Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: Batman Returns (1992) by DB Movies Blog

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Next up is DB from DB Movies Blog with a sequel of the 1989 Batman by Tim Burton, Batman Returns! One of my personal faves because it has the fantastic Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. DB Movies Blog has a range of film-related posts from reviews to trailer to lists and awards recap, etc. Lots of great material to check out! Without further ado, let’s pass it over to her to talk about her choice!

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Batman Returns (1992)

Three years after directing “Batman” (1989), Tim Burton came up with yet another Batman film “Batman Returns”. Visually stunning and well thought-out, the film is about the rise to power of Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin (Danny DeVito), who has been hidden away and shunned by society for 33 years in the city of Gotham. In his quest to become the mayor of Gotham, Penguin is unwillingly helped by a dishonest businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) as the Penguin’s freaky followers intermittently wreck havoc on Gotham to discredit the present mayor and eventually make it look like the Penguin is fighting crime. Meanwhile, Shreck’s shy secretary, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), finds out too much about Shreck’s illegal activities, causing Shreck to try to get rid of her, and the result of his efforts is Selina’s transformation into a Catwoman. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Michael Keaton) is also not indifferent to the crimes orchestrated by the Penguin and is determined to stop the Penguin and his gang while having a love-hate relationship with Selina/Catwoman.

From the very first scenes of the film, we are intrigued. We are confronted with a Dracula-inspired-setting and gothic surroundings as we see a couple who gives birth to a deformed baby, and then some time later, on a cold Christmas night, rushes across a Gotham park to throw their newborn baby into a river crossing the park. The eerie wintry landscape and the menacing soundtrack by Danny Elfman complete this picture as we then see a crib of a baby-monster floating down the sewer of the city.

Prior to “Batman Returns”, Burton also directed “Beetlejuice” (1988) and “Edward Scissorhands” (1990), already establishing himself as the director for shooting the themes of supernatural, odd, unknown and dark. In that vein, Burton makes “Batman Returns” his very own. With Burton’s flair for presenting a Gothic fantasy, “Batman Returns”’s cinematography is moody and grim, now reminding of “Sleepy Hollow” (1999) or “Sweeney Todd” (2007), but with a comical twist, a freaks-show setting and more stand-alone odd characters. Burton transforms the city of Gotham into a lavish wintry high-buildings landscape populated by mysterious pale-faced personalities, odd freaks and brave anti-heroes. In his prior and forthcoming work, Burton relied heavily on the old German expressionist cinematography and “Batman Returns” is no exception. From the very first scenes, the film is all about sharp dark edges, futurism, and the macabre, similar to “The Cabinet of DrCaligari” (1920). We also see the skyline of the Gotham City, and the tall buildings, grim atmosphere and fog reminds of “Metropolis” (1927). The elaborate sculpture work of the Gotham Zoo and the camerawork are also similar to the camerawork and the town scale model found in Burton’s “Beetlejuice”.

Action-wise, “Batman Returns” is also great. From the firebombing of Shreck’s department store to a faulty Batman car racing, the action is fast-paced with great visual effects. Add to this a rich animal symbolism, distinctively-gloomy, but deliciously macabre cinematography and a thought-provoking ending and it is safe to say that Burton has probably crafted the best Batman movie ever.

Having said that, “Batman Returns” is, primarily, a character-driven film. Michael Keaton reprises his role of the Batman, but the spotlight is not on him and he has to give way to “more interesting” and “crazier” characters. Keaton’s performance is unimaginative and unenthusiastic, though he is a very dignified and “intellectual” Batman; that kind of a Batman who will snug in on a weekend in front of a fireplace with a book rather than practise his combat moves in front of a mirror.

Every imaginable Hollywood actress was considered for the role of the Catwoman: from Demi Moore, Nicole Kidman and Jodie Foster to Cher and Meryl Streep. In the end, Annette Bening was cast, but was replaced by Michelle Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer is perfectly cast and gives a very convincing, almost iconic performance. She is good as a sexually-frustrated shy secretary Selina and as a confident and blood-thirsty Catwoman. Selina’s duality and her transformation into a Catwoman are particularly well-presented. We see something close to the nowadays “Black Swan” transformation, because Selina is first surrounded by her pink soft toys and immaculate kitchen and then goes berserk and lusts for a dark and mysterious side of life. Her chemistry with Bruce Wayne is also very good, and it is interesting to watch how the pair is mentally trying to figure out each other’s true identities and thoughts.

The real revelations in the film are Danny DeVito in the role of the Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot and Christopher Walken in the role of Max Shreck. DeVito’s Penguin is very memorable: he is hideous, totally demented and power-hungry. Walken’s Shreck is also a show-stealer. Cool, strange and menacing, Walken as Max Shreck makes the atmosphere very uncomfortable, and it is a pity that the Shreck’s energy aspirations idea is left underdeveloped in the film.

