Friday, June 22, 2012

What It All Comes Down To Is: Who's Holding The Umbrella

It took me longer than I wanted to get this to you, but I hope it'll be worth the wait because I have so many strong feelings about this little film.

Batman Returns is 20

As with all reviews, SPOILERS ahead

Now, as a Batman fan, I have to admit that this is not a strong Batman film in the slightest. Too many of the characters were messed with, the storyline was a little iffy, and the style is off.

However, this is totally a wonderful Tim Burton film and my personal favorite.

I don't care if they mixed The Penguin's backstory with Killer Croc's or that they exaggerated his deformity and grotesqueness. I LOVE the Penguin design here and Danny DeVito pulls it off perfectly. I don't care that they added an unnecessary supernatural element to her, Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman is my personal standard. I don't care that Micheal Keaton is the least Batman-looking of the Batmen, he really shows his chops here even more than in the first film. Especially when he and Pfeiffer interact. Nothing against Bale and Hathaway, but I don't expect that dynamic to work half as well as it did in this film no matter how hard they try (by all means, though, try away). Christopher Walken feels like he kind of wandered in, but he always does and that's why we love him.

Would you believe I used to hate this movie? It legitimately scared me as a child and I wouldn't watch it until I started re-discovering Burton's work in my early teens. And I still think this is his masterpiece, even more than Edward Scissorhands (which I also love).

Really, if I had to pinpoint one aspect of this film that makes me love it so much even to this day, it would be Danny Elfman's score. This is, without a doubt and I will fight anyone who disagrees with me, the ULTIMATE Danny score. This is the one where he melds the leitmotifs most brilliantly and clearly. I still can't listen to this piece or any use of that melody without getting chills:

In case the name didn't give it away, that's Catwoman's theme. And oh boy, it's one of if not my absolute favorite compositions in the history of music. The meowing violins, the haunting music box bells, just...perfection.

Not that he's any slouch when it comes to The Penguin, whose four-note motif is heard the most in the score. It even manages to elevate This Scene, which is just damn silly by itself, to a truly powerful emotional moment.

Let me restate. While the Nolan films are better Batman films, in that they are truer to the characters, and I do adore them, nothing will beat this movie for me. Aside from Star Wars, this is probably my favorite motion picture of all time.

Mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it, but a kiss can be even deadlier if you mean it.


  1. Michael Keaton is still my favorite on-screen Batman (though the least comics-like), and I agree with you--Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman is unbeatable until proven otherwise...and I don't think Hathaway will be able to pull it off. She's too "girl next door" to me, and too young--Catwoman should feel like she's been around the block a bit.

    1. Hey, I thought the same thing about both Cillian Murphy AND Heath Ledger and I was proven delightfully wrong. She still won't beat Pfeiffer, but I am cautiously optimistic.