Monday, October 15, 2012

Tim Burton Tribute: Batman Returns with Fusionater

After the huge success of Batman and Edward Scissorhands, Tim Burton worked on Batman Returns. Sam Hamm, the screenwriter for Batman, was replaced by another screenwriter after being dissatisfied with Hamm's script. Enter in Daniel Waters. Waters was the screenwriter for the 1990 dark comedy film Heathers starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater in which it would eventually become a cult classic.

Burton was impressed with Waters' work in Heathers, so he hired him to do the script forBatman Returns. He came up with the idea of The Penguin being the main villain and would eventually become the mayor of Gotham City. It was an homage to the 1960's Batman TV series from the episodes "Hizzoner the Penguin" and "Dizzoner the Penguin". "I wanted to show that the true villains of our world don't necessarily wear costumes", Waters replied. The second edition of villains was Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman. While Vicki Vale was the love interest in the last Batman movie, she was very lusty, but at the same time, flat and forgettable. Waters' influence on Kyle's personality as Catwoman was based on the way women were treated in comic books back then. "Sam Hamm went back to the way comic books in general treat women, like fetishy sexual fantasy. I wanted to start off just at the lowest point in society, a very beaten down secretary." With more character additions, Gotham City taking place around Christmas, and a darker, more depressing take on the Dark Knight, Batman Returns debuted on June 19, 1992.

With me today is a really cool blogger at Manic Expression. One of the administrators of the site and the man behind the blog channel "Average Internet Reviews", Fusionater. Thank you for joining me, Fusionater.

Fusionater- Thank you.

Patricia- So, were you introduced to Batman in the Burton movies? If not, how were you first introduced to Batman?

Fusionater- No I did not. If I recall correctly, I got into Batman by watching Sub-zero, a truly fantastic yet often overlooked animated movie.

Patricia- I've heard of that movie, but I've never seen it. I'll check it out some day. So, does this movie still have that classic Tim Burton feel or is it too dark to appreciate? This is Batman Returns.

The movie starts off with a rich, wealthy family called the Cobblepots (played by Paul Reubens and Diane Salinger) expecting their first child. After giving birth, they see that the child is hideous looking and a bit violent. With that said, Mr. and Mrs. Cobblepot decided to go out for a walk at Gotham Park and throw the baby in the river to drown it. The movie goes into the title and the intro begins with the baby flowing down the sewers. He finally stops at the zoo where penguins surround the baby.

For those who wanted a darker alternative ending to Pee-wee's Big Adventure, watch the beginning of Batman Returns. Apparently Pee-wee dumped Dottie, married Simone, made a huge profit with the movie about his auto-biographical movie, and moved to Gotham City. No, that's not what happened, but I can't help but make that joke.

33 years later, we cut to Gotham City around Christmas time. Looking at Gotham City at Christmas time is very white, snowy, and festive while being dark at the same time. What do you think, Fusionater?

Fusionater- I didn't really pay much attention to weather during the movie, but it Gotham, I suppose, and Gotham gives off a certain eeriness that is essential to a Batman film, so it works.

Patricia- I agree. We then cut to the business tycoon Max Schreck (played by Christopher Walken) as he makes a speech. We then see a mysterious ugly looking man simply known as The Penguin (played by Danny Devito) kidnapping Max Schreck as hostage. When dragging Shreck at the sewers where The Penguin lived with his many penguin minions, he blackmails Schreck of many of the evil corporate deeds he had done. In exchange of not revealing it, The Penguin is interested in becoming a hero in Gotham City. Schreck has the idea of The Penguin kidnapping the Major's son to "rescue" him. That way, he can be called a hero.

We then cut back to Schreck returning to his company where his secretary Selina Kyle (played by Michelle Pheiffer) is working. She tells Schreck that the new power station that he's planning on building will actually drain power from the city than give power. She urges him a suggestion to stop building the plant. Schreck laughs while pushing Kyle out the window. Kyle falls to her death when all of a sudden a group of alley cats surround her and do...something. She comes back to life, returns to her apartment, wrecks everything, and makes a costume as the feisty Catwoman. She stops at nothing for revenge against Shreck.

Fusionater- I did enjoy Catwoman in the movie...but she was just messed up, I mean, that scene where she tears up her apartment, damn.

Patricia- I know! I mean, seriously! You need help, Catwoman! Anyway, so Penguin goes to the Mayor's office reaking havoc and chaos all over. Batman is called upon and goes off fighting the baddies. All of a sudden, Catwoman appears and beats the Penguin's henchmen with her whip and claws. Batman asks Catwoman who she is while she briefly explains the trouble in Gotham and disappears. Because of the havoc, the Major begins losing his credibility and Shreck reveals the Penguin to the public. The Penguin finds out that his real name is Oswald Cobberpot after finding out about his parents' gravestones and begins to uphold his name as the new Mayor of Gotham.

Then Catwoman appears and temps Penguin into joining her side to help get rid of Batman in Gotham. The Penguin accepts!

He meets up with Selina Kyle and they eventually become a loving couple. It becomes a bit complicated since Bruce is Batman and Selina is Catwoman working with the Penguin to get rid of Batman. But since they don't know about their alter-egos, they go out and mingle with one another.

