Monday, October 17, 2011

Review: Batman and Robin

Credentials: 13% Certified Rotten ( / 3.5 out of 10 ( / 28 out of 100 ( / Nominated for 11 Razzies at the 1998 Golden Raspberry Awards, won ONE (Worst Supporting Actress- Alicia Silverstone)
Plot: Nobody’s happy in the fourth entry in the “Batman” franchise (second directed by Joel Schumacher). Batman (George Clooney) is pissed his strictly platonic partner Robin (Chris O’Donnell) won’t listen to him. Robin’s annoyed Batman doesn’t treat him as an equal. Batman’s butler Alfred is upset everyone can’t just get along. It’s enough conflict to keep a soap opera busy for a month and we haven’t even added the villains yet! It seems Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) needs diamonds to keep his wife alive and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) wants a world without people, only plants. Despite their very different (the word incompatible comes to mind) endgames, the two decide to team up. Can Batman and Robin put aside their own differences to save the world or will their petty squabbling bring about the end of all mankind?
Thoughts: This truly is Batman’s darkest hour.
And for a guy who watched his parents die in front of him, calls himself the dark knight and dresses up in a Halloween costume year round, that really is saying something.

Now, I remember loving the crap out of “Batman and Robin” when I was younger. Then again, I also loved drinking Coca Cola through sugar straws and I thought Kid’s Cuisine was the bee’s knees. So, my taste as a child was admittedly a little spotty.
I think my fondness for the movie stemmed from the toy line it spawned. How cool the toys were often played a crucial role in determining what movies and TV shows I liked. I was (and remain) materialistic like that.
Those toys have long since been lost to time, garage sales and a beagle who would eat literally anything left within reach. So there’s really not much in “Batman and Robin” for me these days. At 24, I’m well past its target audience.
Even though I’ve still got a soft spot for it in my heart, I can admit there’s a lot wrong with it. A LOT.
For starters, it’s never, EVER a good idea to give Arnold Schwarzenegger an acting blank check. You need to keep a tight lid on him. If you let him do whatever he wants, he’s just going to lose his mind and that’s exactly what happens.
Mr. Freeze is all over the place. Schwarzenegger reaches dangerous levels of hammy acting, thought to be impossible even for a ham as accomplished as him.
Part of it isn’t his fault. The script forces him to speak almost exclusively in winter-themed puns so heinous that no one could pull them off. Still, Freeze is one of Batman’s more interesting villains and the character deserves better than this.
That kind of over-the-top mentality is what ended up crushing Joel Schumacher’s “Batman” vision and what ushered in Christopher Nolan’s striped-down, back-to-basics approach. Goofy and campy is one thing, but “Batman and Robin” goes so much further.
                The movie is chocked full of more eye-piercing neon colors and dopey sight gags than a Spencer’s Gifts.
                Arnie isn’t the only one done in by Akiva Goldsman’s script. The whole cast ends up drowning under the weight of all those puns.
                It takes some awful writing to make George Clooney look bad and Akiva is more than up to the challenge. Actually, I take that back. Clooney, as always, looks fantastic. His preening, strutting, semi-douchey take on Batman, however, leaves something to be desired.
                Chris O’Donnell is basically a forerunner to Chris Evans (The Human Tourch) in the “Fantastic Four” movies. They’re both cocky, headstrong and annoying enough to make you root passionately for the bad guys.
                “Batman and Robin” does have a nice little subplot involving Alfred (Michael Gough) as he attempts to overcome a rare, life-threatening disease. It ends up providing one or two AWW moments between Batman and his trusted butler. Sadly, they’re few and far between.
Random Thoughts
--- Hmm… Arnie gets top billing in “Batman and Robin,” despite playing neither Batman nor Robin. Interesting
--- Wonder why Alfred put nipples on Batman’s suit and Robin’s suit, but not on Batgirl’s suit? I feel like there’s a double standard at work here and I won’t stand for it!
--- Batman and Robin just happen to have ice skates on their boots despite Mr. Freeze never existing before? Really?
--- Alfred’s brother’s name is Wilfred and he is also a butler. Must run in the family
--- Poison Ivy is from the Hannah Montana school of disguises. “If I just change my hair color, no one will recognize me!”
--- Coolio and Alicia Silverstone? This movie is like a 90's Pop Culture Bermuda Triangle  
I wish I could say “Batman and Robin” withstood the test of time, but that would be a lie. It’s perfect for little kids and fans of puns, but anyone over 12 is going to have a hard time staying awake after the Bat-credit card makes its first appearance.
Wow this is a first I think.
             Bumblebee tuna.               

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