Batman Forever (1995) Movie Review

details
Title: Batman Forever.
Rated: PG-13.
Director: Joel Schumacher.
Writer(s): Lee Batchler & Janet Scott Batchler.
Screenplay: Lee Batchler, Janet Scott Batchler & Akiva Goldsman.
Release Date: 1995.
Runtime:  2h1min.
Genre(s): Action, Adventure.
Cast: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, and many more!
Budget: $35 million (estimated).
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Previously in the Batman series:
Batman (1989).
Batman Returns (1992).

Where does one go when the studio heads are unsatisfied in their constant hunt for money as they notice that Batman Returns was too somber for the world, reducing their opportunities for profit and partnerships that target less mature audiences? While Warner Bros. constant conniving and interference in countless creative and original projects is no novel matter to this day, it has led one of the most iconic DC Comics superhero franchises to embrace a brand new direction that could only ever mark the beginning of the end. Looking to tone down on the grim and dark atmosphere of the previous two movies, director Joel Schumacher gets ahold of the reins and kicks the franchise’s behind to deliver a less-than-memorable sequel to Tim Burton’s Batman with Val Kilmer taking over the mantle of the Dark Knight. Despite being a box office success, its reputation remains forever stained, marred by internal conflicts among actors and with the director, as well as a story that leaves you in awe at its wild and messy vision of Batman’s world.

What is Batman Forever (1995) about? Set after the events of Batman Returns (1992), the story follows Batman (Val Kilmer) trying to put an end to the schemes of the Riddler (Jim Carrey) who works alongside Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) in an effort to build a device that will allow them to extract knowledge through brainwaves and become smarter than any man could ever envision in this dark and depressive world. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne develops a relationship with criminal psychologist Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) who, on the other hand, fantasizes about Batman. He also witnesses the tragedy that will scar acrobat Dick Grayson (Chris O’Donnell) for life at the hands of Two-Face and send him down a path for vengeance while adopting his new identity as Robin. As Batman tries to juggle these numerous conflicts in his life, his journey leads him to reflect on his activities of vigilantism and the purpose behind them all.

(c) IMDb.

The best way to make a dramatic tonal shift in a sequel to a Tim Burton duology is to revert to comedy in hopes to drive the darkness away. Director Joel Schumacher doesn’t shy away from keeping Burton’s design for Gotham City but also cranks up the amount of neon and ridicule to give this new chapter in Batman’s life an edgier and ludicrous dose of comic book nonsense. While using a flashback to quickly summarize district attorney Harvey Dent’s transformation into Two-Face and identify his source of hatred for the bat-dressed vigilante, the movie, however, takes the time to build up researcher Edward Nygma’s own love-turned-to-hatred relationship with Bruce Wayne and his transformation into the zany Riddler. With the former, the writers fail to properly capture the complex and multi-faceted villain, rather portraying him as a loose canon obsessed with his dual-faced coin, with the latter they might in fact have found the only reason the movie is able to stand on two feet, as Jim Carrey, being himself, unloads a goofy and outright lunatic iteration of the Riddler that oftentimes simply steals the show, if one can even call this clownfest a show.

Tying into this mess is also Robin’s own origin story, poorly developed, as his own vengeful quest is undermined by the outlandish brainwashing scheme at play. In the end, there’s nothing like another costumed madman to remind us of this Gotham City’s frivolous ecosystem. While there’s nothing remotely clever that happens throughout the movie, which might as well be director Joel Schumacher’s objective, which is to bring back some of the Adam West-era campy humour, it is his desire to infuse all his characters with an unfulfilled sexual tension that makes this even more sadly hilarious. The most capital example of this sex-deprived characterization lies in Nicole Kidman’s character and her pursuit of sexual conquest with her eyes set on Batman (yes, with the costume). I guess it helps to cast her in the role in hopes of leaving the audience mesmerized by her charms rather than the non-existent logic and rationale behind this narrative thread. At least once you start to give in to Schumacher’s twisted and dopey world, everything is entertaining enough to keep you going until the end.

(c) IMDb.

Aside from all the sexual innuendos, cringeworthy humour, and unconvincing relationships, it didn’t help that Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Gough) continues to be such a careless butler, making grave mistakes and inadvertently showing around the Batcave to countless more people. It makes you wonder how Bruce Wayne’s secret isn’t the headline already. Oh, and there’s also the whole story behind Bat-nipples. How can annoying ever see any relevance to having those on your Batsuit? Some questions are just better left unanswered. Thankfully, the movie is still a visual treat, not only for all the aforementioned neon overload but also for the kooky cosplay. It’s quite the transformation that you’ll witness the Riddler go through from start to finish, as his wardrobe gets worse and worse (or is better and better?). Unfortunately, the score couldn’t save this movie either, leaving behind Danny Elfman’s iconic composition to use an unmemorable one by Elliot Goldenthal. You’d think things couldn’t get worse but they do. Just wait and see with Batman & Robin (1997).

