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TSM Movie Review: The Batman Movies

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The Batman Movies
Movies reviewed: Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman and Robin.

Reviews by Lethargic

People ask why I always get excited over any litte piece of Batman movie news. Why I keep falling for it when everybody knows nothing is ever really gonna come of it. Yeah, I know, Christopher Nolan is never gonna end up making that movie. Christian Bale is never gonna put on that suit. I'm never gonna see Guy Pearce wearing Joker paint. And if they do ever make a new one it's gonna end up being directed by somebody like McG or Brett Ratner. It'll be all bright and gay like the last two were. It'll have some nitwit like Jude Law or Brendan Fraser as Batman and I'll just hate it anyway. Why do I waste my time? Because I'm a fan. Because I love the character. Because I want to see it done right. All I want to see before I die is a good Batman movie. Is that too much to ask?

I've been a fan for as long as I remember. Even longer. I see pictures from when I was too young to remember anything, 2 or 3 or whatever, and I'm still surrounded by Batman stuff. Batman cake on my birthday, Batman toys, Batman pajamas, Batman this, Batman that. I really don't know where this started. I suppose my Mother started it. Why? I don't know. When she was a kid she wasn't really into Batman as far as I know. She was into some Marvel stuff like the Hulk, but not Batman. She didn't get into Batman herself until later on when I got her into it as a kid and forced her to read some of it. She's seen the movies, read most of the bigger comic titles that I forced on her. So I don't know how it really began. Did she just decide when I was born that Batman would be "my" character? I really doubt that when I was born I popped out with Batears on so somebody must of had to corrupt me from the moment I arrived.

But that's why. That's why I go crazy every time some news breaks like Christopher Nolan being signed. Because I want to see that movie desperately. Movies and TV are really my only venue for Batman these days. I've been priced out of the comic book world. I used to have a subscription. 20 dollars a year seemed like a good deal. The problem was that out of the 12 issues, I only got to read one. The other 11 were all part 1 or 2 of some cross-over thing. I don't have the money to get Detective Comics, Catwoman, Batgirl, Nightwing, Robin, Tales of the Dark Knight, Birds of Prey, Harley Quinn, Gotham Knights,
Gotham Adventures, along with whatever other stupid spin-offs they've come up with lately every single month just to read my ONE issue of Batman. So besides novelizations and comic collections that I can get from the library, the movie and TV versions have become more important to me.

And with that said, people often never understand why I hate the current crop of movies so much. The reason I hate them is because of everything above. Because I'm a fan and I don't like seeing everything about the character ass-raped. I didn't always hate these movies, the first one used to be a classic to me, but today I hate them. And I'm gonna use this review to explain why.

Directed by Tim Burton
Written by Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren
Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Kim Basinger

1989 was a very different world than 2003. Nobody back then even knew what the internet was besides nerds. There was no Harry Knowles or Comics2Film or Comingsoon or anything. Back then, movie news came from tabloid shows and US magazine and that's about it. Unless you were reading Variety or something, movies often just snuck up on you. That's what this movie did. (Though if I had bothered to read the letters to the editor section in the Batman comics, I probably would have known. I didn't start paying attention to that section until I got older. Now when I go back and look at issues from before the movie I see stuff like "Michael Keaton as Batman?!?")

I remember seeing the trailer for this movie like it was yesterday and in reality it's been 15 years. My first glimpse was a 5 second clip on a commercial for Entertainment Tonight. I was around 13, had just come home from school, flipped on the TV and I hear "See your first glimpse of Michael Keaton as Batman!" The 5 second clip was the shot of Batman punching the guy with the back of his hand from around the cornerin the Axis chemicals plant. My head kinda exploded right then. Because those 5 seconds I saw looked nothing like Adam West, it looked like Batman! I wet myself. I scrambled for a tape to record the trailer. I waited and waited and waited. Finally saw it. Didn't breath for the entire 2 minutes. Then I watched it again and again and again until the tape wore out. I was shocked and I was excited and I couldn't wait for summer.

My Mom took me to see the movie on a Wednesday night midnight pre-screening. The place was packed. It was one of my greatest movie going experiences. You always hear about screenings in Hollywood where people applaud at the screen but you never see it actually happen. Nobody friggin applauds a movie screen, but they did this night many times. As soon as the theater's manager said "we'd like to thank you all for coming to this special sneak preview of Batman" the entire room exploded in cheers. It was crazy. You would've thought that Britney Spears walked into the room and said, "Ok boys, everybody take a number!" Needless to say the movie was every 13 year old comic book geek's dream come true. Batman in the flesh, it even kinda looked like him! Wow! There were problems with the movie but not the problems a 13 year old worries about. I saw the movie over and over and over again at the theater. Every excuse to see it again was used. Went with every single one of my friends and every single one of my family members. I had the entire movie memorized. Not just bits and pieces or quotes. Everything. Every line, every scene, every little piece of meaningless background noise and action. Everything. Every night that I went to bed, I laid there for 2 hours and rewatched the movie inside my head. I look back at it now and think how in the world did I do that?? I've seen many movies several times but many of them I wouldn't be able to tell you a lot about a day later. This one just stuck there in my mind.

