bradygirl_12 (bradygirl_12) wrote,

Batman Forever/Batman & Robin Reviews

Well, I’ve had the chance to watch Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, and I have to say that while I probably wouldn’t watch them a second time, they weren’t as bad as I thought they might be. Though that doesn’t mean my poison pen isn’t out during this double review! :)

But you want godawful?  Take a classy, stylish gem of a TV show (The Wild Wild West) and make one of the worse big-screen movies ever made (the Will Smith/Kevin Kline travesty).  Watch that and get back to me about these films! LOL! 

Batman Forever started things out with some surprises: the ‘look’ of Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer) with light hair and glasses, and Edward Nigma socially awkward but not as annoying as I thought he’d be (I’m not a Jim Carrey fan).  Unfortunately, once Eddie became the Riddler, the mincing, prancing, over-the-top character wore thin very quickly.


Kilmer’s Bruce was tightly controlled, almost flat-lined in some scenes, due to the repression of memories that must have really been repressing!  He had some low-key chemistry with Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman), but most of his spark seemed to be in the scenes with Chris O’Donnell as Dick.  I don’t think it came across as sexual chemistry.  More like emotional chemistry.  And how old is Dick supposed to be, anyway?  Does an eighteen-year-old need to be ‘taken in’?  Or is he younger than eighteen?


Bruce’s fear for Dick’s safety and Dick ending up with his emotionally-arid life gave their scenes together force and spark.  It also highlighted what I’ve thought of all the movie Batmans (including Christian Bale’s): how alone they all are, and how just as a practical necessity, they need a partner.  Batman is all-too-human.  He can be hurt and he can be tripped up and need saving.  Superman can get away with working alone due to his powers, but of all the heroes, Batman needs someone out there with him.


The scene at the circus was pretty well-done, though I’m scratching my head at a brother for Dick.  Was there a scene cut from the film that had him quoting his brother or something that would necessitate including one after all the canons we know of never had a brother for Dick?  Strange.


Also, I thought they made a mistake with this: Dick was a hero, saving everyone else at the circus, but didn’t see his parents and brother fall to their deaths.  Not that I want to traumatize him further, but the link between him and Bruce has always been that they both watched their parents die right before their eyes.   I thought it lost impact when Dick only saw the aftermath, bad as that was.


I did like seeing Alfred and Dick bond, Alfred helping Dick design a new costume (okay, you know I love the old one, but still).  And Chris O’Donnell will never be in the running for an Academy Award, as he didn’t convey the depth of Dick’s intensity and grief to me, but he did manage to convey his mischief and exuberance.


The film would have been better served if the Riddler had been cut out (sorry, Damo) and focused on Two-Face.  He’s always a tragic character.  Notice how the mayor, Jim Gordon, and Batman called him ‘Harvey’.  They know this man and know what sent him over the edge.  It could have been intriguing to focus on him and the tragedy that is Two-Face, but this movie was more interested in the campy approach.  Which did not jell well with the subplot of Bruce’s repressed memories, IMO.

Also, was anyone else disturbed by Two-Face flipping the coin several times until he got the result he wanted?  One of the bedrock things about the character is his acceptance of the coin flip the first time.  A small detail, but telling as to how they wanted this movie to go.


Now, campy isn’t bad.  The ‘60s TV series was a gem.  But camp generally does better on the small screen.  It’s too overblown on the big one.  Or at the very least, keep to the camp and leave out the ‘serious’ parts, as a film can get confusing when you try to juggle genres.


Sure, a movie can be serious with genuine jokes in it, as humans tend to crack wise even in the direst of situations, but it just didn’t work for me in this film.  


I wouldn’t call this a great movie but I liked certain parts of it. 


Just like I liked some parts of Batman & Robin.  Oh, it probably deserved the raspberries thrown its way by the critics and fans, but I was surprised that it wasn’t as bad as I expected.  I know it’s cool to hate it, but it had its good points.  Unfortunately, they were outweighed by the bad.


