Genre: Action & Adventure
Studio: Warner Home Video
Starring: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer
Summary: With 1989's "Batman", Tim Burton's bold visual style, the late Anton Furst's stunning production design, and the dark dance between doppelgangers suggested by Michael Keaton's tortured Batman and Jack Nicholson's demonic Joker rejuvenated the caped crusader's franchise while setting a dauntingly high bar for any sequel. It's not surprising, then, that 1992's "Batman Returns" couldn't match the sheer impact of its predecessor, yet the subsequent passing of the baton to Joel Schumacher, and the title hero's retreat to a more conventional persona, make the second Burton Batman worth another look. Perhaps reasoning that the appeal of two dueling schizoids might be upped by adding a third, "Batman Returns" pits millionaire Bruce Wayne and his alter ego against two equally split personalities, Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) and the Penguin (Danny DeVito). If the equation yields less than the desired sum, it still gives Pfeiffer and DeVito room for oversized, properly gothic performances, and the very feline Pfeiffer, in particular, has a field day. DeVito's cackling, mutant orphan is nearly as riveting, and the story might have fared better if the scriptwriting committee hadn't tossed in a third villain, Christopher Walken's rapacious industrialist, Max Schreck (coyly named for the actor who played the earliest screen vampire, Count Orlock, in F. W. Murnau's German expressionist classic, "Nosferatu"), thereby pushing the plot toward rococo excess. Bo Welch's production design sustains the brooding mix of deco and gothic established by Furst, and Danny Elfman's dark, stirring score helps pick up some of the slack. "--Sam Sutherland"