Review: Batman Returns (1992)

Michael Keaton and Tim Burton are back in 1992's Batman Returns. Batman must face both the Penguin and Catwoman in this Batman instalment

Doing as the title suggests, Michael Keaton‘s Batman returns for another deliciously twisted escapade. This time he faces the vicious Penguin (Danny DeVito) whilst battling his feelings for Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) in Tim Burton‘s second Batman offering.

Let us set the scene. You’re evil, you’re scheming and you’ve just bumped off your annoyingly prim assistant only to be confronted with her turning up to work with a crazy new hair do. This is the plight of Chistopher Walken who stars as Max Shreck. His assistant? Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle, a woman who is lovingly brought back to life by a group of cats after falling to her death after being pushed by her not-so-loving boss.

Though she sounds like the perfect candidate for the most sympathetic story of the film award, spare a though for Danny DeVito’s brilliant stint as Penguin, a character abandoned by his family and left in the care of a hoard of penguins. Though deeply tragic, both character’s plights, along with their miraculous animal rescues, fail to win the sympathy accolade being as they are so tantalisingly evil.

Though many believe Batman Returns to be a poor sequel to Burton’s 1989 Batman (and a sign of things to come in Joel Schumacher’s two sequels), it manages to carry Burton’s stylistic presence arguably better than its predecessor. His flare for Gothic imagery is visible throughout and works surprisingly well.

The cast revel in the barmy plot (a plot which sees the Penguin trying to work his way back into society by attacking almost everybody around him) whilst Batman often takes a backseat in order for the villains of the film to do what they do best; either stalking through their respective scenes purring ludicrously cat-themed suggestive dialogue or hobbling through the sewers of Gotham surrounded by penguins.

Elfman continues to be on top form with his effort for the soundtrack, continuing the theme of the first film, whilst Keaton seems more comfortable as the caped crusader, even if he often only appears to fuel the plot. The key players of the film all tackle their hidden (or not so hidden) duality differently resulting in an explosive conclusion that sees at least one of them fried for their efforts.

Maintaining some of Bob Kane’s comic book traits, Batman Returns is worthy addition to the Batman canon – for those that don’t believe us we urge them to watch Batman and Robin.

Best performance: Danny DeVito as the Penguin.
Best line: ‘Meow’.

#1 The film was the first film to be made with Dolby Digital.

#2 The penguins featured in the film were flown over from the Cotswolds in England.

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