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original title: Batman Returns
duration: 2h 6min
tags: The Bat, the Cat, the Penguin
keywords: penguin, dccomics, mask, revenge, childabandonment, transformation, sewer, childkidnapping, deformed, ninelives, organizedcrime, fatalattraction, hero, catwoman, darkhero, actionhero, actionheroine, c
Apparently Warner Brothers executives were disappointed with how dark this second Batman film from Tim Burton turned out. Apart from the idiocy of expecting anything else from Burton, and the conservative cowardice of their subsequent decision to turn the franchise into an homage to the Sixties TV series, I fail to understand how "Batman Returns" can be considered at all disappointing.
True, it is not quite the equal of the first film - though it repairs all the minor deficiencies of style found in "Batman," a weaker script that splits the antagonism between not just two but three characters invites unflattering comparisons to the masterful pairing of Keaton and Jack Nicholson as the Joker in the first film. Yet for all this it remains a gorgeously dark film, true to the way the Batman was always meant to be, and highly satisfying.
Michael Keaton returns as the Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne, tangling with nouveau riche tycoon Max Schreck (Christopher Walken, named in honour of the 1920s German silent actor), his partner-in-crime Oswald Cobblepot, the Penguin (Danny DeVito in brilliant makeup reminiscent of Laurence Olivier's "Richard III"), and Selina Kyle, the Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer), whom Wayne romances both as himself and as the Batman. The four principals turn in excellent performances, especially Walken and DeVito, while together Keaton and Pfeiffer explore the darker side of double identities.
There are some intriguing concepts in this film. About the only weakness I can really point out is a certain limpness to the script in some places, which I think is due mostly to the way this film is a four-cornered fight. There simply isn't enough time to properly explore what's going on.
Nevertheless, this is a damn good film. I highly recommend watching this in conjunction with the first, and then weeping for how good the series could have been had it continued under Burton and Keaton. Most people say Batman Returns is better than the first Batman movie by Tim Burton because it's darker with eerie music, cinematography and set design and more violent with more explosions and action sequences. Now I wouldn't say it's better than the original because the original had Batman's arch-nemesis, the Joker. But Batman Returns is definitely a very good sequel.
One of the things I love about this sequel is that it has not just one, but three villains: Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer), the Penguin (Danny DeVito) and even a character who wasn't even in the comics, Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). And all three of them do fantastic. And of course, Michael Keaton is amazing as Batman.
I think this movie has a better and more mature plot because it has more to do with crime and conspiracy and the characters (particularly the villains) work very well together. Like the Penguin blackmails corrupt, business tycoon Max Shreck into helping him become part of Gotham City. And later the two of them become partners in crime when Penguin goes up for election for mayor of Gotham so Shreck can continue his schemes. Then later Penguin and Catwoman work together to bring down Batman. And Penguin wants to get revenge on his parents for abandoning him as a baby by kidnapping all the first-born sons in Gotham and killing them.
Yet Batman manages to foil Max Shreck and Penguin's plans to take over Gotham, or worse, destroy Gotham. While also confronting his emotions for Selina Kyle/Catwoman, which makes this movie more sensitive.