Even better than the movie was the fact that the entire summer was Batman, Batman, Batman. 2 months earlier you could never find any Batman shirts or anything. That summer was like a Batman merchandise bonanza. I had shirts, toys, hats, buttons, bed sheets, every friggin thing.

So where did it go wrong? Well, eventually even I got tired of the movie and I went several years without watching it. When I got a DVD player a couple of years ago, Batman was one of my first DVD purchases. I stuck it in, excited about reliving it now in my fancy home theater. Finally seeing it widescreen again for the first time since 1989. I start watching it and I'm just like, wow, I guess this part wasn't as good as I used to think it was. The overall cheapness of the movie kept slapping me in my face. The horrible stunt work was unbearable. Seeing this senior citizen playing the Joker as a dim-witted buffoon instead of a insane homicidal maniac was sad. Seeing another senior citizen wear a big rubber Godzilla-like suit which made it nearly impossible for him to move was disheartening. Ah, to be 13 again. Being 13 blinds you to a lot. Being a Batman fan did too. It made me like the movie more than it deserved just because it was my only glimpse of Batman in the real world. I can see why I would like this when I was 13, but I can't see why anybody my age today would like it.

Another thing that really brought on my dislike for the movie was seeing the latest batch of comic movies such as Blade, X-Men and most notably Spiderman. I got into a vicious online argument with somebody over Spiderman. They claimed that it was terrible, that it ruined the character, that Batman was a far superior movie because it kept all the Batman mythos intact. That really made me think about it. DID it really do that? Was that the Batman I know on screen? The answer is no. It's the best job of it so far, but no, it's not the Batman I want to see. Sure there were a couple of big changes in Spiderman. Mary Jane shouldn't have been there. It should've been Gwen Stacy and all that. (Then again, having her be the girl next door probably works better than just having the random supermodel show up on your doorstep saying "Hey, Tiger!") The web-shooters were a big change. But beyond that and besides the Green Goblin changes, there was nothing changed that totally spit on the character. Nothing that "ruined" anything. I watched the movie and I felt I was watching Spiderman, not Sam Raimi's version of Spiderman. It's him. That IS Spiderman. When I watch Batman I don't feel like I'm seeing Batman, I feel like I'm seeing Tim Burton's version of Batman. There are so many huge things changed in this movie and such bad things film-making wise that I just can't stand the movie anymore. Spiderman had problems but it didn't have this many problems....

#1. The movie looks CHEAP. Sure, this was still the 80's, a long time before computers and 200 million dollar budgets, but even for the 80's this movie is C-H-E-A-P! The set designs that used to be so impressive now look, well, cheap. They look fake from start to finish. Nothing in here looks real. Superman, Spiderman, X-Men and Blade all generally shot their movies on real locations or sets good enough to make you think they were real. Shooting Spiderman in New York gives it a touch of reality even when the characters look fake. It looks real. You see a building, it's a building. You see a building in Batman, it's either a set or it's a miniature. Nothing is ever real and it hurts it badly. I can't take the movie seriously when it has no sense of realism to it at all. Is any comic movie realistic? No. But you can at least take these outlandish characters and set them in a realistic environment. This entire movie looks like it was shot on a backlot and it was. I don't wanna see Batman on stage, I wanna see him in real life.

#2. The stuntman. People, myself included, bitch about CGI...a lot. I'll tell you one thing, if you rewatch something like this movie, you'll be very happy to have CGI. If I never see another obvious stuntman in my life, I'll be thrilled. Stunt people are some of the craziest people in the world and they deserve a lot of credit for what they do, but the use of stuntmen in this movie was terrible. Every single little move that Batman had to do was a stuntman. A stuntman that looked NOTHING like Michael Keaton. It just rips your mind right out of the movie every time this puffy cheeked moron in the Batsuit pops up to do a little kick here and there. A lot of 80's movies had this problem. Terminator 2 suffers from the same thing. But Batman is one of the worst examples I can think of. The limited number of fight scenes that are actually here are completely ruined by this stuntman crap. Believe me I use a lot of imagination sometimes to make myself enjoy a movie, no amount of imagination could overcome this.

