Batman Returns (1992)

Director Tim Burton
Written by Daniel Waters, Sam Hamm & Bob Kane (characters)

Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, Michael Murphy, Cristi Conaway, Andrew Bryniarski, Vincent Schiavelli, Paul Reubens, Diane Salinger.

Follow up to 1989’s Batman, is quite a bit darker, and has a more gothic tone. It has more a Burton flair to it, and it very much seems as though he had more creative control here. He would be joined by his Edward Scissorhands Cinemetographer, Stefan Czapsky and longtime collaborator Danny Elfman, whose musical score complements the tone of the film perfectly.

Set in an undetermined amount of time after the first film, Gotham City has now welcomed Batman as their hero and saviour. He must contend with several new antagonists, who each have their own agendas, sometimes even overlapping with each other, and against one another.

Keaton definitely grew into the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, and he appeared much more confident in the role.  It has been noted that he preferred this film to the first. He still remains one of the best, if not the best Batman on screen.

DeVito is in his element as the vile Penguin. He was the most terrifying villains of this era of Batman films and a much darker iteration of the character, than had ever been seen before.

Pfeiffer as both Selina/Catwoman, was a much more mature love interest and worthy villain for both Bruce Wayne and Batman. I had not seen this film in about fifteen years since re-watching for this review, and completely forgot how suggestive some of the dialogue was between Catwoman and Penguin.

Much better than the original, there are some pacing issues, and there are some inconsistencies in the ‘timeline’ of the plot that I forgot about – (such as Penguin’s run for mayor that happens in a matter of days, to Selina’s transformation to Catwoman and her return to work after said transformation). Both don’t make sense when you think about it too much. This is still the best of the 90’s Batman movies, and (to date) Keaton’s final on screen outing as Batman (however we may still see him again soon!).

It is also Burton’s final time behind the camera for this series, and his presence will be missed in the franchise going forward until Christopher Nolan’s reboot in 2008.

The secondary theme of being set at Christmas is also part of the plot, but it really could have been set at any time. So this is not a Christmas movie.

Followed by Batman Forever in 1995.



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