Rakesh's movie talk
Batman & Robin (1997)

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Directed by Joel Schumacher
Written by Akiva Goldsmith (based on characters created by Bob Kane)
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell, Uma Thurman and Alicia Silverstone


If I had smelled something foul in Batman Forever, it is the direction Schumacher was bringing the series into. Whenever his name is mentioned, some would dub him as 'the man who killed the Batman franchise.' Poor dude. I heard that his little movie, Tigerland, did well amongst the critics. Hope that will revive his spirit and confidence. Perhaps they should let him direct the third X-Men movie, he-he-he...

Firstly, I must credit Schumacher or whoever with the casting department for bringing George Clooney as Bruce Wayne/Batman. While Keaton's Wayne belonged strictly to Burton's vision of Wayne/Batman, Clooney easily fits in as the serial hero. He has the chin, the jawline, the voice and at times seemed to be well off in handling emotional scene. I liked all of his scenes with the butler Alfred, which is supposedly pivotal to this movie. He seemed to be the guy who had lived his whole life with the beloved guardian/butler than the previous Bruce Waynes. Too bad, the series is not going to continue with this one. It will be Batman: Year One, so Clooney is out of question. Too bad. I really liked both his Wayne and Batman.

I remember watching on the TV the premier event of this movie in Singapore. Singaporean 'celebrities' walked out praising head and tails of this movie. They all loved it. It summarised their taste, which is very very far removed from mind, and perhaps most of the American critics. I recall that Oliver Stone's Nixon flopped in Singapore. Damn, why am I going on about Singapore. Maybe the possibilities of their taste being remedied after Newater. There, I manage to get a Newater remark in my review.

The point is, one of the dude celebrity cherished the fact that the movie went very basic, which is is strict comic book form. I concur. It starts with a bang, fighting the bad guys, headed by Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger in top billing), with generous helping of gadgets, stunts and silly moves. At one point they play ice hokey with the huge diamond the bad guy was after. We are now reminded to forget all those brooding, dark movies of the past which happened to have the same dude in bat suit. Oh I forgot, in one scene Mr. Freeze freezes a dinosaur and wrecks it, claiming that ice age rules. Well, the movie came at the same time as Spielberg's Jurassic Park sequel, The Lost World and I think it was a bad move. Bat flopped and dinosaur ruled in the box office. It was spectacular opening but it went downhill from there.

There is another other villain(ness) who is Poison Ivy, played by Uma Thurman. Her performance is very much like Michelle Pfeifers and she doesn't seem all the alluring or dangerous as the movie wants to claim. Another female addition is Batgirl. Oh, that was the moment I got really sick. How can you, Schumacher! It worked in the TV series, because it was campy and not serious. But here? And Alicia Silverstone? Gimme a break. And did I mention that annoying kid who calls himself Robin.

Enough complaints, the only other redeeming factor apart from Clooney is the casting of Schwarzenegger. Maybe it's because I am a fan, so skip this paragraph if you don't like it. This is the first time Arnold is playing a bad guy after the first Terminator movie and he seemed to be having a lot of fun with it. The only grouse is the fact that he is given too much of puns on 'ice' and 'cool', qualities ranging from bad to sickening. Otherwise, he handles himself well. With proper script and direction, his character could have been as tragic as Danny De Vito's Penguin in Batman Returns.

If Batman Forever is mistakenly listed amongst Jim Carrey's movies, this one will be in Schwarzenegger list. I can still watch it for the big guy...being a fan of course.

Check out my comments on other Batman movies:

Batman: The movie (1966)
Batman (1989)
Batman Returns (1992)
Batman Forever (1995)