Sunday, June 17, 2012

Batman Returns (1992) DVD

Rating:  4 out of 5 abandoned freak babies

Plot Synopsis:  Danny DeVito get’s justifiably abandoned for being a hideous, penguin looking monstrosity.  Oddly enough this happens in the film as well (BA-zing).  He eventually returns around the same time Michelle Pfeiffer is resurrected by cats after falling no fewer than 1500 stories.  There’s also something about Christopher Walken being creepy as...well... as Christopher Walken.  Anyway Penguin makes a run for mayor because Gotham is the only city that would elect such a thing but is taken down by Batman (who makes a cameo).  He responds in a totally normal and understandable manner, he puts missiles on penguins and marches them into the city to blow it up. 

The Good:

-Paul Ruebens as Mr. Cobblepot, first time I saw him after his whole movie theater scandal.  I remember there being a slight hullabaloo about it as well.

-The Penguin it’s a totally different take on the character.  Up until this point no one ever thought of the Penguin in this way.  I can safely say that because I had never thought of Penguin this way and I represent everyone.  But up until this point in the comics he’s been represented as a dapper, well to do crime boss and in the TV series he was played spectacularly by Burgess Meredith in much the same manner.  Neither was this animalistic, vicious, hideous portrayal and Danny Devito does it PERFECTLY.

-Catwoman is so wonderfully awkward as Selina Kyle and so bad ass and sexy in the stitched leather.  This movie started my crush on Michelle Pfeiffer which persists to this very day.

-Christopher Walken, menacing, cold blooded and Walkeny, every scene he’s in is gold.

-The Circus of Crime is so cool looking.  They don’t use a vibrant color palette but they do use other colors besides the very monochrome colors present everywhere else.  We get muted reds and greens and dark, dark blues.  They’re eye catching and unique and entertaining to watch.

-Chip Shreck and his subtle impersonation of Walken.  He only gets a few lines but you can tell he’s trying his hardest to Walken.

-Batmobile does way more this time around.  It has more tricks and gadgets and functions and they all look better now as well.

-“You missed!” “No I didn’t mother fucker.” *tug* *piece of wall hits clown*

-Selina talking to herself/fallen clown attacker before tasering him. “Brief, just like all the men in my life.  Except you, but you need therapy.” *taser, taser, taser*

-Danny DeVito is so awesome as the Penguin.  He MAKES this part, if it was anyone else doing any other kind of performance then the part, and its distance from the source character, would be ridiculous.  But Mr. DeVito goes into this with his all and delivers an awesome performance.

-Selina flipping the fuck out, her total melt down after he cat resurrection is a little heartbreaking.  Her apartment suggests such a sheltered goody goody with its pinks and stuffed animals and a dollhouse.  The “Hello There” neon signs just screams something someone bought because they think it’s cool and they think the cool people would buy it but it’s just on the wrong side of cool.  It’s just clear by both Michelle Pfeifer’s acting and her living space that this is a person who’s very guarded with very low self esteem trying desperately to fit in while still being their own nerdy self.   That’s how I interpret it anyway and when she melts down and starts changing things, I don’t know, it empowering but also kind of sad.  Is she changing because who she is now is her true self and she’s shedding the image she clung to or is she changing because she hates herself and therefore everything that reminds her of who she is?

-Penguin succumbs to the temptation of a raw fish.  I think we can all relate to that.

-“It could be worse.  My nose could be gushing blood.”

-Poodle with grenade.

-Wilhelm scream, I always enjoy you when I hear you.

-If I could back flip that would become my only mode of transport, I would measure all distances by how many back flips it would take to get there.  Where’s the grocery store? Oh it’s about 135 back flips north.

-“Gotta fly!” how many times did I say that while wielding an umbrella?  A lot of the times.  I’ll just go ahead and answer that question for you.

-When Bruce hooks up with Selina things go well until they get to the scars each gave the other the previous night at which point they awkwardly stop.

-The fights between Batman and Catwoman are all pretty good.  Simplistic but brutal.

-The relighting of the Christmas tree via a falling model.

-Penguin attaching Catwoman to his umbrella and then Catwoman falling into a greenhouse of cat nip before screaming and shattering all the glass.

-The whole Penguin driving the Batmobile sequence from beginning to end.  Danny DeVito going balls out in his character and Batman trying to figure out how to solve the problem all while he drives through the citizens of Gotham.

-I love that every where the Penguin hangs out there are fans and air conditioners.  He mentions several times that he’s cold blooded and clearly has problems with the heat so little touches like these are brilliant.

-When the Batmobile turns into the bat bob sled, it looks cool and I had the toy that shot the sides off and I really enjoyed that so, while stupid, always warms my heart.

-“Who let Vicky Vale into the Batcave?” yeah Alfred, who did that?  Who breached the sacred trust of the superhero/butler relationship?

-The fish tank switch that opens the way into the Batcave.  He reaches into the fish tank and activates a small perfect scale replica of Wayne Manor which activates the iron maiden in the room, gets into said spiked iron maiden which then shoots him into the Batcave.

-DJ Brucey Bruce B-Man aka Trippy B (FYI Trippy=Triple, Triple B, as in Brucey Bruce B-Man, there are 3 B’s, hey it’s HIS DJ name, I didn’t just make that up!)

