Joel Schumachers Batman & Robin (1997) wants no introduction.
The very very first thing we see (and its a really telling visible) is the Warner Bros. protect morphing into the Batman emblem, which is then frozen stable. Its an ideal visible image that represents precisely what this film did to the franchise till, after an extended thaw, Christopher Nolan stepped in with Batman Begins in 2005.
A couple of minutes in, Batman (now performed by George Clooney) and Robin (a returning Chris ODonnell) are battling the villainous Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in a museum. Mr. Freeze asks rhetorically, What killed the dinosaurs? The ice age! Mr. Freeze then blasts a large dinosaur statue together with his freeze ray, obliterating the construction, which falls aside and, bizarrely, lets out a scream because it hits the bottom (!).
Rather than ponder the curious inclusion of the sound impact, I questioned if this was Schumacher (and Warner Bros.) approach of giving a giant center finger to their summer time film competitor, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which opened a month earlier.
If thats the case, its a shameless contact, although we’re speaking about Batman & Robin.
The plot to this factor, conceived and gone haywire by Akiva Goldsman, pits Clooneys Bruce Wayne and ODonnells Dick Grayson in opposition to Freeze, his military of deranged hockey gamers, the newly created Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), the mad-as-a-hatter Dr. Woodrue (an overboard John Glover), and a remodeled henchman named Bane (Robert Swenson).
At the midpoint, Alicia Silverstones Barbara Wilson, AKA Batgirl, exhibits up, too.
From the primary scene on, the music, tone, dialogue, sound results, visible results and garish look recall the Adam West/ Burt Ward Batman TV sequence from 1966-1968. That sequence, with its whole run offering a first-rate definition of the phrase camp, is clearly what Schumacher aimed to make, albeit on a gargantuan funds.
I dont like this film, however I’ve to offer it credit score: this isnt a duplicate of Bob Kane and Bill Fingers imaginative and prescient however an try and create a lavish Batman film that might simply have been inhabited by Burgess Meredith, Julie Newmar and Frank Gorshin.
Its that out-in-the-open campy and aggressively corny.
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Had it labored, it might have performed like a parody of Hollywood over-indulgence, as a substitute of being a primary-price instance of a manufacturing gone haywire with greed and no restraint.
Batman & Robin is at odds with itself and works greatest if taken as a comedy. It succeeds as each the ’60s TV present introduced absolutely to life and additionally an alternate universe glimpse of what Batfans feared the 89 movie can be like earlier than they noticed the trailer. Batman can actually work as a comedy, which the underestimated and intelligent The Batman Lego Movie (2017) proved.
This is an train in overkill on a second-to-second foundation. When scenes arrive during which characters speak in dimly lit, sparsely embellished rooms (these can be the quiet scenes in Wayne manor), they’re a welcome reduction and far too transient.
Schumacher even repeats the blacklight glowing impact that was utilized in Batman Forever, which efficiently added comedy and a contact of dramatic heft to an in any other case goofy installment.
The manufacturing design right here resembles an overdecorated marriage ceremony cake.
Theres a lot spectacle, its simple to overlook that the movie has any coronary heart, but it surely does. Michael Goughs efficiency as Alfred Pennyworth, Waynes butler, is one of the best factor within the movie. Thats not a backhanded praise, both.
This was Goughs penultimate flip as Alfred and the veteran actor is so shifting right here. Goughs scenes with Clooney arent simply the movies greatest however the scenes the place Clooney is probably the most dialed in and efficient as Wayne.
Thurmans introduction as Poison Ivy wouldnt be misplaced in The Return to Swamp Thing (1989). In the identical approach, the jungle-themed environmental ball Wayne attends is so cheesy, it feels just like the Goddess stage manufacturing inside Paul Verhoevens Showgirls (1995).
Thurman managed to keep away from the sort of profession turbulence that plagued Elizabeth Berkley, although this represents the Kill Bill stars bizarre, misguided, double-try to achieve a mainstream hit at Warner Brothers, as this and The Avengers (1998) opened inside a 12 months of one another.
