In time for Chris Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” I want to go back and review the four great Batman films. Tim Burton’s two an Nolan’s first two. So let’s get started. (there will be spoilers if you have not seen it already)
This film was a bit of a hit and miss for me. While I still loved the visual style and Keaton returns and still owns the role of Batman, the story was much weaker this time around. Much has to do with the inclusion of the Penguin aka Oswald Cobblepot. For starters lets take a look at the very beginning of the film and Cobblepot’s origin. I like the fact he is born with deformities and is different. But the fact that his parents lock him up in a cage and throw him over a bridge after he kills the cat was a little bit of a stretch for me. I mean he was still a baby in a stroller but was strong and mean enough to reach through his crib/cage to grab and kill a full grown cat? It just was a bit too much for me to buy. That being said, I really liked the make up for the Penguin and thought Danny Devito played the role well despite his character being underdeveloped and a bit too cartoony. That brings me to the other new addition. That being Catwoman played to perfection (or would that be purrrrfection?) by Michele Pfeiffer. She starts out as the meek, mousey secretary Selina Kyle, who is bullied and demenied by her boss Max Shrek. (played to creepy excellence by Christopher Walken) Her creepo boss Shrek, upon learning that Selina finds out accidentally about his power companies plans to steal power from Gotham city’s supply and hold it for ransom, throws her out a window. But Selina either having some sort of hidden strength or mutation comes back to life and is reborn so to speak. The scene where she comes back is at the same time creepy, and haunting. The tons of cats that come running out meowing and gnawing at her, combined with the Gothic cinematography and Danny Elfman’s haunting music makes it a very mesmerizing moment. (a scene copied in Halley Berry’s Catwoman picture.) When we first see Selina’s home and watch her before her transformation we see a woman who is still lost between adolescence and adulthood. She has stuffed animals and pink cutesie shirts. Then she comes home after her rebirth and is almost zombie like at first. Then she has this explosion of rage as she destroys her girlish things. IMO if you watch the film “The Black Swan” this scene is copied a bit. Pfeiffer plays this moment great as you see a woman who has been held down not just by others but herself to, finally find herself. I like the fact that like Keaton she changes her voice when she is in the Catwoman suit. Which looks bad ass by the way and she works it well. Catwoman to me never was a true Batman villain. She was sort of a wild card who just did what she wanted and crossed his path at times. That is the way she is played here, unlike in the tv show and cartoons. She was wronged and wants to get revenge. Batman not knowing the whole story and doing what he thinks is right tries to stop her while at the same time being attracted to her. Speaking of which the romance angle in this film is also hit and miss. There are moments when it works well like the scene at Shrek’s masked ball. Bruce and Selina are dancing and realize that the other is Batman and Catwoman and they have been fighting each other. It is a truly electric moment as is the scene on the roof. Other times they just don’t click for whatever reason. I think some of that may be due to the film feeling rushed a bit. There is so much going on with the story between Penguin and Shrek, and trying to make Penguin mayor. Then the Catwoman and Batman story, and Catwoman dealing with Penguin to frame Batman so she can go after Shrek. The film suffered from a bit too many sub plots. But what they did right was really well done. Another draw back was the back and forth between being really dark and really comic. That has a lot to do with the Penguin character. The film wanted to go the Gothic dark rout but the Penguin brought too much comic to the film. Maybe if Burton had brought in Harvey Dent and turned him into Two Face instead of Penguin that would have fixed the problem. That possibly could have reduced the too many subplots problem too. But I digress. It’s not that I hate this movie, far from it. What it does well is great. I Like the inclusion of new gadgets, such as Batman’s remote Batarang which was cool as hell. Not to mention the moment he unvales his Batglider and soars over the city. (tell me Nolan didn’t get inspired by that.) Plus we get to see his boat which was really cool too. I really like the Batsuit in this film better too. The original was good but this one looks sleek and has a battle armor look to it with the rigid look in the chest and torso. (tell me again that wasn’t an inspiration for Nolan) The look of the film is still beautiful as Burton did it with a wintry look which gave the film a cold dark feeling. The action moments I think were done better in this film like the fight scenes with Batman and the Red Triangle Gang, and his fights with Catwoman. The part when Penguin takes over the Batmobile and Batman is trying to keep it from running everyone down is great. We get to see the Batmobile mow down other cars and what not. The climax with Catwoman, Batman, and Shrek is really good which makes up for the anticlimactic moment with Penguin and Batman. Selina is torn between getting vengeance on Shrek and leaving with Bruce. But to keep her new found independence she electrocutes the energy company man to death, which was really cool.
To sum up, Burton’s sequel was good but could have been better. It suffered from a much too gimmicky villain in the Penguin, and too many sub plots. But had the best Batman ever and a great Catwoman. A terrific story with Catwoman, Batman, and Shrek. Great action moments, nice effects, crisp editing and direction. The good in this film outweigh the bad enough to make it enjoyable.
So it gets 5 and a half stars out of 7
BEST LINES IN THE FILM :
Mommy feels much yummier. (Catwoman) I’m Catwoman … hear me roar. (Catwoman)
You want to talk security, who let Vickie Vale in the Batcave? (Bruce Wayne to Alfred)
If she tries to black mail me, I’ll drop her out of a higher window. (Max Shrek)
Mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it. But a kiss can be deadlier if you mean it. (Batman and Catwoman)