If only Warner Bros. hadn't got rid of Tim Burton, we probably wouldn't have the infamous Batman Forever and Batman & Robin by Joel Schumacher. Oh well, at least we still have Christopher Nolan to thank for restoring the franchise. This baby takes place in Tim Burton's id. It's a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. In an attempt to become the mayor of Gotham City, the nefarious Penguin (Danny DeVito), tossed by his parents into the sewers shortly after his birth, teams up with megalomaniac businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). He also works with the slinky, mysterious Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) to plot the downfall of Batman (Michael Keaton) ...until Catwoman spurns Penguin's romantic advances and sets out with her own agenda. The movie is based on characters created by American comic book artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger for DC Comics, first appearing in Detective Comics #27 in May of 1939. The screenplay was written by American screenwriters Sam Hamm and Daniel Waters. It is a sequel to the first movie in Warner Bros.' Batman film series, Batman (1989) (1989) and is followed by Batman Forever (1995) (1995), and Batman & Robin (1997) (1997). The film series was rebooted in 2005 with Batman Begins (2005). Because in the comics, Batman started out solo and Robin is still young during this time. The character of Robin was included in early screenplays for the film, and actor Marlon Wayans was cast in the role. Action figures of Wayans' Robin were even produced. However, rewrites to the script ultimately removed all mention of Robin, and the character was saved for the next film, Batman Forever (1995). Not until the very end of the film. Shreck sees Bruce Wayne only as a possible investor in his power plant, and Penguin doesn't interact much at all with Bruce, so neither of them connect him with Batman. Catwoman sees Bruce Wayne as a rich, eligible bachelor for whom she has romantic feelings. She doesn't learn that he is Batman until Schreck's party when Bruce says back to her word-for-word an exchange they had when in their guises as Batman and Catwoman: "Mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it. A kiss can be even deadlier if you mean it." Yes. Selina Kyle was working as a meek secretary for Max Shreck and living alone with only her cat for company. When she discovered Max's real plan for a power plant he was intending to build, he pushed her out of a window to keep her quiet. She survived the fall but her personality changed, becoming more aggressive and vindictive. She cut up a leather coat, fashioned for herself a cat costume, donned a bullwhip, and Catwoman was born. Yes. The movie opens with a scene showing how Esther Cobblepot (Diane Salinger) gave birth to Oswald, who was born deformed with Penguin-like features. They keep him locked in a cage and after seeing him kill their cat, they decided to throw the infant Oswald into a river. Oswald then drifts down the river, into the sewer and is brought ashore and raised by penguins. Thirty-three years later, Oswald is shown as a deformed man with flippers for fingers and still living in the sewer with a flock of penguins under the Gotham Zoo's Arctic World. The character ofwas created specifically for this film, without having ever appeared in any prior Batman stories. His name is likely a reference to the German actor Max Schreck, who played the vampire in the famous German re-inerpretation of Dracula, titled Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) (1922). On the DVD commentary, director Tim Burton reveals the character was originally going to be , played once again by Billy Dee Williams from the first film. Williams signed up for the first with the intention that he would eventually play the character in future installments. The explosion at the end was meant to scar his face, transforming him intofor a third film. The movie was eventually reworked and Dent became Shreck. The character of Max Shreck was later planned to appear in Batman: The Animated Series (1992), but he was reworked into another original character, Roland Daggett, who later was the basis for the character John Daggett in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Gotham City is a fictional U.S. port city located on the north-eastern Atlantic coast. It was originally a stand-in for New York City but has also resembled other crime-ridden, highly-populated urban centers such as Chicago and Detroit. Some sources, including Mayfair Games' authorized (but now out-of-print) Atlas of the DC Universe, have placed Gotham City in the state of New Jersey. Christopher Nolan (director of Batman Begins and its sequels, The Dark Knight (2008) (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) (2012)) locates Gotham City in the middle of the estuary of the Liberty River where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The river separates most of Gotham from the mainland. The River Merchant divides Uptown from Midtown, while Midtown is separated from Downtown by the Gotham River. The Narrows is a small island in the Gotham River. A creek divides the district of South Hinkley from the rest of Gotham City. Gotham International Airport is in Pettsburg, to the north of the Liberty River estuary. The current DC Universe