Joel Schumacher’s “Batman & Robin” (1997) wants no introduction.
The very very first thing we see (and it’s a really telling visible) is the Warner Bros. protect morphing into the Batman emblem, which is then frozen stable. It’s an ideal visible image that represents precisely what this film did to the franchise till, after an extended thaw, Christopher Nolan stepped in with “Batman Begins” in 2005.
A couple of minutes in, Batman (now performed by George Clooney) and Robin (a returning Chris O’Donnell) are battling the villainous Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in a museum. Mr. Freeze asks rhetorically, “What killed the dinosaurs? The ice age!” Mr. Freeze then blasts an enormous dinosaur statue together with his freeze ray, obliterating the construction, which falls aside and, bizarrely, lets out a scream because it hits the bottom (!).
Reasonably than ponder the curious inclusion of the sound impact, I puzzled if this was Schumacher (and Warner Bros.) method of giving an enormous center finger to their summer time film competitor, “The Misplaced World: Jurassic Park,” which opened a month earlier.
If that’s the case, it’s a shameless contact, although we’re speaking about “Batman & Robin.”
The plot to this factor, conceived and gone haywire by Akiva Goldsman, pits Clooney’s Bruce Wayne and O’Donnell’s Dick Grayson towards Freeze, his military of deranged hockey gamers, the newly created Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), the mad-as-a-hatter Dr. Woodrue (an overboard John Glover), and a remodeled henchman named Bane (Robert Swenson).
On the midpoint, Alicia Silverstone’s Barbara Wilson, AKA Batgirl, reveals up, too.
From the primary scene on, the music, tone, dialogue, sound results, visible results and garish look recall the Adam West/ Burt Ward “Batman” TV sequence from 1966-1968. That sequence, with its total run offering a main definition of the phrase “camp,” is clearly what Schumacher aimed to make, albeit on a gargantuan finances.
I don’t like this film, however I’ve to provide it credit score: this isn’t a duplicate of Bob Kane and Invoice Finger’s imaginative and prescient however an try to create a lavish Batman film that might simply have been inhabited by Burgess Meredith, Julie Newmar and Frank Gorshin.
It’s that out-in-the-open campy and aggressively corny.
Had it labored, it may have performed like a parody of Hollywood over-indulgence, as a substitute of being a first-rate instance of a manufacturing gone haywire with greed and no restraint.
“Batman & Robin” is at odds with itself and works greatest if taken as a comedy. It succeeds as each the ’60s TV present introduced totally to life and likewise an alternate universe glimpse of what Batfans feared the ’89 movie could be like earlier than they noticed the trailer. Batman can definitely work as a comedy, which the underestimated and intelligent “The Batman Lego Film” (2017) proved.
That is an train in overkill on a moment-to-moment foundation. When scenes arrive by which characters speak in dimly lit, sparsely adorned rooms (these could be the quiet scenes in Wayne manor), they’re a welcome reduction and much too temporary.
Schumacher even repeats the blacklight glowing impact that was utilized in “Batman Ceaselessly,” which efficiently added comedy and a contact of dramatic heft to an in any other case goofy installment.
The manufacturing design right here resembles an overdecorated marriage ceremony cake.
There’s a lot spectacle, it’s straightforward to neglect that the movie has any coronary heart, but it surely does. Michael Gough’s efficiency as Alfred Pennyworth, Wayne’s butler, is the very best factor within the movie. That’s not a backhanded praise, both.
This was Gough’s penultimate flip as Alfred and the veteran actor is so shifting right here. Gough’s scenes with Clooney aren’t simply the movie’s greatest however the scenes the place Clooney is probably the most dialed in and efficient as Wayne.
Thurman’s introduction as Poison Ivy wouldn’t be misplaced in “The Return to Swamp Factor” (1989). In the identical method, the jungle-themed environmental ball Wayne attends is so cheesy, it feels just like the “Goddess” stage manufacturing inside Paul Verhoeven’s “Showgirls” (1995).
Thurman managed to keep away from the type of profession turbulence that plagued Elizabeth Berkley, although this represents the “Kill Invoice” star’s bizarre, misguided, double-attempt to realize a mainstream hit at Warner Brothers, as this and “The Avengers” (1998) opened inside a 12 months of one another.
