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Tim Burton
Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer
Writing Credits:
Daniel Waters

When a corrupt businessman and the grotesque Penguin plot to take control of Gotham City, only Batman can stop them, while the Catwoman has her own agenda.

Box Office:
$80 million.
Opening Weekend
$45,687,711 on 2644 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 2.0
Latin Spanish Dolby 2.0
German Dolby 2.0
Italian Dolby 2.0
Thai Dolby 2.0
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 126 min.
Price: $41.99
Release Date: 6/4/2019

• Audio Commentary with Director Tim Burton
• “The Bat, the Cat, and the Penguin” Featurette
• “Shadows of the Bat” Part 4
• “Beyond Batman” Documentary Gallery
• Music Video
• Profile Galleries
• Trailer
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Batman Returns [4K UHD] (1992)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 28, 2019)

For years, 1992’s Batman Returns was a badly flawed film earned little love from fans, but that slowly changed. While most fans still eem to prefer 1989’s Batman, Returns has gradually gotten more respect.

I always thought Returns was pretty terrific. The sequel not only possesses all the positives of the original but also it adds much to the equation.

As Batman (Michael Keaton) continues to act as a vigilante who brings criminals to justice, a new threat emerges. As a baby, Oswald Cobblepot got rejected by his parents due to his physical deformities, and he winds up an outcast raised by penguins.

An adult Oswald (Danny De Vito) plots his long-simmering revenge, as he uses a gang of circus misfits to do his bidding. Boosted by megalomaniacal tycoon Max Schreck (Christopher Walken), Oswald also makes a run for mayor, all while he continues to work on his plan to get back at Gotham’s elite.

When Shreck’s secretary Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) discovers Max’s own nefarious activities, he tosses her out a window. Rather than kill her, this makes Selina stronger, and she adopts the persona of Catwoman to exact her own form of vengeance.

Like I noted earlier, Returns fares better than Batman due to a number of factors. For one, both Keaton as Batman/Bruce Wayne and director Tim Burton seem much more self-assured this time.

Keaton play the distractedness of Wayne and the intensity of Batman with far greater depth and deftness in the sequel, so he appears much less strained and can make Batman seem better integrated in the film than on the first occasion. This occurs despite the fact that he actually may have received less screen time than in Batman. No, I didn't count the minutes of each film, but he has more competition this time.

That competition comes from the fact that Returns offers not one, not two, but three villains played by prominent actors. That seems like a whole lot of villainy that needs screen time, but Keaton holds up well against this onslaught.

Of the baddies, Pfeiffer offers easily the most captivating turn of the bunch. In large parts, her sensational performance makes this movie go.

All the rest of it works, but her bits add a necessary spark that tales Returns to a much higher level. Pfeiffer so scintillates that rumors of a Catwoman movie circled for a while, but that didn’t happen until 12 years later – and didn’t include Pfeiffer. (And we all know what happened with that dud.)

In a way, Pfeiffer serves two roles in Returns, as a main villain via Catwoman, but she also playesWayne's love interest. To put it mildly, she performs much better in that assignment than did Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale in Batman.

While I could barely stand to watch the interactions between Vale and Wayne, the chemistry between Pfeiffer and Keaton sparkles and adds much life to the film. I actually wanted to see more of them together in their "everyday" guises, rather than less.

De Vito's fairly disgusting appearance as Penguin remains most people's objection to Returns, but I don't have any problem with his work. He portrays Penguin in a logical and realistic manner, or at least as logical and realistic as a deformed birdman abandoned by his parents and raised by penguins can be. While he doesn't take his role to the level achieved by Pfeiffer, he certainly does well in the part and makes Penguin a compelling and effective character.

Walken's Shreck works less well, though that’s probably more the fault of the script than of the actor. As was the case with Robert Wuhl's reporter Knox in the first film, Shreck plays largely an expository role in Returns. Walken does okay but his presence seems to provide one villain too many.

In addition to the improved acting, Burton's apparently greater sense of comfort on the set also makes Returns the more effective film. The movie retains the dynamic visual style of the first but it becomes a much better integrated piece of work. Action scenes flow smoothly and add excitement largely lost in the first, and the picture simply appears to be more logical and less stilted than Batman.

Many critics attacked what they perceived to be the incoherence of Returns’s plot. They claimed that story pieces came and went at will and ideas seemed to disappear at random.

They're wrong. Here's their argument in a nutshell: the movie starts with a storyline that follows Shreck's pursuit of a new power plant for Gotham. This concept pops up frequently throughout the first half of the film but receives nary a mention during the remainder. Critics felt this omission occurred due to sloppy filmmaking.

I disagree. It becomes clear that Shreck would have to alter the political power in Gotham if he wanted to build his plant, as both Wayne and the current mayor (Michael Murphy) opposed it.

As such, he attempts to turn Penguin into the new mayor through various machinations so he can get his power plant. This doesn't succeed, of course, but that aspect of the film neatly accounts for the issue of the power plant, as there’s no need for Shreck to actually discuss it because the political maneuverings occur to satisfy that end.

