Comic Book Movie Rewatch: Batman Forever

I really enjoy movies based on comic books, whether they be dark and serious like  Snyder’s Superman movies, or light and fun films like The Green Hornet. Every time I watch one (or re-watch one) I write up a post with my thoughts. I try to be spoiler free, but the older the movie, the less careful I am. This time it was the 1995 movie Batman Forever.

batmanforeverBatman Forever

IMDb Rating: 5.4/10

Rotten Tomatoes critics: 40%

Rotten Tomatoes audience: 33%

My Rating: 3/10

It’s not easily apparent if this movie is considered a sequel to the Tim Burton Batman movie or if it’s a reboot. Either way, this is where the franchise turned from dark with funny moments to camp. To make matters worse, it seems like the camp is (mostly) unintentional.

One of the first things that stood out to me as I started watching was that there were some really big names in the cast. Val Kilmer, Nicole Kidman, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Drew Barrymore, and Chris O’Donnell were all at or near their career peaks when the movie came out. This was a star-studded cast, but nothing really came together for them.

Kilmer is a decent batman. He had the right demeanor and, to me, fit physically as well. I just couldn’t buy him as Bruce Wayne. I couldn’t take Kidman’s character seriously. She was constantly spouting almost random psychobabble and was so overly sexual that she became a parody of what her character should have been. Tommy Lee Jones could have been a great Two-Face, but instead of acting like himself, he seems to be imitating Jack Nicholson’s Joker. Finally, we have Jim Carrey… and maybe the less I say about his performance the better.

Despite all the problems with the acting, most of the blame falls on the director.Joel Schumacher just couldn’t pick a tone and stick with it. At times it feels like he’s trying to imitate Burton’s Batman, other times he abandons that and tries to make the movie feel like a cartoon, and other times he’s somewhere in the middle. During the cartoonish moments, there’s a lot of over-acting while during the serious moments, everyone is stone faced. It’s just a mess.

The writing is also a big problem, usually when lines were supposed to be funny. Batman isn’t really shown as being all that intelligent or clever. To the point where Alfred literally tells Bruce that’s he’s smart. The moment is supposed to be taken as a joke but there is so little detective work in the movie that I genuinely didn’t believe Alfred when he said it. There were also a lot of one-liners that just made me groan.

I’ll close this post with some of the good parts of the movie. The first one that comes to mind is Robin’s origin. Chris O’Donnell was a little old to be playing Robin, but he did a nice job. The entire circus scene was engaging, and it was one of the first times in the series that you see Bruce Wayne willing to make a sacrifice to protect innocents. I thought the character development in this movie even surpassed that of the Burton films. Batman, Robin, the Riddler, all three change during the movie.

After watching it again, I think this movie best qualifies as a great candidate for bad movie night.

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