Batman Returns (1992) Written by Daniel Waters Directed by Tim Burton Runtime 126 min. 3.5 out of 5
A mysterious “penguin man” surfaces and takes the city by storm, so much so that evil business tycoon Max Shreck, played by Christopher Walken, thinks he can turn Penguin into the city’s new mayor. But Penguin is not all what he seems and he secretly controls the Red Triangle Gang, who are wreaking havoc across the city.
Adding to the mix is one Selina Kyle, Shreck’s lowly assistant, er, secretary, who, after a bad night with her boss, becomes Catwoman.
The Bat Signal shines and the Dark Knight returns to once again rid Gotham of chaos and restore order.
Michael Keaton is back as Gotham’s Guardian and brings to the role all the mystery and edge that made the ’89 movie so popular. What’s even better is that this movie actually has Batman in it and the vigilante appears, clad in black armor, more than just four times like in the previous flick.
Danny DeVito as the Penguin does a great job given what he had to work with. Though the Penguin in this film is not the same as the one in the comics, DeVito still did well portraying a man who was born . . . a little different.
Michelle Pfeiffer pulls off the dual role of Selina Kyle/Catwoman nicely. In fact, she plays four distinct roles in this film, all in one character: nerdy Selina, hip Selina, crazy Selina and Catwoman.
This film is filled with action, darkness and fun, all set in Tim Burton’s eerie Gotham City, which was a character on its own in this film and its predecessor.
It’s the hokey plot that’s earning this film a lower rating than the previous one. Had the story been better, this movie had the potential to be one of the best superhero flicks ever.
Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (2003) Written by Michael Reaves Directed by Curt Geda Runtime 75 min. 5 out of 5
There’s a new superhero in Gotham, one who wears silver-gray tights and a cape.
And she’s a woman, a bat-woman.
At first it appears she’s here to help, but when she begins targeting the Penguin and Rupert Thorne’s secret arms operation, the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder step in to solve the mystery of the Batwoman.
Who is she? What does she want? And why is it each time Batman thinks he’s solved her secret identity does he find himself back at square one?
As Batman and Batwoman put the strain on the Penguin’s operation, the bird man calls in a deadly force to eliminate them: Bane.
The Bruce Timm-designed Batman series is a staple on the animated superhero genre. The sleek yet angler style’s been used in Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Superman: The Animated Series,Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. And in Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, it’s delivered in spades. The art is just simply amazing straight through.
The story is terrific, with twists and turns right up ’til the end, and no punches are pulled in giving each and every character a level of depth not usually achieved in animated features.
Kevin Conroy is Batman and has the greatest Batman voice out of them all, both live action and animated. His line delivery as the Dark Knight forces you to respect the pointy-eared vigilante and take him seriously. The dude’s got major authority.
Likewise, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred? Wow. Between him and Kevin, these two hold down the film and set the tone for the entire movie. The relationship Alfred and Bruce Wayne share is beyond close and is a stark contrast to the relationships the bat-women suspects have with their own family or loved ones.
You know what? All the voices were terrific, not a one out of place. Each suited the character they portrayed, the acting and tone behind their voices never missing a beat.
The stakes are high, the danger’s real and Batman is better than ever.
Batman (1966) Written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. Directed by Leslie H. Martinson Runtime 105 min. 4 out of 5
Atomic batteries to power. Turbines to speed!
The dynamic duo, Batman and Robin, hit the big screen in this 1960s action/adventure camp-stravaganza!
When the caped crusaders’s most dangerous foes—Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, Penquin—team up and plot to dehydrate the United Nations Security Council, Batman and Robin find themselves in over their heads and must pull out all the stops to put an end to the evil villains’ dastardly plans in this big screen adaptation of the hit TV series.
This movie rocks! And here’s why:
It’s fast-paced, exciting, and is the definition of superhero fun. What? You mean superheroes can be fun? Of course! Remember dressing up as a kid and flying around the house as Superman or climbing the stairs as Spider-Man or swinging from room to room as Batman? Remember laying waste to all those imaginary villains while also saving the damsel in distress and trying to ignore your parents when they called you for dinner? That was superhero fun. Easy-going, super adventure.
This film is the same thing . . . but with grownups. Of course, it’s also a giant Batman TV episode complete with such goodies as the animated THOKs and POWs bursting across the screen, crazy bat-gadgets for every occasion (i.e. the [in]famous bat-shark repellent), a host of bat-vehicles, and goofy special effects that work well in the context of the movie.
What’s brilliant about this Batman movie are the jokes. First, it’s meant to be silly and funny, but the humor is both overt and subtle, whether it’s the dialogue, facial expressions or even actions in some cases. It’s also amazing that despite it being purposely campy, Adam West and Burt Ward—Batman and Robin, respectively—played their characters straight. What I mean is, they played these guys seriously in the crazy, colorful world they inhabited—the characters matching the story, the environment and those they interacted with—and not once did it seem like actors goofing around and simply scoring a paycheck. That’s a feat on its own, in my books.
Nowadays, superhero filmmakers have a hard time trying to do more than one villain in their movies. Why they don’t go back and look at this flick for help, I don’t know. Granted, the four villains in here all had their TV history backing them up, but they still were able to each stand on their own and each share the spotlight and fulfill their roles. No one is second stringer to anyone else.
If there is a movie out there that represents superhero fantasy, this flick is it. Everything is so over-the-top that it actually works and you feel like you’re watching an old school comic book come to life. Joel Schumacher tried to recreate this with Batman Forever and Batman & Robin and wasn’t able to pull it off. The big reason, in my mind, is because he tried to merge the old with the new and that’s like mixing black and white—you get a bunch of gray and no one knows what’s what.
Anyway, I love this movie. My kids love this movie and I let them watch it because compared to the ultra dark Bat-flicks of today, I need to know they’ll have fun watching a Bat-movie, will have at least a general sense of what’s going on, and won’t get nightmares after. (I mean, Heath Ledger’s Joker creeps me out and I’m an adult.)
Batman is one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s lighthearted, it’s funny, it’s exciting, and is a showcase of everything that made the TV series such a hit, even now, nearly fifty years later.