By the time Penguin's political aspirations crash, not much of the film remaines so there's no reason to discuss the power plant again. I'm sure it remained on Shreck's mind, but he'd turned into a minor character at that point so the issue became moot.

Actually, the weakest plot point of Returns probably results from the motivation of the villains to slay Batman. Basically, the baddies seem to view him as a thorn in their collective side, but that doesn't appear sufficient reason to infuse them with the great extent of venom they feel toward him.

The same was true of Joker in Batman, as he seemed mainly jealous of Batman's higher profile, which I found to be a pretty weak reason to make a guy your archenemy. (The film offered hints that he also blamed Batman for his mangled physical appearance, but it didn’t develop those well.) This is quibbling, I know, but the speciousness of the logic slightly irritates me.

Still, I find the numerous positives of Batman Returns to more than make up for any problems, as this is a comic book film that gets most of it right. It takes the best aspects of the first movie and improves upon them. As a whole, Batman Returns is a treat, and I count it among my all-time favorite flicks – comic book or otherwise.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio A-/ Bonus B+

Batman Returns appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. A consistently solid transfer, I found nothing about which to complain.

From start to finish, sharpness seemed excellent. Virtually no softness emerged, so we got a movie that was crisp and concise.

Moiré effects and jagged edges presented no concerns, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. Natural grain implied the absence of digital noise reduction, and source flaws also created no distractions.

Colors looked terrific. Because it took place at Christmas, Returns boasted a more varied palette than did the first movie, and these tones were rich and distinctive. The 4K UHD’s HDR gave the hues a little extra punch.

Black levels appeared deep and dense, and shadow detail seemed to be strong, as the many low-light sequences seemed smooth and concise. Everything about this image impressed.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, I also felt pleased with the Dolby Atmos audio of Returns. After 27 years, the mix for Returns still worked pretty well.

The soundfield appeared nicely broad and engrossing. The forward spectrum dominated the affair, as I heard a lot of well-defined and accurately placed audio throughout the film. Elements panned cleanly across speakers and the entire package blended together neatly.

Surround usage seemed to be active and involving. Music emanated from all the channels, and the rear speakers also added a nice layer of reinforcement to action scenes.

Some solid split-surround usage occurred, such as when motorcycles would pan from front to rear. All in all, the soundfield aptly served the film.

Audio quality was good. Dialogue was consistently distinct and accurate, and outside of a few lines from the Penguin, I noticed no edginess.

Effects presented positive dynamic range and sounded clear and realistic. Music was nicely dynamic and bold, as Danny Elfman’s score showed the strongest elements of the mix.

Overall, dynamics seemed good, with tight, lively bass. The audio for Batman Returns provided a satisfying experience.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the prior Blu-ray? The Atmos track added a little zing to the mix, while visuals seemed tighter, more dynamic and livelier. As good as the Blu-ray worked, the 4K UHD became the definitive version of the film.

On the 4K disc itself, we find an audio commentary with director Tim Burton. He provides a running, screen-specific chat. Burton follows up his pretty solid Batman track with another mostly nice look at his film.

Actually, I think the Returns commentary improves on the Batman track. Most of the time Burton discusses the actors. We get some casting notes but he usually focuses on how they worked in the roles and what they brought to the parts. He explains why Batman/Bruce Wayne don’t have a lot of screen time in his two movies and digs into actor/character notes well.

In addition, Burton goes over the change of studio location from England to LA and the issues that came along with that as well as the added pressure that went with a sequel to a hit. He also gets into the usual nuts and bolts like stunts, visual effects, music, and script concerns. Burton addresses the complications that came with such a large cast of characters plus some logistical areas.

Every Burton solo commentary suffers from some dead air, and that trend continues here. However, there’s not a lot of it; indeed, he yaks more here than he does during the Batman discussion.

Burton fills the vast majority of the piece with solid notes about the movie and his experiences. This adds up to a useful and informative commentary.

On the included Blu-ray copy, we discover a 21-minute, 54-second program called The Bat, the Cat, and the Penguin. Hosted by Robert Urich, this piece originally aired in 1992 to promote the movie. It offers the standard repertoire of movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews.

We hear from Burton, whip trainer Anthony DeLongis, co-costume designer Mary Vogt, costume designer Bob Ringwood, Batman creator Bob Kane, animal trainer Gary Gero, special penguin makeup effects supervisor Stan Winston, production designer Bo Welch, producer Denise Di Novi, and actors Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Danny De Vito.

The show covers facets of the various performances and characters, and elements of the shoot such as managing the real penguins, creating fake penguins, and new sets and toys.

Make no mistake: “Bat” existed to get people to see the movie. Within that genre, though, it’s not bad.

Sure, it includes tons of film clips and comes short on insight, but it makes up for these with some nice shots from the set. These glimpses behind the scenes are good enough to make up for the banal nature of so much of the rest of the piece.

A continuation of a series started on the Batman Special Edition, Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Part 4 lasts 30 minutes, 19 seconds. It includes remarks from Burton, Keaton, Di Novi, De Vito, Pfeiffer, screenwriters Daniel Waters and Sam Hamm, casting director Marion Dougherty, actor Sean Young, producer Mark Canton, co-producer Larry Franco, director of photography Stephan Czapsky, and editor Chris Lebenzon.

