Friday, December 23, 2016

Recap: "Batman Returns" Part 3: The Penguin

If it seems like not much has happened yet, well, that’s just because this movie’s paced so weirdly. I didn’t even notice it until I started watching it for this Recap.

But don’t worry. All the plot will soon happen at once.

Which… might be a mixed blessing, in terms of pacing.
So as the re-lighting ceremony is prepared for, Alfred brings Selina and Bruce some sustenance while they talk and watch the event on TV.

Selina: "I'm sure he's wonderful company, but doesn't the gold-plated-bachelor bit get a little stale?"
Bruce Wayne: "A lot like the lonely-secretary syndrome, I guess."
Selina: "Executive assistant."
Bruce Wayne: "Oh, sorry."
Selina: "...Secretary."
I never got the “don’t call them secretaries” thing. Okay, no, I do get it, but their job and pay sucks and giving them a fancy job title solves none of the real underlying issues.

Selina: "Any girlfriend?"
Bruce Wayne: "Sure. ...Oh, you mean as in serious? No. Had one. Didn't work."

“So I returned her to the store for a full refund.”
Bruce explains that telling her the truth scared her away.

Bruce Wayne: "Well, there are two truths... you know? She had trouble reconciling them because I had trouble, uh, reconciling them."

But Selina seems to like a little touch of crazy.

Selina: "Sickos don't bother me. At least they're committed."

Heh. I hope that was a pun.

Selina suddenly lunges at Bruce to start a makeout session, which gets a little sidetracked by the fact that each of them has to hide their wounds from their rooftop fight.

But a sudden news bulletin show Gordon holding the remote-control batarang while giving a report on the allegations that Batman kidnapped the Ice Princess. Suddenly, Bruce and Selina find themselves having to suddenly leave to take care of something urgent. Bruce finds Alfred and tells him to make up something about a business trip.

Bruce Wayne: "Let her know, not in some dumb 'be-my-girlfriend' way..."
Alfred: "I will relay the message."

But before he can, Selina tells him to give Bruce a message. She starts off with a comment about going through changes, before thinking about telling him that he makes her fell the way she hopes she really is, and finally settling on a third option.

Selina: "Could you just make up a sonnet or... something? A... dirty limerick?"
Alfred: "One has just sprung to mind."

And so, Selina leaves as Bruce enters the Bat-wardrobe. In the last film, the Batsuit was just a single suit locked in a vault.

Here, Batman might be going a little overboard with having spares.
Not this overboard, though.
As Selina changes while driving, we get an interesting look at how the Batsuit comes together.

So the yellow Batsymbol locks the cowl in place. Neat.
Soon enough, Batman arrives at the ceremony, locking the Batmobile down with CGI armor plates before he heads off to rescue the Ice Princess, completely unaware that the Red Triangle Gang has created a remote key fob for the Batmobile...

Once on the rooftops, his natural habitat, Batman spots the Ice Princess tied to a chair in a nearby building. He springs into action as the Red Triangle Gang hot-wires the Batmobile, untying her so she can clear his name.

Ice Princess: "No sweat. I'll just tell the police I was kidnapped by an ugly birdman with fish breath."

"Hey! That is an offensive stereotype."
Catwoman: "Somebody say 'fish'? I haven't been fed all day!"

Okay, okay, not too shabby in the way of banter. Cats eat fish, I get it. 7.4/10.

Your response, Batman?

Batman: "Eat floor. High fiber."

Ooooh, blunt, corny, and contrived, that'll only net you a 5.2/10.

They fight for a bit, sans music, which kind of ruins the choreography, as odd as it may seem. Without pumping music, it's easier to notice the slight pauses in the rhythm as the two actors cooperate to perform the various stunts.

Luckily, the fight quickly ends when Catwoman steals away the Ice Princess to the rooftop for some "girl talk." Batman follows, finding only the Ice Princess standing on the ledge. Batman inches toward her to take her to safety, but Penguin emerges to toss out a lawn-dart umbrella that releases a colony of bats. The colony surrounds the Ice Princess and in her frantic flailing, she falls off the edge... right onto the button that turns on the big tree's Christmas lights.