I was touched by the Alfred storyline and Bruce’s pain, and also Dick’s and Barbara’s.  I thought those scenes, especially Bruce’s memories of Alfred, were well-done, and George Clooney’s best work in the movie.  C’mon, admit it, you were a little teary-eyed when Bruce told Alfred he loved him, right?  Michael Gough was even better in the last two films, connecting very well with Dick and Bruce.


Good scenes, but otherwise, George Clooney never really came across as Bruce to me.  He lacked the intensity, though he was still making stupid Bruce decisions about not trusting Dick, who had a point: in the circus the Flying Graysons had to trust each other or they’d die.  And that goes just as much for Batman and Robin.


However, as much as it gave us some good scenes, the dying Alfred storyline would have been better served in a darker film.  Both Batman Forever and Batman & Robin were deliberately ‘lightened up’ to appeal to children (after Batman Returns, little wonder) and I honestly have no problem with that, as the TV series (and the movie based on it) showed camp can work, and work well.  However, this movie wasn’t sure what it wanted to be: serious or campy?  

I did like the insight by Alfred that Bruce was trying to control death, and, of course, no one can.


I liked the Dynamic Duo banter, and excused a lot of the silly, contrived ‘conflict’ due to Poison Ivy’s influence.


One line that made me smile was in the beginning when Robin wanted his own car and Batman quips, “This is why Superman works alone.” J


Pat Hingle in both movies didn’t have much to do as Commissioner Gordon, but did save everyone from freezing in Batman & Robin.  J


I did like the use of a ‘Robin-signal’ and the red color.  Despite the darker costume, it’s a good thing for Robin to have some color, just like the batarangs were black for Batman and Batgirl but red for Robin. 


Victor Freeze gave us some good moments with his love for his wife, humanizing a man of ice, and giving Batman the cure for Alfred later.


Like all Bat-villains, Freeze and Ivy chewed the scenery (exceptions in Batman Begins), but Freeze had some humanity left in him.  Ivy’s love of plants is something I identify with, but I’m not on board with wiping out humanity to achieve plant dominance!  J


Oh, and it was a treat to see John Glover (Lionel Luthor) as the crazy Dr. Jason Woodrue.


Anyway, the character of Barbara was all right, though disappointing that it wasn’t Barbara Gordon.  They wanted her to have a connection to Alfred, but it still irks me when filmmakers just twist canon around like that.  Though they did use Julie Madison!  J


Too much noise and wild color in this film for a Bat-movie.  Or even a campy one!  It reminded me of that phenomenon when bright lights triggers reactions in the human brain, and there was just a mishmash of color, sound, and stitched-together storyline here to earn a Razzie.


The first film had a darker look, and a positively surreal one in Batman Returns, but was more of the TV series’ look in films 3 and 4.


The weight of the franchise just collapsed it, along with the bad reviews and box office. Also, I’ve heard people complain about homoeroticism in this film?  I didn’t see much of that!  What, nipples on the Bat-suit counts as homoerotic? 


Bruce learning to trust Dick, to feel hurt at Dick’s accusations, was a quiet sparkle in all the chaos, and the feeling of family was there, but my head hurt a little after watching this movie.  J


All three actors who played Batman in the first cycle of films did a credible job.


It was Bruce they had some trouble with.


Michael Keaton gave us the intensity, but a little too close to the edge.


Val Kilmer gave us a severely-repressed Bruce, almost to the point of non-functioning in some cases.


George Clooney gave us a less-intense Bruce with only hints of what he could have given us, as he’s a fine actor.  Yet I did find some of his scenes with Alfred and Dick to be very good.


As a homage to Adam West, he was great with the campy aspects of his TV show and movie, and the ‘60s was well-suited to camp and psychedelia!  As one reviewer has said, Batman doesn’t always have to be dark.  It can work as camp, considering its comic-book origins.


Christian Bale gave us a very nuanced performance in Batman Begins.


And the pros and cons of the Batman movies (including the actors) will be my next essay on the subject, allowing myself to compare them to Batman Begins, the finest Batman movie to date.  J





Tags: alfred pennyworth, batgirl, batman, batman & robin, bruce wayne, dick grayson, review, robin
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