This holiday season, we at Psycho Drive-In would like to introduce you to the good, the bad, and ugly of not just any Holiday Films, but the Holiday Films you may have forgotten, overlooked, or just didn’t realize were Holiday Films. There’s no Rankin-Bass, no Miracles on any streets, no traditional happy family gathering fare. Instead there’s a lot of blood, violence, some terrorists, monsters, and even aliens. Plus more than a couple of bizarre Anti-Santas to go around. Twelve days, twelve films, twelve opportunities to amuse and disturb your families this holiday season. On the Fifth Day of Christmas, Jeffrey A. Roth gives to you, Batman Returns (1992). Batman movies have always been a mixed bag. From Adam West’s campy and exaggerated action bubbles, to Christopher Nolan’s dark realism, the Dark Knight has been through a wide range of cinematic tones throughout the years. One of my favorite movies to bring the Bat to the big screen is Tim Burton’s Batman Returns; the follow up to his 1989 epic Batman that featured Michael Keaton as Batman and the unforgettable Jack Nicholson as the joker. In Batman Returns Michael Keaton reprises his role, this time with double the villains and double the fun. In Batman Returns it’s Christmas time, and the whole city of Gotham is celebrating. Everyone that is, except Max Shreck (played by the amazing Christopher Walken) who is focused on getting his new power plant approved by the city. He aims to do this by any means possible. This includes bribery, extortion, and murder. When his assistant Selena Kyle (Michelle Pfeifer) finds out that his power plant is actually a capacitor that will start draining power from the city and stockpiling it instead of providing it, Max pushes her out a window. Meanwhile, a strange deformed man known as the Penguin (Danny DeVito) surfaces from the sewers and chaos ensues. Now, Batman Returns is far from a perfect movie. There are definitely parts where you can take Tim Burton’s claims to never have read a Batman comic in his life seriously. Such as the Penguin having a horde of actual penguins hidden away in an abandoned zoo. Still, that kind of campy ridiculousness is part of why I love this movie. It takes some of the best parts of the campy Batman from the 60s but also injects Tim Burton’s own brand of dark insanity. If there’s one character that really benefits from that craziness, it’s Batman. Despite the fact that Tim Burton misses the mark on some of the finer points of Gotham’s classic villains, he hits a lot of notes simply perfectly. Design-wise both the Penguin and Catwoman look the part, and their interactions together are awesome. Even with the inaccuracies where the comic is concerned, the personally types are also spot on. The Penguin is still a genius despite his unconventional appearance, and you get the sense of twisted mastermind throughout the film (y’know except when he loses it and tries to blow up the city with penguins. That is a bit much). Selina Kyle is single minded in her pursuit of revenge, and even though it’s not directed towards animal activism, it’s still hits very close to the attitudes I am used to seeing from the original character. I think most of my favorite moments from this film feature Selena Kyle one way or another, and Michelle Pfeiffer just knocks it out of the park in my opinion. While Batman Returns doubled up on its classic villains, it also introduced a new one in the form of dirty businessman Max Shreck. Christopher Walken brings his signature delivery to this role, and it makes for some entertaining viewing, though it tends to ruin any scene in which he’s trying to be menacing or serious. Which is, I think, all of them. This only adds to the campy veneer that the movie has underneath the stark designs of Tim Burton. This is accentuated even further when they gave the character a son, who tries to speak in the same halted manner as his father. It’s hilarious, but kind of weird. I had actually forgotten that Chip Shreck (Max’s son) was in the movie, despite being somewhat important when the Penguin goes around kidnapping all the firstborn children of Gotham. I think maybe I blocked it out because it was simply too ridiculous. This film still has its share of flaws, and while watching it again it was hard for me to distinguish whether or not they ruined my enjoyment of the film. A lot of my feelings for this film are wrapped in nostalgia, as I remember when it was released and what a huge deal it was that they were even making a Batman movie. Part of me feels that the particular brand of cheesiness naturally present in a lot of older Batman comics is better off being represented by the types of things we saw in the old 60’s TV show, or more recently, Batman the Brave and the Bold. Still, there is something classic about Burton’s vision of the Dark Knight that has made these films endure past their critics. I still think his portrayal of Catwoman is the best of any of the movies, and the interplay between Selena Kyle and Bruce Wayne is another thing that is just very right about this movie. The decision of Joel Schumacher to simply ignore her is probably a major contributor to why his versions of Batman suck so bad. Y’know, that and Bat nipples. See larger image Batman Returns (BD) [Blu-ray] New From: $6.98 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... 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