#3. Vicki Vale. What was the purpose of this character? Eye candy and love interest. That's it. This entire role was really totally pointless and annoying. The Alexander Knox role was also annoying but it at least served a purpose. The reporter digging into the mystery thing. The Vale character seemed to be there only to fill in time in-between the Joker's scenes. She didn't help anything. She didn't help Bruce's character. She didn't help Batman's character. She was a hollow shell of a character. There is no chemistry between her and Keaton. There is no interest at all in seeing this romance. It's a rarely used character from the comic that got dug out just for the sole purpose of having to throw in a useless romantic angle. And what about that part where she finds out Bruce Wayne is Batman? That's magic right there. ZERO REACTION. "Oh, you're Batman, whatever, wanna go get something to eat?" She never shows any kind of emotion to this big secret. Never really says anything about it. Just ignores it. It's made even more pathetic that this movie is supposed to basically be Batman's origin. Remember he's just starting out at the beginning of the movie. If you take Keaton's age into account, he was nearly 40 at the time, and the age when his parents were murdered, 8, it basically comes down to this: Wayne spent 32 years of his life training to become Batman, he finally becomes Batman and one month later is ready to give it all up to spend the rest of his life with this reporter chick he met 2 weeks ago!!! What??

#4. The Joker. There are so many problems with casting Jack Nicholson as the Joker, and the way the Joker is written, that I'll never be able to get through every single one of them. First of all, the Joker shouldn't be chugging Metamucil and collecting social security alright? He shouldn't get a 10% discount at Captain D's because he's such an old fart. Batman fans have complained for years about how the 60's series trampled all over the "darkness" of the characters, but yet people loved THIS Joker? Why? What difference was there between this Joker and Cesar Romero's Joker? Besides the fact that he killed a few people, none at all. This was the most over the top, ludicrous, ridiculous, retarded BS I've ever seen. It was nothing but one bad joke after another. Every single line of dialogue was a gag. There was never any hint at all of the dark, menacing, scary Joker. He never seemed dangerous in this movie even while committing murder, he always seemed like a clown with a habit of petty crime and a library of Henry Youngman jokes. There were so many blatantly bad things. Such as the Joker carrying around a jambox filled with Prince music. Everywhere he went he'd be playing Prince music on this jambox. It was the stupidest thing ever. Such a horribly blatant way to get the Prince music into the movie. It's not like those songs were good Prince songs. They were terrible. Of course the worst problem is that they gave the Joker a backstory. The most fascinating thing about the Joker is that there was always very little backstory. He was just this freak of nature that came out of nowhere to wreak absolute havoc on Gotham City. The comics have had one, dealing with the Red Hood and all that, but even then we still have no idea what the Joker's real name is. But what we do know is that the Joker wasn't really a criminal before his accident. He was just a normal guy that had one bad day and went crazy as a loon. That's the only backstory you need. It's more fun when the Joker's background is a mystery. Their effort to explain him in this movie was pointless. All he did was go from being a criminal to a laughing criminal. And the fact that they took the Joker and made him the person who murdered Bruce Wayne's parents was terrible. Joe Chill murdered his parents, case closed. You can't change that. That is just wrong. Changing the murderer of Thomas and Martha Wayne is like taking Superman's flying ability away and giving him a Supermobile. You can't do that. It's engrained in the character. It's a major factor. It also ruins the Joker. The Joker has been a sensitive character at times, even while being a mass murdering psycho, because underneath it all, you knew that at one point he was a nice and normal guy. He just had something go terribly wrong and now he is what he is. Making him the murderer makes him just a total evil villain his entire life and ruins a huge part of his character.

#5. The Batman character himself is basically useless. None of the complex emotions of the character we've seen throughout the years are present here. He has no personality or anything. He's just there. The problem is that this entire movie is setup as the Joker's movie. Everything else is just there to fill time in-between the Joker's overbearing antics. None of the other characters have any time to be developed to become more than just the comic book stereotypes. You don't see anything in this version of the character that isn't explained by the basic outline that everybody knows. He's rich, his parents were murdered, he fights crime dressed as a bat to avenge their deaths. That's it. There is nothing in this movie that makes you like Batman and want to cheer for him. You only cheer for him because he IS Batman. Whatever you think of the character coming into the movie is how you'll think about him in this movie. The worst part is that the relationship between these characters is never really explored. Except for the completely forced device of having Joker turn out to be the murderer of his parents, there is no connection between the two. There is such a great dynamic in the comics between those two characters where they're almost like brothers, neither one could ever kill the other because killing the other would be like killing himself. The Joker couldn't live without Batman and Batman couldn't live without The Joker. Batman can go around and bust goon heads all night but nobody can give him the satisfaction and the challenge that the Joker does because deep down inside, they're the same. They were both perfectly normal until something happened that sent them down those opposite paths. It's the best hero/villain relationship there is in comics in my opinion. There are other great outer conflicts and relationships but there hasn't been many such as this that have such a great inner conflict.

