Batman & Robin

Posted: April 23, 2018 in Movies
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I ain’t going to take a crap on Batman & Robin. I know that sounds nuts. I’m kind of not going to defend the film either. Well I am sort of. See I have a bit of love for this movie. Am I alone?

Here’s a quick recap of where we were with the Batman franchise in the summer of 1997 when this fourth entry was released. Val Kilmer had opted not to come back as Batman. Taking over the role was 90’s heartthrob and budding big screen leading man Geroge Clooney. Batman & Robin marked his most high profile role to date. Alicia Silverstone, who had gained a massive following after comedy hit Clueless, was onboard as Batgirl. Batman Forever‘s Chris O’Donnell was back as Robin along with director Joel Schumacher. On the villian side of things Pulp Fiction breakout Uma Thurman was Poison Ivy and the biggest addition was without a doubt Arnie Schwarzenegger as Mr Freeze. Batman Forver proved a massive hit and was generally well recieved by critics and fans. Seemed like a another hit was on the horizon right?

The plot is just there, like with most of these films based on comics (yeah even the MCU ones guys). You got your heroes – Batman, Robin and Batgirl – and you throw them against their latest threat which in this instalment is Poison Ivy and Mr Freeze. They want to take over Gotham City. Batman and co. has to stop them.

I can remeber seeing this film at the cinema. Back then there was no Twitter or massive online community. So there were no early reactions except in the movie magazines like Empire and Total Film. I had read the Empire review (they gave it an okay-ish review if you can believe it) and my buddies had seen it before me so I got some idea of the film. Me and another of my pals went off to see it one night after school. Fourteen years old. When the credits rolled we both looked at one another. Not quite sure how to put into words what we had just seen. Batman & Robin was like Batman Forever on drugs. In a bad way. An explosion of neo colours coated a camptastic Gotham City and was unlike anything that had come before it.

Even understanding the films failings (on the nose dialogue, a clearly uncomfotable George Clooney, slapstick humour and WAY too many plot points) I would come back to this entry again and again. I own it. In it’s own sickly beautiful way it’s a stunning looking film in places. Gotham City has never looked more epic, Mr Freeze looks excellent and you can see every pound of the budget up on the screen. From the massive and impressive sets to the costumes and wide array of Bat-vehicles. Arkham Asylum is beyond gothic. Visually the film is never a bore. I’ll argue the film is not a bore at all. It’s just extremley messy and as I said (and it bears repeating) it is very camp.

The camp factor, I think, is kind of why I like this film. I’m not the first fan to say Batman & Robin shares a strong string of DNA with the vibe of the 1960’s Adam West show. I love that. That TV show was my first introduction to Batman and his world. Yes it’s camp and would look odd to fans who grew up on Batman Begins and the Nolan movies or the new darker recent Justice League and Batman vs. Superman iteration but that’s just one of those things. Being a fan of Batman is awesome because there are SO many falvours out there in film, TV and the comics.

The difference between the 60’s series and this movie is one was a half hour slice of entertainment and this is a two hour movie with that camp style stretched out throughout it’s running time and I get that is not going to be for everyone. The issues don’t stop there either. There’s too many characters in this movie. Check out Batgirl’s arc and eventual introduction. It’s laughable in how it’s handled but that absurdity only adds to the films charm for me. Arnie and Thurman, seriously now, are GREAT in this. Their performences are beyond over the top. Arnie woefully miscast but, for me, it just all works.

The film is a beautiful disaster. I get it. I’m not crazy. I know fans, die hard fans, must have been throwing up seeing Bane, another iconic villian, portrayed nothing like his comic counterpart. I see this film’s faults (how can’t you?) but I like it anyway. It’s not the best entry in the Batman on film saga but if anything it’s one that plays a vital role to future creatives. Bigger and bolder isn’t always better when you’re riding the wave of success

 

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