It is true, however, that “Batman Returns” is not a perfect movie. We hardly get to know anything about the title character and his personal development (a hero’s journey) is questionable. The reason why Batman as a character is so neglected in this film is maybe because Burton/Waters/Strick is not really interested in him. In fact, Burton agreed to do “Batman Returns” only on condition that the studio gives him more creative control over the material and that Daniel Waters, a screenwriter known for his black-comedy “Heathers” (1988), comes on board. The influence of both is evident in the final product.

Another weakness of the film is that it has too many villains which form surprising partnerships, but the biggest criticism at the time of its release was that Burton’s version of a Batman movie was too gloomy and grotesque, sexually too suggestive (e.g. the Catwoman finds herself often on top of the Batman) and violent (e.g. child-kidnapping takes place on a regular basis). There are valid points, but should be seen in a perspective. Unlike the Superman and even the Spiderman series, the Batman series is all about the dark nature of humanity, mysterious personal duality, masks and camouflage, the colour black, unclear freaky characters’ origins, underlying childhood trauma and gloomy settings. Taking this into account, Burton’s gothic, macabre and dark take fits the Batman adaptation perfectly.

Batman Returns” may not be the film to immediately spring to mind when you think “the films of 1990s”, but its unusually presented-superhero theme, advanced computer-generated special effects and the director’s distinctive influence on the style and plot of the film are the features which later came to define films shot in 1990s (wasn’t it the decade of the rise of independent cinema after all?). “Batman Returns” is a Tim Burton film through-and-through. Rich in visuals, it is grim, dark, fantastical and strangely enticing. It also a film which is very entertaining: it has an interesting plot, perfect casting, great soundtrack and a very memorable presentation of such oddball characters as the Penguin and Catwoman.

8/10

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Thanks to DB for a fantastic review of Batman Returns. Definitely a great title (with its flaws) from the 90s!
Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews on Monday for the next entry!

Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: Goodfellas (1990) by MovieRob

Ultimate 90's blogathon

Next up is MovieRob. MovieRob is the blogosphere’s movie watching beast! If you head over to his blog, you’ll see so many reviews already done.  He runs a monthly segment called Genre Grandeur and on this milestones, he’ll do various franchises or invite fellow bloggers to join in on a Movies From the Hat segment. If you haven’t followed him, you should to make sure you don’t miss out on the fun! He’s giving us a look at a 90’s favorite, Goodfellas.

Its all yours, Rob!

Huge thanks to Kim and Drew for hosting this awesome blogathon.

Here’s my review of Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas“For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster. To me that was better than being president of the United States. To be a gangster was to own the world. ” – Henry Hill

Number of Times Seen – At least 5 times (Theater in ’90. cable, video, 8 May 2008 and 2 Feb 2017)

Brief Synopsis – Biopic of a New York gangster during the 60’s and 70’s.

My Take on it – This is one of the best films of the 90’s and it gives us an excellent look at how the life of New York mobsters were run in the 60’s and 70’s

The cast is superb and a little known Ray Liotta plays the lead role so well.  He is joined by excellent performances by Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco and Paul Sorvino.

This is Director Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece IMHO mainly because he is able to manipulate the audience into caring and in some cases even loving these characters no matter how terrible the things they do are.

In some ways, it is quite easy to see this as a continuation of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather series and it’s somewhat ironic that the final chapter of that series and this film both vied for Best Picture in 1990.

Love how this film tries to show us the ‘modern effects’ of the mob on society.

This allows us to feel the realism of the story.

This film is classified as a biopic despite the fact that we will never truly know how much is fact and how much is fiction.

This is one of Scorsese’s best film mainly because of the fact that it feels so realistic and that the characters are so strongly created and likeable to us.

Bottom Line – Excellent look at the life of mobsters in New York in the 70’s. Scorsese does an amazing job getting us to love these characters despite everything they do. In some ways, its easy to see that this is a continuation of Coppola’s Godfather series to show the ‘modern’ effects of the mob on society. Works really well as a biopic despite the fact that we’ll never really know how much is true. Amazing cast led by little known Liotta.  One of Scorsese’s best films to date because of the realism and strong characters. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The now-legendary Steadicam trip through the nightclub kitchen was a happy accident. Scorsese had been denied permission to go through the front, and had to improvise an alternative. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (10/10)

Thanks to MovieRob for a great review! 🙂
Tomorrow’s entry will be over at Drew’s Movie Reviews, remember to head over there to check it out!

Ultimate 90s Blogathon: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) by Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews

The next participant for the Ultimate 90’s Blogathon is from Charlene at Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews with her review of The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (1994). Head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews to check it out!

