So, before anyone flogs me for the title, while giving reasons for why Nolan's Batman is superior, allow me to explain:
Is Batman Returns true to the comics? Well, yes and no, but mostly no.
Catwoman is not a thief, a blonde, and a little deranged; Christopher Walken's character Max is made up; Penguin's story is not cannon either. Not to mention that Tim Burton takes a really dark approach in this one--I would argue that this is perhaps the darkest Batman of any Batman, regardless of the franchise. So, why would I claim that this Batman is "the Best"?
Well, for multiple reasons, a few of which I will outline below:
(1) Batman is not really in this movie. I think one of the best aspects of the Burton Batman films is that Batman is almost a secondary character. As such, he remains mysterious as the Dark Knight should be. Also, the less Batman talks, the less we as an audience get annoyed with his self-righteousness and, in Bale's case, horrific voice acting. Micheal Keaton played the perfect Bruce Wayne, in my opinion.
(2) Micheal Pfeiffer. Okay, yes, Anne Hathaway did a decent job portraying the old comic book style Catwoman. That being said, Micheal Pfeiffer blew Catwoman out of the park and immortalized her in our (at least the children of the 90's) minds. Hathaway portrayed Catwoman--Pfeiffer IS Catwoman.
Which leads to (3): Pfeiffer and Keaton's chemistry BLOWS Bale's and Hathaway's chemistry out of the water. Seriously. That dance scene at the costume party was just pure genius on so many levels.
(4) The story was extremely dark and sexual. Most people knock this one because of these aforementioned characteristics, but you know what: I think that's what makes this one the most interesting. It is coy and seductive and I love it all the more for those reasons. Most of all, what is Batman if not entertaining? I would characterize Batman Returns as highly entertaining without being overly serious (Nolan) or overly absurd (Schumacher).
Burton, in my opinion, created the best Batman franchise, this one being my personal favorite of the two.
(That being said, I would like to give a brief nod to Nolan who saved Batman from the caricatured hades that Schumacher put him in and for creating the best villain of the franchise, in my opinion, with his Joker.)
I highly recommend this movie.