Behind the scenes of Batman & Robin (1997), Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy pic.twitter.com/4rQO0mmKds
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Thurman’s character initially looks like Jim Carrey’s Edward Nygma from the prior movie, however minus the dazzle Carrey dropped at The Riddler. Thurman’s schtick right here is akin to what Mae West would have executed.
Poison Ivy has a noble trigger, as Wayne Enterprises is a poisonous presence to the setting. But, Poison Ivy’s mission and the righteousness of her character by no means connects in the way in which Selina Kyle and her justified outrage did in “Batman Returns” (1992).
The pun-heavy awfulness of Mr. Freeze is a distinction with the character’s origin story, which is unhappy sufficient to generate feeling, however doesn’t. Schwarzenegger has nothing however joke strains and his efficiency is simply him hamming it up, albeit in a dressing up that, just like the movie itself, could be spectacular if it weren’t so clunky.
A scene depicting the transformation/ “start” of Bane is the one ugly, intense second in a film that’s in any other case supposed for kids. Cartoonish is placing it mildly, as characters are always being tossed, thrown or hurled into the air and it by no means resembles the way in which gravity works.
FAST FACT: “Batman and Robin” cracked the $100 million mark in 1997, however its $107 million bounty marked the franchise’s low level.
O’Donnell is sweet, however his character is so annoying, he isn’t a shiny spot right here the way in which he was in “Batman Ceaselessly.” Glover, who doesn’t do delicate, helps bludgeon the viewers in Schumacher’s extra.
Silverstone appears overwhelmed, and Vivica A. Fox’s single-scene cameo is a misstep on the extent with the Sugar and Spice nonsense within the prior installment. Even Elle MacPherson seems however has little to do.
Oh, and Jesse the Physique Ventura and Coolio have cameos, too. There’s merely an excessive amount of of the whole lot.
Together with Bane here’s a ludicrous contact – seeing him as Poison Ivy’s driver, in “disguise” carrying a Fedora and a trench coat, is an indignity Tom Hardy fortunately didn’t need to face.
Lastly, there’s Clooney, who performs Wayne the way in which Roger Moore performed James Bond close to the top of his run. There’s zero pathos to this Batman.
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But, I’ve to be truthful and produce up a terrific trade that pops up between Clooney and Gough. Alfred tells Bruce, “Loss of life and probability stole your dad and mom, however somewhat than change into a sufferer, you probably did the whole lot in your energy to manage the fates. For what’s Batman, if not an effort to grasp the chaos that sweeps our world? An try to manage loss of life itself.” Bruce considers this and asks, “I can’t can I?” Alfred replies, “None of us can.”
Holy Nice Screenwriting, Batman!
Was Goldsman having an “On” day when he wrote this pretty scene? I want Gough had stated this to Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne however nonetheless, for a film this far gone, there are tiny however simple second of high quality buried beneath all the opposite scenes, that are lit with the blacklight glow of an indoor golf course.
For a movie that grew to become among the many most despised would-be-blockbusters and is notorious for its nipples and big codpieces on the hero costumes and the infinite stream of Goldsman’s quips, these offences are simply the guidelines of Mr. Freeze’s iceberg.
The dearth of logic, even for a comic book e-book film, is exceptional. My favourite offense is how the film doesn’t seem to know that, whenever you’re frozen in ice, you don’t hibernate. Truly, you suffocate when you freeze to loss of life.
I took my mom to see “Batman & Robin” within the theater and he or she loved it. Why? As a result of she remembered and was scarred by “Batman Returns.”
The onslaught of visible and verbal lunacy of Schumacher’s movie felt refreshing in distinction to Danny DeVito drooling black ooze, Michelle Pfeiffer getting her fingers nibbled by avenue cats and Catwoman slashing a rapist within the face.
This gentler, juvenile tackle Batman was extra my Mom’s pace.
By the ending, I used to be so fed up and uninterested in it. Gough truly will get the closing line, one other Goldsman specialty: “We’re gonna want a much bigger Batcave.” I hope at some point somebody makes a big-budget Batman that’s an intentional comedy and, in contrast to “Batman & Robin,” truly humorous.