The visual imagination of Tim Burton is probably unequalled among today’s filmmakers and when he brings it to bear on a project suited to his particular talents, the results are almost always unique and special. Corpse Bride, like Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas, is an example of Burton playing on his home turf and swinging for the fences.
Following the huge success of Tim Burton’s Batman, a sequel was inevitable. It’s also clear that Burton was allowed a lot more creative leeway in directing Batman Returns than he had on the first film. The 1989 film had scattered touches of the director’s off-center visual sensibilities, but the 1992 sequel was set in a world that was Burton-esque from wall to wall.
To try to top Jack Nicholson’s balls-to-the-wall portrayal of the Joker, Returns gives us three, count ’em, three villains for our movie-going bucks. The Penguin (Danny DeVito), Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). You would think with this kind of A-List talent on hand, however, that Batman Returns would bat better than .333 in the villain department. Of the three, only Catwoman manages to emerge as a full-blooded character.
In the late 1980s, Batman was enjoying quite a renaissance, mostly on the strength of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One, along with Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke which rescued the character from the campy 1960s television show and returned him to the dark, gritty streets from which he came. When it was announced that Warner Brothers was producing a motion picture version, the comic’s legions of fans could scarcely contain themselves. The film attracted A-List talent, most notably Jack Nicholson as the Joker and was Warner’s big film of 1989.
What the fans got, however, was a bit of a mixed bag. Continue reading