Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Batman And Robin (1997) Review

Hey, Freeze, did you think up a new Batman caption pun for me yet?

Batman And Robin is a film that is severely handicapped by the script, which can't seem to decide whether or not it's trying to be touching or farcical. And it's not like those two can't go together, but here, the two themes are in contrast, fighting for control.

When Mr. Freeze(Arnold Schwarzenegger, king of the memes) threatens to recreate the Ice Age in Gotham, it's up to Batman and Robin to save the city whilst becoming slowly addicted to their game of "Punmaster."
Plus, there's a crazy "save the trees" human/plant hybrid called Poison Ivy seducing all the men(aren't women mammals too??)
Plus, Alfred is sick and dying of the same disease Mr. Freeze's wife is dying off.
Plus, Alfred's niece has troubles and stuff and rides around on motorcycles.
Plus, Alfred comes up with an elaborate plan to turn her into Batgirl. Who cares if it's out of character?

Fortunately, it's fairly easy go follow the plot. It's not the problem. The problem is in the writing, which is all about getting cheap laughs whilst simultaneously trying to look like a Batman film(so they have Alfred nearly dying to make it all relevant).

What saves Batman And Robin from being the madness that its immediate predecessor was is a more stable cast.

George Clooney takes over as Batman and while he's tiresome when in the suit, he brings a quiet dignity to Bruce Wayne and made the character more warmer than the brooding Keaton and Kilmer incarnations. 

Chris O'Donnell sticks around as Robin, mostly to make nonsensical complaints. Still a solid performance though.

Alicia Silverstone is introduced as Batgirl, the dumbest idea ever. Not only is it unbelievable that Alfred would randomly have his niece drop out of school and be a vigilante(he couldn't have made that AI overnight), but it just comes out of nowhere. Plus, Silverstone's performance is wooden.

I have no idea why Hingle and Gough sticked around for after the crappy last movie, but here they get to stretch their acting muscles a little. Commissioner Gordon is more actively involved in finding the villains and Alfred of course has a whole subplot to himself.

Speaking of which, the Alfred storyline is by far the best as it's the only one the movie seems to take seriously. The flashbacks with Alfred and young Wayne are charming as are their conversations about the direction of their lives. I do wish we'd gotten more of Bruce's thoughts(his "Alfred is dying" really came out of nowhere), but that's about it, the rest of it was handled great.

Another thing the film excels in is its visual imagery(minus the exaggerated Batsuit scene. I was watching the beginning of the movie in the bus and daaaamn...) and camera work. Gotham has calmed down since its' flashy reimagining, but remains metaphorically colourful.

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