movie film review | chris tookey

Batman Forever

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  Batman Forever Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
5.50 /10
Batman/Bruce Wayne .......... Val Kilmer, Two-Face/D.A. Harvey Dent ... Tommy Lee Jones , Robin/Dick Grayson .......... Chris O'Donnell
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Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Written by: Lee Batchler, Janet Scott Batchler and Akiva Goldsman. Based upon Batman characters created by Bob Kane and published by DC Comics

Released: 1995
Origin: US
Length: 121


Batman and Robin take on new adversaries.

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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The message of Batman Forever is that schizophrenia is "in". A split personality is the latest in hip fashion accessories. Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer, pictured) may be a handsome, billionaire philanthropist , but only when he dons his rubber suit and starts slaughtering supervillains can he make a romantic impression on Dr Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman), who is a a cool, clinical psychologist by day, a wannabee sado-masochist by night. "Would it help," she inquires while attempting to seduce Batman, "if I carried a whip?"

And then, of course, there is that highly-strung trapeze artist Dick Grayson, alias Robin, alias The Boy Wonder (played by the distinctly unboyish Chris O'Donnell) who turns after the death of his family into a mean, moody joy-rider, and finally into Batman's vengeful, vigilante side-kick and fellow-fetishist.
It is a not altogether reassuring sign of our times that these are the good guys, in a movie rated PG.
The forces for evil are almost wholesome by comparison. First on is Harvey Dent (Tommy Lee Jones), a district attorney who goes mad after half his face is scarred by acid. He rechristens himself Two-Face, and resorts to mass murder and robbery - helped, no doubt, by Gotham City's lax attitude to law renforcement, which seems to depend entirely upon one ancient police commissioner (Pat Hingle) and interventions by the Caped Crusader.
Equally schizo is computer nerd Edward Nygma (Jim Carrey) who sprouts his second personality - The Riddler - when Bruce Wayne turns down his research project. Nygma plans, you see, to remove the world's intelligence by means of a decoder placed on top of every TV. Some might claim that he's already too late.
The main pleasure of Batman Forever is seeing Jim Carrey hi-jack the movie. He is as inventive as he was in The Mask, dominating every scene he is in, with a campy ability to brighten up the designer darkness. "Very few people," he tells Two-Face, commending his fashion sense, "are a Summer and a Winter, but YOU pull it off!" Carrey's detachment from sincere emotion, always his acting trademark, here comes across as profoundly creepy.
Joel Schumacher takes over the directing from Tim Burton, and does a lot to make the tone less pretentious and more camp. The script offers good opportunities to Carrey, and throws a few amusing lines to Michael Gough as Batman's butler. The film is often amusing and technologically adventurous - the sequence when Batman's car escapes by climbing up a skyscraper is a knockout. Stephen Goldblatt's cinematography probably deserved its Oscar nomination.
But Burton's visual flair is missed. Schumacher shoots the action scenes in such close-up that it's easy to lose any sense of geography and therefore real apprehension. For all the noise, explosions, colour and movement, there is little excitement or suspense. And too much of the dialogue is smothered by poor diction and over-elaborate sound effects (both sound and sound effects editing were Oscar-nominated, much less deservedly than the cinematography).
Emerging from the cinema, I heard people complaining "there's no story", but in fact there is too much of it. The relentless plot leaves Tommy Lee Jones no time to do anything but shout.
Carrey's campaign to drain the world of its intelligence and pour it into his own head is a funny idea, but the film never bothers to explore it, and the satiric potential is squandered.
As Batman, Kilmer has the necessary commanding presence, but it is hard to care what happens to him. Schumacher teases the audience with the promise of some new insight into the trauma which turned Bruce Wayne into Batman, but that revelation never comes. In the first two movies, Michael Keaton as Batman fought a losing battle against Jack Nicholson's scene-stealing and Michelle Pfeiffer's sensuality: here again, Batman manages to be less interesting and sexy than his own car.
Two good comediennes are conspicuously wasted as gangster molls called Sugar (Drew Barrymore as a Marilyn Monroe clone) and Spice (Debi Mazar as a whip-wielding, heavy-metal dominatrice). They have fewer than six lines between them, and no business in a PG movie.
At its worst, Batman Forever is noisy, incomprehensible, psychologically glib, more knowing than intelligent, more facetious than funny. At two hours two minutes, there are moments when it seems to go on forever. It is depressing to see so much talent, money and publicity dedicated to something so overwhelmingly pointless. In view of the film's preoccupations with sleaze, violence and sado-masochism, I would not recommend it for small children.

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