Title: Batman & Robin.
Director: Joel Schumacher.
Writer(s): Akiva Goldsman.
Release Date: 1997.
Genre(s): Action, Crime, Drama.
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Gough, and many more!
Budget: $125 million (estimated).
My Overall Rating:
Previously in the Batman series:
Batman Returns (1992).
Batman Forever (1995).
With director Tim Burton completely out of the picture, Warner Bros. mandates director Joel Schumacher to dish out another sequel like none other, further descending into the flashy and neon-crowded Gotham City depicted so far in the Batman live-action movie franchise, with the only condition that it must be apt for the toy-ification of its characters and their gadgets, as money-making remains the driving force doctrine of this cinematic production. With lead roles now given to other famous 90s actors and some already-introduced characters reprised by talentless actors, the final movie of the initial Batman film series will be one for the history books, and not for the best of reasons. However, some might say that the world needed this movie if only to change the future and make way for something better for all fans of the Dark Knight and his beloved city.
What is Batman & Robin (1997) about? Upon learning about a robbery in progress, Batman (George Clooney) and his sidekick Robin (Chris O’Donnell) race against time to stop their new foe, Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who seeks large diamonds for his own delusional scientific projects. While their first encounter won’t be their last, later on, the botanist Dr. Pamela Isley (Uma Thurman) witnesses the birth of Bane at the hands of the lunatic Dr. Jason Woodrue and is then assaulted by him to keep her mouth shut only for her to accidentally mutate into the plant-manipulating seductress Poison Ivy. As if they didn’t have their hands full already, the lives of both Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy will intersect as they set themselves on course to bring forth a plan of world domination, unless Batman and Robin can do something about it.
Forget about logic and reasoning. Forget about physics and philosophy. Forget about right and wrong. This is what you get when you all-out embrace the campy, whimsical, and absurd without a care in the world for all things that will give anyone a reason to sit down and enjoy your movie. What director Joel Schumacher achieves with Batman & Robin is a tragedy disguised as a psychedelic comedy of undesired baloney. This isn’t just because of the enhanced Bat-Nipples, Batskates, Batbomb, Bat-heat ray gun, Batskiff, or Bathammer. It’s not even because of the surprise Bat-credit card that I will forever and always have a hard time erasing from my memory. From the butchering of Bane’s character, only for fans to rejoice at the sight of a one-word grumbling and submissive muscled pet mutant, to the awkward love triangle induced by Poison Ivy upon the oblivious Batman and Robin, the myriad of catastrophic plot threads weaved into this comic-book-nonsense-infested tapestry is an indecent mess.
Once you know what you’re getting yourself into, there are some moments that are salvageable, without having some of your neurons frying in the process. Take Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze, for example. While it might not have been the performance of a lifetime or the best iteration of the character’s tragic and tearjerker background, he restlessly delivers an onslaught of pseudo-poetic, cheesy ice-related puns throughout the movie and he just never stops. And then you have Uma Thurman who doesn’t hesitate to put on the skintight rubber suit and its countless costume variants throughout the movie to portray a femme fatale that could only dream of rivaling Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman in Batman Returns (1992). While somehow the villains’ portrayal of their respective characters are entertaining in their own way, in a so-bad-it’s-funny way, and allow this movie to seek absolution from moviegoers, it’s its heroes, including the latest addition in Alfred Pennyworth’s series of horrible secret-keeping mistakes that takes the form of Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone), that really offer nothing noteworthy in the grand scheme of things.
For some, the release of Smashing Pumpkins’ hit single The End is the Beginning is the End thanks to this movie might be its only saving grace. Unfortunately, once again, nothing this movie had to offer could top Danny Elfman’s scores in Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). What could anyway ever go with the set pieces showcased throughout this movie? The visuals remained chaotic and vividly colourful, with a bit less neon for more glow-in-the-dark effects, and every corner of Gotham city is always a wild and cacophonic spectacle. Despite the continued sexual overtones, especially through Poison Ivy, the incoherent direction makes it difficult to understand if there really was a particular target audience but the show had to go on and director Joel Schumacher didn’t hold back any punches as he brought to life one of the worse superhero movies of all time. Fans would have to wait almost a decade before director Christopher Nolan changed the game for good.
Batman & Robin (1997) is a knowingly ultra-campy and comic-book-nonsense-infested Schumacher sequel introducing two more extremist-ified Batman villains into an irresistibly silly, void of logic and reasoning, Gotham city.