Re: The Official Batman Returns Thread - Part 2
Glad to see there is a lot of love for this movie. Nobody ever seems to like it as much of the original film and some ever hate it more than Batman Forever.
This has always been my favorite Batman film in the old series and I love it as much as the Nolan films. There are some things that bother me about the two Burton films. Like Gordon being a non-character. The Batman/Gordon dynamic is one of my favorite things about the comic and I would say Gordon is only a few small steps below Bats on the important scale. In the old films he's nothing more than a fat guy who calls Bats to clean stuff up.
And I do still yearn for a bit more onscreen meat for Bruce Wayne and his psychology but Returns is a great VISUAL representation of this, as some of pointed out in great detail.
But my overall love for this film helps me overlook these stuff, because it's just so damn good as a whole.
One of the main reasons people hate in this film is because it's a flat out Burton film. This is one of the reasons I love it more than the original film (which has aged horribly imo and I never liked it as much even as a kid) because it's a distinct directors vision of the material. This is movie is visually gorgeous. I love to look at it. One of the handful of comic book films that truly looks like a comic book come to life. A very black and brooding comic book, but a comic book none the less. Burtons gothic, dark fairytale attributes are a perfect match for Batman imo and Returns is the best example of this.
The film also has more emotional heft than the 89 film. Bruce state of mind is explored better here than in the original imo and Selena and even The Penguin add more nuance to the narrative. Selena is the heart of the film and her relationship with Bruce is a treat to watch. As repulsive as the Penguin is, there is still a smidgen of empathy there when he dies, good characterization there Burton. Good job.
And this still the one superhero movie to have THREE villains and have it work out in a balanced way. I can't believe no other superhero flick has been as successful as portraying multiple villains. Even TDK, the holy grail of superhero films, didn't handle it's TWO villains as well as Returns THREE. As much as I love TDK, I've always felt the last act was paced too fast and trying to play catch-up with itself. I wished Two-Face had a bit more time to develop.
And on a technical level, this film is just leaps and bounds better then the 89 film. It's smoother in look, pacing, action, editing and acting. Elfmans score is ever better. The Batman Returns score is my favorite piece by Elfman of all time and one of my favorite soundtracks ever.
People dismiss this film for it's freakish portrayal of the villains. I just simply don't see the issue. Catwoman is notorious for being one of the most tinkered with comic characters of all time. Why not have her be supernatural? People hate on the fact she was revived by cats with no explanation. But does it really need an explanation? The very base of this world is exaggerated in the extreme, mild supernatural events seem to fit right in. It's either something people will buy into or they wont.
And if Nolan can take liberties with his villains and receive almost unanimous praise why can't Burton? The Penguin is much more interesting here than he ever has been in the comics, imo. A character doesn't need to be blindly faithful to the source just for the sake of being blindly faithful to the source. This Penguin is perfect for this world. And even if he is gross and cruder, I still see The Penguin.
Batman Returns is a great, a misunderstood classic.