This film is mad but brilliant.
On the one hand you’ve got DeVito’s Penguin, a man thrown in the sewers as a child who grew up to be a pale, grotesque villain. Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, an overlooked and under-loved secretary who gains superpowers after her boss leaves her for dead. And of course Batman, a lonely, wealthy businessman looking to keep Gotham safe.
Tim Burton is the perfect director for truly making us understand the tragedy of all three characters. They are loners, freaks, outcasts - all looking for salvation, normality and acceptance in their own ways.
He also goes absolutely all-out with the way he lays out the film. Everything is over the top, dark, sinister and surreal. They clearly threw a lot of time and effort into the set design.
The story he’s telling is convoluted and not the simple hero vs villain affair you’d expect. It doesn’t all make sense but it doesn’t really matter.
Most surprising (for a film aimed at 13-year-olds) is the strong sexual theme. Sex is what drives these characters forward. There are no scenes of any explicit nature, yet their desires are overt. The Penguin in particular mentions again and again how much he craves sex (I quote: “There’s the pussy I’ve been looking for!”). Catwoman uses sex to her advantage, but also wants to bang the shit out of Batman. It’s there, front and centre and it probably explains why 12-year-old Ben has fond memories of Michelle Pfeiffer.
Again on par with Nolan’s work.