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Ringside Report Looks Back at Batman Returns


By Geoffrey Huchel

This second installment of the initial Warner Bros. Batman film series reunites Burton and star Michael Keaton, who were fresh off the heels of the success of the blockbuster BATMAN (1989). Keaton’s portrayal of the Caped Crusader is the best, in my opinion; despite all the chatter from fans who may disagree and feel a more recent Batman actor was better “suited” for the role.

In BATMAN RETURNS, the Caped Crusader faces the Penguin aka Oswald Cobblepot (Danny DeVito)- a monstrous and deformed individual who is intent on being accepted into society, while in the meantime wants to find his birth parents. Crooked businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) is coerced into helping him become mayor of Gotham. Batman also faces another adversary- Catwoman, aka Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer).

Selina, Max Shreck’s secretary, seeks vengeance against Shreck for attempting to kill her because she has knowledge about his plan to bring the city under his control. Upon surviving her fall, Selina reinvents herself into Catwoman, who has an agenda all her own. The villians attempt to expose Batman in a different light, leaving him to defeat the two fiendish foes and clear his name before Gotham City is destroyed.

Danny DeVito brought the scary to his role as Penguin, the coldblooded and grotesque individual, who was abandoned by his own parents as an infant. He lived below Gotham City in the sewers inside an abandoned zoo with penguins and a group of circus freaks. It’s no surprise he transforms into this menacing and murderous psychopath.

Academy Award winner Christopher Walken portrays Selina Kyle’s ruthless, manipulative and corrupt boss, Max Shreck, who is known as the Santa Claus of Gotham. Walken, known for playing villains has some excellent moments and brings a certain charm to a character that is so despicable.

Excuse me as I geek out, but I can’t help but revel over Michelle Pfeiffer, who I think is the crowned jewel of this movie. Not to take anything away from Keaton, DeVito and Walken, but Pfeiffer is absolutely brilliant as both the timid Selina Kyle and the sexy, slinky Catwoman. The actress seamlessly captures the many levels of Selina’s complex personality- vulnerable, sad, angry and tragic. Toward the end of the movie we see all of Selina’s emotions at the center and how they affect her in these final moments on screen. You can’t help but feel devastated for Selina, as heartbreak and destruction consume her. Knowing she can’t be with Bruce, even though she wants to be. Pfeiffer’s performance is ranked by fans as one the best and most memorable of her career.

Michael Gough and Pat Hingle reprise their BATMAN roles of Alfred and Commissioner Gordon, respectively. Rounding out the rest of the cast are supporting players, Michael Murphy as The Mayor, Cristi Conaway as the Ice Princess, Andrew Bryniarski as Chip Shreck, Vincent Schiavelli as Organ Grinder and Paul Reubens and Diane Salinger make cameos as Penguin’s Father and Penguin’s Mother.

The film was a blockbuster hit, making 266.8 million at the box office and was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup.

I was 15 years old when BATMAN RETURNS was released on June 19, 1992. I remember going to the movies to see it with my older brother, Rick. I don’t recall ever being as excited to watch a movie on the big screen as I was this one. Needless to say, I loved it, and 27 years later, I love it just as much, if not more. It’s my personal favorite of all the Batman films. The film received generally positive reviews, although it was criticized for its dark tones (this is a Tim Burton movie, right?), but praised for its action sequences, special effects, cinematography and composer Danny Elfman’s musical score.

BATMAN RETURNS is full of great dialogue and some unforgettable quotes, most of which I find myself reciting every time I watch this movie. Listed below are some of my favorites.

Catwoman: Meow!

Selina: A kiss under the mistletoe. You know, misteltoe can be deadly if you eat it.
Bruce: But a kiss can be even deadlier… if you mean it.
(silence as they realize each other’s identities)
Selina: Oh, my God. Does this mean we have to start fighting?

Batman: What do you want?
The Penguin: Ah, the direct approach. I admire that in a man with a mask.

Selina: Its gonna be a hot time on the cold town tonight.
Bruce: You-you’ve got kind of a –kind of a dark side, don’t’ you?
Selina: No darker than your, Bruce.

Selina: How can you be so mean to someone so meaningless?

The Penguin: You’re just jealous, because I’m a genuine freak and you have to wear a mask!

The Penguin: A plan is forming.
Catwoman: I want in. The thought of busting Batman makes me feel all…dirty. Maybe I’ll give myself a bath right here.

The Penguin: True. I was their number one son, and they treated me like number

Batman, Bruce: We’re the same, split right down the center.

Catwoman, Selina: Two lives left. I think I’ll save one for next Christmas.

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