#6. The Batwing scene at the end. So bad it deserves it's own section. The Batwing shows up at the parade. It's flying around, shooting rockets and machine guns at everything that moves. The Joker's men are unloading machine guns into it. Finally it comes down to just Batman and the Joker. Batman is still unloading a million bullets and a thousand rockets but nothing hits the Joker who is standing still right in the middle of the street. This thing has a million dollars worth of weaponry but it can't hit a stationary white faced man wearing a loud purple jacket? Joker reaches into his pants, pulls out a revolver, points it up and BLAM! Batwing goes down like a rock. One shot, from a revolver, takes out this heavily armored flying machine of war. How stupid is that?

#7. The suit. One of the major weapons in Batman's arsenal is.....himself. Batman is a lethal fighting machine. Master of the martial arts. He's all about agility, acrobatics, speed, skill. So what do they do when they make this movie? They create a big giant rubber suit of armor that makes him completely immobile. The action scenes are laughable because Batman moves so friggin stiff. He'd never be able to win a fight in a suit like that. It's pathetic. Keaton in the suit takes the laughter to a whole other level. He is so out of place in the suit that I can't watch it anymore. The worse part is seeing him out of the suit and THEN seeing him in it. As Wayne he's this short, skinny, average looking guy. Then he puts on this suit that makes him a few inches taller and gives him a bunch of sculpted muscle that is obviously not really there. It is truly one of the most pathetic costume decisions ever.

#8. Commissioner Gordon. The most completely underused character in the movie. A complete and total waste of time. Maybe the biggest slap in the face of the Batman fan in the entire movie. Such an important character regulated to absolute nothing. He has no relationship at all with Batman. It is such a great relationship in the comics. He's Batman's best friend in the world and he doesn't even know who he is. At total odds one minute, kissing and hugging the next. It makes no sense that it isn't explored AT ALL....ANY...ZIP...NADA....in the movie.

#9. Harvey Dent. Who was hitting the crackpipe when the name Billy Dee Williams came up as a suggestion to play Harvey Dent?? Was it some kind of lame decree from the studios that they had to have a "urban" character? Even though it totally ruins continuity for the series AND makes the people behind the movie look like they don't have a clue?

#10. The death total. What is the main rule in Batman's world? He does not kill people. Nobody. No matter what. It's his only rule. Accidents happen, but he never TRIES to kill anybody. He's come close to it, but he's never out and out murdered anybody. That's another great part about the Batman/Joker relationship. No matter how much Joker does, Batman can't sink to his level. Joker has killed thousands of people, murdered Batman's friends, but he still can't kill the guy. Batman's goal is to stop death, not cause more of it, but in this movie, that is totally ignored. He kills dozens of people. It probably goes into the hundreds. First he blows up a ENTIRE FACTORY OF PEOPLE! Then they have the big Batwing finale where he just opens fire on a whole crowd of people including civilians. He tries to kill the Joker here and succeeds later on. He kills the Joker. That is one of the worst decisions in movie history. Kill off your main villain in the first movie? Ignore the fact that this is a character sworn not to kill anybody, it's stupid just for the fact that the main villain is dead and unable to return for sequels. It's also funny that Batman's other main rule is that he never uses a gun. In this movie Batman fires more bullets than Chow Yun-Fat. Machine guns on the Batmobile. Machine guns and rockets on the batwing. It's crazy I tell ya!

Those are 10 reasons. I have more but 10 seems like a good number. This thing is crazy long as it is and I'm still on the first movie.

The only thing I still love very much from the first movie is Danny Elfman's score. It's the best score of any movie as far as I'm concerned. I've only bought two scores in my entire life. This one and the "Twin Peaks" score. The music is so beautiful and haunting that it manages to capture the essence of these characters a thousand times better than the movie itself does. If there is anything in the world that can make me feel like I'm 13 again, it's this soundtrack. When I listen to this music, I remember what it was like 15 years ago when I first heard it. It makes me feel like I'm right back in that theater seat. I remember how great the movie was then and it reminds me of why I loved it. Then I try to rewatch it and just end up pissed off.

I'll end with this. All comic book movies have problems being transferred from page to screen but I've never seen any of them have a list of problems as long as this movie has.

