The Curator of Schlock #83 by Jeff Shuster
Batman Forever (Batman Forgotten)
I tend to wax poetic about the 1980s, but the 90s were pretty awesome in their own right: Mystery Science Theater 3000, Surge Soda, and Stone Cold Steve Austin to name a few things. But above it all was Batman: The Animated Series, one of the greatest cartoons of all time. If you wanted a Batman fix, it was there for you everyday after school. They even had Mark Hamill voice the Joker, the last guy on the planet I would have picked to voice the Joker, but his Joker is now classic.
Time passed and, alas, the show had run its course. You could only watch so many reruns of the episode where Batman fights his robot double. They showed that one over and over and over again! Still, who needed more episodes of an Emmy Award Winning cartoon when Warner Bros. could just slap together a star-studded extravaganza!
This brings us to 1995’s Batman Forever from director Joel Schumacher. I liked The Lost Boys well enough. I even liked his adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera with the GQ Phantom. But I must have blocked Batman Forever out of my head.
I remember that music video with Bono where he fancied himself a Batman villain: Captain Lucifer or some crap like that.
There was that Seal video about gray roses kissing. Years later, I caught a VH-1 host singing the praises of that Seal song while exclaiming that he’d seen soft porn that had better plots than Batman Forever.
How can this be? I remember everyone I knew loving Batman Forever at the time. Right? I asked my sister what she thought of it.
“Is that the one with Michael Keaton?”
“No, it’s the one with Val Kilmer.”
“Yeah, it sucked.”
So I decided to spend the afternoon revisiting Batman Forever.
Val Kilmer isn’t the problem with this movie. I’ll be blunt: who really cares who plays Batman? Any leading man can play him. Nicole Kidman is the love interest, Dr. Chase Meridian. She has that classic Veronica-Lake-Hollywood-glamour look going for her in this film.
Chris O’Donnell plays Robin, the Boy Wonder. He was about the best we could have hoped for, probably due to the fact that studio executives never would have approved a Robin that was 10 years-old. So we got a college age Robin like the one on Batman: The Animated Series. In fact, I would say he was playing a classic Dick Grayson, albeit annoyingly, but he tried.
Next up, we have Jim Carrey’s The Riddler. This is where the similarities to the cartoon end. You see, on Batman: The Animated Series, they made The Riddler cold and calculating, a personality trait that would separate him from a lunatic like the Joker. Not so with Jim Carrey. He’s completely bonkers here. That being said, his performance is fascinating to watch. There are times where I presume he’s totally off script (which may not be a bad thing). The Mask was a pretty good movie.
This brings us to Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face. In the comics and on the cartoon, Two-Face is a tragic character, a good man who fell from grace. In Batman Forever, he is yet another Joker wannabe. The make-up job on the left side of his face is purple. And don’t get me started on Tommy Lee Jones’s performance. It’s not only the worst of his career, but it’s the worst by any actor in the entire history of cinema.
He calls Batman a “pointy-eared night rat” in one scene.
Here’s a riddle: who wrote this piece of crap movie?
Is there a point to this review? As I said in the beginning, I was a huge fan of Batman The Animated Series and I felt that Batman Forever stole its cultural thunder. I remember getting criticized for still watching a kid’s cartoon in high school, but at least the minds behind Batman: The Animated Series gave it their all. I’ll take Mark Hamill over Tommy Lee Jones as my villain any day of the week.
5 Things I Learned From Watching Batman Forever
- Batman gets drive thru.
- Alfred makes a sweet hamburger.
- Drew Barrymore was in a Batman movie.
- Joel Schumacher is obsessed with rubber.
- Congo was the best summer blockbuster of 1995.