Batman cash in the kitty!
The Mirror 8th June 1992
THE EVENING is dark shades of purple and black, there are fleeting but ominous sounds off in the alley, a hint of danger, a whiff of mystery and then the flap of a cloak ... and Batman returns.
When we last saw the Caped Crusader he had trumped The Joker, Gotham City was a safe haven again and it was the. producers of Batman who were laughing in the direction of the bank with worldwide box office receipts of $406 million (£230 million), home video revenues of $150 million and the staggering $1.5 billion take from merchandising.
On paper, it would seem an impossible act to follow. But, with Lethal Weapon 3 as the year's only significant competition, this carnival of a movie may equal the original in money if not marketing.
For Batman Returns is the cat's whiskers. There are moments where the film falters but, as a sequel to the sixth biggest box office film of all time, it is terrific fun and is funnier and better paced than the original.
And any male with even a hint of red corpuscle would be well advised to be buying tickets for the film, which opens in Britain on July 10.
No. No. Don't worry about Batman. It's his very naughty nemesis, Catwoman, who makes the blood rush.
Michelle Pfeiffer won the role over just about all the Hollywood alphabet from Cher to Madonna to Raquel Welch after Annette Bening dropped out, pregnant with Warren Beatty's baby.
Sean Young, who had to give up her part as Vicki Vale to Kim Basinger in the original movie after a riding accident, was desperate for the role. But watching Pfeiffer at a special screening here yesterday, it's impossible to imagine any other body as the feline fatale. Everyone will call her purr-feet as she offers the world's most seductive M-e-o-w.
Original director Tim Burton returns, as well as Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader and Britain's Michael Gough as Batman's butler Alfred. It was Burton's idea to develop a patchwork costume for Catwoman which rips and shreds every time she gets into trouble. And that's often.
Pfeiffer worked out for weeks to prepare to slip into the clinging black catsuit. She also had to learn to crack a 10-foot bull whip. In Batman, we learned of the metamorphosis of The Joker. This time, it is the genesis of Catwoman.
She begins life as the dowdy secretary Selina Kyle but upsets her boss in his dealings with Danny DeVito's evil mutant villain, The Penguin. Selina is pushed from a high window and smacks her head. Resurrection? No problem. She is rescued by a string of alley cats and emerges as a fuller-figured opponent for Batman.
It's a clever twist — just as Batman and millionaire Bruce Wayne split one personality so do Catwoman and Selina.
DeVito's Penguin is fearsome — frightening enough, I would think, to scare younger children — and there is an astonishing sequence where he leads around 800 killer Penguins.
The only concession to Burgess Meredith's Penguin of the Sixties' television series is his cigarette holder and lethal umbrella. DeVito endured hours of make-up to become The Penguin but the acting comes through the layers of foam-latex.
BATMAN has a new and improved 1992-registered, gadget spectacular Batmobile. He uses his cape as a hang-glider and there are spectacular action sequences. But what Tim Burton has created is a new "feel" for the Batman myth with the help of a much warmer and wittier performance from Michael Keaton.
Keaton looks more comfortable in the role, and not just because of his lighter costume which is more pop art than muscle-bound. What also helps is his charisma with Pfeiffer — she and Keaton are former lovers.
She will probably not get her third Oscar nomination for this film but she'll get lots of other votes. Pfeiffer is the world's first reasonable endorsement for kitty litter.
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