More bats swarm out of the tree, causing the citizens of Gotham to flee in terror from what they believe is Batman's inexplicable turn to villainy. Suddenly, Gotham cops appear on the rooftop and open fire, as cops in Gotham are known for doing. Batman gets knocked onto a different part of the roof, and the cops... Well, I don't know. They don't follow after him, giving Catwoman time to straddle the Dark Knight under the mistletoe.

Batman: "Mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it."

Non-sequitur.

"I read that on a Snapple cap."
Catwoman: "But a kiss... can be even deadlier if you mean it."

But, instead of a kiss, she licks Batman's face. And so does he.

"Your spit tastes like Fancy Feast...."
She mentions that Batman was the second man to kill her so far, leaving her with seven lives. Batman protests that he tried to save her, but that goes nowhere.

Catwoman: "Seems like every woman you try to save ends up dead. Or deeply resentful. Maybe you should retire."

Well, maybe he will.
She stabs him again, so he knocks her back again and activates the emergency hang-glider he was apparently wearing this entire time. And then he glides off the roof, freaking out the people of Gotham even further.

Let's face it, they might as well be seeing this.
As the Red Triangle Gang leaves Batman's car mostly the way they found it, Catwoman and Oswald meet up to look at what they've wrought.

Oswald: "Outstanding. You're beauty and the beast in one luscious Christmas gift pack."

"But if anyone else calls you beast, I'll bite their nose off."
Catwoman isn't as happy as Oswald is, since she was told they'd just be scaring the Ice Princess.

Oswald: "She looked pretty scared to me!"

He pours them some champagne and proposes another proposal. And by that, I mean he proposes. Catwoman's as confused as the audience, so Oswald paints a picture with his words.

Oswald: "It's dark in the Mayor's mansion. I'm bushed, so you here come into the bedroom, twitching your little tail, my slippers in one hand, a dry martini in the other."

Catwoman rebukes the offer, so Oswald goes into a frenzy.

Oswald: "You lousy minx! I'll have you spayed! You sent out all the signals!"

I hate to be fair to Oswald here... but to be fair to Oswald here, Catwoman was using her sexuality to toy with his emotions. Sure, she was quite clearly repulsed by him in the earlier scene, but that doesn't change the fact that she started licking herself in front of him to get him on her side.

If the alliance between Catwoman and Oswald seems short-lived, that's only because it is. They have two scenes together in their little alliance. The first one forms it, and the second dissolves it.

In earlier drafts, these two would have teamed up for more of the movie, which would make this plot point seem less sudden. As it is, Oswald flies into a frenzy to dissolve their alliance that only lasted 14 minutes of screen time in a 2-hour movie.

He uses his umbrella-copter to pull her up into the air by her neck, but she manages to get free and fall into a greenhouse. She survives the fall (or maybe she uses up another life), so she... screams so loudly that it shatter all the greenhouse glass.

...Okay.

Over with Batman, he arrives at his car as Oswald enters his campaign trailer. Inside... is a kids' ride version of the Batmobile.

...Okay.
But there's a reason for this oddness. When Batman gets in, Oswald appears on the monitor to welcome him to the Oswald Cobblepot School of Driving.

Oswald: "Gentlemen, start your screaming."

Catwoman beat you to it.

Oswald starts up the Batmobile and takes Batman on a wild ride throughtout the city, causing all sorts of traffic violations along the way while attempting to hit multiple pedestrians and police cars.

Thinking quickly, Batman plugs a blank CD into the console while attempting to hot-wire his car.

Oswald: "Just relax! I'll take care of the squealing, wretched, pinhead puppets of Gotham!"

The Batmobile cleaves through lines of cars as Batman scrambles to figure something out, either to escape or undo Oswald's control. You know, Batman should look into getting a motorcycle escape pod for his Batmobile.

...Nah, that'd be silly.

Oswald: "You gotta admit, I play this stinking city like a harp from hell!"

