Batman Returns (1992)

batman returns poster 1992 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Still great visuals, Catwoman, Penguin's design

Design and acting don't equal substance, not much story, too many characters

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Batman Returns

Studio:  PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

Genre(s):  Comic Book/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  June 19, 1992

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

batman returns michael keaton costume batarang

This is still my movie…right?

The Penguin (Danny DeVito) is hitting Gotham hard.  Teaming with industrialist Max Schreck (Christopher Walken), he’s out to get Gotham eating out of his hand (or flipper).  Gotham’s protector Batman (Michael Keaton) is bent on stopping Oswald Cobblepot as he looks for payback for the way he has been treated for years.  The Bat isn’t the only one patrolling Gotham’s alleys as the Cat begins her reign.  Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) finds herself reborn as Catwoman and roped into the Penguin’s evil plans as she seeks revenge against her killer Schreck.  Can Batman expose the Penguin for the villain he really is or will the Penguin gain control of Gotham?

Directed by Tim Burton, Batman Begins is a DC Comics action-adventure movie.  The film is a sequel to Burton’s Batman film from 1989.  The movie was well received by critics and a massive financial success.  The movie received Academy Award nominations for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup.

batman returns max schreck christopher walken

I predict that there are too many characters!

I loved the first Batman.  It was moody, dark, and a comic book film that was actually good…something that was extremely lacking in the ’80s.  With Batman Returns, we get the same atmosphere, but it does suffer from more characters and a bit of a story overload.

The movie has too much going on without ever really creating a sense of danger for Batman.  I felt that the Joker was a good match in the first film, but Catwoman, Max Shreck, and Penguin really weren’t very threatening.  The movie almost crossed over into my least favorite genre (by framing Batman), but Batman even solved that problem with ease.

Michael Keaton feels hardly there in the movie.  There was talk that both he and Burton were not entirely interested in doing a sequel but the financial and critical success of the first film made it a no-brainer. The multiple characters however leave Keaton feeling like he’s so sidelined in his own film.  I still think Keaton himself is weird casting (he works, but he is not necessarily the top choice at the time), but since he just isn’t a major part in the film, I can’t say if he’s good or bad or better or worse than the previous outing.

batman returns danny devito penguin

Do I have fish in my teeth?

With so many characters, they never get the treatment that they deserved.  Michelle Pheiffer’s Catwoman was great and supposed to have its own spin-off movie (unfortunately we got Halle Berry’s Catwoman instead).  She was originally portrayed by Annette Bening who was forced to drop out due to her pregnancy, and Raquel Welch, Ellen Barkin, Cher, Bridget Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Madonna, and Jennifer Jason Leigh were all considered.  The makers went with the right choice and Pheiffer makes the movie.  I loved Penguin’s design but I’ve never liked the character (and Burgess Meredith’s “classic” Penguin is much more fun).  Walken is good as Max Schreck (who borrows his name from the vampire classic Nosferatu), but he would have been better served in a solo Catwoman film.  Burton invites Pee-wee’s Big Adventure actors Paul Reubens and Diane Salinger to play the Penguin’s neglectful parents in the opening (Rueben reprised his role as Cobblepot’s father in the Gotham TV series years later)…plus, you get Jan Hooks (unfortunately she does not talk about the Alamo).  Other actors appearing in the movie include Michael Gough and Pat Hingle who return as Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon, and there is  also a cameo by Batman’s co-creator Bob Kane.

batman returns michelle pheiffer catwoman costume

Meow, Meow

Visually, the movie is still Burton and mostly made up of elaborate sets.  The animatronic penguins look pretty weak (but they are stylistically in line with Burton’s vision of Gotham), but they do mix in real penguins.  The movie is darker both in the physical appearance and story and you could almost forget that it is a Christmas setting.

Batman Returns is a bit of a mess at points but still fun.  There was some controversy by groups who felt that Penguin’s quest to eliminate the first born children of Gotham and his appearance played on Jewish stereotypes like a Shylock character…I don’t think it is that big of an issue and most of the audience probably wouldn’t pick up on it if it wasn’t pointed out.  Batman Returns shows a slight decline in the series quality but is still better than the follow-up film Batman Forever which was released in 1995.

Related Links:

Batman (1989)

Batman Forever (1995)

Batman & Robin (1997)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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