Behind the scenes of Batman & Robin (1997), Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy pic.twitter.com/4rQO0mmKds
Reeves ? (@singfromthehair) August 29, 2021
Thurmans character initially looks like Jim Carreys Edward Nygma from the prior movie, however minus the dazzle Carrey delivered to The Riddler. Thurmans schtick right here is akin to what Mae West would have performed.
Poison Ivy has a noble trigger, as Wayne Enterprises is a poisonous presence to the atmosphere. Yet, Poison Ivys mission and the righteousness of her character by no means connects in the best way Selina Kyle and her justified outrage did in Batman Returns (1992).
The pun-heavy awfulness of Mr. Freeze is a distinction with the characters origin story, which is unhappy sufficient to generate feeling, however doesnt. Schwarzenegger has nothing however joke strains and his efficiency is simply him hamming it up, albeit in a fancy dress that, just like the movie itself, can be spectacular if it werent so clunky.
A scene depicting the transformation/ start of Bane is the one ugly, intense second in a film that’s in any other case supposed for youngsters. Cartoonish is placing it mildly, as characters are consistently being tossed, thrown or hurled into the air and it by no means resembles the best way gravity works.
FAST FACT: “Batman and Robin” cracked the $100 million mark in 1997, however its $107 million bounty marked the franchise’s low level.
ODonnell is sweet, however his character is so annoying, he isnt a brilliant spot right here the best way he was in Batman Forever. Glover, who doesnt do refined, helps bludgeon the viewers in Schumachers extra.
Silverstone appears overwhelmed, and Vivica A. Foxs single-scene cameo is a misstep on the extent with the Sugar and Spice nonsense within the prior installment. Even Elle MacPherson seems however has little to do.
Oh, and Jesse the Body Ventura and Coolio have cameos, too. Theres merely an excessive amount of of every part.
Including Bane here’s a ludicrous contact – seeing him as Poison Ivys driver, in disguise carrying a Fedora and a trench coat, is an indignity Tom Hardy fortunately didnt need to face.
Finally, theres Clooney, who performs Wayne the best way Roger Moore performed James Bond close to the top of his run. Theres zero pathos to this Batman.
Film Stories (@filmstoriespod) October 7, 2021
Yet, I’ve to be honest and deliver up an excellent alternate that pops up between Clooney and Gough. Alfred tells Bruce, Death and probability stole your dad and mom, however fairly than turn out to be a sufferer, you probably did every part in your energy to regulate the fates. For what’s Batman, if not an effort to grasp the chaos that sweeps our world? An try to regulate demise itself. Bruce considers this and asks, I cant can I? Alfred replies, None of us can.
Holy Great Screenwriting, Batman!
Was Goldsman having an “On” day when he wrote this beautiful scene? I want Gough had stated this to Michael Keatons Bruce Wayne however nonetheless, for a film this far gone, there are tiny however plain second of high quality buried beneath all the opposite scenes, that are lit with the blacklight glow of an indoor golf course.
For a movie that grew to become among the many most despised would-be-blockbusters and is notorious for its nipples and large codpieces on the hero costumes and the countless stream of Goldsmans quips, these offences are simply the guidelines of Mr. Freezes iceberg.
The lack of logic, even for a comic book ebook film, is exceptional. My favourite offense is how the film doesnt seem to know that, when youre frozen in ice, you dont hibernate. Actually, you suffocate when you freeze to demise.
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I took my mom to see Batman & Robin within the theater and she loved it. Why? Because she remembered and was scarred by Batman Returns.
The onslaught of visible and verbal lunacy of Schumachers movie felt refreshing in distinction to Danny DeVito drooling black ooze, Michelle Pfeiffer getting her fingers nibbled by avenue cats and Catwoman slashing a rapist within the face.
This gentler, juvenile tackle Batman was extra my Mothers velocity.
By the ending, I used to be so fed up and bored with it. Gough truly will get the closing line, one other Goldsman specialty: Were gonna want an even bigger Batcave. I hope someday somebody makes a giant-funds Batman that’s an intentional comedy and, not like Batman & Robin, truly humorous.