As 1992 closed so did Tim Burton’s run on Batman. In those two movies what did we learn?
1- Keaton makes a pretty good Batman.
2- Penguins somehow bred under the abandoned zoo.
3- Jack Nicholson loves himself some Prince.
4- There was a Batman CD player and Bruce has some mad DJ skills.
Alas this era came to an end. In place of the wacky guy behind Beetlejuice we had Joel Schumacher. The genius behind such classics as The Lost Boys, Falling Down and… ummmmmmmm D.C. Cab? Okay I can’t hold back, this is going to suck. It may even hurt a bit. But you what? We’re going to get through this together. So sit back, relax and welcome to Batman in Film Part 2: The Schumacher Years.
Batman Forever (1995)
Val Kilmer as Batman is pretty good. He plays him as an intellectual, to the point type. A pun every now and then but for the most part he’s no nonsense. They also show off Batman’s detective skills which is refreshing. Given it’s only through Riddler’s wacky riddles but I’ll accept it. As far as Kilmer as Bruce Wayne, eh. You only get the tortured soul bit are when Wayne has Nam like flashbacks. Besides that he’s just a dude with no real personality to speak of. Last thing I want to cover are the gadgets. What started off as fairly plausible became absolutely insane. Seriously why the hell would a car of a “ride up the wall” function??? Hell HOW could a car have a ride up the wall function??!! Of all the ridiculous things this stood out. Also bat nipples.
For the record Batman lets people die once again. I don’t care if they’re random goons I still don’t buy it. So that’s 3/3 movies. Also in an equally annoying list, we’re 3 for 3 in love interests that discover Bruce Wayne is Batman.
Overacting. Whether it’s Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face or Jim Carey as Riddler every villain seems to try and give the hammiest performance they can. Hell even Riddler’s douchebag boss gives the most epic “What is going on here!” in douchebag boss history. This sucks because honestly, they got the characters down pretty accurately. From the origins to the personalities they were actually pretty accurate. Unfortunately they decided that chewing every piece of scenery that they could. Don’t get me wrong it can be fun but you start to wonder how Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck have any chance defeating Batman let alone taking over a city.
Chris O’Donnell (remember him?) is serviceable as Robin. The transformation of angry teen to superhero is cliché but fine. There really isn’t too much to say. Robin is pretty bland in this movie. I can assure you that I’ll have more to say when we get to Batman & Robin.
While Batman Returns improved from the previous film Batman Forever is just kind of more of the same. Of all the fight scenes the best is probably the one where Robin takes on glow in the dark thugs. Stupid setting but out of all of the fights this is probably the best. Kind of makes me sad when I think about it.
Of all the things in the movie the plot is probably the best part of the whole movie. Now I’m not saying it was executed or even written well. But the basic plot points are good. I dug the way
The direction and filming of the movie is fine. no real problems to speak of. The look and design of everything, different story. I have no clue why but seemingly everything in the movie is neon and covered in day glow. Even stupid little things like a band at a party. I realize Warner Brothers wanted a more family friendly movie but I don’t see how black lights make things fun for the whole family. Batman Forever also falters when it comes to the score. They replaced Danny Elfman with Elliot Goldenthol which while serviceable didn’t have the impact of Danny Elfman’s music.
Wackily enough I feel the opposite of how I did with Batman, I remember liking this more a lot more than I did. As it turns out the movie is much goofier than I remember and boring some of the time. How many times do I need to learn Batman’s origin? To me the worst part is that it had potential. The combining of villain team up was much more unified this time around and seemed more formidable than in Batman Returns. Sadly this is all for naught due to a movie that’s way too campy and just didn’t have the pedigree behind the scenes for a proper Batman movie. At least we got “Kiss From A Rose” out of the flick.
Kiss From A Rose- A+++
Batman & Robin (1997)
WHY DOES BATMAN HAVE A BAT CREDIT CARD? WHY DO BATMAN & ROBIN SHOW UP AT A CHARITY FUNCTION ?? WHY DO THEIR SUITS HAVE ICE SKATES??? At least when Adam West had goofy crap it was relevant to whatever wacky caper he was trying to stop. Bat Shark Repellent, fair enough. Bat credit card, no real purpose since he’d have to give his address if he planned to buy used DVDs on Amazon. As for George Clooney, whatever. He isn’t good, he isn’t bad, he’s just someone to fill in a rubber suit.
