Batman Returns - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Batman Returns Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 15, 2007
Much more of a Burton film than a Batman film, in retrospect. Better than the original, though.
Super Reviewer
May 6, 2013
The Caped Crusader's return is even darker and erotic than the first. Batman Return displays true starpower with Keaton, Pfeiffer, Walken and DeVito playing magnificently. Tim Burton once again extends his film-making vision to newer heights. 4/5
Samuel Riley
Super Reviewer
September 24, 2012
Once again, the performance of the villain is superior to Michael Keaton's moderate portrayal of Batman. This time, our main foe is the Penguin, played by none other than Danny Devito. His performance makes him almost as sophisticated and disturbing as Nicholson's Joker. With Christopher Walken as a supporting role, it makes it seem that this is a superb sequel. However, I felt that Michelle Pfeiffer's performance as Catwoman was more focused on being seductive, rather being a clever feline thief. Overall, it doesn't feel superior to the predecessor, but remains as entertaining.
Super Reviewer
½ August 6, 2012
Now unlike the first Batman, this one I have a little hard of a time respecting this. For one thing, this completely rips apart the lore of Batman and the characters involved in this film. Penguin is not a little fish man and Catwoman is not a... well... cat. Though I can understand artistic liberties, I think Burton takes it a little too far in this film. That said, I do enjoy this movie as an original film. It's got an interesting and ORIGINAL story I could get invested with and ORIGINAL characters I can get enjoyment out of.
Super Reviewer
April 20, 2011
Batman Returns is a great follow-up to Tim Burton's first Batman feature. The film is much darker than the previous one, the atmosphere, darker, melancholic and at tad more serious than the first one. The film has a great cast to boot. . Danny Devito (who for me is pretty hit and miss) is terrific as the penguin. But for me the standout performance is Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. Of all her work, I'd have to say that Batman Returns is one of her best films. I thought she was excellent as Catwoman. Another performance that delivers is that of Christopher Walken as Max Shreck, Walken as usual delivers a splendid performance. The tone that Burton gives us here is that of helplessness with a tense brooding atmosphere that simply makes the film more defined. Tim Burton took the best elements of the first and toned down the slight silliness of the film and made things with this sequel a lot more serious. What you have with this sequel is a film that doesn't try to be pretty, it tries to be in your face and give you a viewing experience you won't soon forget. Tim Burton crafted a solid follow up to Batman that is packed with terrific action and eccentric characters; it has everything you'd expect from a great Batman film. Only Christopher Nolan has crafted a more solid Batman film with his debut in the franchise by giving us Batman Begins. Up to this point, Batman Returns was the most serious of all the Batman films. Until in 2005 Christopher Nolan stepped in and gave us his now legendary trilogy. Aside from Nolan's work, which is flawless, Tim Burton is the second director to really be able to craft a good Batman film that is worth watching. Batman Returns is well crafted entertainment, sometimes a bit silly, but a lot more serious than the first film. Nonetheless, Batman is still my personal favorite of the two Tim Burton directed films. If you loved the first one, you're sure going to enjoy this one. After this one, the Batman film would fall apart, but it wasn't until the second Joel Schumacher film, Batman & Robin that things were getting truly awful. Watch this film, and skip to the Christopher Nolan directed Batman films. At least for me, the Burton films and Nolan films are the far superior Batman films and the ones that really are worth watching.
Super Reviewer
September 25, 2010
What I will start off by saying, is that it is in no way mind-blowing. I said the exact same thing about the first Tim Burton Batman film, but it's the honest truth. He puts too much style to overwhelm the audience, and focusses too much on the villains, giving them more screen time that it's protagonist (Batman). What I must say is that out of all the villains so far, Selina Kyle, AKA Catwoman, is the best of the best. Her sly talking and sexy manoeuvres makes for one great character. Danny DeVito is the best possible cast choice as the Penguin, although having that character in a full length feature felt a little silly. Overall, "Batman Returns" is a great film, but it becomes a little too silly at times, considering it's very dark tone!
Super Reviewer
July 11, 2012
