Batman Returns traumatized me.
It traumatized me (and my grandmother) as a kid, but I loved it.
While this is not a full sypnosis of the movie, there are plot points given away. If you have not seen this movie, please don't read any further.
I don't remember if I saw the first one in the theaters (I would of been 4) but I was 7 when Returns hit theaters (Right around anyway)
I remember the Mcdonalds tie in, and the sudden dissaperence of the tie-in right before the movie hit theaters. (Years later I would learn why, HINT: My experience was shared by many young kids) Does anyone remember the toys and cups? I know some of those promotional posters can get quite a high number on Ebay now due to the controversy and how rare they are.
My mom and dad were going to take me to the movie but something came up with work with them.
Anyway, My grandmother, who remembered seeing the Adam West series with her kids, took me and my brother. She hadn't seen the first one, and only knew of the West version. She saw no ads or had even seen a Burton film before this.
Imagine her shock.
We watched the Adam West TV show the night before. I can't remember if we just rented something or in fact a TV channel was running a marathon. Anyone remember by chance? I don't even remember what channel it was, but this was way before TV had over 100 channels. (Or at least before it was available to most people.)
I had seen the first one, but I was 4 when I saw it. Now, I had seen the West series, almost expecting it to be like that. My grandmother did. Michael Keaton, who was in Mr. Mom (which I saw a week before with her at her house) and Danny Devito, who was in Taxi. This was going to be a funny movie! (According to her anyway.)
Instead we got
I recall us going in, and seeing that intro scene where Penguin's parent's coldy dump him in the stream to the sewer. My grandmother seriously asked the person next to her, "What movie is this?" She really thought we went to the wrong theater. Surely, this dark, gloomy world couldn't be the one of the Batman. Batman was a cheerful fellow.
Boy, by the time Batman appeared, he was anything but. I think my grandmother was seriously expecting Adam West and Burgess Meredith to come on the screen. Batman, in his grey suit, and The Penguin, all dressed nice. Not in black rubber and victoriaqn garments with long undies, respectively.
There he is, The Penguin. He's giving you the stink eye. If you see the scene again, with the music, it's a bit eerie. I wonder if Rhea Perlman had nightmares of kissing Danny, blinking, and him turning into that creature, with that black goo coming out and on her lips, lol.
So, when we first see Batman/Bruce Wayne in the movie, he's in that really dark room all alone in his mansion. I find it funny now that my grandmother asked me, "What's he doing in there, sitting there in the dark?"
What really makes this scene, and well....movie is Elfman's score. It's haunting. A contrast to the Major Chord progressions of the Batman theme song of the 60's. It really sets the gloomy, gothic atmosphere of the movie. Seeing Bruce all alone in that mansion told us one thing...."Robin? Robin who?"
There was no comic balloon with "Wham" when the Batman knocked a piece of wall into the clown (Those ballons were ways to keep the censors happy) There was no "Owned" balloon when the firebreather was put on fire by Batman. Nor was there a "Epic Fail" balloon for The Penguin's death. (More on that later)
This movie was gloomy not only in lighting, but of the cold (literally) atmosphere it's in. The snow and the ice frozen on the sides of buildings is really beautiful and really adds to the scenes. Not a warm summer day like in the West version. I find it ironic that it's Christmas time. A very depressing Christmas time at Gotham because everyone ends up alone at the end.
I wasn't really scared of the Red Triangle Circus gang, but my brother was. I think Burton thought he didn't scare enough kids (or adults for that matter) with the Joker. So he amped it up, with a gang of clowns and circus folk committing crimes. It was very weird, and creepy too.
Max Shreck was honestly the best played villian, IMO by Christopher Walken. He really was creepy with that wig. (Does his hair remind you of Doc Brown?)
There's the nice Max Shreck the public of Gotham thinks he is.
The cool, but creepy Shreck that he is behind closed doors. Walken to me, is the only choice for the role. Fitting that his charecter was named after Max Shreck, the man who played Dracula in the first Dracula movie.
Remember his son? Chip Shreck? Man, that guy was a total douchebag. Total. EPIC FAIL at life one would say nowdays. I remember, even as a kid, being nauseated more by this douche than by the grotesque Penguin. I'm sure there is a lot of Myspace people who could play the role, like this douchebag...