Of all the movies to get things right it was this. Unless I missed something Batman doesn’t kill anybody. Somehow that makes me hate this movie even more.
Villains- I think I’ll tackle these one at a time….
Mr. Freeze- I understand the casting of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. He’s a big star and George Clooney wasn’t quite the A-list star. Not to mention the biggest names in Batman Returns were the supervillains. The problem is that Schwarzenegger has a very limited acting repertoire. He can’t play genius, he can’t do intentional comedy and he is only good at evil if they’re robots. Basically it comes down to being a badass and bad puns. They chose puns. Poor casting, poor acting and poor writing basically neutered any potential Mr. Freeze had. For the record Freeze does 27 ice puns.
Poison Ivy- I can’t figure out why Poison Ivy is in the movie. I swear her role is to basically make Robin more insufferable than he actually is.
Bane- If you want to make Bane the strong guy for your main villain, fair enough. In a world where the Secret Six comic doesn’t exist that’s fine. But why the hell do you make him a fat guy that does nothing? Well he wears a trench coat and a Fedora quite a bit but Bane the flasher, not something I want to see.
All the good will (or indifference I guess) from the last movie, gone. What we have is some idiotic whiny teenager. He isn’t likable and rarely is he heroic. He’s just an ultra 90’s brat who’s main role is to be unlikable. I hate you Robin, I truly do.
HOW CAN SHE BE FROM ENGLAND WITHOUT AN ACCENT??? This is never explained and it bugs the hell out of me every time she speaks. Aside from that Batgirl is here for… sex appeal? I guess. She’s pretty worthless throughout the movie.
I’ve been saving talking about Alfred until the last movie with Michael Gough. he starts out fine helping Batman here, a snide remark there, he’s perfectly fine. Then, for whatever reason, he decides to let someone in on Batman’s secret identity. In Batman it’s Vicky Vale. Here it’s Batgirl. Maybe it’s me but that’s pretty douche. At least he isn’t as useless as Commissioner Gordon in these movies.
So far, probably the best in the series. Given this isn’t saying much but they’re nothing too bad. I thought that the opening action scene was probably as exciting as we got throughout the series thus far. Then came the puns. Curse those stupid puns.
Remember when I said that Batman Forever had a good plot but poor execution? This movie has one or two good plot points. I liked the making Alfred and his effect on Bruce a sub plot. It’s something never addressed and an important part of the Batman mythos. Everything else is generic superhero fare done wrong. Given Poison Ivy thinking Freeze’s plan to freeze the world would probably counter productive to her cause but whatever. Also when the hell did Robin and Batgirl become computer geniuses? Their sole contribution was riding motorcycles and complaining and NOW they are computer masters??? Ugh, why do I bother thinking with this movie.
Taking a cue from Burton, Joel Schumacher decided to double all of his goofiness from the last time. More things multicolored? Check. More neon? Check. But this time, goofy sound effects. There are literally cartoon sound effects added. They could have the best action scene ever filmed but having the Wilhelm scream kills it in an instant. Not only that but everything looks insanely cheap. I’m sure ice is probably not the easiest thing to replicate but with a Hollywood budget it shouldn’t look like plastic and saran wrap either. And of course there’s one of the greatest editing snafus in history.
Joel Schumacher, nothing but the best!
There’s a thin line behind tongue-in-cheek and obnoxiousness. Batman & Robin decides to jump that line, stomp on it, and then urinate on it for good measure. All under a black light. From the acting to the villains to the production value everything is pretty much wrong. It can be so bad it’s good sometimes but for the most part it’s just plain bad. If Joel Schumacher and Warner Brothers wanted to kill the franchise, mission accomplished.
And that’s Batman: The Schumacher years. But fear not friends on the horizon there is a glimmer of hope. Someone ready to revitalize the caped crusader. So next time on Batman in Film we’ll be covering Chris Nolan’s Batman series. So until then enjoy this sweet, sweet jam from Seal.