Growing up, I only remember seeing this one time, and that was in the theater. I didn't really care for it at all. It was dark, boring, hookey, and honestly I never liked the Penguin character at all. Rewatching 20 years later, I still feel the same. It just doesn't work for me, and other than "Batman and Robin", this is the worst of the series. Here Batman does battle with the Penguin and Catwoman. Michelle Pfeiffer is awesome as Catwoman(well other than a few way over the top scenes). The scenes with Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne talking are very good, and make you wish the movie were just about them. They have this sexual chemistry that is rare in superhero movies. Every time Danny DeVito as the Penguin is on the screen, I lose interest. He is just such an odd, over the top character, that any realism the movie has is lost with him. Christopher Walken is here as an evil businessman, but really, they should have just said "hey this is Christopher Walken". Because all he does, is his usually Walken talk/mannerisms act. This is a Batman movie to skip, it just doesn't work for me other than a few scenes here or there.
Super Reviewer
March 6, 2012
The first time I saw this movie was when I was 6 years old and I'm not gonna lie, the Penguin scared the shit out of me. Batman Returns is known for being much darker than its predecessor and the main reason, to me, would be Danny Devito as the Penguin. He's the main antagonist and he's pretty much what Batman is going up against. This film has the gothic feel to it that Tim Burton is known for and I liked how it upped the ante as far as tone goes, but there were some really weird parts in the movie that felt out of place. There's one part where the Penguin is at some type of party and out of nowhere he just bites this guys nose and blood starts spurting out like crazy. Part of the Penguin's scheme is to be mayor of Gotham and he wants to murder all the first born children of Gotham families. (Since I'm the first born in my family, it was a contributing factor as to why I was afraid of the Penguin as a kid.) Michael Keaton reprises his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman and he's out to stop the Penguin. The love interest in the movie also happens to be another antagonist and it's Catwoman, played by Michelle Pfeiffer. She was great as Catwoman and she's my favorite depiction of Catwoman. There are some scenes where Catwoman comes off as slutty, but trust me, it could be worse. (Isn't that right, Halle Berry?) As much as I really liked the characters and the acting, I really wanted to see more Bruce Wayne in the movie. A good 60-70% of the screen time goes to the Penguin and Catwoman and I wasn't really a fan of that. What I really liked though was Catwoman and Penguin working together. I though Pfeiffer and Devito worked well together when they were on screen together and it added to the dark atmosphere of the movie. Visually, the movie is a masterpiece. The sets and locations looked great and realistic and Gotham is the dark place that it's suppose to be. It's not the best Batman movie, but it's certainly not the worst. To me, it's somewhere in the middle. It may seem depressing at some times and I would've liked to see more Batman, but I liked the characters and performances, the visuals look great and it's just dark, twisted fun.
Super Reviewer
½ November 5, 2006
A corporate shark teams up with a mutant sewer dweller to try and take over Gotham City not counting on interference from both Batman and a vengeful employee reborn as the patent leather clad Catwoman. Tim Burton's sequel to his "nice try but no cigar" re-invention of Batman is a big improvement in every department. The production design is fantastic, it has some spectacular, slam bang set-pieces (particularly the explosive finale) and is tinged throughout with his macabre sense of humour. It does have its faults; the dialogue is a little forced, its pitch is a little inconsistent and I never thought that Keaton was the right man for the job. Inevitably the film is stolen out from under him by the trio of villains; Walken has a lot of fun as the malevolent Nosferatu-monickered tycoon, DeVito has most of the best lines and best of all is Michelle Pfeiffer as the down trodden secretary who takes her power back as the sexiest screen Catwoman. Those used to Nolan's dourly realistic interpretations may find this all a little camp, but it's a lot of fun and is the best of the original Batman films by quite a long way.
Super Reviewer
½ October 27, 2011
Perfect casting choice and a worth sequel, it's always films like this that keep you truly entertained until the credits.
Super Reviewer
August 8, 2007
Another classic comic book adaptation and more Burton darkness, I just can't get enough lol! plus Michelle as 'Catwoman' was SOOOOO good hehe

