Tuesday, February 03, 2004

"Neon Batman on Broadway"


A Video Review of "Batman and Robin" (1997)

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

I sincerely hope to someday read Joel Schumacher's obituary and somewhere in that obit I hope to read the words "beaten to death by Batman fans." Joel Schumacher is single-handedly responsible for the death of the Batman franchise for Warner Brothers and yet he still works there. Will wonders never cease?

Mister Freeze. He is a formidable criminal genius whose comics history stretches back to the 1950s, his origins only recently being uncovered as science gone mad in an attempt to cure his true love from a frozen tomb.

Poison Ivy. She is the nihilistic beauty whose kiss kills and controls deadly plants.

Bane. He is the designer drug induced superman who in the comics broke Batman's back and sent him into hiding.

Any one of the above would supply appropriate angst and plot to power any one Bat-movie. We get however all three in watered down form. We also get watered down subplots in Batman and Robin's constant bickering, the introduction of the new Batgirl (a character that bears no resemblance to any DC Comics character by that name) and Alfred's fatal illness. Why couldn't this film just be about one thing?

George Clooney is okay as the caped crusader. He's really just doing himself in a batsuit though. You can tell he and Chris O'Donnell were all about signing the checks this time around. The worst, the absolute worst, is Alicia Silverstone. As the both perky and pudgy Batgirl she delivers her lines with all the skills of Jan Brady trying to be Marcia Brady. Ick!

On the villain side Uma Thurman actually makes an interesting Poison Ivy even when bending the camp-o-meter with her puns and bad Robert Smith imitation. Arnold Schwarzeneggar as Mister Freeze, for lack of a better phrase, runs hot and cold for me. At times his menace is perfectly brought across and the rest of the time he is belittled by his cold-related taglines. Icy doom, indeed!

There are two small nods to the comic book source of Batman. The inclusion of Julie Madison played to cardboard cutout perfection by model Elle McPherson. In the Golden Age of comics Julie was Bruce Wayne’s fiancee. John Glover is the other wink as Poison Ivy’s mentor Dr. Jason Woodrue who in the comics was the Floronic Man, a self-mutated villain who clashed with the Atom, Green Lantern and the Swamp Thing.

Besides the non-acting, the aimless plots and the exceeding camp we have Joel Schumacher's trademark that he has left on the Batman franchise: homoeroticism. There's no such thing as a bat-codpiece and the batsuit does not have nipples!

My current favorite quote is by Joel Schumacher and is about critics: "You remember every hateful word they write until the day you die."

I certainly hope so. This one’s for you.

Damn you, Joel Schumacher!

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