After the success of the last film, Tim Burton returned to direct the sequel and this time he was given the approval to do whatever he wanted. As you’d expect, it has a dark yet strong atmosphere and Tim Burton gives it that same awesome artistic look and tone. The style and look of this film is amazing, every shot has some kind of fascinating set piece, elaborate location and if you look closely, there are several heads and faces carved into the backgrounds of several shots. One of my favorite scenes is when we first see the abandoned zoo, there are so many unique set pieces, bizarre statues and it just reeks of classic Tim Burton. It’s almost distracting because this is a Batman film first and it needs to feel like a superhero movie but the style goes a little to fare, to the point where this doesn't even feel like Gotham City anymore, it's really just another Tim Burton world.
Well, for as nice as everything looks, there really isn't much substance in this film and the story is very hollow. The plot can be summed up like this, three villains do a lot of things to the city of Gotham, while our hero just weaves in and out of their plots. Batman is played by Michael Keaton for the last time in the series and honestly, he's the most overshadowed, great character in the history of cinema. I mean it was bad enough that the Joker upstaged him in the 1989 classic, but at least he got some attention. This film almost forgets that it's a Batman movie because it's so focused on the gallery of villains, and even their stories aren't that interesting. Heck, neither Bruce Wayne or Batman get a single line of dialog until 47 minutes in, no joke, that's how long it takes before our hero speaks in this movie. Now I'm all for making Batman a mysterious entity that lives in the shadows, but now that he’s the hero of Gotham City, the story should revolve around him and give him far more attention then all the bad guys. Well, Michael Keaton is still awesome in the part and it's a genuine treat to see him one last time. We also get a new bat vehicle ... The Bat water glider. It’s always cool to see new Bat vehicles, and this one stands out.
As you’d expect from the opening, The Penguin is our main villain and played by Danny DeVito. This was another cast member who fit the part like a glove and it turned out to be one of the more memorable Batman villain performances in the series, even with his hammy delivery at times. From the creepy opening, to the end of the film, Penguin is the center of attention, and personally I couldn't be more disappointed about that. Aside from being disgusting and creepy, I found Penguin to be a plain boring character with a lot of unused potential. No joke, there was actually a lot of potential for the Penguin to be one of Batman's greatest movie foes, but he's bounded by an uneven script. His plan is to win the hearts of Gotham and have all the people turn against Batman, which is a new and interesting motivation for a villain, but it also wears out its welcome really fast.
After so many scenes of his grouchy voice, ugly features and exaggerated performance, you begin saying to yourself “please, no more Penguin!” Also, this clearly isn't the case of a sad and confused misfit trying to find his place in the world because under the noses of the people of Gotham, Penguin collects the names of all the first born children, so he can kidnap them and downed them, completing his vengeance on the normal people of the world that treated him so curly. So in other words, what could have been an interesting, even complex character gets reduced to being another bad guy for Batman to beat. All he dose are classic evil villain things like kidnapping and killing woman, framing Batman, scheming with the other villains, biting a guys nose off and even having back up villain plains if his first plans fail.
Now I know I’ve given this movie a lot of guff but it really isn’t terrible. there's plenty of action scenes to keep in entertaining and the battles between Batman and Cat-Woman are thrilling. It's a rare treat to see one of batman's enemy's put up a fight. The climax is okay too, with just enough destruction fist fights. This finally also features some really colorful moments, like when Batman rips off his mask for Cat-woman, I love that scene. Plus, this climax once again lead to another excellent villain death, in fact, I'd go so far to say that Max Shrek's death scene is the coolest villain death of the whole series. Cat-woman takes her revenge by electrocuting him, but he doesn't just get fried, Max Shrek get's frickin nuked in an electrical explosion, it's awesome.
There's also some nice little twists to common superhero clichés. Like when the penguin kidnaps the ice princess, you’d think that Batman’s just going to rescue her as always but she actually gets killed, no, she doesn’t just get killed, she gets pushed off a tall building and crashes into an electrical box. It’s always nice to see a film take risks like that, plus the film doesn’t have the same happy and triumphant ending of before. Now I always like a different ending then the usual hero triumph, especially in regards to Batman but this ending just leaves me feeling so empty, not sad, just empty.