The Batmobile computer targets the source of Oswald's remote transmission, so Batman punches through the apparently-flimsy floor of the Batmobile to remove the device, severing Oswald's link and narrowly avoiding ramming into an old lady.

But even though Oswald can't control the Batmobile anymore, the cops are still after it. So Batman jettisons the outer shell of the car in order to fit through a narrow alley.

Well. It's not a motorcycle, but it's the next best thing.
The next day, Oswald is still upset over Batman's survival.

Oswald: "He didn't even lose a limb! An eyeball! Bladder control!"

Penguin should read Batman: The Widening Gyre, then. It features a flashback to Batman: Year One, retconning that a sudden burst of pyrotechnics made Batman lose bladder control... which is actually entirely accurate to real life, according to firefighters. But I digress.

But Max tells Oswald to focus on the election. The people have lost faith in Batman and are ready to put their faith into a new mayor. Why, they'll be celebrating at Shreck's annual Christmas shindig in no time. But first, Oswald has to make a speech.

In front of City Hall, Oswald soon launches into a speech about how the current regime that relies on some guy in a rubber suit leaves Gotham vulnerable. Speaking of him, he watches the speech from STATELY WAYNE MANOR for a bit before deciding to do something about it. But Alfred's worried about repairing the Batmobile.

Alfred: "There's security to consider. It's not as though we can take it to any old Joe's Body Shop, is it, sir?"

Yeah, if only Dick Grayson was still in the script as an auto mechanic, huh?

Bruce Wayne: "Security? Who let Vicki Vale into the Batcave? I'm sitting there working, I turn around, there she is. 'Oh, hi, Vick. Come on in.'"

"Fans were up in arms, Alfred."
This, of course, is a thinly-veiled rebuttal from Sam Hamm, who wasn't a fan of the rewrite that had Alfred take Vicki into the Batcave in the first film.

Bruce takes the iron maiden slide down into the Batcave, followed by Alfred taking the stairs. Once down there, the two of them hack into the frequency of City Hall's wireless speakers and begin transmitting Oswald's comments from last night.

Recording: "Hey, just relax! I'll take care of the squealing, wretched, pinhead puppets of Gotham!"
Oswald: "...I didn't say that."

Unlike real life, quotes like this are enough to sink an aspiring political career. As Bruce performs a record scratch on the CD like he was a DJ scratching vinyl, the crowd begins pelting Oswald with produce as Max Shreck cuts his losses and runs off.

Oswald: "Why is there always someone who brings eggs and tomatoes to a speech?"

He opens fire on the crowd with his umbrella-gun and runs off, chased only by the trigger-happy Gotham cops until he dives off the very same bridge his parents threw him off.

Once back in the sewers, he rides his Duckmobile back to his Arctic lair, where one of his clown congratulates him on a great speech. I can only imagine he didn't watch and is just trying to brown-nose. But for his trouble, he gets smacked in the face as Oswald rips off his suit and renounces his humanity.

Oswald: "My name is not Oswald! It's Penguin! I am not a human being! I am an animal!"

Sort of like a Bizarro-Sparticus.

Penguin demands his list of names and outlines his plan.

Penguin: "These are the names of the first-born sons of Gotham City. Just like I was! And like me, a terrible fate awaits for them. Tonight, while their parents party, they'll be dreaming away in their safe cribs, their soft beds, and we will snatch them! Carry them into the sewer! And toss them into a deep, dark, watery grave!"

So ol' Pengy's going to kill all the first-born sons of Gotham?

"Too Jewish."
But one of Penguin's clowns has his doubts about the plan, too.

Clown: "Isn't that a little, uh..."

But before he can choose an adjective, he gets shot and dumped in the water.

Penguin: "No! It's a lot!"

Back at the Batcave, Bruce is hard at work on the Batmobile when Alfred reminds him about Max Shreck's get-together. Bruce declines the invitation, so Alfred rips up the invite.

Bruce Wayne: "Although... Selina Kyle might be there...."

Alfred presumably figures out how to fix the invitation, because a quite-RSVP'd Bruce Wayne shows up to the masquerade party... without a mask.