Link: The IMDB Page

Batman Returns
Directed by Tim Burton
Written by Daniel Waters and Sam Hamm
Starring: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken

The sequel to the movie wasn't much better. Actually it's kinda been the opposite of the original movie. I liked the original and saw it a thousand times, later on I began to hate it. With this one, I hated it the moment I saw it. Years later it got better to me but not enough to actually like. Unlike the first movie, this one doesn't see fit to ruin one villain, it ruins two at once. Some people claim that this one is better than the original because it's darker. But this isn't a good type of dark. This is a silly and stupid kind of dark movie. Not a fun dark movie at all. After the first movie's success, Warner Brothers thought they struck gold with Tim Burton directing the Dark Knight. In the sequel, Burton was allowed to run amuck and do whatever wacky BS he came up with. So that meant we got rocket launching penguins.

I don't have a 10 point list of things I find wrong in this movie, because I simply haven't seen it anywhere near as many times as I saw the original, but from what I remember, here is what I do have.

The Penguin. What a way to completely ruin the Penguin. The Joker may have been too old and too over the top, but the Penguin was just stupid. Nothing about the Penguin even resembled the comic book version of the character. In the movie, they portray him as a Phantom of the Opera type character. He is a deformed fish-man that grew up in the sewer raised by penguins. Penguins....in the sewer.....of Gotham city. For some reason, he grows up and constantly spews black bile out of his mouth. He's a disgusting little grotesque sewer creature with no resemblance at all to the actual Penguin character. None at all. The Penguin character has always been as far away from gutter trash freaks as you can get. He's got a big nose yeah, wow, his hands are a little screwed up in some versions of the character, but he's generally normal. He's the most high brow of all the Batman villains. He's the one filled with class. No blue collar crime for him. He's the high roller. He runs a high class nightclub for Gotham's upper crust. In between his martini's he likes to steal a few diamonds here and there or maybe rob a museum of priceless art. Instead of being the Penguin, Burton has transformed him into a short and fat version of Edward Scissorhands. Even worse than how the character is portrayed is the horrible storyline they give him. He comes out of the sewer to run for Mayor, but behind everybody's back he's really going to destroy Gotham by murdering all the children in the city with the help of a renegade circus group and rocket powered penguins while he drives around in a big friggin duck car! What the hell is that?! Who came up with that? That sounds like a plot from "Superfriends", not an actual plot of a big budget movie. That is just so horrible.

Catwoman on the other hand, while still being pretty badly screwed up, still manages to be one of the best villains in the series. Sometimes I wish somebody at DC would look at the stuff these movie people write and just say...."wait a minute, hold on, you wanna do what?" The Catwoman is one of the biggies in the Batman world. How anybody would wanna take her character and make her a friggin zombie is beyond me. Because that's what they did. She's not Catwoman, she's a zombie. A zombie brought back to life by a bunch of alley cats! The real Catwoman is a master jewel thief. One of the most popular stories has her as a former prostitute who was actually influenced by Batman himself, to put on a catsuit and prowl the nights. Catwoman is a catburglar. That's the whole point of the character. She's not a cat just because she likes cat. That's the whole joke of the character!! Take a cat-burglar and dress her up like an actual friggin cat! But not here. Here she's a secretary who gets thrown out of a window, drops a few floors and dies on impact. A bunch of little kitty cats come out of nowhere and lick her. Next thing you know...da, da, da....Catwoman is born! The good thing is that Michelle Pfeiffer managed to rise above the horrible character she was given and turns it into something more than what it was in the script. Without her in this role, Catwoman could've ended up just as bad as the Penguin. I don't know if she actually read some comics or what but she seems to be one of the few people out of these four movies that understood what she was doing. Even though the Catwoman she was playing was written nothing like the Catwoman of the comics, she managed to bridge the gap and at least put in some resemblance to it. Another plus is that the relationship between her and Batman actually worked. The love/hate thing from the comics is brought to life pretty accurately. I only wish there was more of it. That would've been a very interesting movie. Unfortunately the people behind this movie thought all this other crap was more interesting than letting us see this relationship....or even Batman for that matter.

And that's the real problem. This movie has so much going on at once that nothing is given time to catch on. You got a whole plot about Christopher Walken's Max Shreck character trying to build his stupid power plant or whatever the hell it was. You got two villains going on two completely separate paths. And then as an afterthought you throw in Batman. In the movies 2 hours and 10 minutes, Batman is in it for what, 15 minutes? This is a problem with all these movies. They try to justify it by saying that a comic book movie is only as good as it's villain, that IS true, but at the same time they shouldn't DOMINATE the movie. The title still has "Batman" in there. It's not called "Joker" or "Penguin and Catwoman Returns". Movies like Blade, Superman, X-Men and Spiderman all had villains that got plenty of screen time, but the heroes got their time as well. They weren't completely sacrificed for the villains. When I go watch a Batman movie, I want to see Batman. I want to see him fighting crime and solving mysteries like in the comics. The one scene out of these movies that I still truly love is the first time we see Batman in the original movie. THAT is what I love about Batman. I love to see him scare the piss out of just average street thugs and muggers. I like to see him whip ass. The clashes with the super-villains are fun when done well, but just the pure crime fighting is what is really fun for me. That's always the best part out of all these movies. My favorite part of both Superman and Spiderman are those montages they have when they first become the heroes. The 2-3 minute montage of Spidey busting up evil-doers is pure joy. I would like to see the Batman movies to give us more of Batman being Batman and fighting some crime. Lets see him in action for a little while, please.

