks up to see Batman thus assuming he is the murderer. He escapes to the Batmobile as an angry mob of locals and police close in. The Batmoible automatically turns on and The Penguin is on his monitor telling him pretty much everything, back at the Penguin we see he has a coin-operated Batmobile ride that controls the real Batmobile…this is another thing I didn’t get. How do you go from dark, bloody, sexual, to a goofy joke like this. It wasn’t even funny, Batman records The Penguin talking about how he had been playing everyone, meanwhile he locates the controlling device and removes it restoring control to the Batmobile.
The Penguin addresses the people after their faith in the current mayor was broken. Bruce and Alfred hack into the audio stream and overplays the recording he made earlier. This causes the crowd to turn on him and forces him back into the sewers. Down in the sewers the Penguin reveals his ultimate plan, to kidnap all of the first born sons of Gotham and throw them into the sewers to kill them…did Tim Burton not get the teddy bear he always wanted as a child or something? He’s one messed up individual. Meanwhile, Shreck throws a masquerade party to which Bruce attends to see if Selena shows up. She does and they have a dance together, while dancing Selena looks up at the mistletoe and recites the line she heard from Batman in their last meeting to which Bruce recites what Catwoman said to him thus giving away their identities. This was a good scene honestly and showed the genuine talent of Keaton and Pfeiffer. The Penguin crashes the party shortly after to take Schreck’s son, however, Schreck convinces The Penguin to take him instead. Batman foils The Penguin’s plan sending him a note on a piece of paper with the Batman emblem on it…I’m pretty sure Batman doesn’t go to Staples to get those printed out.
The Penguin now hatches his final plan, which is to have his army of penguins with rockets attached to their backs go out into Gotham’s streets and destroy everything. These penguins are controlled by computer somehow, again where did he get the money for all this? This is some advanced technology for crying out loud….there is no continuity in this movie at all. Did Alfred in all his senilism give him a grant or something? Not to mention that these chain of events were all within a few weeks tops as it’s Christmas time in the beginning of the movie and still Christmas time at the end of the movie. Even if he got some money from Schreck there was nowhere near enough time to build all of this. I mean, I know it’s only a movie but how can I enjoy it when it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. These penguins are of course hacked by Batman and rerouted somewhere else. Batman finds the Penguin’s lair and confronts him. They have a small fight and Batman reveals he had brought all of the penguins back to the lair, The Penguin activates the missile launch destroying everything around them. The Penguin falls back down into the sewer and during this time Schreck manages to escape his captivity only to be attacked by Catwoman. Batman intervenes to stop her from killing Shreck, he tells her they can bring him to the police and then go home together happily ever after. He rips his mask off to get through to her that they are the same, people with two identities, she declines his offer saying that she couldn’t live with herself in that fairytale kind of life. Shreck shoots Bruce/Batman in the body armor for some reason, not the head as it is now fully exposed…and then proceeds to shoot Selena/Catwoman 4 times taking 4 more of her 9 lives, lucky for her the gun wasn’t fully loaded. She uses her eight life to kiss Shreck with a tazer killing them both, why she didn’t just kill him I don’t understand as he was helpless…I guess Burton wanted a more dramatic ending even if it was stupid. After this Batman digs through the ruble to find Selena but the Penguin emerges from the swampy waters bleeding greenish black blood for some reason, and with the last of his strength pulls out one of his trick umbrellas only to pull out the wrong one and falls to his death. A group of penguins come out and carry his body off into the water, kind of touching in a way. The final scene takes place at night, which is most of the time in Gotham, Alfred is driving Bruce through the streets and Bruce notices Catwoman’s shadow. He goes out to find her only to find a black cat, he takes the cat with him and looks out the windows of the car wondering if she’s still alive or not. The camera pans up and we see the Batsignal in the sky and Catwoman from behind on the rooftops to never appear in the sequels to come. The End.
There are good things in this movie, the setting, the mood, the actors, the music, the action, the backgrounds, etc. But unfortunately this movie’s story really fell short of being good, it was corny and often nonsensical, it had awkward comedy that didn’t seem to fit, unlike the first one that handled comedy much better. This one also tried to push the envelope more with the violence and sexual innuendos that were often unnecessary. The one thing I don’t mind is straying from the comics, I don’t care if the origins of the characters are different as long as they are portrayed well on the screen and written well. One thing that can’t be denied was the casting in this movie, Pfeiffer’s portrayal of this Catwoman was excellent even if it was terribly written. I mean honestly how did she all of a sudden become a deadly fighter after being brought back to life? It’s like the vampires in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they’re ordinary people when they die but when they come back as vampires they’re martial art masters for some reason. Now, while I said earlier how much I love Bruce and Batman in these 2 movies, my major complaint is that there wasn’t enough of him in the movie. There was such a focus on establishing the 3 antagonists that we didn’t get to see enough of Bruce Wayne at all which is a shame because I absolutely loved Keaton’s take on it. All in all if you’re looking for a popcorn flick then this will suffice, but if you’re looking for a well-crafted movie then you’re way off base. I give the movie 2.5 out of 5 stars. There are many who prefer this to its predecessor, and that is what I want to look into. Why do so many people like a clearly inferior movie? Well to start, Tim Burton is a master of creating worlds of fantasy and imagination that often make little to no sense, but we become so emerged into these worlds that we tend to forget reality and its rules. So, I can understand how many fans can overlook the logic and just enjoy it for what it is. And in all fairness the actors give excellent performances and are entertaining to watch. The action is very well done though at times a bit over the top.