Batman Forever (1995) Review

Batman Forever (1995) Director: Joel Schumacher

“Riddle me this, riddle me that, who’s afraid of the big, black bat?”

Rating: 2 out of 5.

After critical reviews of 1992’s Batman Returns accused the film being too dark in tone (imagine that!), Joel Schumacher was hired to direct a newer version of Batman, one with more hope and optimism. The goal was to make a movie that had a stronger appeal with parents and young children (i.e. bright lights, swirling colors, and snappy one-liners). Instead of Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer appears as Batman (he later complained about how the batsuit rendered him essentially deaf while filming). Tommy Lee Jones appears as the twisted Two Face, Nichole Kidman plays Dr. Chase Meridian –a woman who is erotically obsessed with Batman from the very opening scene, and Jim Carrey plays an eccentric scientist who descends into madness as The Riddler (apparently tensions on set were unbearable as Jones utterly despised Carrey and refused to work with him again, while director Joel Schumacher called Kilmer “psychotic” to work with). Interestingly enough, Senator Patrick Leahy also appears in the movie (he was a huge Batman fan), and Chris O’Donnell co-stars as Robin, the acrobat-turned-sidekick who gives a few winking nods to the 1960s television show one-liners —“Holy rusted ground, Batman!”

Throughout the movie, each character is given his own fairly simple motivation –Bruce Wayne wrestles with his dual persona of Bruce/Batman as well as his unforgettable childhood trauma, Robin wants vengeance on Two Face for killing his parents in a circus mishap, The Riddler wants revenge on Bruce Wayne for rejecting his brainwave device so he transforms it into a widespread power source to steal citizen’s thoughts (or worse, implant false thoughts). In the end, Two Face falls to his death chasing his prized coin, and The Riddler is locked away in Arkham Asylum. While my expectations for rewatching this film were in the toilet, I cannot say that I wholly hated it. It is a film apparently made by and for pre-teenaged boys and is about as silly as any ’90s super hero film. In truth, it’s surprising that anyone ever found this style to be compelling. Batman Forever is ironically not a “forever” movie, it was very much a product of its time. Amazingly, this was still not the low point of the Batman saga.

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