version of Gotham City is separated from the mainland by the Gotham River, bridged by a series of bridges and tunnels. The east and south sides of Gotham face the Atlantic Ocean. The city is further divided by the Sprang River (named for Dick Sprang) on the northern end and the Finger River (for Bill Finger) to the south. Tiny Blackgate Isle to the south-east is home to Blackgate Maximum Security Penitentiary. (Blackgate is replaced by Stonegate Penitentiary in the animated series Batman (1992-1995) and its spin-offs.) Yes. The reason however is not stated, but it is likely due to the fact that Max is an evil character/businessman in the movie and, as such, having someone killed goes along with that. Fred disappearing would surely have helped Max financially by allowing him to gain complete control over their businesses. Tim Burton reportedly doesn't like making sequels, so although Batman Returns is a sequel, he made it unlike a sequel with a new love interest for Bruce Wayne. However, Vicki is mentioned twice, and she hasn't died according to the film. When Selina asks Bruce whether he has a girlfriend, Bruce tells her that he did but that it just didn't work for Vicki and himself. Later in the movie, Bruce mentions to Alfred (Michael Gough) how Vicki once found her way into the Batcave. They were real penguins, on loan from a bird sanctuary in England. Some of the larger penguins were actually people in suits. Batman follows Penguin into his sewer lair under Arctic World where Catwoman has Shreck cornered. He stops her from killing Shreck and suggests that they take him to the police, after which they can go home together. Even though Shreck is watching, Batman pulls off his mask, revealing his identity as Bruce Wayne. Catwoman almost agrees but suddenly refuses on grounds that she couldn't live with herself. She pulls off her mask, too, revealing to Shreck her identity as Selina Kyle. Shreck immediately fires her, shoots Bruce, and turns the gun on Selina. She challenges him, saying, "You killed me, the Penguin killed me, and Batman killed me. That's three lives. You got enough (bullets) in there to finish me off?" Shreck fires and keeps firing four times until he is out of bullets, but Selina keeps advancing. Figuring she still has two lives left, she uses one of them to electrocute him with power cables and a taser, causing the lair to burst with explosions. She then disappears. Penguin suddenly rises out of the toxic water, bleeding from his mouth. He complains that the heat is getting to him and that he needs a drink of ice water but collapses and dies, his penguins sliding him into his watery grave. Later, as Bruce and Alfred are driving down the street, Bruce notices what looks like Catwoman's shadow against a wall. He jumps out of the car but she is nowhere to be seen. In the final scene, the bat signal emblazons the night sky, and Catwoman's head looks up at it, suggesting that she still has one life left. In the special features section of various DVD releases, it is mentioned that the final shot showing that Catwoman had survived was added at the last minute at the studio's insistence. The film was originally to have ended more ambiguously. Following Batman Returns, there were plans to have Catwoman subsequently featured in a film of her own, but the project was stuck in "development hell" for a whole decade. By the time a Catwoman film was finally made in 2004, all of the originally-slated participants had dropped out or been let go, and the character was no longer even Selina Kyle or related to the Batman universe. The most likely in-universe answer is that not seeing Catwoman in any of the Batman sequels could simply mean that Selina Kyle has given up her life of crime or simply moved away from Gotham City. However, there were ideas for Michelle Pfeiffer to return as Catwoman in Batman Forever. To put it simply, the UK DVD versions of this movie are all cut. First of all, there's the old 15-rated DVD that is missing two scenes: the nunchaku-swinging clown, and the infamous aerosol/microwave scene. A couple of years later a Special Edition was released with a 12 rating. The nunchaku scene has been reinserted but the microwave scene is still missing. The Blu-ray version, rated 15 in the UK, has both the above mentioned scenes restored. Beyond cats traditionally having been regarded as having nine lives, various solutions have been suggested, most commonly that she had incorporated body armour into her costume meaning that the bullets would have still hurt (hence her reaction) but not penetrated her body. It could be that none of her vital organs (especially the heart or central nervous system) were struck and yet she also didn't experience significant blood loss, but a lack of bleeding without the protection of armour would suggest accelerated clotting or otherwise something supernatural like her being a revenant. The Halle Berry Catwoman film postulated that the role of Catwoman was actually an inherited title that was supernaturally passed down to a series of women throughout the ages. This means that either she was imbued with special powers which allowed her to survive or that the Catwoman we see at the end is not the same one we have been following throughout the film but the new bearer of the role.
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