July 22, 2012

Batman Forever (1995)

"Batman must battle Two-Face and The Riddler with help of an amourous psychologist and a young circus acrobat who becomes his sidekick, Robin."

Three years after the success of "Batman Returns", for some reason unknown to me, Warner Brothers decided to replace the director of the Batman franchise with Joel Schumacher. It wasn't as if Tim Burton was doing anything else at the time so I'm sure that hiring the director of such classics as "The Lost Boys", "Flatliners" and "Dying Young" seemed to be a brilliant choice. Yes, I'm being sarcastic.

Of course, this change of directors meant a change of style. Arguably, although Tim Burton must have had some say in this movie as a producer, this is where things started going wrong. Maybe the fanbase were moving on anyway, but the throwback to '80s-style action-comedy had a lot to do with it too.

I wanted to switch my VHS copy of "Batman Forever" off as soon as the cheap "Xara 3D" titles appeared, but they were too quick for me. Within seconds, I was treated to a minor aristeia, a lingering shot of the new Batmobile, and a comedic line being growled by the new Batman. I feared the worst, but I was hooked again. It's not just chicks who dig the car.

Things moved pretty quickly over the ground at the start of this movie, action scenes abounded, Harvey Dent was once again a disfigured white guy, Edward Nygma was even more manic than Ace Ventura, and Nicole Kidman was some awesome (if somewhat pointless) eyecandy.

I will also give Val Kilmer some credit for really looking the part as Bruce Wayne. His Batman was a little bit too pretty, but I suppose he couldn't help having a purty girlie mouth.

At first I wasn't sure about Bruce Wayne needing to see a psychiatrist rather than continuing to work things out by donning a rubber suit and punching bad guys, but the scenes with Dr. Chase Meridian were pretty hot. This was the first time in any "Batman" movie which I've seen where the love interest involved some chemistry and believable physical attraction. Not to put too fine a point on it, breathless Nicole Kidman looked like she was gagging for some rumpy-pumpy.

The trouble with "Batman Forever" was that as soon as Chris O'Donnell joined in the fun as Robin, the pace of the movie changed and things started to lag. It wasn't even Chris O'Donnell's fault. The flaw was in the screenplay which gave him far too much time on screen. Robin has never been a very interesting character for me, but I grudgingly admit that I did enjoy seeing more of Michael Gough as Alfred in the scenes they shared.

When Robin went off on his own just like Patroklos in Homer's "Iliad", I knew it was going to end badly, Batman would have to rescue him, and I'd be forced to endure watching even more of them together. The whole Batman mentoring Robin thing bored the crap out of me (not only figuratively).

I did enjoy all the scenes where Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones were playing off each other. Jim Carrey was almost perfect in his excessively camp role as The Riddler, and I was amazed at how good Tommy Lee Jones was as Two-Face. I'm not a big fan of either of them outside of this movie. Strangely, neither of them really stole the show from Val Kilmer and I'm still trying to figure out why. Maybe, just maybe, he had a more sympathetic character than theirs.

I know that it's a bit of a cop-out, but, for once, I think the IMDb rating of 5.4 is right for "Batman Forever". While it didn't look as good as either of the previous installments, there was enough in it to keep me entertained. Of course, I would have preferred it if Batman had let Robin die and only saved Nicole Kidman since that's what I would have done in the same situation.

In case you're wondering, I'm not going to review "Batman & Robin" (1997) now because I don't have a copy of it on VHS or DVD and it's just too awful. I saw it at the cinema with a girlfriend who had no taste in movies whatsoever because she had a thing for George Clooney. So do I and it's called the compost heap at the bottom of my garden.

Since I've run out of time today, I'll be reviewing Christopher Nolan's "Batman" trilogy next Baturday.

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