Batman Returns (1992) Review

Rating: 3.5 Stars

The following review contains spoilers.

Overview:

Years ago, a freaky-looking baby is born. Too freaky by half for his posh parents, they put the baby in a carriage and float him down the river at the local park. For some reason the river is connected both to the sewers and to the penguin exhibit at the abandoned zoo, and the freaky baby becomes a freaky penguin baby.

In the future, the Penguin attacks the town with his circus army. The town is probably confused because the Joker also liked to attack them with clowns, but these are apparently different clowns. Meanwhile, a mousy secretary named Selina Kyle inexplicably breaks into her boss’s private computer one night, discovers his evil plans to steal the city’s power and sell it back to them or something, and gets murdered for her troubles. Luckily, magic cats bring her back to life and make her their avatar in the human realm.

Once the people of Gotham learn there is a man-penguin living in the sewers, they immediately conclude he should totally run for mayor. Surprisingly, it doesn’t go great. Catwoman blows up her boss’s department store but no one brings it up again and he has his big “dress-like-your-favorite-building-or-whatever” Christmas party anyway. All of Gotham’s poshest families are attending the party, and none of them hired babysitters, so the Penguin’s gang kidnaps their first-born sons and plans to drown them, but Batman puts a stop to this scheme with almost comical ease.

Can Batman prevent the Penguin from unleashing his plan B, which is naturally an army of suicide-bomber penguins?

Can he stop Catwoman from murdering her evil boss, even though Batman has murdered tons of people with less provocation and should totally not be taking the moral high ground here?

Best Parts:

Michelle Pfeiffer is so fantastic in this movie. Every scene she’s in is better because she’s in it. I loved the scene when she lurches into her apartment as a cat-zombie-lady, confusedly starts knocking things over, then decides to destroy everything (except her sewing machine, of course). Her weird Frankenstein-esque costume looks awesome. Possibly the coolest single moment in the movie is when she does backflips across the street up to a stunned-into-silence Batman and Penguin, simply says “Meow,” and then the department store behind her explodes.

Danny DeVito is good as a creepy and gross Penguin. It’s kind of hilarious that he screams at his entire campaign staff while wearing dirty underwear and eating a raw fish, then bites his campaign manager’s nose off, and his mayoral campaign improves from there. But when exactly did he have time to make that Batmobile video-game thing that he rides in his campaign bus?

“Security? Who let Vicki Vale into the Batcave? I’m sitting there working and I turn around, there she is. ‘Oh hi, Vick! Come on in.’”

Worst Parts:

I think I have to accept that I don’t like Michael Keaton’s take on Bruce Wayne or Batman. I remember liking it as a kid, and wanted to like it now, and expected to like it, but it just doesn’t work for me. I don’t need Batman to be the world’s greatest detective or an unstoppable martial artist or a brilliant scientist, but he doesn’t even seem particularly competent.

“Eat floor. High fiber.”

I could probably have a lived a long and happy life without ever hearing Christopher Walken say “poontang.”

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