Batman Forever (1995) is a neon-infused, pain-repressed, and all-out goofy adventure dealing with costumed freaks and heroes of Gotham and their obsessive pursuit of emotional gratification and peace of mind.


Batman Forever (1995) is available for purchase and on streaming services.

Have you read any Batman comics?
Have you seen Batman Forever (1995)? Will you?
What did you think about it?
Share your thoughts with me!

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24 thoughts on “Batman Forever (1995) Movie Review

  1. I have not seen this one. I probably won’t either. Not being a huge Bats fan, I have zero need for completionism. The only reason I’d watch this would be for Kidman. Ahhh, when she married Cruise, I knew her life was over as she knew it. If only she’d married me instead 😉

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    1. I definitely won’t be the one to recommend viewing this one. Maybe just as something that you’d want to play in the background while doing other more enjoyable stuff but even then, it can be torturous if you have no interest in the movie. As for Kidman… I guess you would’ve needed a Batsuit back in the day to get her attention. At least, that’s the message I take home after her role in this movie. 😀

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  2. Tonally this film is a bit of mess but must admit I do have bit of a soft spot for batman Forever, simply because it’s quite silly and fun. Reminds me of the old TV show a bit. One cant help but loot back now and wonder what things would have been like if Burton and Keaton had been on board for this one.

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    1. I’m with you on that, Paul. I’ve grown to admire its silliness and to appreciate its ambition rather than completely kill it off. I really do wonder what it would’ve given us if Burton-Keaton had continued their vision of this Gotham city… So many what-ifs that we will unfortunately never get today. You probably heard about all the movies getting cut off the writing board but I’m also a bit sad that a Keaton-led Batman Beyond was scrapped. I hope that we could get Batman Beyond on the big screen someday, as one of those cinematic cyberpunk experiences that could blow people’s minds!

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      1. Of for sure, that Keaton led Batman Beyond movie would’ve been so cool. A Cyberpunk style future city and a new Batman would’ve been a sure fire hit! I’m surprised Sony have never gone that way as well and done a Spider-Man 2099 movie tbh. It’s also a shame Keaton’s role in the Batgirl film will probably never see the light of day now – and perhaps even his involvement in the Flash movie? So many could’ve beens. I think sometimes the speculation ends up being more fun that the movies themselves! 🙂

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  3. Bat-nipples, there’s just nothing better. 🙂

    I can’t remember if I ever watched this one. I probably did, but not sure. At some point I stopped watching the Batman movies and I don’t know how far in I was at that point. Sounds like if I missed it that’s not necessarily a bad thing, eh? 🙂

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    1. I can only say that the next and final Batman movie is worse and that it contains even more ludicrous stuff to rant about. I’ve tried to erase as much as possible from my memory since my last viewing but it’s quite hard to forget. Somehow, I’m excited to rewatch it, just to share my frustrations in a review with you guys hahah

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  4. It’s one of those bad movies that I can’t help but enjoy while I really can’t stand it, either. As a Bats-addict, I do own this. Have watched it multiple times (it’s easier to have on in the background than the Burton ones, which demand a little more attention).

    I also have watched it to see what Joel Schumacher was trying to do, cuz that dude did know how to make a good movie. Didn’t do me any good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same as you, even if it’s bad, I’ll probably end up rewatching it countless times throughout my life. It has its own charm, despite being quite bad. I do dread the next one that I plan on rewatching soon. I’m also somehow excited to dive into it again. Schumacher went nuts with these two movies and I don’t even know how much he actually cared with all the decisions he’s made hahah

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  5. Great review, Lashaan! It also made me realise why I always loose track about Batman-related stuff: there are just so many movies and storylines (at least from my perspective) 😂 anyways, even though this one doesn’t seem like the best, I’d be quite curious to compare it with the Tim Burton one – which I think I have seen..? !

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The sad thing is, Batman Forever could have been so much better. Joel Shumacher wanted a much darker movie focusing mostly on Arkham Asylum … even going slightly into horror territory. After Batman Returns disappointed though (even if it was successful), WB wanted a movie that was safe and marketable. It makes sense too, since Shumacher is generally known more for his darker movies and thrillers. Ever heard of the Nicolas Cage movie about snuff films, 8mm? The Jim Carrey Thriller “The Number 23”? Both directed by Shumacher.

    Side-note, this was actually my first ever Batman movie. Because I saw it when I was around 10 or so, of course I liked it back then. Now, there are some dramatic moments that work fairly well in this, but overall the movie is a mess.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so frustrating to know that WB wanted this movie to be lighter in tone just to commercialize it better. I’ve seen 23 but not 8mm but I can definitely tell that Schumacher could’ve completed this Batman Forever project completely differently. I was around a similar age when I saw this as a kid too. I could still rewatch it if only for Carrey’s role in it but the plot really makes me want to claw out my eyeballs though hahaha

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