I took a break from writing this review for 3 days and now I've completely forgot what else I was gonna say about this one, so I'm gonna go ahead and end it. Batman Returns is better than the original movie in many ways, unfortunately it's worse than the first in many ways as well which pretty much evens things out. The only thing interesting in this movie is Michelle Pfeiffer but even her character has a million flaws. She does good with what she's given but it's not enough to save the movie. I'm happy that they TRIED to take the sequel into darker territory here, but when the Batman fans ask for a "dark" Batman movie, this isn't the "dark" they mean. This is just weird and stupid for the most part.

Link: The IMDB Page

Batman Forever
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Written by Lee Batchler, Janet Scott Batchler and Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman and Chris O'Donnell

The third movie was a pretty big departure from the first two. While Warner loved the money they got from the second movie, they didn't really like the dark weirdness of it all. Many people still thought Adam West was Batman after all, where the hell was "POW!" and "BAM!!" at? So they took the movie in a different direction the third time by handing the reigns over to Joel Schumacher. Schumacher put the movie on a much brighter path and while it didn't destroy the franchise yet, it would soon. The only thing not changed in this movie is the amount of history and lore it pissed all over. One of the greatest of all the villains is completely ruined. The movie is very fruity at times. Way too bright and happy. Way too neon. But amazingly, while I still hate this movie, it's my favorite of the bunch. My reasons....

1. It has a sense of adventure that the other movies lacked. While I don't like the overall Gotham design in this movie, it doesn't look as cheap and as small as it did in the first two movies. At times it actually seems like it's a real city. Like they actually left the stage for a few seconds! The city seems a lot bigger so it gives Batman more room to operate. It gives the movie a much bigger feel where the first two seemed like small little set pieces. It has a much bigger action/adventure style to it which makes the action scenes come off a lot better. The bad thing is that while the movie seemed more action packed, the action was usually goofy crap like the Batmobile driving up the side of a building.

2. Val Kilmer. For the first time the movies had somebody that seemed physically capable of portraying the role. This wasn't an old, out of shape, midget. He was the best out of three in my opinion. He had just the right amount of darkness in him to pull off the role. The duality of Wayne/Batman is explored much better here than in the first two and Kilmer was perfect at it. Even though he didn't look exactly right, I'd say Kilmer's Batman is closer to the comics version than any of the others. His overall calmness really seems like Batman to me. He seems like a veteran here. Like he knows he's in over his head but it doesn't scare him one bit. He has no doubt that he'll make it out of whatever he gets into because he's friggin Batman.

3. Jim Carrey. Carrey was just becoming the superstar he is now when he signed up to play the Riddler and he was good in the role. He was over the top and gimmicky, but not in a lame way like the Joker was. Carrey was actually funny here. He seemed to relish playing the role and was really into it. Even though the character resembled the 60's TV version more than the maniacal comics version, he made it fun to watch at least.

Now that THAT is out of the way, let's get to the fun stuff....what's bad. Which is, of course....everything else.

1. Two-Face. The absolute worst thing about this movie is the way Two-Face was completely ruined. This is another one of the biggies in the Batman universe but here he is treated as nothing more than a sidekick to the Riddler. He's given very little backstory, very little screen time and very little of anything else. Besides having his disfigured face and coin, there is NOTHING here that even partially resembles the comic character. This version of Two-Face was nothing but a complete and total rip-off of Nicholson's Joker. Just a total friggin sham. This is probably my second favorite villain in the Batman universe and his relationship with Batman is fantastic. Done right, Batman vs Two-Face ALONE, would've been a wonderful film. The Riddler had some problems too. I would've prefered that they stuck to the comics more than the TV series but at least it wasn't a total destruction of the character. The character still resembled his comic version. Two-Face was not even remotely CLOSE to the comic version. In fact, the comic Two-Face was basically pissed all over in this movie. He's one of the most tragic villains in the comics and his story could've been a very captivating movie to watch. Maybe one day we'll actually see that movie, but this isn't it.

