BATMAN AND ROBIN, 1997
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Starring: George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle
Review by Andrew Kosarko
“Batman” fights Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy and Bane.
As you can most likely tell from my synopsis, I’m none too enthused with reviewing this “film”. Please be advised there will be numerous quotations used throughout this review because I openly mock any chance of dignifying the attempts of this scrap heap of a “movie.” It should be noted I’m very upset not only because I love Batman, but because Mr. Freeze and Bane are my favorite villains. And they get pissed on even more than Batman in this “movie”. I tried to watch the “movie”…got literally 30 seconds into it and remembered everything I hated….and turned it off. Here is the result:
Mr. Freeze needs diamonds (rocking dat ice yo – get the pun?) to power his massive freezing machine used to hold Gotham ransom for the funds he can use to cure his frozen wife of her disease. Poison Ivy wants to bang Mr. Freeze and take over the world with plants, killing all people. Bane…..uh….breaks stuff. Batman and Robin….well, they run around in rubber bantering about plant/ice puns. Oh, and Alfred is dying of the exact same thing as Mr. Freeze’s wife. Well isn’t that quite a lucky parallel? The script is honestly ¾ of ice puns and homosexual innuendo. The nipples on the suits are the least of this movie’s problems. Everything that happens for pure aesthetic reason. The characters are openly mocked – Batman and Robin as a homosexual couple having their first lovers quarrel, Mr. Freeze as a madman driven by love who wants to joke about his physical deformation, Poison Ivy as the crazed lunatic who wants to enslave the world and Bane…..reduced from a cunning muscle assassin to a Poison Ivy lackey. The plot is trite and boring and really doesn’t take much artistic risks.
Acting: George Clooney had great potential to be a memorable Batman. Instead, for once in his career, he threw his artistic integrity to the wind and decided to play in the sandbox. Arnold….don’t even get me started. Three people really do a good job though – Michael Gough’s Alfred has the best character arc in this film than he does in the first 3. Chris O’Donnell, while still stuck with a shit script, makes a good Robin. But the best, Uma Thurman really takes the Poison Ivy role and makes it fun. It’s actually my favorite part of the entire film – which is shocking because Batman is my all time favorite character, Bane and Mr. Freeze are my two all time favorite villains and most of all – when it comes to comics, Poison Ivy is my least favorite villain. Go figure.
Directing: I don’t blame Joel Schumacher. I honestly don’t. I blame the studio for this debacle. Chris O’Donnell is on record saying that production was rushed on this film and toy concepts were created before the script was written. The whole movie is one big toy commercial. Joel has his faults for sticking to the project, but in the end, it’s very obvious of his capabilities as a film maker and what the final product was. Were some of the faults of the film his decision? Most likely, but the opportunity to explore dark territory was all but destroyed after Burton’s Batman Returns.
Cinematography: One of the biggest things that I hate about this movie, is the lighting. Neon colors are very comic booky, yes, but this is a movie. You don’t need bright red, green and blue colored gels to tell this story well. Oh wait, there is no story, we’re selling toys to kids. My mistake. Oh, and for crying out loud, I don’t care what you are doing, FILMING THE LIGHTS AS PART OF THE SCENE IS THE MOST UNPROFESSIONAL THING YOU CAN DO. And you did it on purpose. Congratulations, you’re a horrible cinematographer.
Production Design: Nipples on Bat-suits….do I really even need to go past this?
Editing: Actually……the editing I can deal with. Maybe a few hundred extra cuts to eliminate the puns and I’d nominate that person for an academy award. We could have a decent movie if we could eliminate 90% of the dialogue.
Score: Ok, my 2nd biggest beef with this movie. I can overlook nipples, puns and bad lighting. But 2nd only to the story, this pisses me off the most. It started back in Batman Forever with the trumpets. Now….it just drives me nuts. I love film scores and this…is a mess of a circus fanfare. I mean, since this is a 2-hour commercial, I’d have been happier with a catchy jingle. The studio even felt like this sucked. They used Elfman’s Batman Theme in all the trailers….a very sneaky move. Honestly, if you could replace the score in this film, eliminate the puns, and take the gels out of your Arri kit, you might have a decent once in a while movie on your hands….but you didn’t.
Special Effects: You’d think for a “movie” trying to sell toys, they’d put some more money into the effects and props. Not so much. There’s a moment where a frozen Robin is lifted out of a pool of….water….but he’s frozen……um….anyway…Robin is about as light as a pool raft. There’s CGI that freaking LAGS on the film. It’s jumpy. I mean…come on, here, even little kids know crap CGI when they see it.
In closing: Batman and Robin isn’t a film. It’s not a movie. It’s a 2 hour mocking of characters in an attempt to make them kid friendly and make an audience buy the toys. That’s it. There’s nothing all that fun in the movie to enjoy, no great characterization, plot twists, action scenes. This is even a shit movie to watch drunk….ok, maybe it’s fun to watch drunk but still. Lots of movies are good to watch under any circumstances. If you want to see a loyal interpretation of the Batman comics, this is it. You read correctly, this accurately portrays the Batman comics of the 50’s/60’s – which were also merchandise crazy. Why was it unsuccessful overall? Because people don’t buy things that look cool. We buy things when we can relate to them and feel a personal connection to them. That’s my personal marketing mind at work, but still. Just because you can draw batman and call it batman, and put a batman mask on and call yourself batman…you are not Batman. Batman is the character originally created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. This is not their Batman. It’s not THE Batman. This is a bastardization of a character simply being exploited for someone’s personal greed and money hungry desires. F*ck this movie…err…commercial.