Friday, August 29, 2008
Bad Movie Month bows out with Batman & Robin
As the last days of summer movies are upon us,particularly this Labor Day Weekend,I thought it would be best to wrap up Bad Movie Month with one of the most infamous superhero film failures of our time,Batman & Robin.
I freely confess to having seen this sucker not once,but twice,when it was out in theaters(in my defense,my sister and I needed an excuse to go outside and do something,plus there really wasn't anything else that much better playing in our local movie houses).
While Batman Forever,the film before it,wasn't anywhere near as good as the Tim Burton Batman movies,the camp elements of that movie were well handled by Jim Carrey,Tommy Lee Jones and Val Kilmer. Here,we were stuck with George Clooney as the lead who gave as much gravity to his lines as Milli Vanilli did to their lip synching on stage.
Let's just take a look at some of components that made this Batman sequel sink faster than the Titanic. A hero is as only as good as the villain he/she faces and B&R delivered up three choice offerings from Rogues' Gallery for the caped crusaders to square off against:
Arnold Schwarzenegger was not a bad pick to play the cold hearted scientist obsessed with finding a cure for his beloved wife's terminal illness so much that he was willing to turn the world into a wintery hell. Arnold had shown in T2 that he could play a villain who turns into a sympathetic hero,plus he has no qualms about making jokes at his expense.
Sadly,the direction that his character went was more of a loud mouthed cartoon stick figure who sprouted cheesy ice puns and was as threatening as a Snow Cone. Plus,one thing that never made sense to me was this scene where Vivica A. Fox plays a hench woman who flirts with Freeze,is rejected and then never seen or mentioned in the movie again! What gives? Why wouldn't she stick around,to at least give Poison Ivy some competition later on,or team up with her to take out Mrs. Freeze? Seems like a waste of Vivica's time to me(not to mention make-up and wardrobe):
Uma Thurman did seem to have a good time in her role as Dr. Pamela Isley,whose love of plants took a rather toxic turn,especially for the men who received her literal kiss of death. At times,Uma was channeling Mae West but her outfits and her actions came off more like a Mae West impersonator.
Probably her best bit in the movie is Poison Ivy's entrance at the Fire and Ice Ball,where she actually apes Marlene Dietrich and causes Batman and the Boy Wonder to hold a pathetic bidding war(complete with an awful credit card joke) for her charms. It's a real relief when Mr. Freeze arrives to wreck the party:
Bane was a newer character from the comics,who was strong enough to cripple Batman for awhile and be a major menace. Here,he's used as a wind up toy,who follows Poison Ivy around to do her bidding and like a action figure,has to have his power button pushed before going into service:
As to Batman and Robin themselves,those guys spent most of the movie squabbling about one thing or another. A good portion of the dialog went along these lines:
Robin: I want to fight just as hard against the bad guys as you,Bruce!
Batman: That's fine,but you have to stay behind when it gets really,really dangerous and do what I say,because I'm older and know better,so there!
Robin: No way,Jose! I'm a big boy now and can pull up my own underoos when things go down,old man!
When they weren't doing their version of Cat's In the Cradle,the fellas fussed over Poison Ivy,with Batman catching on a little quicker that she was bad news:
Where the movie truly screwed the pooch was with Bat Girl. I know that I will sound like a die hard geek here,but the origin of a comic book character being introduced for the first time on film should be done right. The true and best loved Bat Girl was Babara Gordon,daughter of Police Commissioner Gordon who followed both her father and his caped cohort in crime fighting by donning a bat suit.
She was NOT some made up niece of Alfred's(who didn't even try to use an English accent)who flirted with Robin via illegal motorbike racing. The emphasis placed on the rather form fitting latex of the bat suits was made even sleazier by Alicia Silverstone's big close up shot of her Bat Girl Butt.
Also,her fight scene with Poison Ivy was lamer than Tiny Tim's crutch. She didn't even have any good weapons to use against Bat Girl! All Ivy used were some plastic vines and a light up pen knife-even the animated versions of Ivy had better and more lethal than those tie-in toy rejects:
What makes Batman & Robin so unique in the history of bad movies is that it was so bad that the director apologized for it. Yes, folks,on the last Special Edition DVD of B&R,Joel Schumacher(who also directed Batman Forever)said he's sorry to the fans who had such high hopes for the film to be worthy of the Batman legacy:
So,as you enjoy your last summer holiday at the movies for the year,just remember than one bad movie can't bring a whole franchise down,not for long anyway. After all, Batman was able to Begin again and wow the world as The Dark Knight,even with this flick that makes the Adam West TV show look like Masterpiece Theater(see you in September,folks!):
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