Caped Crusader Reviews: Batman and Robin (1997)
Oh dear, the film dreaded by Batman fans everywhere. This is the big one, the top of the pile filled with rubbish movies. This is Batman and Robin. How could this series sink any lower after Batman Forever? Well, my review will go into that, so I’ll stop procrastinating and get it over with.
First of all, Batman and Robin has the most cookie-cutter plot in film history, as well as being plagued with sequelitis. Let’s see if this sounds familiar; Mr Freeze and Poison Ivy plan to take over the world together. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is dealing with a personal issue, and a recently orphaned teenager joins Batman’s team. Didn’t this exact same thing happen in Batman Forever? Replace Freeze and Ivy with Two-Face and Riddler, then Robin with Batgirl, then you have the same film from 2 years prior, talk about lazy writing. Secondly, this film can be easily summarized in the same way you would discuss a toy commercial. The villains plan something evil, Batman, Batgirl and Robin stop them, the end. Sure, there’s the subplot about Alfred being at death’s door, but it gets completely lost amongst sexual undertones, ice puns (we’ll get to that later in the review) and Bane acting like a zombie on adrenaline . The film has more meaningless and unexplored ideas and themes than you can shake a batarang at, which leaves the audience feeling like the last 2 hours spent watching the film wasn’t worth the effort at all (and it isn’t, it really isn’t).
The characters are also highly overacted. We get George Clooney of all people in as Batman this time, with NIPPLES on the batsuit! What were the costume designers thinking when they came up with that idea? If they had some sort of function like, I don’t know, firing bullets at light speed or something, then maybe I’d buy the idea, but there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. Anyways, I’m getting off track here, Clooney makes Batman out to be way too happy, certainly not the tortured character from the comics, in fact, in an interview he said that he didn’t want Batman to be like that. If you don’t like the way a character is, don’t play them, it’s that simple. Chris O’Donnell returns as Robin, this time being even more of an ungrateful sod than in Forever. All he does is whine to Bruce, and it doesn’t help when they both start fighting over Poison Ivy. Essentially, you could dub whining rants over his lines and still get the same basic premise of his character in the film. Arnold Swarzanegger is ok as Mr Freeze, but he becomes totally unbearable when every line he says has something to do with ice or cold, so much so that there should be a counter in place for each time this occurs when watching this movie. Poison Ivy is played by Uma Thurman, and she’s probably the one person amidst the acting mess that I would consider bearable, along with Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl and Michael Gough as Alfred. Both women play their parts very well, and although there isn’t a lot to them backstory-wise, they are the closest to their comic counterparts than the other actors in this film. Having said that though, they totally messed up Batgirls origin, totally ditching her true motivations (oh, her parents died, she must become Batgirl by the end! Not) and making her related to Alfred somehow instead of Commissioner Gordon. Still, that makes more sense here considering how goofy Pat Hingle plays Gordon in this series (Yeah, no improvement, he gets worse). Michael Gough, like I said before, is still great as Alfred, and he could have redeemed the film, had the loyal butler’s sickness been given more importance towards the film’s narrative (or lack there of). But then, we get to the most butchered character of them all…Bane. In fact, why call him that? This is not Bane, this is a zombie-like henchman on steroids. He has no lines in the film except for grunts of his name, and one instance where he is planting bombs and says “Bomb”. I for one was jumping up and down in excitement when he was announced as a villain for The Dark Knight Rises, because I have faith in Christopher Nolan that he will pull off the character the way he should be translated to the screen.
Even the sets are worse this time around. You thought that Batman Forever was bad, wait until you see the sets in this. Pretty much everything looks computer-generated, and one of the most embarrassing ideas in the film is that Mr Freeze chooses t hang out at an ice-cream parlour, it’s ridiculous. Batman and Robin even attend a public event with flashy lights and people in dancing gorilla costumes, so gone is the idea of mysterious creatures of the night.
Music is recycled from Forever and feels like it belongs in a film about Jazz music, not Batman, that’s all I can say about that.
So, Batman and Robin, I’ve finally let out what I think of it. It’s a terrible Batman film for sure, a result of what happens when the director becomes the Yes man to a film company; Joel Schumacher was forced by Warner Bros. to make it more “toyetic” (appropriate content for children in order to sell lots of toys), so the only positive thing I can really say about this film is that it ticked the boxes marketing-wise and made money, but as for film quality, it’s trash. Still, for some warped reason, I find it just bearable to watch, despite its problems. However, because of these problems, I’ll give it a 2/10.