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Today’s Ultimate 90s Blogathon entry comes from Charlene from Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews.  As her blog’s name suggests, she mostly reviews movies from Classical Hollywood cinema but she doesn’t shy away from more modern films either.  Go give her site some love once you finish up here. Now, onto her review of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert!


Road trips have been a mainstay of travelling for as long as motorized vehicles have been invented. They involve a small group of individuals who often reveal a variety of emotions and opinions within a claustrophobic, confined space. This may create closer bonds among said parties or invoke greater distance and argumentativeness. Regardless, personal truths, epiphanies, and an increased sense of clarity can emerge from such heated discussions. All of the above occur in the vibrant 1994 Australian film “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”…

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Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: Pump Up The Volume (1990) by OC Movie Reviews

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Our first participant of Ultimate 90’s Blogathon is Mark over at OC Movie Reviews. If you don’t know him, OC stands for Operation Condor and over on his site, you can find tons of fantastic movie reviews. He starts us with a movie that just steps in the very beginning of the decade, Pump Up The Volume! If you don’t follow OC Movie Reviews, you should head over there and give him a follow.

Let’s hand it over to Mark!

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Pump Up The Volume Review – Talk Hard. So Be It.

“Do you ever get the feeling that everything in America is completely f*cked up? You know that feeling? The whole country is like one inch away from saying ‘that’s it, forget it!’. Think about it, everything’s polluted: the environment, the government, the schools – you name it.”

That is Happy Harry Hard-On’s opening line from the 1990 sleeper hit Pump Up The Volume. As opening lines go it’s pretty cool, it’s also quite apt for now or pretty much any decade you choose. You could even change America for your own country.

Hard Harry is played by Christian Slater, who had already enjoyed some success with Heathers in 1988 and would go on to star in Young Guns II, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, True Romance a host of other film and TV series and most recently Mr. Robot.

Slater plays Mark Hunter, a new student at Hubert H. Humphrey High School – hence the name of his alter-ego – in Phoenix, Arizona. Having moved with his parents from ‘out-East’ he is now a loner, struggling to make friends. His parents buy him a short-wave radio to talk to his friends back home (before the days of the internet) but he can’t reach them and so, instead, he begins broadcasting his teenage angst on the pirate airways.

What he doesn’t realise at first, is just how many people this angst is resonating with and more and more teens begin tuning in and hanging off his every word. He almost brings things to a halt when one student kills himself after speaking with Hard Harry on-air. Instead, he tells his listeners that suicide is not the answer and to rebel instead. Rebel they do, spraying graffiti over the school, microwaving possessions and more.

As the trouble reaches a crescendo the FCC are brought in to pin-point the radio broadcast and put an end to it. At the same time, it’s revealed that the school’s principal, played by Annie Ross (Superman III, Throw Momma From The Train) has been expelling problem kids but keeping their names on the books to get money from the government and make the school look better.

Despite not doing that well at the box office in the US, it has gone on to be a cult classic. Perhaps because its message that, if things aren’t ok, change them, speaks to people young and old. It’s also a message that doesn’t age, unlike some of the outfits and hairstyles in the movie!

Slater is brilliant in the DJ chair. He seems genuinely excited to be talking to whoever is listening and makes you believe in what he’s saying. The juxtaposition between that and this nerdy, awkward teenager in school, is a wonderful transformation (although physically it’s a bit Superman – just wear glasses) and another reason why it resonates so well; a lot of us can related to being different people at different times, whether that’s home and work or home and school.

Being a pirate DJ you’d expect the music of the film to be good. As an opening song, Hard Harry uses Everybody Knows by Leonard Cohen but other than it’s more talking than music. Having said that we do get glimpses of cassettes (remember them?) of: The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Soundgarden and many more.

Although supposed to be teenagers Slater was actually 21 when he filmed the movie whilst his female accomplice who discovers his true identity was actress Samantha Mathis (Buried, Broken Arrow, The Strain, Under The Dome) and she was 20.

Quite a few people in the film went on to have careers within the Hollywood machine. The guidance councillor who takes quite a bit of stick from Hard Harry is played Robert Schenkkan, you’ll probably know him as the writer of Hacksaw Ridge and The Quiet American. Ellen Greene plays English teacher Jan Emerson. Green is probably best known for her role as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors and was also in Naked Gun 33 1/3, Leon, The Cooler, Pushing Daisies, Heroes and many more.

A ‘blink and you’ll miss her’ role is also had for Holly Sampson who, well, she, erm, that is, well she went into the adult entertainment industry, where she has certainly been busy, according to IMDB. Star Trek fans can catch sight of Alexander Enberg, best known for Ensign Vorik in Voyager, Gregg Daniel from True Blood and Nigel Gibbs whose been in everything from Breaking Bad, House, Veep, The Shield and practically any other cop-based TV show you can think of, also show up.