The next night, the Penguin does his next evil plan: kidnap the Ice Princess (played by Christi Conaway) and frame Batman for the crime. Batman arrives immediately and unties her from the building where she's held at. He then learns that Penguin was the one who kidnapped her so Batman starts to go find Penguin. That all changes when Catwoman appears and takes the Ice Princess on the roof of the building. Batman follows her and sees the Penguin there as well. When fighting them both, Penguin pushes the Ice Princess to her death and the citizens see Batman on the roof. They assume that he was the cause of her death and file him as a criminal. Catwoman leaves Penguin's side due to her not wanting the Ice Princess to die and the Penguin grows more popular by the citizens of Gotham.

The next day, The Penguin has a speech in front of his followers and fans. While making the speech, Bruce happens to have a CD containing the Penguin talking about mean things about the citizens. While he speaks, Bruce plays a bit of the CD exposing him for the evil creature he is. It's so funny seeing Bruce do a DJ remix spin on the CD of the Penguin's rants and insults. The popularity wanes a lot and the citizens throw tomatoes and vegetables at him.

With his plans of being mayor tarnished, The Penguin then thinks of an idea to kidnap all the first borns of Gotham. He calls upon his penguins, now strapped with missiles, to destroy Gotham while he continues his plan. The first person he goes to kidnap is Schreck's son Chip (played by Andrew Bryniarski). But Schreck finds out what the Penguin is doing and exchanges himself to be taken instead. The Penguin accepts.

Batman finds out about the Penguin's plan and rearranges the signal of the controlled penguins to fire their missiles at the Penguin's lair. With Penguin and Batman fighting, Batman finishes the Penguin off at launching him at the toxic waters in his lair. Batman unmasks himself in front of Catwoman and tells her to get Schreck over to the police. But Schreck fires his gun at Catwoman four times. Catwoman is still alive due to her "9 lives" and uses a taser to cause an explosion killing her and Schreck. However, things aren't over yet when Penguin emerges from the toxic waters on the verge of killing Batman. But his wounds are too great ending in his death. The penguins take him away for a proper burial.

With the day saved, Bruce and Alfred drive around the city when Bruce claims that he sees Selina. It turns out to be a regular cat, so Bruce takes the cat with him and leaves. We then cut to Selina looking at the Bat-Signal concluding the movie.

When the movie first came out, it was both loved and panned by the critics and viewers. Some of them loved that it was darker and more action packed than the previous Batman movie. Others hated it because it was too dark and depressing. Even still to this day,Batman Returns is a mixed bag. Some people love it and some people hate it. I find it to be okay. A little too dark for my tastes, but not bad. I loved the casting, the scenary, the soundtrack, and the designs. However I didn't like the presentation of the Penguin. In the comics, the Penguin was smart, sophisticated, and cunning. This Penguin is gross, violent, and very ugly. Catwoman was a bit too psychotic, but it did fit well in the comics. Batman Returns is very flawed, but still not too bad. If you aren't afraid of a little darkness in your Batman movies, check it out sometime. How about you, Fusionater?

Fusionater- I'll start with the worst, I really, really did not like the fact that Burton decided to make not just the Penguin but Catwoman as well, he made them both total raving psychopaths. One fault it seems that both Burton and Shumacher seem to have is that they apparently think that a good Batman movie without the the villain being totally...well, batshit. Now, of course, this was absolutely fantastic with the Joker, who happens to be the Joker, so it works, but the Penguin...people like to go on and on about how an adaptation is someone's personal take on a a degree I agree, I stop agreeing when they start to take that as meaning that these characters become their own, no, they really don't, this Penguin is a gigantic disrespect to the source material.

What I liked about the film however, all the main cast returning from the first movie did a fantastic job, delivering equally brilliant performances the second time around. There's also Christopher Walken playing Christopher Walken. Christopher Walken is awesome as Christopher Walken. enough said. Despite my issues with the Penguin being changed so much, the plot of the movie was great, giving high suspense as well as a great payoff at the end (also, Penguin becoming mayor was funny, admit it)

To me, the soundtrack is just a bit too creepy. I like to feel pumped up when I watch a Batman movie, ready to see Batman, and I got that at points, but for most of it, it just made me feel as though I were supposed to be watching some kind of tragedy (tragic moments do not mean you have to be a tragedy)

Favorite be completely honest with you, even since I started watching LInkara, I started leaning towards Penguins brief I am a man speach. I AM A MAN! *punch* I already briefly spoke about my liking of the story above, so I won't do it again.

The movie holds up to me at least, but not to a lot of people, do to the recent realism craze I think, a lot of people really seem to act like they despise the Burton films, where in reality, on an objective level, they were well put together and pleased Batman fans of the time.

Patricia- So, Fusionater, do you prefer the Burton Batman movies or the Nolan Batman movies?

Fusionater- *facepalm* why these to have to be the only options...out of the two, I do prefer the Nolan movies due to better writing, and a director who I feel is better with live action than Burton didn't hurt it either. Now, don't get me wrong, none of these are my favorite Batman movie, that honor is still Return of the Joker, with Dark Knight following, then Sub-Zero, then Batman.

If your a fan of Batman or superhero films in general, I'd say this movie is worth a watch, and viewers, be warned, creepier than most Batman movies.

Patricia- Alright, that should do it. Fusionater, thank you so much for joining me for this review.

Fusionater- NP. 

Alright, then. That's all for now. Tune in next time as we discuss about the 1993 animated TV series Family Dog. While it is true that he didn't create this, but he was the executive producer.

Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading. 

-Patricia and Fusionater

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