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"Batman Returns (1992): Special Edition"
Review by Zach Demeter "Bird Boy"

After being one of the most anticipated sequels of its time, Batman Returns disappointed many by its even darker tone which makes it the darkest Batman film to date. The violence level was upped and the movie often ended with children crying in the theater (apparently Catwoman’s “Tic-Tac-Toe” scene frightened the younglings).

But, this does not make a bad movie. The reaction to the film was nearly split fifty-fifty, with most either hating or loving it. With such a diverse crowd, the film, while successful, left merchandisers, parents and subsequently Warner Bros., with a bad taste in their mouth. A third ‘Batman’ film would be released three years later, but with a different director, crew and tone.

This isn’t a review about the third movie though, this is Batman Returns.

The Film
So how was Batman Returns? I remember first seeing it on VHS when I was around the age of twelve. I was excited my mom was finally letting me see the film, since she had always abstained from letting me watch it when my brother or sister would watch it. I sat down and got through to the cats chewing on Selena’s fingers and then I shut it off. It’d be another two years before I actually sat down and watched the whole movie. I quite honestly didn’t like it and felt it was much too dark of a Batman film.

Somewhere along the many years that have passed, my tastes changed. Now, Batman Returns is quite possibly my favorite Batman film, surpassing the original 1989 Batman and, yes, either neck-in-neck or beating the recent Batman Begins. Something about the film, the characters, the locations…it all grew on me over time.

The film is most certainly dark and I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me say that already, but it really does make or break the film. The Penguin is a vile, black-goo spitting creature, Catwoman’s transformation was quite disturbing (knifing stuffed animals and then blending them down her garbage disposal…oh yeah) and the electrifying ending (sorry for the pun, I did just finish Batman & Robin after all) was definitely a shocker (sorry!).

As I said before, the film is one of my favorites. I can’t help but love and gobble up every second, from the opening sequence to the magnificent score by Elfman to the very end. It’s a shame we didn’t see Pfeiffer’s Catwoman again after this film; unless you count the photo appearance in Catwoman (2004)—but we try to ignore that movie.

The DVD
As with Batman (1989), the video and audio on this release is absolutely superb. There’s some grain, as always, but overall it’s great fun to see, hear and enjoy. For such an old movie, they sure did one hell of a job cleaning it up and restoring it up. I haven’t been this impressed by a film transfer since the original Star Wars Trilogy’s restoration.

Disc One holds a theatrical trailer and commentary with Tim Burton. Again, as with Batman (1989), Burton provides an informative, non-repetitive and engrossing commentary. Covering everything from reactions from families and fans and WB’s response when he went in to discuss the possibility of a third film, this was a very enjoyable commentary. I highly recommend you give this a listen.

“The Bat, The Cat and the Penguin” is a TV broadcast from the film’s release in 1992, hosted by Robert Urich. It goes behind-the-scenes of the film with cast and crew interviews and is overall informative. Best of all, most of the footage seen here isn’t reused in the other parts of this disc, so we don’t have to worry about re-treading.

“Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Part 4” continues in the footsteps of Parts 1-3 from Batman (1989) with cast and crew interviews, both new and old. There is lots of interesting stuff in here, so it’s definitely worth watching.

“Beyond Batman” delves deeper into the production world of Batman Returns, from the adjusted batsuit and Batmobile, the new sets, make-up applications, music and just about anything else you can think of. New interviews with Burton, DeVito, Elfman and crew accompany, along with archived footage of cast and crew.

“Heroes and Villains” profiles are the same as the last release in terms of what to expect. Cast and crew input, some old and some new footage, make up the profiles. And, again, it’s all very interesting.

The music video for “Face to Face” rounds out the DVD and what a strange music video it is. It’s never talked about in any of the film’s documentaries, so unless you listened to the credits or owned the OST, chances are you know very little about this song. Of course, I listened to the credits and own the OST and I still didn’t realize there was a music video for it.

The release makes a nice companion to Batman (1989) and comes extremely highly recommended. I can’t stress the amount of awesome bonus features there are (nearly four hours worth, including commentary) and it’s all worth watching. A satisfying movie with satisfying special features, I really couldn’t ask for more.

Batman Returns (1992): Special Edition will be in stores on Tuesday, October 18th, 2005.

Bonus Video:

 

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