Synopsis: The experienced Dark Knight finds himself against the monstrous Penguin and Max Shreck, while drawn to the free yet mysterious Catwoman.
• A more self-assured story than the first.
• Michelle Pfeiffer’s portrayal of Catwoman-Selina Kyle was breathtakingly feminist, and perhaps the best part of the film. The cross class of femme fatale and dark antihero was successfully shown, especially in the climactic scene between she and Shreck.
• Keaton’s performance as Wayne-Batman was now very comfortable, more successfully portraying the psychological impact of his chosen double life. As such, we finally see the businessman-investor he was well known to be sans-mask.
• Walken’s Max Shrek was the perfect corporate villain, with perhaps more relevance today than in 1992.
• Regardless of one’s opinion of this depiction of The Penguin, Danny DeVito shamelessly went all the way with it.
• The possibility that the Red Triangle Gang, who were mostly clowns, were inspired by the Joker.
• Surreally implemented, as the humor was pitch perfect dark and wonderfully self-aware.
• Danny Elfman’s score was again pitch perfect for the film.
• Might just be the best mainstream arthouse film ever made.
• The depiction of The Penguin might have been a little over the top.
• Even though, in the long run, it might have been right for the character, the darker themes were far from family friendly.
“We’re the same … Split right down the center …” Batman/Bruce
Batman Returns was not really a film about duality. This film was truly about the fallacy of duality. In their own ways, all the characters put on masks to either hide or express their true selves, while painfully maintaining the false facade of all the expectations put on them. Bruce Wayne was truly the masked hero, but needed to play businessman. Max Shreck was a megalomaniac, but needed to play the altruistic man with good luck to take everything he could from Gotham. The Penguin was a vengeful, anarchistic monster to the core, but needed to play on people’s pity to enact his twisted plans of destruction. Alfred put on a facade toward others, pretending to just be the long-time Wayne family butler, but he was integral to Batman’s crime fighting. And of course, Catwoman merely convinced herself that she wanted a normal life of servitude toward normality, but had no place in the world once freed from the self-imposed chains. Catwoman especially was technically out to do the right thing, but for wholly selfish reasons, willing to destroy. In the end, they were all misfits with dark shadows over their souls. They all merely channeled that darkness in ways they felt was right.
Rotten Tomatoes — 80%