Wednesday, July 16, 2008
REVIEW: Batman Returns
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Michael Gough
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13
After the huge success of Tim Burton's Batman, Warner Bros. easily wanted to continue the franchise. Batman was considered one of the studio's biggest film ever made so it was obvious they weren't going to stop with one film. It was kind of a surprise because the guys at Warner Bros. weren't really expecting Batman to make so much money. Not even Tim Burton or Michael Keaton was signed on for sequels. Luckily the people at Warner Bros. did everything to bring back Burton and Keaton even if that meant a big increase in Keaton's salary. The sequel was highly anticipated and the studio wanted to keep everything under wraps. Not even Danny DeVito was allowed to tell his family about his Penguin makeup.
Millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) a.k.a. Batman faces two new threats to Gotham City when eccentric businessman Max Schreck (Christopher Walken) is blackmailed into helping The Penguin (Danny DeVito) emerge from underground and take control of Gotham City. Meanwhile, Max's mousy secretary Selina Kyle (Michelle Pheiffer) finds out too much and he murders her. She comes back as leather wearing, whip cracking Catwoman, setting out to avenge her death, meanwhile falling in love with both Bruce and Batman. Can Batman defeat these villains, when he is in love with one and the other is thought to be a misunderstood hero?
Director Tim Burton returns to the world of Batman and sets out to make this film even darker than the one before. Not only does he do this, but he also creates a Batman movie that we probably wouldn't have gotten if it were a different director. The art direction is just amazing and Burton truly makes you feel like your sucked into this world. Not only that, but I think this film has the best Batman costume ever. The plot kind of suffers from not having a good idea. The villains here don't have a plan that's cleaver and smart like the Joker had in the first film. Just like the first film, the story here contains plot holes. Now when I say this, I mean the plot doesn't stay too faithful to the comics. Certain things and characters are altered and given significant changes. While I'm a fan of the comic and I usually hate it when Hollywood changes things related to the originals, I found the changes here to not really bother me. Sure the Penguin doesn't look like the one in the comics, but so what. This is Burton's telling of this comic book hero and he still manages to make a Batman film that's dark and gritty unlike anything you have seen in the comics.
The cast of the film is pretty great and easily is on par with the first film. Michael Keaton returns as Batman/Bruce Wayne and he gives a much better performance here than he did in the first film. I still liked him as Wayne and still love him as Batman. Theirs just something about him that makes him the perfect choice to be playing Batman. Danny DeVito plays as Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin and he too gives a good performance. Burton's version of the Penguin is really nasty looking and DeVito does him really good. His voice and certain look makes him perfect for Burton's version of this character. Michelle Pfeiffer plays as Catwoman/Selina Kyle and she gives a wonderful performance. I absolutely loved her in this role. She gave me a believable performance that I just couldn't resist. Christopher Walken plays as Max Shreck and hes as good as ever. I always seem to enjoy Walken performances and its no different here. Hes funny and sophisticated work here brings alot to this movie.
The visual look for the film not only is on par with the first film, but goes even deeper. I really liked how the first film was dark because Batman is a dark character, but Burton makes this film even darker. This ain't your normal Batman that you read about in the comics. The movies source is in better shape than the first film which shouldn't come as a surprise seeing how this one was released three years later. Theirs some film grain here and there, but its alittle bit cleaned up compared to the first film. Theirs also alittle more CGI in this film and it holds up pretty well. Colors still have that washed up feel to it and it makes the streets of Gotham feel so dirty. Blacks are spot on perfect and really dark. Detail is much better this time around with alot of close up shots looking even better. You can see alot of little things on Batman's costume. There are some soft shots here and there like the first film, but it isn't alot. This is still a good looking film for its time.
The film features a stunning soundtrack. Composer Danny Elfman returns to score this film and he does a fantastic job at it. That same score he made for the first film is back and it sounds even better. He also has some other orchestral music that is used in the film and this too sounds great. His work here is simply perfect and really gives this film more value. His talent with Burton's dark vision makes this film nearly perfect in the sound department. The movie also features some great bass work. I was kind of let down with the bass in the first film, but that's definitely not the case here. There are many scenes in this film that require alot of bass to go with it and it certainly does. The bass is much more louder and sounds much more full. I'm surprised that a movie this old can really have good bass. I definitely enjoyed the soundtrack here more than I did in the first film. Its just that much better.
Batman Returns is a good film that's easily in my opinion, a worthy sequel to the original. Sure the plot isn't as creative as it was in the first Batman film and that it contains plot holes, but that doesn't change the fact that this film is every bit entertaining as the one before. The cast is great with many of them giving good performances. I still believe Keaton makes the best Batman ever. The visual look of the movie is much more darker this time, but its also much more cleaner than the original. The soundtrack is wonderful and I absolutely loved it. I'm glad Tim Burton stuck around for the sequel because if it weren't for him, we wouldn't have a Batman film this dark and gritty. I can recommend this to fans of the first film and to those seeking a dark, but fun film. Its not as great as the original, but its still full of entertainment.