Sunday, October 7, 2007

Batman Forever

Batman Forever; Action, USA, 1995; D: Joel Schumacher, S: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Nicole Kidman, Jim Carrey, Chris O'Donnell, Pat Hingle, Michael Gough, Drew Barrymore

Gotham city. Two-Face prepares a trap for Batman by placing a hostage in a bank vault which will get lifted by a helicopter from the building. Still, the dark knight saves the hostage and escapes. At the same time, Edward Nygma, disappointed by Bbruce Wayne's rejection over his controversial device that can screen TV images directly into the brain, becomes the evil Riddler and teams up with Two-Face. After he stages an attack at the circus, a few acrobats die, parents of the young Richard. Bruce takes custody of Richard who quickly finds out he is Batman and joins him as Robin. When Riddler and Two-Face kidnap Dr. Chase, Bruce's new girlfriend, Batman and Robin save her. Two-Face dies while Riddler lands in an mental asylum.

After he replaced Burton, director Joel Schumacher made numerous changes in the world of the third instalment of the "Batman" serial: instead of dark tones, he chose vibrant colors, humor and cheerful touch, but sadly made a dangerous turn towards MTV generation and campy feel of the 60s TV show. Useless was the fact that Catwoman appeared in the last shot of the previous sequel: not only she, but many other characters and even actors were removed for this film, and Val Kilmer was even introduced as the new Batman. Sadly, "Batman Forever" is one of those films that show how appearance and hype can make a trick on us and deceive us: when I saw the film for the first time in theaters as a kid, I was overwhelmed and regarded it as the best part of the "Batman" franchise, but looking at it today, objectively speaking, it really seems like one of the weakest contributions. There are still some great scenes present here that survived the test of time, like the first shot of Two-Face (excellent Tommy Lee Jones) that at first just shows his normal, "right" side of the face, but then slowly and gradually reveals his other side which is mutated, or the great humorous moment where Robin quickly dry cleans his washed laundry with his hands in front of an astonished butler Alfred, but such oasis of good ideas are rare when compared with the mountain of pure fluff that crams the whole story.

There are simply too many "hero gets saved in the nick of time" cliches, naive details, illogical plot holes (Riddler and Two-Face storm into Bruce's mansion and wound him, knowing he is Batman. Everything seems to be over. But just as Two-Face is about to kill Bruce, Riddler stops him so that he can recover as Batman and attack their hideout (!) to save Dr. Chase - now the question is only why would they let their rival live? Well, for the obvious reason - to keep the franchise going), Riddler and Two-Face giggle and laugh moronically as little kids almost all of the time, the story is filled with cheesy lines (after Nygma knocks out his boss with a metal coffe pot, he just has to say the dumb line: "Too much caffeine is bad for you!") while two subplots don't work: the Robin addition and Nygma's machine that can send TV images directly into people's brains, which was trivialized. The best subplot, revolving around Dr. Chase's (Nicole Kidman) fascination with leather and her determination to seduce Batman was sadly underused, when in fact it should have been the main storyline. Though, for fluff and superhero fans, even this sequel might be enjoyable.


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