Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Review of Batman Forever (1995)

Written by Akiva Goldsmith And Lee Batchler And Janet Scott Batchler
Directed by Joel Schumacher

Batman: "I see without seeing. To me, darkness is as clear as daylight. What am I?"
Riddler: " Please! You're as blind as a bat!"
Batman: "Exactly."

The first of the movies from Joel Schumacher and the first time that franchise moves away from the more dark and gothic elements of Tim Burton's vision for the Caped Crusader into something that's arguably a lot more colourful and vibrant by comparison. You can somewhat understand why Joel Schumacher's interpretation of the franchise might not have gone down a storm with some movie goers at the time (or even now to an extent).

Still, Batman Forever is actually a pretty solid movie and possibly on a par with Burton's debut, better than it's follow up and lagging a tiny bit behind on it's predecessor. Sure, it might not be super dark but there are certain dark moments in the movie - particularly with the death of Dick Grayson's family courtesy of Two-Face and of course, further flashbacks into Bruce Wayne's parents murders and the steps in which he became Batman himself. That alone should be noteworthy enough for some.

In terms of villains, both Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones almost seem to be competing with each other to see which one of them can chew up the scenery the most. As the Riddler and Two-Face, they're an immensely enjoyable double act to watch, though neither of them are particularly riddled with depth or anything that goes beyond destroying Batman and wreaking havoc on Gotham.

For the most part though, that works in the movie's favour. Their various capers and penchant for mucking up social events turn out to be usually enjoyable to watch (and one at least had a narrative consequence too) and their final showdown with Batman certainly turned out to be immensely satisfying before one of them ended up dead and the other became a pernament resident in Arkham Asylum as well.

As for the new guy himself - I have to admit Val Kilmer is somewhere in between for me. He's pretty good for most of the movie and certainly convinced enough as Batman but while he's better than successor George Clooney, I would still rate both Michael Keaton and Christian Bale over him. However I do think it's a pity we didn't get to see him in a second movie. Though given what transpired with that, perhaps Kilmer was wise to bail on proceedings.

As for the Boy Wonder himself - I really like Chris O'Donnell. In this movie, I think the balance with both Dick Grayson/Robin was struck well. We saw the angry young man trying to avenge his parents murder, the would be secondary hero and the guy who also ended up bound and gagged and nearly drown with Chase during the final act. I even laughed when O'Donnell's Robin had a 'holey' moment in this movie as well. Robin might not always be the most rewarding of roles for an actor to play but O'Donnell did a good job nonetheless.

Last but not least - Chase Meridian. Along with Julie Madison, Chase was probably one of the least engaging of love interests for Bruce Wayne/Batman. She's not particularly awful and Nicole Kidman does the best she can in the role but at the same time, the chemistry between Chase/Batman is virtually nonexistent and forced and by the end of the movie, she did fall into the traditional damsel in distress role as well. It also didn't help that her fixation on Batman seemed a little unprofessional and cloying in certain parts as well.

- The original version of this movie if Burton had directed it is worth a read ... http://batman.wikia.com/wiki/Batman_3_%28Burton%27s_proposed_film%29
- Two-Face's hench ladies - Sugar (Drew Barrymore) and Spice (Debbi Mazar) were originally meant to be called Lace and Leather.
- Nice shout out to Catwoman courtesy of Chase in this movie and Dick considering calling himself Nightwing at one point was interesting.
- Both this movie and Batman & Robin probably had the most comic book look and feel to it. Both a good and a bad thing in it's own way.

Out of all the Bat related movies, I do sometimes think that Batman Forever is a bit on the underrated side of things. Granted it's the start of some excesses from Schumacher that would ultimately turn the franchise on it's head and while neither Riddler nor Two-Face are particularly threatening (The Animated Series made them far more menacing than this movie ever did), they are at least entertaining while Kilmer/O'Donnell make for a solid dynamic duo. Overall, it's a better movie than sometimes given credit for.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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