-Penguins escape from the cops mirrors the scene where his parents abandon him.  Nice little call back to those paying attention.

-The look Alfred gives Bruce after Alfred tears up Bruce’s invitation and then Bruce changes his mind, it’s a real “Jeez, thanks asshole...” look.

-I see what they did there.  Bruce attends a costume party seemingly without a costume.  It goes to what they always say; Bruce Wayne is the costume Batman wears.  Selina Kyle, likewise, comes sans costume showing that she has become Catwoman and Selina is the costume.  I know, deep right?  Yeah, super deep.

-“Does this mean we have to start fighting.”

-Penguin gives a Patton speech to his fowl army before they deploy en masse.

-“They wouldn’t put me on a pedestal so I’m layin’ them on a slab.”  Penguin has some of the best lines in the movie.

-That is one souped up, tricked out duck.

-Catwoman has multiple lives.

-In a touching scene Danny DeVito is given a burial at sea by midgets in penguin furry costumes.  Knowing furries they probably all had sex afterwards.

-The last couple of seconds.  I won’t ruin it in case, by some miracle, you haven’t seen it.

The Bad:

-No Vicki Vale, No Knox.  Nothing, characters wise, attaching this to the last movie.

-The Penguin, he’s not Penguin, the Penguin is an erudite, background player in crime running a seemingly legit business.  That’s the version of the Penguin I prefer but this version is just so well done that it’s forgivable as a one off that isn’t cannon.

-Commissioner Gordon, he’s pointless and barely in it.  It’s like no one really understood the importance of Gordon in the comics and they just sort of put in a place holder.

-No one notices that Bruce Wayne has a Batsignal relay that shines directly into his office every time Gordon uses the main Batsignal?

-So, when they closed the zoo they didn’t take care of the animals?  They just left them there, in the abandoned zoo? And they survived?  And also raised a human?

-Why does Bruce go from Penguin supportive to suspicious in one scene?

-“I was their number 1 son and they treated me like number 2.”  I just now got that.  I’ve seen this movie many times and I never got that until this viewing.  So that’s really a bad on me.

-I’m pretty sure Batman kills a guy with a bomb in cold blood.

-Shield mode is still pretty pointless, looks better though.

-I bet it totally sucked working with real, live penguins.

-Why does no one aim for the head when they shoot Batman?

-They kill Penguin.

-All the cats that appear in this movie are probably dead.  For that matter probably all the penguins as well.  It’s really kind of sad.

-So you, Batman, assumed that one day you would need to enter an alley that was thinner than your Batmobile was wide, your solution to this was to make it so your car sheds the sides off and leaves just a “torpedo” containing your cockpit?  What happens to the rest of the car?  Won’t people be able to track who you are by those remaining parts?  Isn’t that awfully expensive and wasteful?  Do you just have spare Batmobile sides in the Batcave?  How do you install those sides?  How many of them do you have?  Where do you get more?  Where the fuck do you store all these Batmobile sides?  Clearly, you didn’t think this out did you Batman?

The Ugly:

-The cat resurrection, to this day, still creeps me out, especially the cat gnawing on her finger.

-Who has a “Hello There” neon sign?

-Both movies reference Beauty and the Beast.  Joker call Vicki Vale “Beast” in the last one (“Here we are, beauty and the beast.  But if anyone else calls you beast I’ll rip their lungs out.”) and Penguin says that Catwoman is beauty and beast all in one.  I suppose not really ugly, but weird.

Final Thoughts:    This movie is everything a movie sequel should be.  We get an improvement in characters, storytelling, effects and visuals as well as including everything that was good about the original.  It’s pretty much an improvement in every way.  “Batman” was undoubtedly the “Joker Show” whereas with this movie we get to spend time with all the characters.  Batman is barely in this thing for the first 40 minutes but you’d hardly notice.  In that time we establish the Penguin’s origins, the Selina Kyle character, Christopher Walken’s character as well as what’s going on in Gotham.  But that’s fine, we spent some time with Bruce in the last movie so we can take some time in this to establish who our new players are as well as our setting.  Everyone important get’s their time to shine and the main cast does indeed shine.  Michael Keaton puts in another great performance as Batman, Michelle Pfeifer does great as Catwoman and Danny DeVito gets the VIP in this movie.  Danny DeVito as the Penguin, I can’t really say enough how much I like him in this role.  Especially considering how easy it would have been to miscast it or go past scary and intimidating and into just plain stupid.  So really Danny DeVito is the stand out in this.

            The only real gripe I have about this movie is that it kills its villains again.  I just don’t get that, especially when you have such great villains.  Again I don’t know if it’s how contracts worked back then or they didn’t want to be shackled to particular reoccurring actors or what but it’s a shame that we lose Penguin.  There’s a subtle hint at the end that Catwoman is still alive but we never see her again in the series so it doesn’t really matter.  But it also seems that no one ever got the memo that Batman doesn’t kill, he would go out of his way to save a villain from death and yet he racks up quite the body count in these movies.

            This movie is worth going out of your way to see and I’d see it with the previous one because there are enough references to it that it would help to put this movie in context.  The first Batman is a must see for really only one man playing one character and that’s Jack as Joker.  This movie is worth going out of your way to see because it’s a solid movie with great performances all around.

Batman Returns IMDB

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