Today I watched Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever (1995)
After Batman Returns the producers, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the series could be more profitable and mainstream, kicking Tim Burton to the curb and replacing him with the hot young talent of Schumacher. The tone of the film has subsequently shifted to a much more cartoonish atmosphere as Gotham is threatened by the scenery chewing villainy of The Riddler and a non-Billy Dee Williams Two Face. Meanwhile we are also introduced to the most ridiculed and lamest part of the Batman mythos, his boy sidekick Robin. Now I don’t hate Robin, there have been a few solid incarnations of that character that do fit into the Batman mythology, but for the most part I think the idea is deeply flawed. Batman just makes more sense as a loner to me, his obsessions are inhuman and a boy sidekick just doesn’t gel with that for me.
All that being said, this film is perhaps underrated not in terms of quality but in terms of it’s impact. The over abundance of comedic quips instead of actual character building, the non threatening villains, the style and injokes over substance approach, this is the true predecessor of today’s Marvel movies. Except unlike those mostly droll expressions of bland artlessness this film at least has a style, even if it is the Toys R’ Us version of Burton’s brilliant Gotham. That may be quite a problem as the film looks like a cybergoth plastic playset more than an actual location but at least it is a unique style.
And that really is both the saving grace and the doom of this film, it is very stylish but probably not the style most people want from Batman. It is also just a style and gone are the attempts at deeper themes and drama that Burton had brought to his films. So beyond that skin deep style, this is frankly a rather boring experience, especially the attempt at a love story. Chase Meridian is no more than a Bond Girl and I will critisize that trope some other time, needless to say she is just there because some people think all blockbusters need a love story, they are wrong. I also should mention that there is a new actor under the cowl, Val Kilmer, who I think is very telanted and totally out of place here as he tries to deliver a serious performance in a film without a serious bone in it’s body. 2/5