It is my opinion that the first Batman of the Batman series was only half the movie that Batman Returns is. In the first Batman by Tim Burton we had only Batman and The Joker both played wonderfully by Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson.
In Batman Returns we have what I feel is the most perfectly cast Batman movie (yes even better then Dark Knight). Keaton returns as Batman and is perfect in the role never going to far overtop with the character of Batman, which is perfect in this film when it comes to the two villains that he’s up against. First you have Danny DeVito who is delightfully insane as the Penguin. Then you have Michelle Pfeiffer as Cat-Woman, who I dare to say is one of the most interesting and complex villains in the Batman movies. I feel this way about Pfeiffer because of the way she becomes the Cat-Woman she starts off as the rather pathetic mousey Selena Kyle and then truly dives into the dark side of her mind and what you get is a brilliant performance of a woman who goes from trying to be a hero to a villain and then I suppose back to a hero in the end. Also in this amazing cast you have the evil businessman Max Schreck played by the amazing and legendary Christopher Walken. While in a supporting role there’s something about this role that I love and maybe it’s the look of Schreck in the film that makes his performance all the better then it already is.
Story wise I have to say that Batman Returns has so much more going on this time around as opposed to the first Batman. Part of the reason I loved this story so much is the fact that Burton dared to go in a much more darker and twisted direction as opposed to Nicholson’s over the top antics. You have the story on the Penguin and how he tries to deceive the people of Gotham into making him the new hero and mayor of the city. Then you have Cat-Woman and her struggle to decide just who she really is and what she should do with her new persona. When it comes to Batman I feel that in this one he’s more the ring leader that holds the two stories together but of course kicking ass at the same time.
Cinematography was the film is dark and atmospheric just like the story that’s taking place within it. Gotham City never looked as good as it does on Blu-Ray and HD so if you have the chance to see it this way then by all means do because it truly adds to the overall experience of Batman Returns.
So all in I truly feel that of all the Batman movies Batman Returns believe it or not tops the Dark Knight for me because while I enjoyed that movie for Heath Ledger’s amazing performance as the Joker I felt that the movie was lacking something. Batman Returns lacks nothing, so if you want to see an amazing film with what I feel is a perfect cast then this is the Batman to light the Bat signal for.