Leather catsuits, penguins armed with rockets…this must be Christmas in Gotham City, courtesy of Tim Burton.
Burton’s second stab at the Caped Crusader – 1992’s Batman Returns – is a perfect hybrid of the flamboyant superhero genre and the dark gothic imagery we’ve come to associate with his vivid filmmaking style; the dark knight before Christmas, if you’ll pardon the pun.
If you’ve only sat through Christopher Nolan’s sleek Dark Knight trilogy, the absence of gritty realism in Burton’s spin may surprise you. The film begins with a pseudo-Biblical sequence where newborn Oswald Cobblepot is abandoned by his parents, and floated downriver into the grim sewer system beneath Gotham. Soon after, a bedraggled nerd named Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) is brutally murdered and resurrected as a leather-clad, bullwhip-wielding aggressively-sexual psychopath who refers to herself as Catwoman.
The plot is equally as bonkers; Cobblepot (Danny DeVito) wants to run for mayor, discredit Batman (Michael Keaton) and also destroy Gotham using an army of missile-armed penguin commandos. In on his plan is conniving industrialist Max Shreck (Christopher Walken), a character who looks like he just stepped out of a 1920’s German Expressionist film – and with a surname like that, who can blame him?
Amongst the zany action and enchanting score by Danny Elfman you half-expect Santa Claus to fly in on his bat-sleigh and save the spirit of Christmas; although, I think they only included that scene in the Blu-Ray special features. Some things are just too silly, even for Burton.
Images courtesy of Roadshow Films