Batman Forever 1995
It’s been a while since I’ve seen this movie, though I remember loving it when it first came out. I was 15 at the time and remember going to Six Flags that summer and getting that question mark logo you see in the poster below on a t-shirt that I wore quite often for probably a year or more afterwards. I also find it somewhat interesting that there are actually several inside jokes that I don’t think I ever got when I was younger because I wasn’t that knowledgeable about the Batman universe outside of the movies or the animated series. There’s a brief reference to Nightwing, and at the end the psychologist’s name is Burton. After the very dark and gothic version of Gotham from Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher took over the reigns and lightened it up both in terms of his garish neon lighting as well as his pun-filled humor. None of this really sat well with me and it only portends things to come in the next movie Batman and Robin. It was filled with too many jokes and silliness that it barely felt like a Batman movie. While there are still some decent action sequences and other moments here and there, it’s a far cry from the quality seen in the Burton movies previously.
The movie starts off in one of the worst ways possible, instead of an establishing shot flying through the Batman logo, there’s a glory shot of the new batsuit including a crotch close-up. And that is immediately followed up with a lame joke about getting drive-thru. Things don’t get any better when introducing Two Face played by Tommy Lee Jones who seems to have been told that Two Face should act more like the Joker than Two Face. He spends most of his time on screen laughing or using his split personality as a joke, like having two cigarettes in his mouth, one of them being a cigarillo. Or drinking from two champagne glasses, one of them darkly colored. And yet the thing that Two Face is actually known for, his coin, is barely used in the movie. It’s seen only four times in the movie, and only once does it really play a part in him making a decision, and even then he gets it wrong. Where traditionally Two Face would make a decision based on a single flip of the coin, in this movie Jones is seen flipping his coin several times until he gets the “correct” flip.
The romantic interest in this movie is also pretty poor. Enter Nicole Kidman as Chase Meridian, expert in abnormal psychology and master of only one facial expression – wide eyed wonder. There is barely any chemistry between her and Val Kilmer as either Batman or Bruce Wayne. While they trade romantic banter, it feels awfully bored and passionless. Kidman wasn’t quite the smoldering temptress, instead she was more of a lovestruck puppy dog. One of the praises I tend to hear about this movie is that Val Kilmer was one of the best actors to play Bruce Wayne, and to that end I do somewhat agree. There are several moments where he is somewhat trapped inside his Bruce Wayne persona and there’s always the urge to reveal his identity for the greater good, or just some poon tang. But he does handle himself rather well while inside his business suit.
Robin on the other hand is a completely different story. While I did like the nods to the character, both in having his family’s trapeze outfits mimic the traditional Robin costume as well as having him reference the name Nightwing. But the problems I had started when Bruce so easily “adopted” him, which consisted of just bringing him home right after his family had died. It didn’t make sense that he would go with Bruce instead of staying with the rest of his circus family, since nearly everything I’ve heard about travelling circuses is that they are all very close just like family. Instead, the circus just up and leaves him with some millionaire stranger. Not only that, but there’s a couple comments made about social services which is laughable because Chris O’Donnell looks closer to 30 than he does to pre-18. He’s also completely pre-occupied with killing Two Face who was responsible for his family’s death. Of course we know this because he says it no less than a dozen times through the course of the movie. He also has the most ridiculous method of gaining entrance to the batcave by going through this crazy acrobatics routine to sneak through a door that by all accounts Alfred should have shut behind him instead of allowing it close by itself.
Finally the Riddler is played by the genius casting of Jim Carrey. I seem to remember at the time that this was perfect casting, he had come to nearly the height of his comic success at the time, but looking back on it, it felt more like Jim Carrey with some riddles thrown in rather than the actual character of the Riddler. Even before he becomes the Riddler, Edward Nygma is even very Jim Carrey-esque with weird mannerisms and facial expressions more befitting someone that should already be in Arkham Asylum rather than someone working in a scientific capacity. And to top it all off, his grand scheme of becoming a genius doesn’t really seem to have any real effect on him other than getting him momentarily high. All in all, it was not the type of Batman that I’m used to seeing, and not really the type of Batman that I’m interested in seeing. Even though there’s also a moment that seems straight out of the Adam West Batman where he solves the Riddler’s final riddle almost immediately, but at the same time this had too many moments in it where it was trying to take itself seriously that I couldn’t really regard it with the same enjoyable camp as I did with the Adam West Batman. It was silly, it was colorful, it had a little bit of action, a lot of puns, and I know it gets worse from here. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.