Perhaps the best ‘look who it is’ moment is saved for Seth Green. You’ll know Seth Green from his voice work these days on Family Guy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Robot Chicken to name but three. Prior to this he did used to show his face and was in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Sh*gged me and Buffy The Vampire Slayer amongst others. In Pump Up The Volume he sports the most magnificent red haired mullet you will ever see, truly glorious!

Writer and director Allan Moyle went on to direct Empire Records and Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story. Perhaps all his angst was used up on Pump Up The Volume? Who knows.

Whilst Pump Up The Volume isn’t perfect, and is often overlooked in 90’s films, for me, and anyone I know who’s seen it, it remains a true great. Whilst the technology may have changed, the angst felt by those young and old hasn’t: we want to be heard, we want to talk hard. But if Pump Up The Volume remains a great film under the radar, so be it.

Thanks to Mark for putting together this fantastic review on Pump Up The Volume! 🙂
Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews tomorrow for the next Ultimate 90’s Blogathon review!

Reminder: Ultimate 90s Blogathon Entries Due

A final reminder and call for those participating in the blogathon! We’re looking forward to seeing your reviews in our inbox if you haven’t sent them yet!
Thanks! 🙂

Drew's Movie Reviews

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Hey, readers!

Just a reminder for those participating in the Ultimate 90s Blogathon that entries are due.  If you have told us you are participating and haven’t sent in your review yet, please let us know the status.  We understand that life gets busy so if you need a little more time, please tell us so we are able to schedule accordingly. The blogathon kicks off next Monday, February 20th. We can’t wait to read everyone’s reviews! 😀

Cheers!

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Reminder: Ultimate 90s Blogathon!

Happy Monday, my lovelies!

Ultimate 90s Blogathon

Have you all recovered from Superbowl excitement or disappointment depending on who you were cheering for?

I’m here to remind everyone that there is 1 MORE WEEK till the due date of the Ultimate 90s Blogathon reviews to us. If you haven’t signed up, you are still welcome to join us. The more the merrier! For all the information, you can find it HERE on our announcement post. In short, its all about your favorite 90s movies or what 90s movies made the decade for you memorable or symbolizes the decade the best. You can chime in on your participation in the comments but send us your 90s choice by email so that it’ll stay a surprise until the review goes up.

The due date for the reviews to be sent to us is February 13th.  However, we do know that everyone is busy so if you do need an extension, just email us. The blogathon officially starts on February 20th.

If you’d like to participate or have a review for us or any other questions, email me at kim.tranquildreams@gmail.com or Drew at drewt510@gmail.com .

We’re looking forward to everyone’s reviews! 🙂

Announcement: Ultimate 90s Blogathon

Hello my lovely friends!

I’m extremely excited to announce that Drew at Drew’s Movie Reviews and I are working together to host our next blogathon. It is kind of a follow-up from last year’s Ultimate 80s except we’ve moving to the next decade and its the Ultimate 90s Blogathon!

Ultimate 90s Blogathon

The 90s had so many great movies. There were fantastic Disney movies, like Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King. Some fantastic chick flicks and teen comedies also made their appearances, like Clueless. It was the decade that some amazing directors had brilliant additions to their works like James Cameron and the box office hit Titanic (not to mention a young Leonardo diCaprio); Tarantino and Pulp Fiction; Spielberg and his amazing dinosaurs in Jurassic Park took over. How can we forget the chilling Seven by David Fincher? The list just doesn’t stop because we know there’s also comedies and family movies like Mrs. Doubtfire. Just listing off these titles makes me excited to talk about them. Here’s our question to you: What 90s film did you love? Which film started your love of the 90s flicks? What movie would you suggest as a starter for jumping back in time to the 90s?

Ultimate 90s Blogathon has the same guidelines as last year. For those just dropping by, let me explain. Ultimate 90s Blogathon celebrates the iconic films of the 90s to you. It can be a movie you love, or a movie you grew up with, or one of your favorites that you watch over and over again. The only rule is that it has to be in the 90s. We like to keep things simple! The blogathon will start on February 20th, kicked off by myself and Drew. We will have three weeks for everyone to sign up and send us your reviews by February 13th. However, we do know that everyone is also very busy so the deadline can be extended as long as you tell us in advance so we can plan accordingly. Please remember to submit the reviews to us so that we post it on our respective blogs. If you intend to post it on your site also, we can match up our dates and schedule and work it out.

We really hope that you can participate! You can tell us whether you’d be joining in in the comments below or drop us an email at kim.tranquildreams@gmail.com or to Drew at drewt510@gmail.com. We’d love for your choice to be a surprise if you participate so you can email us your movie selection. Also, we do say reviews but if you’d like to do something else, feel free to do that as well.

We’re excited to see all of your submissions and be surprised by your chocies! Feel free to use the banner up there to show off on your sites! If you know anyone that might be interested, pass along the message! The more the merrier! 🙂