The design with costumes, sets, weapons and vehicles are all stunning and show some absolutely fantastic work from many skilled people, all of this I might add is across the range of effects including models, animation, live action, full size and a touch of computer work.

Yes it may have been a slight touch over the top with the gothic notion and possibly danced to close to pantomime with the through the roof characters but there is no doubt you can smell the comicbook origins mixed with a real sense of grit, not adult but just enough to keep you watching.

For me these the two Burton Batman films are the best made as they keep it real with that graphic novel/comicbook edge, its not too serious like the new Nolan versions, its just right, but you gotta like goth and strong vibes of German expressionist art forms in your architecture and colour schemes ;)
Super Reviewer
September 24, 2011
This, in my opinion, is the perfect Batman movie. It's everything Batman should be, it has a dark, gothic environment, realistic situations mixed with fantasy elements, great, three-dimensional characters, and an emotionally and physically scarred villain. Danny DeVito steals the movie as the grotesque and insane Penguin. Michael Keaton, Christopher Walken, and Michelle Pfeiffer also offer vivid performances.
Super Reviewer
½ December 20, 2007
Tim Burton has done it this time. It's great
Super Reviewer
½ August 25, 2011
Before Batman got serious, kids like me fell in love with the Batman who didn't take himself too seriously. One of the most underated performances from Keaton, this movie has all the comic genius of the comic books and none of that harsh frog-in-the-throat Bale-esque drama. One of the better Batman movies.
Super Reviewer
½ July 31, 2011
Good, but not as good as the first. This movie has a lot to offer though and does a good job as a sequel.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
October 8, 2009
The huge box office success of Batman allowed Tim Burton to pursue a more personal project in the shape of Edward Scissorhands. Mixing gothic fairy tale with social satire and nods to classic horror movies, it was Burton's first truly great work and began his artistic relationship with Johnny Depp. With both critical and commercial success behind him, Burton was free to make Batman Returns much more of the film he wanted. As before, not everything works, but in certain key areas it is a marked improvement on the original.

Whereas Batman felt like a film where Burton was one of many influences fighting for control, Batman Returns is a Tim Burton film first and a comic book adaptation second. Some of the overtly expressionist touches from the first film remain: apart from the continuity of Gotham's architecture, there is the contrast of black and white prams in the credits and the long pan up to the skyline in the final shot. But this film is much more of a gothic fairy tale, as though Scissorhands' close relatives had broken into the Bat-cave.

This shift is most clearly present in the pre-title sequence. Burton's title sequences have always been elaborate, using evocative imagery to pull an audience into the world he is creating so that any initial preamble can be minimised. But the influence of Edward Scissorhands is clear from the outset, with falling snow and the child that nobody wanted - the only difference being that the Penguin is banished from the castle rather than being kept in it. This sequence has a poetic, bittersweet quality which slowly mutates into something creepier; the longer the camera follows the floating pram, the more we start thinking about Rosemary's Baby.

Batman Returns sees Burton putting his stamp on Gotham and the characters in a far more distinctive way. He reworks the theme of outsiders from the first film and plays it out in the visuals to a far greater extent, rather than relying on the characters simply talking about it. The costumes emphasise the fractured nature of the characters, from the stitching on Catwoman's hand-made suit to the Penguin's rubber gloves which stand at odds to his waistcoat and walking stick.

Whereas the first film saw Batman as the hero and ended on a triumphant note, Batman Returns is more nuanced and shows the characters at a more mature and established point in their history. The film expands on the "duel of the freaks" and taps into a central thread of the comics, namely that Batman is no better than the villains he is fighting. Batman, the Penguin and Catwoman are all vigilantes who do what they do because the law has in some way failed them; whatever individual acts of good they may perform, they are all potential enemies of the law, whose level of allegiance to the authorities changes several times over the course of the film.

With this relativistic set-up, it becomes a question of whether the characters use their status, as outsiders and vigilantes, as a force for good or evil. Batman chooses the light, directing his moral compass on the people of Gotham, funded through his/ Bruce Wayne's immense wealth. The Penguin keeps changing his mind but eventually opts for darkness, choosing violence and revenge and over any possible form of redemption. Most interesting of all is Catwoman, who is trapped somewhere between the two extremes. At the end of the film she is still trying to pin down her raison d'etre, trying to reconcile both her personalities to Gotham, her past life and her costumed rivals.

One of the complaints made about this film, and subsequently about The Dark Knight, is that Batman becomes marginalised in favour of the villains. While it is undoubtedly true that Burton finds the villains more intriguing, it makes sense both narratively and thematically for Batman to be on the back foot. Because he has no natural powers - he is not, as the Penguin puts it, "a genuine freak" - it takes time for him to respond to new threats and to defeat his enemies using wits rather than convenient gadgets. There's nothing more boring than seeing a hero brush villains aside with one punch, and the relationships which these three characters build during their various encounters give them a new depth.

