Batman Returns (1992) Review | Advent Film Calendar Day 20

Today’s advent calendar opening brings you Tim Burton’s dark and narcotic reimagining of Batman in 1992’s Batman Returns, a spiralling story of Danny Devito’s Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot rising from the sewers to takeover Gotham as mayor with help from Christopher Walken’s Max Shreck, meanwhile the nefarious Catwoman rises from the dumps and gets entangled in Bruce Wayne’s affairs played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Keaton, respectively.

Batman Returns draws on the campness of the 1960’s Adam West Batman style and blends it in with Tim Burton’s Halloween-inspired, daring director style. Which makes for a wonderful watch in an artistic sense, striking visuals and over the top displays such as The Penguin’s large, ascending rubber duck and Batman rotating the Batmobile rotating on a jack to set fire to a henchman in the opening fight scene, set in a snowy Gotham city.

Sadly, this film just isn’t as good as I remembered it to be. The villain’s motivation is so
insignificantly small and vague, as is the forced relationship between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. Not to mention, the fact it barely resembles anything close to a true Batman story, the characters are so far detached from reality they become something entirely different. Batman doesn’t kill, or at least isn’t that obvious about it and Catwoman didn’t gain her powers from a load of stray cats nibbling her on the street.
That of course doesn’t distract from what it’s trying to be and how it does accomplish than in every sense, it is a clear example of Tim Burton’s work visually and aesthetically and a good one at that. But, not one for the superhero fans who take it that bit more seriously. All in all, though, it’s a very fun film that plays on the far-fetched and somewhat grotesque to make an odd addition to the Christmas film list.

Words by Ross Carley.

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