Sorry, back on track. Remember the kind, gentle Selina in the beginning? (Aside from using that taser?) Man, a lot of stuff happens once you're pushed out of the window. Especially if no bones are broken!
I covered my ears and eyes when Selina went crazy in her apartment. Destroying all those cute toys and just all the screaming. Very tense scene, followed by her final transformation as Catwoman. Great acting by Michelle.
One of the funnier scenes, if you're into dark humor, was the infamous nose biting scene. My grandmother screamed when the Penguin bit the nose off that douchbag image consultant. She remembered the Penguin as being a gentleman. This penguin murders kids and eats raw fish. He was a horny little fellow, liking to touch Women's breasts.
I think the Penguin was a good villian for this movie, because while you resent him, you also feel sorry for him, and you also have to laugh at him at times. You can hardly blame his excitment with all those hot campaign workers that he touches. (Yes, he touches) If this movie were made today, one of them would file sexual harassment or write a book on how they have his child. (I won't elaborate further, too weird even for Burton.)
This is not to mention my favorite line in the movie, one that I didn't get at the time. When describing a lady's reaction to him, he states she would say that he "has the biggest parasol that I've ever seen."
Back to the "That's the biggest parasol I've ever seen" line. I didn't get it as a kid, but now I do. he said it after suggesting that a secretary would "need him NOW!" I think it explains a lot of things about the Penguin's 60+ year run.
I mean umbrellas, they really are a extention of him. The Penguin carrys and uses umbrellas as a weapon because he (subconsciously) views it as a literal extenion of himself. He always likes to show his umbrellas off, esp when a lady is nearby. (Watch the movie again with that in mind and you'll see what I mean.)
Could he really view his umbrella as compensation for his private part? The end's always pop out a knife (ouch) or shoot bullets, or lol fire (How ironic)
This might of all started when he was found as a child in the sewer by the Circus. Remember, as a kid, he would of grown out of his baby clothes, he was in the nude.
Perhaps the Poodle Lady discovered him, and remarked about his Parasol size. (Maybe it is big, another deformity he has) From that moment forward, he had a fixation with umbrellas. Why else would he use umbrellas in the manner he does?
I know, it's probably a little too literal in interpretation of The Penguin's umbrella obsession from a Freudian perspective. However, it would fit well in Tim Burton's world.
Anyway, sexual content was definally present. There was no S&M type costumes in the Adam West series, although you'd go far in a Gay Bar with West's batsuit on. As a kid, I knew there was definally something naughty about a guy and a girl fighting in rubber suits.
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't ever recall this level of intimacy in the West show with Batman and Catwoman. Not even with Batman and Robin. In Returns, Catwoman licks Batman, gets on top of him, among other things. Sexual things that I had never seen before.
The finale was the most disturbing thing I saw up to that point. I think my grandmother screamed when the Penguin popped out of the water, gushing that black Sh** out of his mouth. This certainly wasn't Burgess Meredith we were talking about here. Devito in makeup is anough to scare anyone.
The Penguin, a reject, who almost got accepted by being mayor, then to have it all taken away from him. Now abandoned by all, he dies alone. (Except for his penguins.) EPIC FAIL. That goes for Max Shreck too. he almost escapes, but he ends up a burnt corpse.
I think that movie really messed me up lol. I still remmeber being freaked by the eyes of Shreck's corpse.
They would never be able to do that movie today, never. lol. If the movie was made today, it would of been some fake looking CGI work in place.
I remember a pair of kids crying on the way out, not a happy ending. Well, it kinda is....
See, Catwoman survives, lol. This was done at the studio's request though, and was added at the last minute. It's not even Michelle in the costume. Rumor has it Burton hates it. So do I. I wish they would of kept the gloomy tone all the way to the end. Screw happy endings. This isn't a Speilberg film.
On the other hand, there were quite a few cool toys that came along with the movie....
So, overall, not the most loved Batman film, but I love it though, classic Burton. I didn't go into a full synopsis of the movie because that wasn't the article's point. Feel free to discuss you're first time seeing this movie compared to what you knew of Batman in the past.