Brandyn Johnson's Batman Film Retrospective (Part II)
Batman Returns (1992)
The reason why Batman '89 is my favorite in the original movie series is because as I said earlier, it has pretty much a perfect balance between being dark enough for a Batman movie, but also being fun. I do think that Batman Returns is a worthy sequel however (just about the only worthy sequel out of the original movies). It was once again directed by Tim Burton and Michael Keaton reprised his role as Batman. The villain this time around is The Penguin, played by Danny DeVito. The movie also features Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.
Many years ago, a rich couple in Gotham were so ashamed of their deformed son that they discarded him into the sewer, where he was found and raised by Penguins. I am going to take a wild guess that the screenwriter was not familiar with the comics and was only given the villain's name and a vague description of appearance. (There's "taking creative liberties", and then there's "making it dumber than it is in the source material".) He plans to rise from the sewers with the help of one of Gotham's corporate tycoons to take over the city, and when Batman stops him, his new plan is to drown every newborn in Gotham in the sewers. It's the feel good movie of the year!
Many people didn't like the sequel as much because it was "too" dark. Especially parents. It featured a tragic villain who has a tragic ending, with a decidedly more bleak tone throughout. To be fair, yes Batman again is a character that is supposed to be dark and tragic but this movie still wasn't even that upbeat compared to the triumphant feeling the first one left. It isn't a humorless movie, but compared to the first one it was a little much. Danny DeVito was entertaining as the Penguine and I thought Michelle Pfeiffer also played her role well. I still think it is definately a must see by fans, but you probably won't be in a hurry to re-watch it anytime soon.
Batman Forever (1995)
Tim Burton was no longer director and was replaced with Joel Shumacher. Since Michael Keaton was only willing to do these movies as long as Burton was directing, he did not reprise his role for Batman 3. He was replaced with Val Kilmer. The villains this time around are Two-Face played by Tommy Lee Jones, and The Riddler played by Jim Carrey.
While the soccer moms yelled that Batman Returns was "way too dark" for kids, Batman Forever represents the other extreme. Now while I talked about movies that are edgy at the sacrifice of being fun, I don't want my comic book movies to be a cheese-fest either. And that's pretty much what Batman Forever is. I don't feel like I am watching The Riddler because I am too busy watching Jim Carrey just be Jim Carrey, pretty much giving the same performance he always did back in the 90s when he was in high demand with his exaggerated facial expressions and over the top physicality. Perhaps he would have made a better Joker, but as someone like the Riddler who is much calmer and more calculated and planned than the Joker it didn't really fit. Same with Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face. I understand CGI was not as sophisticated back then but they could have done a better makeup job than simply painting half his face purple, and he just acted like a buffoon in the role as well. Apparently this was more Tommy Lee than the directors telling him to be like that, as Jones didn't want to be "upstaged" by Jim Carrey.
To be absolutely fair it isn't so much Shumacher's fault as it is the parents who complained Returns was "too" dark. They had to make it more "family-friendly" and so unfortunately real fans had to suffer as a result. As for my personal opinion on it it's "meh". It's one of those movies I sometimes watch if I am channel surfing and happen to see it on TV, but not one I would pay money or go out of my way to see.
Batman & Robin
I am pretty sure this movie is shown in film schools all over with the title, How to Kill a Franchise. There isn't much I can say about this movie that hasn't been said to death. It was even cheesier than the Adam West series. Bat nipples, Bat credit card, and Arnold Schwartzenegger making non-stop puns about ice is all you need to know. I can see how its entertaining in that so-bad-it's-good way but seriously this was a let down. It wasn't the Batman movie we deserved, nor the one we needed.
The next and final part is of The Dark Knight trilogy!