Director: Joel Schumacher
Screenplay By: Akiva Goldsman
Release Date: June 20, 1997
Run Time: 125 minuets
After watching this and “Superman 3” there is one question on my mind: how many truly great ideas have been foiled by poor writing and directing? How many bad book and movies could have been saved if the creator(s) had simply been better at their jobs. How many “Ginger Snaps” and “Battle Royal”s have been made into “Jennifer’s Body” and “The Hunger Games” instead?
Yes, this is another movie with so many good ideas I wish I could like it more. In fact, some of these good ideas did in fact make it into better versions of the Batman canon. For example: Freeze’s wife. Yeah, that came from this movie. So, that awesome Mr. Freeze from the animated show and the “Arkham” video games? You owe Schumacher for that, Does that make this Freeze any good? God no. Even as someone who loves pun (especially bad puns) I was still hoping he would just stop talking withing a few minuets. So, let’s take a look one of the movies that nearly killed the Superhero genre.
Like the last film, this opens up on it’s weakest leg by giving us jokes so bland they almost become funny in a meta scene when you think to yourself “someone thought this was a good line”. As Batman and Robin are driving, Commissioner Gordon appears on a T.V. in the Batmobile to tell Batman what’s happening. Until now i’ve never had an issue with Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon in these films, even if he was underused (a sin against any Batman interpretation as he was around since the beginning, with his first appearance being in Detective Comics #27). But right here I have to wonder who gave less of a crap about making a good movie: Hingle or Schumacher. Hingle’s lines are so rushed here that either he couldn’t be bothered to…you know…act or Schumacher was to damn lazy to call for another take. Either way, this is a poor way to open the movie. I’d like to say it gets better from here, but you already know that it wont.
Batman and Robin get to the museum that Mr. Freeze is robbing at again the movie shows how littler it cares by just how much clutter in in this place. Most museums have themes (at least the one’s I’ve been too: art, history, military ect.) but in this one we have a big as dinosaur sculpture in the same area as the diamond Freeze is after. Why? So Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) can make one of his millions of dumb ass puns. After Robin acts too rashly and manages too lose both Freeze and the diamond we actually get our first glimpse at one of those rare “good idea’s” we get so little of in this movie. Bruce and Dick start to argue over the nature of their relationship. Are they partners or is Robin a sidekick? This could have been a good dilemma, but like everything else is let down by the poor writing.
We then cut to a castle that is obviously an evil where Dr. Pamela Isley (Uma Thurman) is using a compound called “Venom” to give plants animal like defense in the wild. I would point out how this would radically change the balance of plant and wildlife in a natural environment, but If I stopped to point out every bit of stupidity in this film we’d be here all day. Anyways, it turns out that Isley’s boss has been stealing her Venom samples to sell a race of super soldiers to the Anti-United Nations (or something to that effect). Isley finds out (because this would have been so easy to hide, right?) after her boss turns a death row inmate into the muscular brute, Bane. Isley’s boss then tries to kill her by pushing her into her chemicals, but instead this transforms her into “Poison Ivy”.
Skipping over a lot (and I do mean a lot) of stupid “plot”, Poison Ivy has learned that she can use plant pheromones to make Batman and Robin fight over her, so they aren’t paying her any attention, Ivy, Bane and Freeze have teemed up after Ivy convinces Freeze that Batman has killed his wife and Alfred’s niece Barbara , has come by after learning that her uncle is dying. Yeah, i’m skipped over all of that and more because it is all just so, so, so boring.
Ivy continually uses her poisons to make Batman and Robin fight over her, witch almost makes Robin quite…until Bruce figures out what’s going on and then Ivy’s toxins seem to have no effect on him. Because that’s how that works. “I know how my peanut allergy works, so now it doesn’t effect me”. “I know meth is addictive so I can totally do it and use it and suffer no consensuses by my shear power of will!”. Yeah, no. Bull. Shit. That is not how that works.
So, how is Ivy dealt with? Well, Batman convinces Robin to wear rubber lips that saves him from Ivy’s poison kiss, but it’s Barbara that saves the day here. Why? Well, Alfred just knew she’s find the Batcave and made her a batsuit. The only thing I could think of that is dumber than that explanation is choosing to watch this in the first place. Getting on with things, Batgirl (not batwoman, batgirl) kicks Ivy into one of her man eating plants.
Now, I’ve been ignoring this through each of the Batman films, but now I have to say something: Batman has been strait up murdering people throughout this franchise. Unless you have a narrative or thematic reason for a character to have a certain trait, i’m okay with it being modified. For example: there is no real reason Batman has to be white. Nothing about his character hinges on his race, so it could be changed at any time. But, Batman’s “No Killing” Rule? Yes, that you need to keep. That IS Batman’s character. Outside of “I beat up poor people because My Mommy and Daddy died”, Batman’s unwillingness to take a life is central to his character. And both Burton and Schumacher completely ignore this.
Moving on. Freeze goes to an observatory to use the telescope to supercharge his freeze gun. His original plan was stupid, but by the end it dissolves into “I’m going to freeze the earth”. Batman, Robin and Batgirl show up on completely new costumes and the last half hour is basically just a toy commercial. Robin and Batgirl take on Bane and beat him in the most anti-climatic fight you will ever see. I mean, we all know Bane is going to be beaten by getting his Venom tub ripped out, but just…i don’t think the film makers could have found a less interesting way to get it done her.
Batman takes on Freeze, beating him by placing a heating pad his cooling suit. Batman and his amazing friends manage to reroutes a system of mirrors in space to undo the damage Freeze did to Gotham.
So, what other bullshit convenience can the movie pull out of it’s ass? Well, it turns out that Freeze had already found a cure for his wife’s disease in it’s earlier stages. And what is it that is killing Alfred? The same damn thing, it’s just not as advanced! So Alfred lives and Barbara stays with the team.
As I said n the beginning of the review, there are a lot of good ideas here, but this film manages to botch each and every one of them. Mr.. Freeze’s puns are just awful, but they are literally in every single line of his dialogue. Bane in the comics is actually quite intelligent as well as strong, but here he is just a dumb-ass brute. And Poison Ivy is just…there. Then the props are all crappy looking as well. By now i’m sure you’ve seen how the ice cycles wiggling around. The writing is as bad as it could get, the acting is bland and the plot is stupid. The only thing that stops this from getting a 0 is the fact that there s some vague mirage that resembles human logic through out the film. And there are some scenes I liked. Well, there’s one. The scene between Bruce and Alfred while Alfred is dying in bed is actually rather nice and sweet and did make me kind of sad to see the old man go. That is, until the movie reaches deep, deep into it’s colon and pulls out it’s moronic out of the situation.
I hated this movie. It may not be as bad as “Superman 4”, but that’s only by the virtue that I don;t think anything else will ever be either.