Friday, December 2, 2011

Ten Statements About....BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997)

Boy, those attempts to make the NHL appeal to new
viewers have gotten...weird.
"In the universe, there is only one constant...everything freezes."

1) The best way--some would say the only way--to view this movie is by accepting that this is a film that has surrendered itself so totally to the marketing department that it has ceased to have any connection to character, place or reality. This film is not so much telling us a story but stringing a long succession of scenes together in the hope of getting us to buy stuff.

2) Poor George Clooney, cast at the last minute, is obviously overtired throughout the film, sporting a perpetual five o'clock shadow. Yes, he tries very hard to keep up his energy, but he fails to give us anything more than a Batman who seems to have hit the vicodin a lil' too hard. That being said....

3) His best moments, and the best moments in the film, are the ones between him and Michael Gough as Alfred. There's a genuine connection between the two, so much so that you believe wholeheartedly that this is not employer and employee, but father than son. It is the through line between the two that provides what little grounding this film least until the whole 'Oh, noes, I gots da McGregor disease' development drops Alfred from the second half of the film.

In her off-time, Alicia Silverstone looks for an earlier
version of the script that actually makes sense while
pretending to have a stroke...
4) Here's something heretical--yes, Arnold Schwarzeneggar's incessant ice puns do detract from the movie, but there are some lines of dialogue that Mr. Freeze has that actually make sense and would have been effective if, you know, it wasn't being muttered by a guy with a thick Austrian accent who looks so much bigger than the Clooney Batman that he wouldn't need a suit of armor designed for a Broadway musical to beat his ass. It's those blink-and-you-miss-it brief moment that make me think that yes, at one point, there was a movie that would have been entertaining.

5) Movie, just because you can drag Vendela and Viveca A. Fox and Coolio into your orbit for a few moments in nothing roles doesn't mean you should have.

6) And while we're on the subject, movie...when Elizabeth Sanders' Gossip Gerty and the Neon Skull Gang have both more screen time and more lines of dialogue than Commisioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara, you're very severely flawed.

7) I'm absolutely convinced that of all the people involved in this movie, Uma Thurman was the only one who realized how far down a hole this film was falling and threw all caution to the wind. It's the only way I can explain how she chose to play Poison Ivy as Mae West.

8) You know what the problem is with Alicia Silverstone in this movie? It's that, as an actress, she seems incapable of being serious without doing these weird gurning movements with her face. Watching her emote as Barbara Gordon is like watching a claymation version of her; between the wiggling of her eyebrows and the chewing of her lips from side to side, she comes off as a grotesque.

"You know, in a previous incarnation, I was actually
9) Good job taking Bane, a character who is even more overtly the dark mirror of the Batman, someone whose intelligence and strength embody the nature to Batman's nuture, and turning him into a monosyllabic bull in a china shop.

No, wait. NO IT ISN'T.

10) That total lack of reality I cited in statement one extends to this version of Gotham, which simply is a city that Can Not Possibly Exist. There is no sense of place, just a bunch of crazy items (statues that hold buildings up miles over the street! Insane asylums that have cages up on bridges over the ocean! Factories that are condemned yet still have vats of non-decayed, still soft ice cream out in the open air!) that facilitates set pieces.

Overall...this is not the Worst Movie Ever. It's not even The Worst Superhero Movie Ever (anyone who lobs that charge at this film hasn't seen, among other things, Pumaman or Ghost Rider--yes, Munn, I said it). What it is is a gigantic mess of ulterior motives, bad decisions and miscues drawn together in what has to be a perfect storm of nonsense. Could be worth watching as an example of a franchise crashing down under its own weight.


  1. Actually Ghost Rider was loads better than Batman and Robin could ever hope to be. This is the movie that almost killed the franchise dead if Nolan hadn't brought along a defibrillator.

  2. Lone, I respect the right to your opinion...and I don't make value judgements based on a film's commercial success or lack thereof.