[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers!]
Director: Tim Burton
Screenwriter: Daniel Waters
Costume Design: Bob Ringwood / Mary E. Vogt
After the defeat of the Joker on the rooftops of Gotham, Batman has cemented himself as protector of Gotham City. No longer hunted by the police and now allied with Commissioner James Gordon, Batman has the criminal element scattered and on the run. However, as Christmas nears and snow blankets Gotham, an underground villain will soon make his appearance. The Penguin, played by Danny DeVito, will forge an alliance with a rival of Bruce Wayne’s, with a plan to take over Gotham once and for all.
This movie was a great sequel to the Tim Burton classic “Batman” which saw Batman get closure of the murder of his parents by the death of the Joker. This was a great weight that was lifted off of Bruce’s shoulders and although Joker was gone, the need for Batman was still present. Tim Burton delivers on this promise perfectly in the sequel as we see Batman engage the new gang in Gotham–The Red Triangle Circus. The Gotham City Plaza is turned into the Batmobile’s playground as Batman uses the vehicle to easily subdue his enemies, finally getting out of the car to get personal when the need arises. Michael Keaton once again did a remarkable job with Batman and Bruce Wayne in this sequel.
Although Vicki Vale and Bruce are now apart, Bruce has not gone back into a reclusive shell. He instead meets secretary Selina Kyle, who seemingly has a dark side to her as well. It’s this very dark side that Batman comes into conflict with as Catwoman is unleashed unto Gotham. Constantly playing sides throughout the entire movie, Michelle Pfeiffer made Catwoman look sexy, seductive, powerful — and scary. That in itself is a dangerous combination and she does it throughout the movie while also attempting revenge against her boss Max Shreck, played by awesome legendary villain actor Christopher Walken.
Honestly, I have no negatives about this movie. Very few movies stand the test of time to me, however Batman Returns is one of them. The cast of Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Christopher Walken screams classic movie all by itself. If I do have one complaint about this movie it is the fact that we never had a real sequel afterwards — thanks Joel Schumacher — but we instead got a lighter toned Batman Forever. The whole dark noir fascination that had dominated both Batman and Batman Returns never got a decent return again until thankfully Christopher Nolan brought it back. However it was Tim Burton’s vision that would serve as a blueprint for the Batman movies to come and it’s clear that the work of Michael Keaton as Batman still stands the test of time today.
In terms of story, action, and overall entertainment Batman Returns is perfect in my opinion. Here in this movie we have a great back story in terms of Penguin and Catwoman, probably still one of the best ever in my opinion. We also see Bruce Wayne more aggressive in the business world when he confronts his rival Max Shreck. Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman came across as a character who wanted to be saved by Batman as she loves Bruce Wayne, but her hatred of Max trumps everything else. The ending gave us the bitter promise of a sequel which didn’t happen, however Batman Forever is still a decent follow-up. After 25 years Batman Returns still holds reign as one of the best Batman movies ever. Happy Anniversary!