Batman & Robin (1997)
The Dynamic Duo are back in action! The fourth installment of the Burton-verse Batman saga comes in, and closes out the series, continuing the light and poppy direction started in the previous film and turns it up even more. This review maybe short as the title alone immediately causes fans to shudder at what was…Batman & Robin.
Again with the crotch and booty shots! This film opens almost promisingly, much as Batman Forever did, but quickly takes a turn for the worse. As if the unnecessary glory shots of the two heroes weren’t enough, what follows is a series of one-liners resulting in a ham-fisted DCU (THAT means DC universe, folks) joke. Its clear in that moment that this is a film that is not really taking itself seriously which for any post-West fan of the Batman is a sad state of affairs. Batman and, by extension, Robin are generally considered to be super-powerless crime fighters with a slew of talents that help them best multiple adversaries. And now, suddenly, sky surfing and playing hockey are prerequisites for the super hero gig. But the jokes don’t end there. Throughout the film, almost every character seems to be guaranteed at least two jokes that just don’t work. Any and all of the seriousness of Batman has been taken away at this point in the franchise.
Sadly, the cast for this movie doesn’t work at all. It seems as if this movie was cast in order to bank on the celebrity of the actors rather than relying on the actors, and their performances, to carry any weight. George Clooney takes a turn as Bruce Wayne/Batman and makes absolutely no differentiation in acting the parts. For me, the way he plays the parts just don’t work. He just simply does not extend the suspension of disbelief enough to make me believe he could be Batman in he context of the film. That’s not saying he has to do the whole gravely throat thing, but dude literally plays Bruce and Batman exactly the same way. Then there’s Arnold, the Govenator himself, as Mr. Freeze. With the OG Conan, it is a clear case of less is more. It’s bad enough for him that his costume makes him look like he belongs in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie (yikes!) but his lines don’t come off as menacing at all. Forced to recite line after line of poorly written ice puns, every time Arnold speaks lessens the potential intelligence of Dr. Freis. The only people working well in this flick are Uma Thurman and Michael Gough. Uma, as Pamela Isely/Poison Ivy, is most effective as the former. While Gough, brings in his greatest performance as Alfred as he struggles with his health while wanting to keep supporting team Batman.
The only redeeming factor of this flick is the potential of the story. While not executed in the best way, it pits Batman and Robin against one another in some moments, includes some decently dramatic moments, and includes the Snowmiser/Heatmiser song. Reeking with continuity issues, unexplained new Bat-suits, and a comical tone turned way to high, what results is an almost humorous chapter in the Batman cinematic saga.
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