James M's review of Batman Returns (1992)


1989 saw the release of the first true Batman film starring the likes of Michael Keaton as the titular Dark Knight of Gotham and it was so successful, a sequel was green-lit a few years later with Tim Burton once again directing the movie and Michael playing the role of Batman again. But this time, this film was way darker and more intense, this... was BATMAN RETURNS!

Welcome back, DC fans. Today, we discuss and review the sequel to the 1989 classic, the movie that sees Batman go up against Oswald "The Penguin" Cobblepot, played by Danny DeVito, and Silena "Catwoman" Kyle, played by Michelle Pfeiffer (who'd go on to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe almost a few decades later as Janet Van Dyne, the wife of Hank Pym.)

Just like the first film, Batman Returns is rated PG-13. But this time, it pushes the PG-13 rating very hard as we see Catwoman claw a man's face, drawing blood, and Penguin dying a somewhat bloody death while we even see Batman kill some of his enemies by lighting a goon on fire before then attaching a bomb to another goon and making him fall into a sewer where he explodes.

Even the ending of the movie is somber, even though Batman defeats Penguin, thwarting his plan, he loses Silena as she gets her revenge against The Penguin's ally and her former boss Max, who wanted to expand his buisness and tried to kill her early on in the movie. The movie is set around Christmas and it is quite something, a dark film set during a festive season with death throughout.

While BATMAN RETURNS did well at the box office and was received well, the movie's darker tone and hard pushing of the PG-13 were criticized by parents for being too dark for kids, leading to McDonald's apparently shutting down their promotional campaign and leading to the studio changing directors and direction for the next film with BATMAN FOREVER being a bit more lighthearted.

Regardless, Batman Returns, just like its predecessor, is a fun action-packed movie with good moments throughout and has some fine acting as well as a decently choreographed musical score. Michael Keaton brings quite the energy to the table as Batman and Michelle plays Catwoman fairly easily, even Danny DeVito, just like with Jack Nicholson with The Joker, seems to have a ball playing Penguin. The Penguin's backstory is quite sympathetic in many ways and his characterization is very memorable.

The filmmakers gave it their all to make Gotham City at Christmastime look incredible, providing a near sense of happy times, while the Penguin's sewer lair is well-crafted to look ominous and foreboding in many creepy ways. Despite the movie's flaws, its strengths shine through and ensure that Batman Returns is an unforgettable superhero experience, ensuring the movie's legacy runs strong to this very day.

While Tim Burton and Michael Keaton did not return in the following movies, their work on Batman is not forgotten as a comic book titled 'Batman 89' set after the events of Batman Returns is being published by DC Comics and ignores the events of BATMAN FOREVER and BATMAN & ROBIN while Michael Keaton is about to reprise his role in THE FLASH movie along with BATGIRL.

BATMAN RETURNS gets a 9.9/10, if anyone hasn't seen it yet and can handle dark, gritty movies, this one is for you. Go watch it, there's nothing to miss out on. Now, I close out this review as the Bat-Signal goes off in the sky and Batman appears to fight the bad guys in Gotham. Peace to you all...

-James. M

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