Batman Returns (1992) Movie Review

Title: Batman Returns.
Rated: PG-13.
Director: Tim Burton.
Writer(s): Daniel Waters & Sam Hamm.
Screenplay: Daniel Waters.
Release Date: 1992.
Runtime:  2h6min.
Genre(s): Action, Crime, Fantasy.
Cast: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Michael Gough, Michael Murphy, and many more!
Budget: $80 million (estimated).
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Despite the success of Batman (1989), director Tim Burton’s lack of creative control under Warner Bros.’s supervision almost forbid the world of seeing a sequel with Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader. Securing the freedom he sought, he unleashes a controversial beast onto the big screen, although his creation does not attain the same financial success brought on by the original movie, but paves the way to a definitive and brooding iteration of the Dark Knight. Although criticized at first, it later became one of the most iconic and revered Batman movie. Not a very family-friendly adventure, with sexual innuendo laced into its core narrative, it remains one of the most Burtonesque movies building up Batman’s legacy before his fall from grace under director Joel Schumacher’s wings, followed by the quintessential revival by director Christopher Nolan.

What is Batman Returns (1992) about? In the midst of the Holiday season, the wealthy industrialist Max Schreck is kidnapped by the leader of the Red Triangle gang, known as the malformed and abandoned-as-an-infant Oswald Cobblepot. Blackmailing Max Schreck into helping the feral man-child into reintegrating Gotham’s elite, Penguin tricks his way into becoming a hero and seeks acceptance whilst he pursues his illusive search for identity. Meanwhile, Selena Kyle, fallen victim to Max Schreck’s homicidal and self-centered vision of Gotham city, rises from the afterlife and becomes Catwoman with a vengeful quest held close to her cold, dark heart. Attempting to stop these new peculiar figures in town, Batman ends up in the middle of everyone’s conflict and has to choose wisely if he’s to save Gotham from crumbling under the weight of chaos.

(c) IMDb.

Director Tim Burton’s Gotham city is now transformed into a reimagined landscape brimming with power-hungry elites and a motley of tormented characters who would stop at nothing to get what their heart desires the most. In a three-way battle of vengeance, justice, and redemption, the story pits the newly-introduced Catwoman and Penguin against the established nocturnal hero as their relative loneliness and torment brings them to act upon what they strongly believe in. Although Christopher Walken’s character, Max Schreck, is a functional psychopath within this tale, his persona is overshadowed by the formidable performance of Danny DeVito as the barbaric, disgusting, and infamous Penguin as well as the seductive and untamable Catwoman played by Michelle Pfeiffer. Their respective attempts to overthrow Batman’s purpose and eliminate him from existence allow for a wonderful and operatic story constructed around themes of identity, acceptance, and belonging.

This sequel continues to harness Batman’s unique and diverse arsenal of gadgets and his iconic Batmobile. The action scenes filmed, although still stiff with an absence of fluidity, when it comes to action choreography, remains engaging, sometimes unimaginably deadly. The rooftop encounter with Batman and Catwoman is also unforgettable, capitalized by the unexpected and sensual cat-like face-lick. The finale, however, reverts to director Tim Burton’s oddball vision of Batman’s universe, offering a comical and silly denouement, filled with mayhem that still conveys the dark and brooding atmosphere so perfectly captured on a visual level throughout the movie. The underlying Christmas tone also adds a touch of sinister yet festive chaos that beautifully encapsulates the movie’s tone and direction.

(c) IMDb.

From the practical effects to the animatronics utilized, director Tim Burton achieves a grim and amusing style, further embraced by every character in the movie. Danny Elfman’s score remains an indisputable masterpiece and also an essential factor, beautifully rendered and inserted into the movie, to give off a glacial yet tenebrous tone. While there are some CGI-effects that feel dated today, they tend towards giving the movie a certain charm rather than deter the viewer’s enjoyment. Nonetheless, the cinematography is wonderous, even whimsical through its underlying poetic narrative, but, unfortunately, isn’t enough to keep director Tim Burton on board as the Batman quadrilogy is followed up by two of the most questionable superhero movies to ever come out.

Batman Returns (1992) is an atmospherically grim, chaotically festive, and seductively operatic three-way war between Batman, Catwoman, and the Penguin, themed around identity, romance, and greed.

Batman (1992) is available for purchase and on select streaming services.

Have you read any Batman comics?
Have you seen Batman Returns (1992)? Will you?
What did you think about it?
Share your thoughts with me!


22 thoughts on “Batman Returns (1992) Movie Review

  1. I read the comic when the movie came out and it wasn’t until years later that I actually watched this. I remember all my friends losing their little collective teen minds over Pfeiffer and wondering what they were on about. I still wonder, as I have come to the realization that leather isn’t my thing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m absolutely certain I watched this when it came out on video, but it was long enough ago I just don’t remember much of anything about it. I don’t even recall whether or not I enjoyed it, but I’m glad to see you did. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, so much and similar to the darkened world of today. The icons have so much meanings of power, personality and places. I wonder if our heroes are hiding in the blend of darkness. The writers and directors have always been smart to narrow the scope of evil to a city rather than the world at large. I hope the plot will transform into how dark identities and evils are to be seriously eradicated in our real world soon. Our Gotham is huge!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Have you ever watched a movie and liked it, and then… decades later, you see a clip from it, and it looks so comical? We don’t realize the passage of time as we move with it, but looking at movie clips definitely reminds us of that. The costumes, the acting, the voices, everything is just so obviously from back in the day.

    Liked by 1 person

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