The show gets into expanding Batman for the sequel and developing the script and characters, and Burton’s reluctance to do the second film. We learn why Robin remained absent and Burton’s take on Batman as well as bringing back returning actors and casting new ones.

We hear about their views of their roles and also go over Sean Young’s disastrous attempt to get the Catwoman role. We find notes about preparation for the flick and the impact of merchandizing, sets and the atmosphere during the shoot, various tales from the production, post-production concerns and reactions to the film.

I loved “Shadows” Parts 1-3 on the Batman release, and that was a tough act to follow. Part 4 lasts less than half as long as that piece, so it comes as no surprise that it’s not as good. This one seems a bit more superficial and doesn’t delve as deeply into the various issues. For instance, why do we get no information about Christopher Walken’s casting?

Relative disappointments aside, this is a pretty solid look at the different subjects. It covers the requisite topics well and offers an entertaining glance at them. I don’t think it investigates the film as richly as I’d like, but I think it works fine overall.

Under the banner of Profile Galleries, we get two collections. “The Heroes” looks at “Batman” and “Alfred”; it goes for seven minutes, eight seconds.

“The Villains” examines “Catwoman”, “The Penguin” and “Max Shreck”; it takes up 11 minutes, 22 seconds. In these quick features, we get notes from Burton, De Vito, Keaton, Waters, Dougherty, Pfeiffer, Kane, author Kim Newman, Batman: The Animated Series writer/producer Paul Dini, comic artist Alex Ross, DC Comics editorial VP Dan DiDio, actors Michael Gough and Christopher Walken, writer/artist Mike Mignola, filmmaker Kevin Smith, executive producer Michael Uslan, Teen Titans writer Geoff Johns, and Animated Series producer Bruce Timm.

These snippets look at the characters in the comics and delve into aspects of their portrayal in the flick. The pieces tend to be a little scattershot, but they offer quite a few good notes.

Happily, the “Batman” entry doesn’t just repeat elements from the same section on the Batman disc; it gets into different sides of things. These are a fun complement to the longer programs and add nice material. I especially like the abandoned story connection between Shreck and Penguin.

In a “documentary gallery” referred to as Beyond Batman, we find six featurettes. If we “Play All”, they fill a total of one hour, five minutes, 52 seconds.

They include “Gotham City Revisited: The Production Design of Batman Returns”, “Sleek, Sexy and Sinister: The Costumes of Batman Returns”, “Making Up the Penguin”, “Assembling the Arctic Army”, “Bats, Mattes and Dark Nights: The Visual Effects of Batman Returns”, and “Inside the Elfman Studios: The Music of Batman Returns”.

These include notes from Burton, Di Novi, Welch, Franco, Czapsky, Vogt, Ringwood, De Vito, Keaton, Pfeiffer, Winston, Gero, supervising art director Tom Duffield, costume effects supervisor Vin Burnham, Batsuit sculptor Steve Wang, costume effects Alli Eynon, Batsuit wrangler Day Murch, costume coordinator Randy Gardell, Penguin makeup designers Shane Mahan and Mark “Crash” McCreety, key makeup artist Ve Neill, hair supervisor Yolanda Toussieng, emperor penguin trainer Richard Hill, visual effects supervisor Michael Fink, makeup artist Brian Penikas, Boss Films visual effects supervisor John Bruno, Matte World Digital visual effects supervisor Craig Barron, orchestrator Steve Bartek and composer Danny Elfman.

A listing of topics covered will seem redundant given the titles, but here goes anyway. “Beyond” digs into the movie’s visual elements and redesigns from the first film, sets, costumes, the Penguin’s makeup, issues related to real and fake penguins, various forms of visual effects, and the score.

While “Shadows” left me with some disappointment, no problems emerge during “Beyond”. These featurettes go into the various topics with great detail, as they leave few questions unanswered (other than “what was up with Burton’s ever-present beret?). Instead, they investigate the subjects with candor to become consistently informative and interesting programs.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with a music video for “Face to Face” by Siouxsie and the Banshees. I liked the three Prince videos on the Batman disc because they were untraditional for the genre; they included no shots from the movie.

That’s not the case here, but the video manages to integrate the film clips in a fairly seamless manner. It’s not a great song or video, but it’s better than average in both departments.

By the way, note that the package provides a remastered Blu-ray, not the same one from 2010.

After 27 years, I continue to love Batman Returns. I think it’s definitely the best of the pre-Christopher Nolan series, and it’s still one of my favorites. The 4K UHD boasts stellar picture and audio along with a fine collection of supplements. Expect a terrific release for a great movie.

Purse strings note: on June 4, 2019, the four Batman films from 1989 to 1997 come out as individual 4K UHD releases, each with the list price of $41.99. On September 17, 2019, Warner will put out a box with all four, and it lists for $99.99. If you want all four, it makes sense to wait a few months and potentially save a lot of money.

To rate this film visit the Special Edition review of BATMAN RETURNS

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main