Batman Returns pits the Dark Knight of Gotham City against a new gang of villainous fiends.
Oswald Cobblepot (Danny De Vito) – alias The Penguin – is a beak-faced troll who lives in the underground sewers and commands an army of real penguins from the Arctic World Pavilion in the deserted zoo.
Cat Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) is mousey secretary Selina Kyle by day and survives being eaten by cats in time to turn into a whip-slashing, growling feline predator by night, complete with skin-tight patent leather catsuit. Miaow! Kickboxer Kathy Long was Pfeiffer’s double.
Wafting around in the mayhem there is also Christopher Walken, looking more embalmed than usual, as Max Schreck – a vampirish industrialist tycoon who sucks the life from the citizens of Gotham City for his own profit and joins forces with the Penguin to pollute the city with a power plant that will destroy the population.
That’s it for a plot. The rest is up to the stuntmen. Everybody wants to destroy the gloomy sets – all with a very German-expressionist look and vibe – but nobody knows why.
Relegated to the menial position of observer behind barricades, Michael Keaton returned for the money to once again play millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne by day and the winged crusader in tights by night.
Batman Returns has flying circus umbrellas, exploding Christmas trees, a great car chase, and a masquerade ball, but the villains do all the fun stuff and even get the best punch lines. Shredding human flesh with her cat claws, Ms Pfeiffer hisses: “Life’s a bitch – and so am I!”
Flapping his flippers through the sewage, Mr De Vito snorts: “You flush it, I flaunt it!”
But all Mr Keaton gets to do is act coy and wrinkle his eyebrows.
Batman Returns opened bigger than its predecessor and closed smaller. Whilst Batman would take $411m worldwide, Batman Returns came in at $266m. Only Batman & Robin would fare worse.
Danny De Vito
Cat Woman/Selina Kyle