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DVD REVIEW : BATMAN RETURNS 2-Disc SPECIAL EDITION
Tuesday, October 11, 2005, 12:00 PM CENTRAL TIME
Author:
Jett

© Copyright 2005 William E. Ramey and ON-FILM Entertainment

If you are a longtime reader of BATMAN ON FILM, you know that I’m somewhat famous - or perhaps infamous - regarding my position on 1992’s BATMAN RETURNS. If you are new to the site - maybe reading this review is your first look at BOF - my feelings for the film can be summed up in three words:

I despise it.

Looking back to the years between 1989 and 1992, BATMAN RETURNS was one of the most highly anticipated sequels of all time. People were anxious to see more of The Dark Knight’s adventures on the big screen. As news tricked in about the sequel, we learned that director Tim Burton would return to helm the film, and Batman himself, Michael Keaton was set for another go-around in cape and cowl. Casting seemed to be perfect as well with Danny DeVito as The Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. Things looked to be coming together quite nicely.

Then the film hit theaters in June of 1992.

BATMAN RETURNS is the darkest of all the live-action BATMAN films to date. It is a depressing, un-heroic, macabre movie that is a “Burton Film” first and foremost. Bad film? There's an argument there that it is a good piece of filmmaking. Bad “Batman” film? Yes.

Today however, I come to praise BATMAN RETURNS, not to bury it. This isn’t about how I feel about BATMAN RETURNS the film, it’s about what I think about the new BATMAN RERURNS SPECIAL EDITON DVD. And I like the latter a lot.

As I did with my review of the BATMAN SE, I’m going to break down what you get with the extras found on Disc 2, then I’ll turn my attention briefly to Disc 1 and the film itself.

THE BAT, THE CAT, AND THE PENGUIN

This is an old TV documentary/publicity piece from 1992 on the film hosted by the late Robert Urich. While it doesn’t blow your socks off, it has some nice behind the scenes material and interviews with the cast and crew. What I remember the most about it was Tim Burton and his comment concerning The Penguin: “In the comics, he was always some funny guy in a top hat,” said Burton. “But we are truly going to make him ‘The Penguin.’” This was the first thing that raised my concern a bit for the film. But I digress.

SHADOWS OF THE BATMAN: THE CINEMATIC SAGA OF THE DARK KNIGHT, PART 4

There was so much information and material for BATMAN, that this segment picks up with part 4 on this disc. However, it is just as good. Again, we have interviews with the cast and crew of BATMAN RETURNS about the making of the film. I simply love this part of all the DVDs for the historical value of it. Again, this is the best part of all of the Bat-DVDs.

You will find interviews and comments by Tim Burton, Sam Hamm, Denise DiNovi, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer (c. 1992), Michael Keaton (c. 1992), Daniel Waters, and others involved with the film.

One aspect I found interesting was confirmation that Mr. Burton didn’t really want to do a sequel to BATMAN. To get him to agree to do another Bat-film, he was given free reign to make BATMAN 2 a “Tim Burton film.” But while Mr. Burton was apprehensive about doing a second Bat-film, according to the director himself, he started thinking ahead about future sequels. But after a meeting with Warner Bros., he got the feeling that they were ready to switch gears with the franchise and go a different direction.

BEYOND BATMAN DOCUMENTARY GALLERY

Here, you will find again several individual documentaries about the inner workings and what was going on behind the scenes with BATMAN RETURNS.

In “Gotham City Revisited,” we get a look at the new designs and sets for the sequel (BATMAN was filmed in the U.K., while RETURNS moved production to Burbank). The costumes worn by the characters (including a new Bat-suit for Keaton) are depicted in “The Costumes of BATMAN RETURNS.” In addition, there are segments on turning Danny DeVito into The Penguin, how actual penguins were used in the production, the F/X of the film, and a look into Danny Elfman’s music for RETURNS.

Like with the BATMAN SE, these “BEYOND” featuretts are outstanding and well worth the time spent watching them.

Other extras included is the FACE TO FACE music video by Siouxsie and The Banshees, and “The Heros and The Villains” profile galleries that feature detailed segments on all the main characters of BATMAN RETURNS.

DISC 1

Disc 1 of course is the film itself. I’m not going to rehash what I think about the film here, but I will say the the DVD picture transfer (“matted widescreen) is quite good and the sound (digital transfer with both 5.1 Dolby and DTS sound) is fantastic as well.

Disc 1 also includes the theatrical trailer and another fantastic commentary with director Tim Burton. As with BATMAN SE, you will thoroughly enjoy the commentary from Mr. Burton and he provides insightful tidbits of information and analysis about the film - whether you like it or not.

In conclusion, while I’m certainly not a fan of this film, I am a fan of seeing The Batman on film. The only negative - as with the BATMAN SE - is the lack of a current interview with Michael Keaton. And I wouldn’t have minded seeing Annette Bening’s Catwoman screentest (she was originally cast as Selina Kyle). Nonetheless, all of the extras included on this SE make it extremely important historically to Batman and is a DVD that should be a part of every Bat-fans collection.

BUY IT TODAY!

NEXT: BATMAN FOREVER

"Jett" is the creator and editor-in-chief of BATMAN ON FILM and ON-FILM.NET.

SYNOPSIS: Gotham City faces two monstrous criminal menaces: the bizarre, sinister Penguin (Danny DeVito) and the slinky, mysterious Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer). Can Batman (Michael Keaton) battle two formidable foes at once? Especially when one wants to be mayor and the other is romantically attracted to Bruce Wayne! Like the groundbreaking 1989 original, Batman Returns is directed by the wizardly Tim Burton. And like the first blockbuster, it's a dazzling adventure that leaves you breathless.

DVD SPECS:
- 2-Disc Special Edition
- MPAA: PG-13
- 126 minutes
- Closed Captioning: Yes
- Sound Track Language: English
- Subtitles: English, Francais, Espanol
- Original Aspect Ratio: 1.78
- Widescreen [16:9 Transfer]
- English: Dolby Surround 5.1
- Francais: Dolby Surround Stereo 2.0
- English: Dolby Surround 5.1 DTS
- English: Stereo 2S

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