I’ve decided to go back and watch a bunch of movies based on comic books. No real reason, just something I thought would be fun. This time it was the 1992 movie Batman Returns.
IMDb Rating: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes critics: 80%
Rotten Tomatoes audience: 73%
My Rating: 5/10
It took me at least three tries to get through this movie, not because it’s bad (though it isn’t as good as the first Batman movie), but just because the slow parts are really slow. Part of that is due to the heavy focus on the villains. The first half hour of the movie is devoted almost entirely to the Penguin and Catwoman, with Batman just showing up for a fight scene. The rest of the movie is similar. A lot of screen time goes to the villains and their plots, while Bruce Wayne/Batman is relegated to a supporting character.
The actual casting is excellent. DeVito steals the show as the Penguin (though I greatly prefer an aristocratic Penguin to the sewer dwelling monstrosity in this movie). Michelle Pfeiffer is also outstanding as Catwoman. Those two, along with Keaton and Walken, are the main characters, and all give solid to great performances.
The movie shares a similar style to the first Batman movie. It’s pretty hard to mistake a Tim Burton movie, especially when accompanied by a Danny Elfman musical score. The setting is dark, somewhat gothic, yet at the same time has a sense of whimsy and absurdity that’s the hallmark of both Burton and Elfman. This movie is much darker than its predecessor, but it’s because the violence is more personal. The Penguin viciously and graphically attacks a minor character, and Batman looks a thug in the eyes and smiles while he murders him. The first movie had similar levels of violence, but they were more removed or off screen.
Overall, I didn’t actually enjoy this movie as much as I did the first. The pacing had issues, as did the story, and there were some things that just didn’t make sense. I also didn’t like how little Batman was in the movie. That’s where the real problems were. The writing in this movie was so much worse than the first film, even though many of the technical aspects were much better.