Movie Title : Batman Forever
Starring Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris Oâ€™Donnell, Drew Barrymore, Debi Mazar, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, Ed Begley Jr
Directed By Joel Schumacher
What is it? : The second sequel to Tim Burtonâ€™s hugely successful â€œBatmanâ€ (1989) â€“ only with a new Batman, a new director, a new tone, and a greater interest in selling toys. The flamboyant Joel Schumacher (â€œThe Lost Boysâ€, â€œFlatlinersâ€) helms this instalment; a slightly campy but creative and colourful adventure that sees Gotham Cityâ€™s lone superhero, Batman (Val Kilmer), taking on dual villains â€“ The Riddler (Jim Carrey) and Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones). The film also marks the contemporary debut of Robin, the boy Wonder (Chris Oâ€™Donnell) to the Bat-mix.
Whatâ€™s wrong with it? If you ask most people, theyâ€™d say â€˜a lotâ€™ â€“ but thatâ€™s probably because theyâ€™ve either got it mixed up with â€œBatman & Robinâ€ (which was, to say the least, â€˜So bad itâ€™s.. badâ€™) or have bundled the two together (simply because Joel Schumacher did both of them). Truth of the matter is, there isnâ€™t a hell of a lot wrong with â€œBatman Foreverâ€ â€“ itâ€™s got a good Batman, itâ€™s fun, and besides the fact itâ€™s probably a little too camp for the fansâ€™ liking, the tone works.
Itâ€™s that lack of darkness, which worked so well in Tim Burtonâ€™s previous films (to an extent), thatâ€™s really missing here, I guess. Bruce Wayne (here played by Val Kilmer) is no longer the tortured and scarred billionaire just looking for a little love, and a little peaceâ€¦ heâ€™s a superhero. And thatâ€™s about it. Heâ€™s the cartoon Batmanâ€¦ the â€˜Super Friendsâ€™ Batman. No brooding here. Heâ€™s just a dude in a cape fighting super-villainsâ€¦ (Schumacher could easily have inserted â€œbiffâ€, â€œbamâ€ and â€œwhammoâ€ text into the fight scenes and we wouldnâ€™t have blinked).
In addition, there might be too many secondary characters in the mix â€“ and even then, some of them donâ€™t quite know who theyâ€™re playing or what their motivation is. Tommy Lee Jones, for starters, seems to think heâ€™s reprising Jack Nicholsonâ€™s Joker role – - and just plays it out-and-out Looney. Now arenâ€™t their two-sides to Harvey Dent? Donâ€™t see that here. In addition, Nicole Kidman is probably the most one-dimensional of all of the Batman moviesâ€™ leading ladies â€“ sheâ€™s not a shade on Michelle Pfeifferâ€™s Catwoman, not a threat at all to Kim Basingerâ€™s Vicky Vale, and even fails to match Katie Holmesâ€™ Rachel Dawes. Thankfully, everyone else in the cast â€“ including Jim Carrey, Ed Begley Jr, Michael Gough, Drew Barrymore and Debi Mazar â€“ are giving it their best.
What I dislike most about the film is how commercial it is thoughâ€¦. In that, I mean itâ€™s similar to the â€œStar Warsâ€ prequels in that the studio is clearly more interested in selling toys and co-op advertising deals (McDonaldâ€™s plug in the first five minutes of the film) than making a good movie. Thankfully, it still turned out OK.
Whatâ€™s right about it? Itâ€™s a comic book come to life â€“ right down to the performances, the colours (more colours than a rainbow in this palette!) and the storyline. Something Tim Burton didnâ€™t succeed in was incorporating much fun and adventure into his â€œBatmanâ€ moviesâ€¦ it was all dark, moody and suspenseful…never did his films comes across as a fun â€˜Superheroâ€™ movie which, in many ways, wouldâ€™ve been good â€“ if only to lighten up the mood in a few spots.
Joel Schumacherâ€™s film is flawed, sure, but itâ€™s a dazzling production all the same â€“ heâ€™s gone to great lengths to create a wonderfully eye-popping backdrop and keeps proceedings lively and fun all the way through. This is probably the â€œBatmanâ€ movie youâ€™ll love if youâ€™re 14-years-oldâ€¦ and that ainâ€™t a bad thing. What it lacks in substance, it makes up for in style.
In addition, people still rave about how good Val Kilmer was as Batman (he refused to come back for a second one) â€“ and theyâ€™re right, he looks the part, acts the part and really fits the mould. If only he couldâ€™ve played Bruce Wayne as well as he did the Caped Crusader.
When you look back at it now, you may even consider â€œBatman Foreverâ€
one of the better superhero movies that Hollywood has produced â€“ tell me it doesnâ€™t shit all over â€œX-Men : The Last Standâ€, â€œDaredevilâ€, â€œHulkâ€, â€œElektraâ€, â€œGhost Riderâ€ and â€œThe Fantastic Fourâ€? Shite in parts, sure, but the studio definitely put a lot more into it than they did those films.
Why is it so bad itâ€™s good? : Because itâ€™s absolutely ridiculous, and played severely over-the-top, but yet itâ€™s so much fun. If only theyâ€™d whacked Alicia Silverstoneâ€™s Batgirl into this oneâ€¦ and forgot all about â€œBatman & Robinâ€â€¦ it may have even been my favourite of the modern-day â€œBatmanâ€ movies (well, besides the reboot â€“ â€œBatman Beginsâ€).