5 Obstructions #1: Batman & Robin
Obstruction #1: Write a good review of a bad movie
When I saw this blogathon I immediately thought it was a great idea, in fact, I even had the idea for the first “obstruction” a while back. For full details, check out the overview post over at Nostra’s My Film Views. But basically the idea is five writing challenges inspired by a movie that challenged the filmmaker to make the same movie five different times, each time with a different challenge, or obstruction. For the first obstruction, I figured I could easily find a bad movie that I’ve seen recently and I decided to make that challenge into a “sell out” review. That is to say I am writing this review as if I had been paid by the filmmakers to give it a good review, and I figured the best place to use that marketing double-speak is for the film Batman and Robin. Enjoy.
This is the fourth movie in the series of Batman movies originally helmed by Tim Burton before visionary director Joel Schumaker took the reigns. The result is a thankfully much lighter, and more colorful Batman while still retaining the gothic sensibilities put in place by Burton. In this movie, lovable George Clooney has taken over from Val Kilmer in the last sequel and brings a slightly older Batman to the table, someone who’s on the verge of handing the legacy over to a successor, but still has all his charm as Bruce Wayne and packs a punch when needed. Chris O’Donnel returns as his fiesty sidekick Robin, eager to strike out on his own, especially when tensions begin to increase between the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder. The villains are very colorful and eccentric, as if they leaped off the pages of the comics.
First up on the villain block is Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Freeze, always ready with a handy joke to go along with his tragic backstory. His whimsical take on the man with a heart of ice is refreshing, as Dr. Freeze is typically a dreary character and Schwarzenegger’s quick delivery hearkens back to the days of the Adam West Batman which was full of fun, but he also brings the action with his hockey playing henchmen. On top of that, once the city of Gotham is encased in ice, the effects to bring that vision to life create a breathtaking vision of a city frozen over. But right alongside Freeze is the seductive Uma Thurman as the deadly Poison Ivy. She glides across the screen in all her villainous beauty as she uses her botanical powers of lust to pit Batman and Robin against each other, fighting for a chance to have her scratch their itch. And to finish off the trifecta of Freeze’s brains, and Ivy’s beauty, is Bane’s brawn. He’s an experiment gone right creating a super soldier who obeys Ivy’s every command as long as he has his supply of Venom.
The real beauty in this movie is the city of Gotham itself, every street chase is filled with picturesque statues and shadowy corridors. Every fight scene is in a large than life building, whether it’s filled with exotic plants of every type, frozen solid encased in ice, populated with giant dinosaurs in the history museum, or simply the oppressiveness of Arkham Asylum. Even Wayne Manor comes across with its own inherent opulence. And I’ve yet to mention Alfred, played by Alfred Gough, one of the few actors to remain through all four movies. He continues to be Bruce’s father figure even when faced with his own crisis in the form of MacGregor’s syndrome. I would hold his stoic acceptance of death right alongside Michael Caine’s performance in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
But luckily Alfred isn’t alone in his struggles, as the Batman franchise finally brings in a strong female hero to fight alongside the caped crusaders. Alfred’s niece Barbera, played by Alicia Silverstone comes to visit her Uncle, but she has a few secrets of her own. She is a perfect fit for the Wayne household, she’s a computer genius, a whiz at martial arts, well versed in street motorcycle racing, and is adorable to boot. Even though she doesn’t don the Batgirl costume until the last action sequence, her presence makes me wish they had continued with the same cast for Batman 5. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights. Now excuse me while I go take a shower, I feel so dirty.