Like all the best comic book movies, Batman Returns is centrally focussed on the people trapped within the circumstances of their special powers. With Batman it is doubly interesting because there is no freak accident or supernatural force involved, so that it becomes a moral examination as much as a psychological one. But Catwoman and the Penguin also wrestle with their new identities, and the film is suitably ambiguous as to how far these people have come to terms with who they are.

The best scenes in Batman Returns are those between Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer, in either of their incarnations, trying to decide how much of themselves they should reveal, second-guessing whether one knows who the other is, and weighing up whether to be lovers or enemies. In one scene they are kissing on the couch, trying to give in to their passions, but also trying to hide the injuries they sustained from fighting under their respective masks.

In a later scene, Pfeiffer is dancing with Keaton at Shreck's ball, having come her to kill the latter at Catwoman. As Keaton puts two and two together, Pfeiffer remarks "does this mean we have to start fighting now?", a line which perfectly conveys the conflict their characters are facing. Pfeiffer's face shifts dramatically in this scene, taking in panic, fear, angst and sadness as she desperately runs through all those questions in her mind. Does she really want to kill Shreck? Can she live with Bruce Wayne knowing that he is Batman? Can she in any circumstance live with herself?

For those of us who are less interested in the psychology of the characters, there is still plenty in Batman Returns by way of popcorn entertainment. Burton may not be the most adept action director, but the set-pieces in Batman Returns are packed full of pyrotechnics and impressive stunts to keep younger viewers entertained. Some of the individual movements feel contrived, such as a gadget which rotates the Batmobile through 180 degrees just so a clown can be set on fire. But in the sheer variety and frequency of the set-pieces, there is something for pretty much anyone.

The flaws with Batman Returns comes less from Burton's vision than from the demands of a blockbuster sequel. The film is rather too long, and in complete contrast to its predecessor has too much plot rather than too little. Christopher Walken is underused for most of the running time, with his evil plots being quickly reduced to an expository sideshow. The film does fall into the Spiderman 3 trap of having too many villains, albeit not so catastrophically as Sam Raimi's effort.

There are also elements of Batman Returns which seem out of a place for a 12 certificate films. Danny DeVito gets a number of unsavoury lines surrounding "filling the void" and "unlimited poon-tang", which come across as more disgusting than funny, even considering the grotesque nature of his character. And the Penguin's encounters with Catwoman tip over so often into sex talk that you begin to wonder whether this film was misjudged or simply given the wrong rating.

Despite its flaws, Batman Returns is an improvement on the original and the best of the Burton-Schumacher canon. Its exploration of the characters is more complex and consistent than before, and Burton's evocation of Gotham is darkly distinctive. In hindsight it was probably for the best that Burton moved on to other projects, since he had taken the characters as far as his talent and interest would allow. One only wishes that Joel Schumacher had taken more care once Burton had handed over the keys.
Super Reviewer
½ July 19, 2011
I find returns a much more compelling, atmospheric experience than the original.

It also feels like it fleshes out Batman's relationship with Bruce Wayne more to a sophistication that the original just didn't really approach. Anyway, this was TB's Batman at it's best; a political story with love-interest Catwoman and that dark, stylistically propelled Gotham we love.
Super Reviewer
February 26, 2011
The Penguin: You're just jealous, because I'm a genuine freak and you have to wear a mask!
Batman: You might be right.

I like Batman Returns equally if not slightly more than Burton's original, Batman. Danny DeVito is perfect for the role of Penguin and Christopher Walken is brilliant in this movie as always. The art direction was fantastic in the first Batman, but I think the art direction in Batman Returns is a step up even from the first. Gotham looks amazing and the atmosphere is really set from scene one and it's kept the same throughout. It's a little darker in tone than the first.

There are some things I didn't enjoy about Batman Returns though. Catwoman was too ridiculous and had horrible dialogue. I wish she was just left out of this one altogether. Also, the plot becomes a mess near the end and I believe this is because of Catwoman. The ending doesn't work at all in my opinion. With that said, the first hour and a half is nearly perfect.

Too bad Burton didn't hold on to this series instead of seeing it handed over to Shumacher. Although, I don't hate Batman Returns; Batman and Robin is the worst thing to happen to the superhero genre ever.
Super Reviewer
June 23, 2011
What a great director is Tim Burton. The art and photography are amazing. Excellent!
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