BY CLAIRE WARD-BEVERIDGE
The gist: As with most installments in the Batman franchise, Tim Burton’s 2nd and last directorial swing at the series is rife with wild characters and intertwining plot lines. The main ones centred around: an embittered misfit (Danny DeVito as The Penguin) hell-bent on first winning Gotham City’s love and admiration, then abandoning it for pure revenge; a power-hungry, corrupt Mayor (Christopher Walken’s Max Schreck); and a hard-done-by secretary-cum-feminist avenger/villain (Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman). All three are determined (Catwoman, less so) to see Batman’s demise, as per usual.
Naughty or nice: It presents us with a more cynical look at the commercialization, industrialization and greed of the Christmas season–more or less largely personified by Max Schreck, a slimy, bloodless, misogynistic fat cat. The Penguin also has negative associations of his own in terms of the holiday season: his rich parents open the film dumping his infant self into a cold ravine on a December night.
Why it gets us in the spirit: Despite the cynicism presented to us, one can’t help but be entranced by the wildly colorful and darkly festive art direction present in so many scenes: deep reds and sickly violets against blackest blacks, stabs of hot pink throughout Catwoman’s scenes–let’s be honest, every scene with her is absolute magic. I am always restlessly waiting through any moment that she’s not a part of.
Magic moment: As noted above, any scene with Catwoman is pure magic. From her incredibly exciting and empowering transformation to her fucking badass death–she really is the only one worth watching, in my eyes. If I had to choose one moment, it would be her oddly subversive “save” of the woman being robbed/assaulted in the alley. Her line, delivered dripping with acrimony, “You make it so easy, don’t you? Always waiting for some Batman to save you,” could easily start off a class on gender studies.
Santa sighting: “…Afraid not…” as Schreck declares in a scene where he uses his faux-humble charms to win over Gotham with Christmas gifts. So, nope. No Santa here. As far as I can remember, anyway. Please DC nerds, don’t troll me if I’m mistaken.
Accompanying carol: Not so much one carol, as one massive, gaudy soundtrack, courtesy of the ever-present Tim Burton. Yes, it works, for the most part. But if I’m going to be critical here, it’s not used sparingly/effectively. It actually takes some of the bite out of certain scenes, and makes them more whimsical and juvenile.
Perfect present for: Anyone who loves PVC, endless streams of inky mouth-drippings and the 1940’s as seen through the early 1990’s. And Michael Keaton. He’s barely in it, it seems, but he’s so weirdly naturalistic and great. Too good for such a role.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LE3vtU8CZk]
Claire Ward-Beveridge is a freelance writer & photographer who lives in North Parkdale, Toronto and her rattled brain. She loves Werner Herzog and depressing English dramas. Follow her @clairewarb.