1997 Movie Review: BATMAN AND ROBIN, 1997 (starring George Clooney)

 

BATMAN AND ROBIN MOVIE POSTER
BATMAN AND ROBIN, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Joel Schumacher
Starring: George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle
Review by Andrew Kosarko

SYNOPSIS:

“Batman” fights Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy and Bane.

REVIEW:

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:

The Story:

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.

BATMAN AND ROBIN, 1997

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1977 Movie Review: THE GAUNTLET, 1977

THE GAUNTLET, 1977
Movie Reviews

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Pat Hingle, William Prince, Bill McKinney, Michael Cavanaugh, Carole Cook
Review by Surinder Singh

SYNOPSIS:

Strong-willed but mediocre cop Ben Shockley (Clint Eastwood) is given a special mission by his superiors: to escort prostitute and witness Gus Mally (Sondra Locke) from Las Vegas to Phoenix. The only catch is that the two of them are being set up and are never supposed to reach Phoenix alive! Shockley and Mally form a relationship to be reckoned with as they dodge bullets and enemies on the road to Phoenix.

REVIEW:

It’s fair to say that not all of Eastwood’s directorial forays have been greeted with awards and critical praise. What is clear is that he has embraced a wide range of subjects and genres over the years with his directing career never afraid of tackling any subject head on. The Gauntlet is a more offbeat, character piece despite what the movie poster is trying to sell you. Sure the bullets fly and the vehicles smash but this is not the heart of the movie.

Like in the masterful Play Misty For Me (1971) Eastwood has put forth another strong female character. The charismatic Mally arrives in the typical western guise of the ‘hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold’ but sheds the clichÈ as soon as the films gets going. While she’s clearly vulnerable, she is also incredibly intelligent and immediately out smarts the intimidating, unflinching chaperone of Clint Eastwood. The best scenes in the movie are those showing Mally manipulating the slightly slow-witted Shockley.

Eastwood is knowingly playing against type here. He knows we are expecting him to tear up the screen and outsmart the bad guys with his amazing physical ability. But like all great directors Eastwood goes the opposite way to expectations and plays Shockley as a man on equal terms with his female character. Locke and Eastwood cleverly play their scenes like a bickering married couple rather than the obvious hero and damsel in distress.

Sondra Locke deserves a lot of praise for being able to hold her own next to one of cinema’s most formidable screen talents. Her most powerful scene is where she coldly pushes a chauvinistic cop to the point of mental breaking point with a long, insightful put down. Such is the intensity of Locke’s performance that we almost forget Eastwood is even in the car! The point made here is that no matter what label society hangs on you, a person can be strong, confident and survive the toughest of social situations.

It’s very pleasing to see Shockley and Mally’s relationship bloom into a real relationship over time. While it’s a convention we are expecting, the relationship is believable and not contrived. They’re the classic tortured souls who could certainly go further in life if they stayed together. The other side to this relationship is that Mally teaches Shockley things about himself he never noticed and vice versa. Despite his failure to catch onto the conspiracy, Shockley learns from Mally that he’s actually a better cop than he realizes.

Everything comes to a head in the film’s final climax. The title of the film refers to the final action set piece of Shockley and Mally driving through a gauntlet of gun fire (complements of a corrupt police department) in a bus turned to Swiss cheese. It could be argued that the sequence is slightly too long and doesn’t really develop as a piece of action. But what the slow pace does do is give you a feeling of suspense that our two main characters may not survive the ordeal.

The films ends with a final genre defiant move; Mally draws the gun and shoots the bad guy. In a standard cop thriller it would be customary for Eastwood to do this but after the entire journey it feels rather fitting that Mally do it! The film proves that a successful partnership between two people has to be a 50/50 scenario. Yet despite having such universal themes The Gauntlet seems to be a hard movie to place. Perhaps in time film audiences will re-visit this seventies classic!

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