Big Screen Batman Review – “Batman Returns”

Tim Burton’s second outing into Gotham wasn’t quite up to par with the first.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne / Batman

Danny DeVito as Penguin

Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle / Catwoman

Christopher Walken as Max Shreck

Written by Sam Hamm and Daniel Waters

Directed by Tim Burton

Complete information is available from the IMDB.

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The Penguin and Catwoman arrive in Gotham in time to piggyback on a developer who wants to build a “power plant” that consumes and stores power rather than produce it. (No apparent motive for this plot was clear.)

High Point

Alfred. His was the only character that really worked for me this time around. The others were off or just bizarre.

Low Point

Most of the other characters. Batman killed thugs without a second thought, but rescued the major villains. Bruce Wayne was a gibbering idiot who revealed entirely too much of his duality. Catwoman wasn’t too bad. I still don’t like her origin, but I don’t know if that started here or in a comic I haven’t read. Penguin was irritating and implausible as a mayoral candidate. Commissioner Gordon has become a neutered dependent rather than the capable, under-supported police officer he used to be.

The Scores

The originality is hard to establish here, with a sequel to an adapted work. There is very little new flavour here. We’ve got Tim Burton designs and a studio machine script. I give it 3 out of 6.

The effects showed improvement over the original in the armor deployment for the Batmobile, but the falling scenes were worse and more frequent. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story was very silver age in tone. The climactic army at the end just doesn’t seem threatening in any way. I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting was good from Pfeiffer and Gough. The others were weak, possibly due in part to weak script material. I give it 3 out of 6.

The emotional response was quite bland, especially compared to the original. I give it 3 out of 6.

The production is still Tim Burton’s strongest suit. Fans of expressionist sinema would recognize the influence even without a character named Max Shreck. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a decent sequel, but if it was the first entry, it wouldn’t have spawned a franchise. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Batman Returns receives 27 out of 42.

8 replies on “Big Screen Batman Review – “Batman Returns””

  1. Thanks a lot. Really, thanks.

    I had been able to successfully block most of this movie from my psyche for years now…

    …until this review caused it all to come rushing to the surface again. Thanks. Can I send you the bill for my therapy?

  2. Was that the plot?
    I thought it was about Penguin wanting to blow the city up out of revenge.

    • Re: Was that the plot?
      There was a PLOT? I only remember Michelle Pfeiffer and improbably tight clothes.

      • Re: Was that the plot?

        There was a PLOT? I only remember Michelle Pfeiffer and improbably tight clothes.

        There was face-licking… an’a whip!

      • Re: Was that the plot?

        There was a PLOT? I only remember Michelle Pfeiffer and improbably tight

        Well, that’s the only reason to watch it these days!

        • Re: Was that the plot?
          Hence the recent Catwoman movie, right? I so dread having to watch that one. My wife brought it home from the library for some unknown reason. Perhaps she’s trying to kill me. I’m going to do my best to find something else to do as soon as she puts it in the player. Maybe I’ll break a toilet, or something, just so I have to fix it.

  3. Call me crazy…
    …but I didn’t think it was so bad when I saw it for the first time. Ok, I had an advantage: I first saw it after it had been on video for about 6 months and, here’s the important part, I had completely forgotten about all the hype. So expecting nothing in particular, I wasn’t disappointed. Actually I thought it wasn’t bad.

    When I catch part of it nowadays, however, it doesn’t quite live up to that first impression of half-decency.


  4. After the Schumacher films
    This one looks like a masterpiece in comparison. I remembered not being too impressed with it when it first came out, but after Batman Forever and Batman & Robin…

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