As much I want admire Burton for taking the superhero genre in unexpected directions, this film is rather messy in the end. It gives the villains some interesting story arcs, but at the expense of shoving Batman too much into the background. It goes for a darker, mature tone, but breaks it constantly due to its campy moments. It's a unique cinematic experiment, but not a successful one.
Tim Burton's definitive grotesque fantasy adventure about misfits done on a big budget where the villains have memorable moments all the time. It is an orgy in Gothic atmosphere and music. Batman is reduced into a supporting player in his own film that is a carnival of freaks.
It departures from previous film-noir and stays a lot closer to German expressionism. Although not on a pair with Anton Furst's vision, Gotham remains seductive architectural nightmare. When it comes to sex and violence, this is the darkest Batman film. But overall, the story is so nonsensical and silly, that it feels closer to Schumacher than to its predecessor. Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer shine as a villains
The bat, the cat and the penguin. I've just rediscovered how amazing Burton's Batman is. I saw it only once like 7 years ago and didn't taught much of it. Now that I have way more film knowledge, I can clearly see the expressionist influence of this film. It is one of the best Batman films but also the one with the least of him in it. More than a superhero film, this is a darkly comic story about freaks and outcasts.
Gone are the days when a big budget event film conceived to sell merchandise would be helmed by a director as idiosyncratic as Tim Burton was at this time. Burton and scripter Daniel Waters twist the iconic hero and villains to their own perverse ends. Less a franchise place holder than an anguished cry of fury. A distinctly personal statement by an artist given a wide commercial canvas with which to express himself.
(3.5) I re-watched Burton's Batman the other day and found it disappointing but watching this for the first time (24 years late) I was pretty impressed. It feels like Burton got to make a film more in his own style, darker and weirder than the first Batman, and DeVito and particularly Pfeiffer are great.
Although lacking the raw, visceral power of the original, BATMAN RETURNS improves upon its predecessor's clunkier parts (dialog, plot, tone). Given free rein by the studio, Tim Burton pile-drives his artistic credo ('it's okay to be a freak') while leaning on the stunning production and costume design. Then there is Keaton's Batman and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman. Their sadomasochism as unflinching modern romance.