With his second movie, Tim Burton realized all too well that he needed to up the ante. Not only did he use the most famous villain of DC Comics in the first movie, but fans all over the world would anticipate a movie that would have bigger set pieces, better fighting and more spectacular action scenes.
Clever as he is, the director chose to implement not one but two villains in his movies (actually three, but the third one doesn’t dress up as a freak) making Batman returns almost as interesting as its predecessor.
This time Tim Burton decided to tell a story that would revolve around bad guys trying to make Batman look bad, rather than simply kill him, so the people of Gotham city would resent him and ultimately chose another hero to protect them from evil.
They chose the Penguin-man, a grotesquely appalling man who’s about as short as he is ugly. A man who was raised in the sewers of Gotham city by a bunch of Penguins. He is the number 1-villain of this movie, and by himself he’s not a very interesting character to look at.
Luckily there’s Danny DeVito and his wonderful, though seriously over-the-top performance.
Thanks to the ingenious work of master special effects-/make-up artist Stan Winston, little Danny DeVito was transformed from a mere human being into a ghastly monstrous creature even a mother couldn’t love (as proven by the story, as both father & mother ditched their baby in the river).
The Penguin-man proves to be an especially tough opponent for Batman, as he successfully wins the trust of Gotham city, and at the same time manages to become major. He uses smart politics to get his will, or plays on the ignorance of the common folk in the street.
Basically, in less than no time, he sets the entire city to his hand … and all of this to destroy Batman.
Standing by his side, though this character doesn’t really get much depth, is an actor who can make anything look interesting. He’s that good!
Christopher Walken plays a man who – much like Mr. Penguin – keeps the streets of Gotham city safe by a series of unscrupulous methods. He’s not that different from the Penguin-guy, and by introducing him into this story, he sometimes falls to the background as his character doesn’t really have much more to offer.
But the cake goes to Michelle Pfeiffer, no doubt about it!
Oh, what a performance! The way she sways her hips … the way she taps her tongue against her teeth … the way she licks herself (yup, she does that too!) … the way this unspeakable beauty emerges completely into the role of Catwoman.
Michelle Pfeiffer isn’t just standing still, being beautiful, as this – in her own words – is ‘utterly boring’.
Nope, she grabs her character by the claws of her paws … and she dances a dance you’ll remember until the day you die. Like the scene when she says ‘Meow’ and the whole building blows up behind her … unforgettable stuff!
Of course we cannot forget the two major players of this movie.
Despite the fact that Batman returns has one or two weak moments – most notably the ones where the Penguin guy talks politics or Max Shreck is cooking up another corrupt fashion to suck Gotham city dry – the overall atmosphere is one of pure fun and class-act entertainment!
Director Tim Burton was obviously given more freedom by Warner Bros., because this movie – unlike the previous one – does have a colorful ensemble of weirdos. There’s creepy circus freaks running all over the city like you’re watching a Cirque du Soleil-show.
It’s what Tim Burton does best … and it makes the movie all the more freaky-fun to watch!
Last but not least there’s the Batman himself: Michael Keaton once again installs himself in the batsuit to kick some serious ass.
Though otherwise a more than compelling actor, he somehow seems to fall a bit short, especially when compared to the abnormal behavior of a half man-/half Penguin-guy and a slick, seductive leather-girl who could ensnare any man she want.
Not to worry though, Michael Keaton is still head and shoulders above anyone else when it comes to playing Batman …
Did you know?
In an interview for television, Stan Winston told a little anecdote about how his crew were collecting the mechanical penguins after a day’s shoot and found one of the live penguins snuggled up asleep against a mechanical one.
Give it to me short:
Batman returns does not have an enemy like The Joker, which means director Tim Burton had to double the evil force to make up for the difference. It seems to have worked, as both Danny De Vito as the Penguin-guy and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman are two of the most interesting characters ever to appear in a Batman-movie.
Danny De Vito is wonderful as the disfigured hunchback who wants to take over Gotham city by any means necessary. The actor is also hideous – enough to give children nightmares! – mostly thanks to the outstanding make-up of special effects-guru Stan Winston.
Michelle Pfeiffer balances the ugliness in this movie by bringing her fair share of beauty and uncontrolled desire for hotness. Easily the most agonizingly, nail-biting erotic performance of her entire career, the beautiful blonde proves she’s so much more than just a pretty picture.
She delves deeply into her character and plays the Catwoman with a yearning that makes most men drop no their knees and beg for more. There’s never been a better Catwoman since … believe it!
As for Michael Keaton, his acting is rather shallow but that has mainly to do with the fact that he is not covered in a mountain of make-up, nor does he get to play like a crazed psychopath. He remains very much in check with his emotions and portrays the Batman the way we like it best: cool and distant.
Last but not least: Tim Burton opens his box of creativity, and releases an army of sinister and frightening figures all over this movie … making Batman returns just not as good as the first one, but all the more entertaining to watch!