2. Yet another love interest! Nicole Kidman joins the group of Bat-groupies in this one and much like Basinger's Vicki Vale, she is completely useless and has no reason to exist. True, her psychiatrist character DID help in the Bruce/Batman conflict storyline, but the romantic angle was just not needed at all. It was stupid and forced on the level of the Anakin/Padme relationship. It's just stupid as hell that they feel the need to throw in a love interest in EVERY movie. Stupid, stupid, stupid. The only good moment here is that famous scene of Kidman laying in the bed under a skintight sheet. That's worth watching.

3. Chris O'Donnel/Robin. I never understood the hate for Robin in the comics. A lot of fans really hate the poor kid. They even paid 99 cents a call to vote for him to die one time. I always enjoyed the character. (With the Tim Drake version being my favorite. I don't know, I guess I just like the staff he used.) The Robin character in this movie is actually pretty accurate. I don't really have problems with his storyline. The problem is Chris O'Donnell. Robin is supposed to be a kid. There is a reason why he is called the BOY Wonder you know? He should've been 16 or 17 years old in this origin story. 18 tops. In here he's 25 years old. I mean, why does a 25 year old man have to be adopted by a millionaire after his parents are murdered? Wayne takes Dick Grayson on as his ward because he's just a kid and needs a home. In this movie he's a grown man which makes the whole thing make no sense at all. He's an adult. You don't adopt adults! Because if you can adopt adults I'm going down to the orphance and finding the hottest 25 year old woman I can find.

4. The camp factor. A little camp isn't a bad thing. It's too much camp that's a bad thing. Every movie needs to have the mood lightened every once in a while. But let's not take it too far now. Let's not put nipples on Batman's suit. The whole Bruce/Dick relationship is already too homo-erotic as it is. Then there is stuff like that retarded opening bank robbing sequence and the Batmobile going up the side of the building and the big slide that Bruce goes down at one point. You take all that and all the needless neon light and add it to lines like....

"You trying to get under my cape, doctor?"

"It's the car, right? Chicks love the car."

"What is it about the wrong kind of man? In grade school it was guys with earrings. College, motorcycles, leather jackets. Now, *oh*, black rubber."

Alfred: "Can I persuade you to take a sandwich with you, sir?"
Batman: "I'll get drive-thru."

....and what you get is three or four good moments surrounded by a whole lot of garbage. That's the saddest part about this movie. That the good parts were so overshadowed by the bad and the opportunity to make the perfect Batman movie was squandered. Think about it. If they had made Two-Face the comic version that we all know. If they had a cast an actor of the appropriate age range for Robin. If they had deleted Riddler and Kidman. If they had just told Two-Face and Robin's origins that we know from the comics. Think of the many angles that would've been present. One of Batman's close friends, Harvey Dent, getting disfigured and going nutzoid as Two-Face. Batman holding himself responsible for that. Two-Face murdering Dick Grayson's parents. Batman feeling guilty over that as well so he adopts the kid. Robin being born over the course of the movie as Batman struggles with himself, with trying to keep Dick out of this life, with trying to stop Two-Face and turn him back to his friend Harvey Dent. All leading up to the conclusion of Robin wanting to kill Two-Face for murdering his parents and Batman trying to stop him. That movie would've rocked. Instead we get rubber suits with nipples on them.

Link: The IMDB Page

Batman and Robin
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Written by Akiva Goldsman
Starring: George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell, Alicia Silverstone, Uma Thurman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jeep Swenson and a bunch of other assholes.

I've decided that there is really no need to go into any kind of detail on this one. Nobody in their right mind would even argue with the fact that Batman and Robin is one of the worst movies in history. Anybody with even a very low level of Batman knowledge will understand why this movie is so horrible. I've decided to give myself a ten minute time limit. In the next ten minutes I will list as many things that were bad in this movie that I can think of off the top of my head and that's it. Then I'll move on.

Barbara GORDON is suddenly Barbara WILSON and is Alfred's niece instead of Gordon's daughter. Probably due to the fact that James Gordon is the most under-utilized character in the entire series. Hell, if you're going to make her related to Alfred shouldn't you at least name her Barbara Pennyworth?

Ah-nuld. Enough said.

Batman pulling out the Bat-credit card and saying "Don't leave the Batcave without it!" I wanted to leave the theater then but had to stay and watch the train wreck happen.

Mr. Freeze.

The entire opening sequence of Batman and Robin ice skating and then sky surfing on two doors broken off of a rocketship. Who can write that kind of shit? Oh yeah, Akiva Goldsman can.

While I'm at it... Akiva Goldsman.

Oh, and Joel Schumacher.

"You must be new here. In Gotham city, Batman and Robin protect us, even from plants and flowers!"

"You're not sending me to the COO LAH!"

Batgirl's suit.

The stupid new Batmobile that comes complete with, ta da, neon lights!

