Howdy people of the north, south, east and west, and welcome to Day #16 of Month of Superhero Film Reviews 2! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best, average and worst comic book adapted films. Today I’m reviewing a film I was hoping to never have to actively go out and watch again, but for the sake of this blog series I am once again having to step back into the danger zone with one of the most hated superhero films in the history of the genre; Batman & Robin.
So yeah, this film, yuck. Every once in a while you get reminded of its terrible existence on a top ten worst list somewhere or when you talk about the history of comic book adaptations, but otherwise most times we try to forget that this films happened. If you remember my Month of Superhero Film Reviews from 2013 you may recall that I reviewed Batman 89, Returns and Forever, but skipped this one in favour of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but something told me that if I decided to do a second month of these reviews then this film would be waiting and unfortunately today is the day.
The story can be summed up as the following:
“The Dynamic Duo attempt to prevent Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy from freezing all mankind to death and repopulating the earth with mutant plants, while at the same time struggling to keep their partnership together.”
Let’s get this straight, this story is terrible. Straight from the beginning the film offends and confuses the eyes with the Batman and Robin suit-up scene with the shots of suit nipples, cod pieces and ass shots. Why? And then the rest of the film happens and you realise that the first scene in the film is just the start of the painful rollercoaster. This film is filled to the brim with cheesy puns, bad one-liners and cliché dialogue that feels like it was written in a very short space of time. Nothing in this film feels realistic or impressive, instead it is quite bizarre, strange and completely illogical. There’s also a lot going on from Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy both wanting to take over the city to trust issues going on with Batman and Robin, add on top of that the subplot with Alfred’s illness, Mr. Freeze’s wife and the addition of Batgirl and here’s just too much to follow and it doesn’t help that everything unfolds in a generic and cartoonish manner, so much so that when the film tries to inject scenes that try to add some dramatic heft to the film it fails because of the over saturation of foolishness that’s taken place beforehand. It goes on for far too long, THIS FILM DID NOT NEED TO BE TWO HOURS LONG! It is absurd how long the film goes on for and a lot of the story could have been streamlined so easily had it been written better. And speaking of the writer, I never knew until now that Akira Goldsman, one of the awesome writers from Fringe is responsible for this terrible script. While his work has never been good all of the time, at the same time it is hard to believe that he is part of the reason why comic book films went to shit before their revival in the early 2000’s.
Now let’s talk about the cast. Firstly there’s George Clooney as Bruce Wayne/Batman and yeah it’s not a very good performance. Clooney is a good actor for sure, but he was definitely the wrong choice for Batman. He doesn’t have the right look, physicality or charm of Bruce Wayne or Batman and he just doesn’t seem that convincing when he’s trying to be serious and the one-liners he has just makes me cringe. Chris O’Donnell as Dick Grayson/Robin, OH GOD! O’Donnell was at least tolerable in Forever for me, but here is just a whiny little bitch who has the worst one-liners and acts like a child when he’s a fully grown man. There is nothing cool or engaging about this version of Robin and O’Donnell should be ashamed (no offence to him because I do like the guy now, but this is something that I will never forgive). Oh and we can’t talk about this film without mentioning Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze, well, this is pretty much as bad as it gets. Schwarzenegger is super cheesy and hams up the role to the highest degree and it makes all of his ice/cold puns that much more painful, that being said the one-liners he comes out with are so bad that they’re funny at times. Uma Thurman as Dr. Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy, oh bloody hell. Thurman does her best to give us one of the most over the top performances in recent film history, her character is very lame, unbearable and non threatening.
Alicia Silverstone as Barbara Wilson / Batgirl. Silverstone, I’m sure she’s a good actress elsewhere but here she is just so unrealistic as a teenager or young person and I couldn’t take her seriously as a cool/badass motorbike racer or as Batgirl. Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth is okay, but his character felt a little overly charismatic and silly and while most of his standard character traits are intact, I feel like Gough wasn’t as engaging as before. Pat Hingle is kind of pointless as Commissioner James Gordon, his character feels like window dressing at this point and he was poorly used here. John Glover was SO cheesy and over the top as Dr. Jason Woodrue, could not take him seriously at all. I was surprised to see Elle Macphersonin this film as Julie Madison, didn’t notice her before, she was fine but unnecessary in this film and the same could be said about Vivica A. Fox as Ms. B. Haven. And finally Robert “Jeep” Swenson as Bane, what a waste! Fool. Whoever told Swenson to act the way that he did needs to be fired, Bane in this film is a mentally inept child with super strength but acts only when told by Poison Ivy and that just sucked. He is pretty much as bad as Sabertooth from X-Men 1.
Now let’s talk about the presentation. Visually the film is a bit crazy, the colour scheme is so vivid and bright and while it does create a unique world for Gotham City, it really takes away from the interesting identity of the city that I’ve known and the versions of the city that’s been presented in previous films. The GCI is alright, but is not nearly as impressive as some other films at that point in time, also the action scenes are ridiculous with lazy choreography, too much wire work and sequences that felt like they replicated straight from the essence of the Adam West Batman TV series, but not in a good way. As for the soundtrack, Elliot Goldenthal returns to craft this film score and besides the themes that return from Forever which is fine for the most part, the new music is composed for this film is so silly, bombastic, sassy and larger than life, but in the worst possible way. It only helps make whatever you see on-screen worse especially when Poison Ivy is around.
And lastly how does it compare to the comics? Well my Batman knowledge isn’t that dense but from what I can see they totally messed a lot of things up. Firstly Batgirl, who is meant to be Barbra Gordon and daughter of Commissioner James Gordon is instead the niece of Alfred for some strange reason and has this whole different persona and character history. Besides the look of her costume, Poison Ivy’s powers and personality was butchered, the same can be said for Bane who was dumbed down to a mindless thug with strength and Mr. Freeze, while they got the backstory with his wife sort of right, everything from the costume to his level of intelligence and demeanour, they done fucked it up. And the less said about those awful Bat costumes the better, suffice to say that they are terrible and should have never been conceived.
So to conclude Batman & Robin was and still is one of the worst films not only of the comic book superhero genre but in the whole of film in general. This film should only ever be watched if you’re drunk and want to something to laugh at or get angry at depending on your mood, otherwise this film should never be seen by anyone with a shred of logic, it sucks, nuff said!
Rating: 2/10 (only gets points for the ice puns)
That’s 16 reviews done, only 14 more to go. So have you seen Bartman & Robin and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!