Fine, this is the last reference to the Dark Knight Saga.
As a jazz rendition of "Superfreak" plays, Shreck comes in to criticize Bruce's "trust-fund-goodie-goodie" costume, having himself dressed up as Ibis the Invincible.

...Obscure superhero. Look it up.
Bruce snaps back regarding Shreck's scheme to make a lunatic the Mayor.

Max Shreck: "I am the light of this city... and I am its mean, twisted soul. Does it really matter who's Mayor?"
Bruce Wayne: "It does to me."
Max Shreck: "Yawn."

Luckily, Max's company is replaced with Selina's, who has also arrived sans mask.

Hey, look, even Jay Garrick showed up to Max's party!
The two dance and begin double entendres.

Bruce Wayne: "So… now hard feelings, then?"
Selina: "Actually... semi-hard, I'd say."

Selina tells Bruce that there's a bed on display over in another department of Shreck's store, and suggest they go test it out.

"There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne."
Sorry, sorry, that was the last one. For realsies this time.

Bruce says he came to this crappy little party to see Selina, who responds that she came here to see Max. Not romantically, or anything, and she loudly laughs at the idea.

She's going to kill him.
Selina: "Don't give me a 'Killing Max won't solve anything" speech, because it will."

Well, she has a point. Shooting Max will probably keep him from enacting his power-grabbing plan. And yet, it's an affront to basic humanity to play judge, jury, and executioner. No one should have that much power.

Oh, hey, a metaphor for Batman.

Bruce Wayne: "You may have problems with your boss, but who the hell do you think you are?"
Selina: "...I don't know anymore, Bruce."

And because Bruce is attracted to crazy like Selina's attracted to tuna, they make out under the mistletoe.

Selina: "You know, mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it."
Bruce Wayne: "A kiss can be even deadlier... if you mean it."

Well, the jig's up.

Selina: "Oh my God. Does this mean we have to start fighting?"
Bruce Wayne: "Let's go outside."

As they move away from the center of the dance floor, it blows up, allowing Penguin to ascend in his Duckmobile. He brags that his clowns are currently out kidnapping all the first-born sons of Gotham. And he's here for none other than Chip Shreck himself.

Max Shreck: "Not Chip. If you have an iota of human feeling, take me instead."
Penguin: "I don't. So no."

But Shreck manages to convince Penguin that it would be more satisfying to get revenge against him directly, rather than taking Chip, and Penguin agrees.

Penguin: "I'll let the little prince live for now!"

"Qu'est-ce que j'ai fait?"
Max gets in the duck and gets taken down to Penguin's lair. Once there, a caged-up Max is forced to listen to Penguin's scheme to force the kids to drown in Shreck's own toxic waste, followed by Shreck himself.

I really hope he's got a better way than trying to lure them with an umbrella.
But with Batman hitting the streets, all Penguin gets is a note informing him that the kids won't be able to make it tonight. So instead, Penguin gives a motivational speech to his army of missile-wielding penguins.

...And people thought the 60s show was Batman's silliest outing?
Penguin: "Thanks to Batman, the time has come to punish all God's children! First, second, third, and fourth-born! Why be biased?"

Well, at least most of the Duggars are safe.

Penguin: "Male and female! Hell, the sexes are equal with their erogenous zones blown sky high!"

...Technically, yes.

And so, the penguins dive into the water and make their way onto the streets of Gotham, guided by some kind of radio signal.

As Batman speeds down the surprisingly large sewers in his Batboat, penguins flood the Gotham streets... until Alfred manages to jam the signal and send them back, allowing Batman to follow them back to Penguin's lair.

As Penguin tries to figure out what to do next, Shreck attempts to get the key to his cage from the organ grinder's monkey while all the other clowns abandon their demented ringleader.

So Penguin makes a getaway in his Duckmobile, zooming through the snow-covered paths of the zoo until the Batboat emerges from the Arctic World exhibit, crashing into him.

Time to exchange information.
Penguin attacks Batman and claims that the Caped Crusader is simply jealous.

Penguin: "Because I'm a genuine freak! And you have to wear a mask!"

