Batman Returns (1992)

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Batman returns to the big screen when a deformed man calling himself the Penguin wreaks havoc across Gotham with the help of a cruel businessman. (IMDb)
The recurring secret vs. public identity dynamic for all four of the main players makes for some intriguing tension and drama (see Bruce and Salina’s battles and flirts; Shreck and Oswald’s campaign). Batman’s fall from grace is another compelling, if brief, plot thread. Unfortunately there’s still lots of cheesiness here too (see the penguin suicide bombers, penguin pallbearers, penguin duck boats?). The one-liners are hit (“life’s a bitch and now so am I”) or miss (anything by gross Penguin).
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Batman (1989)

The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker. (IMDb)
This take on Batman is less than mediocre, with a thin plot (barely boosted by a couple funny lines) and uninspired main characters (Keaton’s Batman is dry and Nicholson’s Joker feels more silly and contrived than evil) thrown into a childish, ill-paced, and painfully awkward script (see the awful scene with Wayne and the Joker). The quasi-campy vibe just doesn’t work here–it’s not written and directed seriously enough to be compelling, and it’s not intentionally goofy enough to be funny.
5.5/10 (Poor)