Friday, March 18, 2016

Movie Review: "Batman Forever" (1995)

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Movie"Batman Forever"
Director: Joel Schumacher
Year: 1995
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 1 minute

Batman (Val Kilmer) faces off against two new villains: The Riddler (Jim Carrey), who has built a machine that can extract information from people's brains and put directly into his own, and Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones), formerly known as Harvey Dent, Gotham's district attorney. Bruce Wayne also takes in a new house guest named Dick Grayson (Chris O'Donnell) whose family was murdered by Two-Face.

Is there one good movie with Chris O'Donnell in it? Seriously. Name one movie he has made better with his presence. We defy you.

Joel Schumacher takes over the directing duties from Tim Burton for "Batman Forever," the third installment in the Batman series. Right off the bat and from the very first frame of the film, we can see a drastic tonal shift from what Tim Burton had done in the past. "Batman Returns" received some criticism when it came out for being too dark in a time when critics didn't fully understand that comic book movies weren't always for children. Schumacher, as well as Warner Brothers, took this criticism to heart, shifting from a serious, more gothic Batman to a more silly and campy style. There are still a few darker elements to this particular installment, but overall, everything has lightened up a lot in this movie. In addition to the goofier looking villains, Gotham itself has been given a makeover in the form of neon colored lights and paint that rival the Las Vegas strip. We are treated to a visual spectacle of a lot of hot pinks and bright greens instead of the darker black and gray shades of the past films, which we like under the right circumstances...and Batman ain't the right circumstance for this. It's much too loud for this universe.

Val Kilmer replaces Michael Keaton as Batman, but instead of a better performance, he gives a serviceable one. Kilmer sold the role on his looks alone, lending to a better performance in the part of Bruce Wayne as opposed to when he donned the cap and cowl. Also new to this cast and characters is Jim Carrey, who plays the Riddler/Dr. Edward Nygma (don't even get us started). Carrey offers his usual over-the-top performance that somewhat works for a character of this nature. Crazy-haired and wide-eyed, Carrey's Riddler is the best part of the movie, but really, he's simply playing the role he almost always plays. Do you want to talk about a miscast? Tommy Lee Jones plays Two-Face, aka Harvey Dent, and is the worst part of the film. Not only is Jones completely the wrong casting choice for the character with his stern face and his often staccatic tone of voice, but the character is presented in an idiotic manner with terrible, unmovable magenta makeup. Seriously, the makeup work on Jones' Two-Face is laughable. He plays the role in an over-the-top fashion as well, but it comes off as more of a mockery than Carrey's portrayal does. We love Tommy Lee Jones, but this was the absolute wrong casting choice. Finally, we've come to Chris O'Donnell. Poor, poor Chris O'Donnell. He is also an awful addition to the series as Robin/Dick Grayson. O'Donnell plays a moody teenager who constantly complains and whines in a grating manner. His performance is terrible and his character isn't much better. Instead of being a worthy sidekick to the dark knight, Robin is just a joke. Nicole Kidman serves as this film's throwaway love interest, Dr. Chase Meridian, a horny doctor who tries to help psychoanalyze Batman.

"Batman Returns" is a giant mess of a film. Some might call it a guilty pleasure, but we certainly don't. All the hard work Tim Burton invested in this series is basically laid to waste by Joel Schumacher. What we think happened in cinematic history is its sequel, "Batman and Robin," was so, so, so, so unbelievably bad that people started giving this film a pass in comparison. They shouldn't. It has its entertaining moments and Jim Carrey barely saves it from being a complete and utter trainwreck, but it is really, really, really not really good, and it hasn't aged well at all. It's watchable, sure, but only if you're watching the entire series to review for a new, upcoming Batman or Superman movie. This is the film, much like "Superman III," that marked the sharp downturn for the series and serves as a warning for what was to come. No one could have imagined it might possibly get worse than this.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 41%
Do we recommend this movie: No.
One year ago, we were watching: "1941"

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