Robin: I want a car, chicks dig the car.
Batman: This is why Superman works alone.

Alicia Silverstone.

The simple fact that in Ah-nuld's LONG, LONG line of horrible movies, this is the worst.

Yet another love interest played by Elle MacPherson. This one only lasts 30 minutes into the movie until Bruce Wayne starts getting cold feet about the relationship. You would think that Wayne would understand by now that he can't get involved with a woman and would quit trying.

The fact that with a good script and good director, George Clooney COULD have been the best Batman we've seen yet.

Bane. The man who broke Batman's back is turned into a sniveling toad of a sidekick in this movie.

"I'm afraid my condition has left me COLD to your pleas of mercy."

The horrible Gotham City design. The entire city seemed to be supported by gigantic statues of naked men.

The fact that Sylvester Stallone was Schumacher's second choice for Mr. Freeze. I guess he just wanted to make sure he got somebody unintelligible.

It turned the series into a joke that lost it's punchline in the 60's.

I guess that's enough.

Was there anything good? There was one thing I liked. Uma Thurman. I thought Thurman's Poison Ivy was terrific. She was the only person in this movie that seemed to enjoy herself and have fun. She was just as campy as the rest of the movie, but she didn't really bother me at all. The best thing about the Batman TV series is Julie Newmar's Catwoman and Uma's Ivy wasn't far off from that. The only other good point about this movie is that it's so bad that it's worth seeing multiple times. This is Plan 9 level here. This is one of those movies that you can get a group of friends together to watch on a Saturday night around midnight and just laugh your ass off at. This movie was born to be watched on bad movie nights around the world. This is a movie that leaves you in disbelief at how bad it is. This is so bad that really comparing it to the 60's show is a insult to the TV series.

The best part of this movie? The best part is that this movie was so bad that it actually helped movies that came out after it. Many of the people involved were so destroyed by this movie that some (such as Alicia Silverstone) have never been allowed to really insult us like that again. Others realized their mistakes and made a valiant effort to never make anything this horrible again. Schumacher recovered by going as low-tech as possible and making some really good low-budget movies such as Tigerland and Phone Booth. Akiva Goldaman recovered by moving on to winnig an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind. George Clooney decided that just going for the easy payday wasn't worth the embarrassment of another Batman and Robin, so he decided that from that point on that the quality of the work would be more important than the size of the check. He's made some of the best choices of any actor out there today since then. Only working with quality directors and quality scripts which led to enjoyable movies such as Three Kings, Out of Sight, O Brother, The Perfect Storm and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

George Clooney was so distraught over this movie that he wrote his OWN treatment for a fifth movie and pitched it to Warner Brothers. His plan was to make the fifth film very dark and that it would end this series once and for all, allowing Warner Brothers to revive the series anew a few years later with a clean slate. His treatment involved Batman fighting the Scarecrow and actually end up getting KILLED in the end. But the twist, in great Twilight Zone style, is that instead of "dying" he simply wakes up. Bruce Wayne wakes up in a padded cell, wearing a straight-jacket, locked away in Arkham Asylum. Instead of becoming a crime fighter due to his parent's murders, he went insane. He ended up getting locked away in Arkham for years where inside his mind he became Batman and fought for his parent's justice. All of the villains would've returned in this movie, only they wouldn't have been the villains. Nicholson, Carrey, Jones, Pfieffer, DeVito...they all would've been other patients at Arkham. But they would just be normal inmates. Bruce modeled all the people he fought after these people. Alfred would've been his doctor. Dick Grayson, the orderly. Things like that. It was supposed to end with Bruce screaming out of the little barred window in the door.."I'm Batman!!! I'm Batman!!! I'm Batman!!!" I know that ending probably would've pissed people off but man, I would've loved it. A dark Batman vs Scarecrow movie that ends with such a mindbending twist like that? Hell, I'd take this one page treatment itself over all 4 movies. Warner Brothers turned it down for being too dark.

Link: The IMDB Page

Well, that's my take. Do I still have hope for the future? Yes, I do. Christopher Nolan gives me that hope. He seems to understand and respect the character and that's all I ask for. Show the fans and the character some respect. Give us our dark, gothic, ass kicking detective. Not a slow old man in a rubber suit. If the WB morons stay out of his and David Goyer's way I think we'll get it. If I had my way, they'd make this movie with a budget of around 40 million. No more 100 million budgets, no more over the top bullshit, no more big Hollywood summer movie event crap. This should just be a film noir where all the characters wear costumes. No hero, no villain. No black or white, just two different shades of gray. Make the movie more psychological than physical. Make it Batman. Bob Kane's Batman. Not Tim Burton's Batman or Joel Schumacher's Batman. Make it OUR Batman.


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