Batman & Robin (1997) Review

Batman & Robin (1997) Director: Joel Schumacher

“The ice man cometh!”

Rating: 1 out of 5.

The fourth installment in the Batman series which began with Tim Burton’s groundbreaking Batman (1989), Batman & Robin is a ridiculous carnival of hollow spectacles and cheap scriptwriting. Beginning with absurd close-ups of the hero’s crotches and rear ends, and a backdrop of flashing lights, filled with cornball dialogue and stilted acting, as well as silly costume building and set designs –this movie is simply a complete waste of time. George Clooney replaces Va Kilmer as Batman, Chris O’Donnell returns in his forgettable role as Robin, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a farcical version of Mr. Freeze (apparently, he appeared onset for a mere six days), and Uma Thurman delivers an awkward attempt at nonstop eroticism as Poison Ivy. It’s also worth noting that Robert Swenson who plays Bane in Batman & Robin was an avid user of steroids for many years, and he tragically died a few months after the film’s release. As the characters drift in and out of sets made of cardboard and plastic (the whole movie looks like a children’s theme park ride) the plot is mostly indecipherable and boring –there are parties and auctions, people are frozen, and Batman and Robin fly through the air on surfboards and skate over frozen ice like hockey players. But in the end, a sickly Alfred (reprised by Michael Gough) accidentally reveals the Batcave to his niece Barbara (Alicia Silverstone) who predictably transforms herself into Batgirl. She has no training or practice, yet she is a formidable heroine for unexplained reasons. The Bat trio averts a plot to freeze the whole city of Gotham, while Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy wind up in Arkham together and Alfred is saved thanks to Mr. Freeze’s scientific research.

Needless to say, everything about this movie just screams laziness and mediocrity. A sequel called Batman Unchained was canceled after atrocious reviews for the film emerged. Batman & Robin continues to rank among the worst films ever made –even George Clooney has been known to reimburse moviegoers who once saw the movie in theaters. Many directorial decisions for the film were determined on the basis of toy manufacturers and calculating how many products could be sold. Thankfully, nearly a decade later, Christopher Nolan revived the Batman live-action franchise with his now-classic Dark Knight trilogy. I much prefer the more recent interpretations of the character than all this foppish nonsense from the 1990s.

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