Review By Liam O Brien, 4 out of 5

“Ok. . .now I’m a lil’ worriedT

As its Christmas, or was as I’m writing it, I’ve decided to trawl over my video collection to find the best possible films based around the season. So far in my quest I’ve managed to turn up the excellent Grinch, and now I have found another brilliant flick, based during Crimbo, but hardly your average family tale.

And, before I go on, let me make this clear: this is NOT a family film. This is a bleak, violent 15 rated actioner, with macabre visuals aplenty. Not Batman and Robin then. You want cosy from a film, got get the original Adam West TV movie. But for those of you looking for a blockbuster a bit more interesting to offset the flood of sentimental ‘family’ movies- look no further.

From Michelle Pfeiffer’s Selena Kyle (aka the leather togged Catwoman) being pushed by her boss (a brilliantly weird Christopher Walkern) out of a sky scraper window, to Danny De Vito’s Penguin; a pale, sick minded little pervert with an umbrella full of death and mayhem; to the dark portrayal of the Dark Knight himself, by the one true Batman, Michael Keaton, this film is exciting, sickening, and brilliant all in one “lucious Christmas gift pack.”

The basic premise is this: Walkern’s Millionaire Max Shreck (no he’s not big and green, he’s not I say!) teams up with the Penguin to take power from the mayor and make Gotham City putty in their hands; meanwhile Pfeiffer’s Catwoman romances Bruce Wayne/Batman, until it all comes together in one final explosive (and heh electrifying?) confrontation.

The action set pieces out do the original film: Batman’s opening assault upon the Penguin’s gang in the snow filled streets of Gotham; Catwoman Vs Bats; The Penguin taking control of the Batmobile with the Dark Knight still in it (“helpless old lady at ten o’clock!”) are among the best moments.

But, surprisingly for a superhero movie, the characters are diverse and interesting- infact, the three main villains get more screen time in the end that Keaton’s brooding avenger. The Penguin is the best fleshed out of the three, very well played by a perfectly cast De Vito, and yes, the Penguin make up is by Rick “The Grinch, Planet Of The Apes”Baker. Pfeiffer puts in a career best performance as Selina/Catwoman: starting out quiet and timid; the mutation from geek to sex kitten with s and m overtones is quite startling.

The film however, is not just one parade of dull depressing visuals: Director Tim Burton’s sense of the bizarre and macabre is bought across in a script filled with funny moments (Bruce and Selina defending their alter egos after slanderous articles in the Gotham papers- “they say Catwoman ways about 180 pounds!”).

The sets again are excellent, covered in frost and snow, making Gotham feel different but none the less foreboding; and Danny Elfmans score is among one of his best, bringing out the Penguins child like qualities, playing up the wintery setting.

Overall a dark, menacing film, perfect to put off Boxing Day boredom everywhere.

ANY GOOD?: Burton shows how sorely missed his visual style was in the following two Batman movies, and Keaton gives us the best Batman ever (why George Clooney-WHY?). The villians are excellent, even if certain elements of the plot seem to sag after time, the pace is kept up so such things fly by. An exciting, interesting and brooding film to get you through those wintry nights- just tuck the kids away first. . . .

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