Penguin whips out his umbrella-blade, but he brought an umbrella to a missile fight. Batman's got the penguins and the detonator. He manages to knock the detonator away, though, and uses it to launch a few missiles before Batman launches a colony of bats from the Batmobile, forcing Penguin to fall back into the Arctic World exhibit in a fit of irony.

With the Penguin apparently defeated and the zoo blowing up, Shreck steals the key from the monkey and escapes his cage, only to be confronted by Catwoman. She whips him into the water... which apparently isn't toxic anymore since the Penguin said it was full of industrial waste.

But Max grabs a gun off the clown Penguin killed earlier and reemerges to find Catwoman ready to kill him. He tries to bargain with her, but not even the promise of a very big ball of string will tempt her.

Catwoman: "Your blood, Max."
Max Shreck: "My blood? I gave. At the office."

Batman swoops down to get involved, but Catwoman starts fighting him off.

Catwoman: "The law doesn't apply to people like him... or us."
Batman: "Wrong on both counts."

Batman tries to talk Catwoman into taking Shreck into the police... and says her name, leading Shreck to figure it all out after a fashion.

Batman: "We're the same. Split. Right down the center."

And this is where Batman famously rips off his mask, causing his eyeshadow to disappear between shots.

It honestly wouldn't be so bad if they didn't linger on this shot.
I'm just wondering how Bruce expects to be able to avoid reprisal from Shreck, now that he's revealed his secret.

Selina: "Bruce... I would love to live with you in your castle. Forever, just like in a fairly tale.... I just couldn't live with myself. So don't pretend this is a happy ending."

Shreck has finally put two and two together, realizing that "Selina" is his secretary.

Max Shreck: "Selena Kyle. You're fired."

Man, this reboot of The Apprentice is weird.

But NewtCave readers, behold, the most Christopher Walken-y line in history.

Max Shreck: "And Bruce Wayne? Why are you dressed up like Batman?"

This just makes me want to see Walken in a Superman movie.

"This looks like a job for...."
"Oh, Superman! You just missed Mr. Kent. He was standing right where you are."
Selina: "Because he is Batman, you moron!"
Max Shreck: "Was."

He shoots Batman in the center of mass (avoiding his exposed head, for some reason) and aims the gun at Selina next, but she has faith in her six remaining lives. One by one, Max empties the gun into her, reducing her alleged lives down to two.

Selina: "I think I'll save one for next Christmas."

So she whips out the taser she stole earlier and puts it between her and Max's lips as she grabs onto a nearby high-voltage wire, blowing up a nearby generator. After the sparking ends, Shreck seems to be done for.

Well-done for.
But Selina is nowhere to be seen. All that's left is Batman... and Penguin, emerging from the water while drooling black bile to draw one of his trick umbrellas.

Now do you see why having that umbrella is a bad idea, Penguin?
Penguin: "Shit! I picked a cute one!"

And soon, he utters his last words.

Penguin: "I'll murder you momentarily. But first, I need a cold drink… of ice... water."

And with that, he flops over dead as some giant penguins emerge as pallbearers to float him down into the water.

It's like, just when you think it can't get sillier, it does.
And so, with most of the major players dead, it's a very lonely car ride for Bruce as Alfred drives him home. So lonely that he runs out to chase a shadow in an alleyway... finding nothing but a stray cat. Still, he takes the cat with him back home as Alfred wishes him a very merry Christmas.

Bruce Wayne: "Merry Christmas, Alfred. Goodwill toward men. ...And women."

And so, they drive off into the snow. And as Catwoman looks up at the Batsignal illuminating the night sky...
...foreshadowing the spin-off film that wouldn't end up made until 2004...
...the film ends.

So… really… what am I supposed to make of all that?

Well, there’s a lot to think about. I’ll get back to you in a few days with a Review… after I figure out what I just saw.


…What?

You’re feeling cheated?

You’re disappointed by this Recap ending with a whimper after such a whirlwind of excitement?

Well, maybe that’s kind of what it’s like to watch this film.

But… is that a bad thing? I’ll go over that when I get to that Review.

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