If the first film was dark, then this one was pitch black. You’d need a floodlight to spot the lighter moments in “Batman Returns” (1992).
Having given them a worldwide smash hit with the first “Batman” (1989), Warner coaxed Director Tim Burton back to the stable with the promise that he could do whatever he liked this time around. If the first film was an amalgamation of studio-suggestions and Burton-ideas, then this would be a total Burton-esque experience. For better or worse.
A Burton film it was indeed. It was faintly melancholic, dismal, very dark, a tad overwrought, and mostly, menacing…. but hey, who cares about that?!, Michelle Pfeiffer looked sensational as Catwoman right?! She was, well, ‘purrfect’ for the role – sexy, slinky, seductive and super-talented. She, in some respects, was the film’s light moment and at the end of the day, she ultimately created one of the franchise’s most memorable characters. Yep, maybe just as noteworthy as Jack’s Joker.
The story was pretty thin – compared to the later Batman films, it was a literary masterpiece though – and it mightn’t have captivated you as much as some of the Superhero films that came before and after, but “Batman Returns”, for several reasons including the stellar cast and the amazing production values, was still a successful sequel.
Michael Keaton gaves us another unique turn as the scarred Caped Crusader, an almost unrecognisable Danny De Vito was fittingly frightening as The Penguin, and the always-great Christopher Walken gave us the unforgettable villain, Max Shrek.
Thing is, this isn’t a very loyal “Batman” film. In fact, it’s a Tim Burton film, first and foremost, that just happens to feature the same/similar characters as Bob Kane’s comic. Still, it’s known to be quite a few people’s fave in the series, so obviously Timbo did something right here. Or again, was it simply Michelle?
Oh Catwoman – I’ll let you drink out of my milk bowl anytime.
Again, like “Batman : SE”, the film looks and sounds terrific on DVD. Burton again provides commentary for the film, and it’s as easy interesting and informative as the one he gave for the first.
On Disc-2, there are a slew of extras. First up, there’s a vintage making-of called “The Bat, The Cat, and the Penguin” hosted by the late Robert Urich. Worth a look, but with so many other great special features on the disc, you can afford to skip over it.
Better is “Shadows of the Bat: A Cinematic History of the Dark Knight Part 4”, a continuing look at the evolution of the Caped Crusader on the big screen. Everyone from Burton, Keaton, Pfeiffer, De Vito, writer Sam Hamm, producer Denise DiNovi, and writer Daniel Waters (he replaced Hamm, the writer of the first film, on this) are here chatting up the sequel’s fruition. An excellent feature.
“Batman Beyond” takes a look at some of the technical aspects of making the film – ranging from the sets, the costumes, training the penguins, the effects and the music. Not as captivating as the previous featurette, but still worth a peep.
In addition there are interviews with the ‘Heroes’ and ‘Villains’ of the film, Siouxsie and The Banshees’ music video from the film, and a couple of other bits and bobs.
If you’re buying “Batman”, you’ve gotta get this to go with.