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Here at Four Horsemen Films, we're dedicated to some of the very best and worst cinematic masterpieces you know, love, and despise. Think of us as Bad Movies for Bad People, or as a liaison to the inner sanctum of cinema. Or, just think of us as quick and entertaining reads. That's what Four Horsemen Films is all about.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Batman & Robin (1997)

Batman & Robin (1997)

Written by: Akiva Goldsman

Directed by: Joel Schumacher

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone

Country of Origin: United States of America

The Idea:
When I opened up my doors to the viewing public for an opportunity to make their voices heard on a broad list of films for this month’s “Reader Request” theme, I was overwhelmingly bombarded by requests to see a review of the following piece of cinematic history. Over 76% of the voters, an astoundingly large mark in comparison with other films, chose to see a review of what is recognized as one of the worst movies in the categories of super heroes, sequels, releases of 1997, releases of the 90’s, action flicks, and, in case that’s not enough, all time releases.

The movie in question, obviously, is Batman & Robin has directed by Joel Schumacher. Unsurprisingly, Schumacher’s idea for the fourth installment in the Gotham crusader’s escapades was to capitalize on the success he had with the former film, Batman Forever. Keep in mind that the majority of Batman Forever was played with a satirical nature not found in Tim Burton’s first two movies, and it was also accompanied with unrivaled special effects and over the top action and characters. No wonder Jim Carrey received such praise. He could have been dressed as a garbage man with a sign that read “Riddler” and people would have bought it.

When it came time for Batman & Robin to become reality, the producers, writers, and Schumacher (of course) thought they should go bigger and better than their last exploit. What they inevitably did was front-load the cast of characters with some of the “greatest” of all time, ignoring that the script sucked and that Schumacher himself was not very good at his directing job. They also figuratively and literally raped the Batman franchise for 10 years. That’s right, even with the socially redeeming Batman Begins, it took 10 years, upon the release of The Dark Knight to critical acclaim, for the movie world to finally forget about Batman & Robin. That was, until you all suggested dominantly that I review it. Thanks.

This movie is the epitome of a super hero cartoon on Saturday Mornings, except that instead of being literal animation (thus suspending belief at the onset), it progresses ever so slowly for two of the longest, boobless hours in history. Batman & Robin is the story of Batman (no fucking shit?) and his trusty sidekick Dick Grayson (that’s Robin) fighting a new menace to Gotham City in the form of Mr. Freeze. A tortured soul, Freeze is played laughably by Arnold Schwarzenegger in a pre-Governor stage of his career. Freeze finds that he can only survive by infesting his suit, vehicle, and hideout (a freezer, real original) with large diamonds, most of which he steals from various Gotham gatherings. Sooner than later, Freeze is accompanied by Poison Ivy, a sexy spit of woman out to destroy Gotham City so “Mother Nature” can take its course. She too has a sidekick in the form of Bane, a steroid-induced freak that was once a convict on death row. I hope you’re following all of this, because there will be a quiz.

The majority of the movie is spent jumping from one pointless action scene to another with Freeze’s lackeys trying to overcome Batman and Robin while they fight amongst themselves over the seductive Poison Ivy. Oh sure, there’s the whole side plot about Alfred being on his death bed due to a rare disease that Freeze’s wife also has, but that only has significant for five non-sequential minutes of the movie, four of which are spent introducing us to Batgirl. Seriously, is there a fucking union on sidekicks in Gotham?

Ambling (aimlessly might I add) towards the climax, all of the characters brawl until the good guys get the advantage and send the bad guys off to the loony bin, but not without convenient resolution for Freeze and Ivy. Not that this is surprising, but this Batman movie does more to point out the old cliché of gadget and plot “convenience” for the lead characters. Sure, Batman doesn’t have his “Carousel Reversal Spray” but its pretty damn close. In the first ten minutes, its evident that he didn’t know what he was matching up against in Mr. Freeze. Hell, he didn’t even know who that was until Chief Gordon told him so, yet sure enough, and in a pinch, when he clicked his heels together, Batman’s boots sprouted ice skates. Fucking ice skating in a Batman movie. I know I should avoid the overused “Batman On Ice” jokes, but it is way too hard. During the same sequence, he’s got heat lasers able to zap off any ill effects from being frozen, because unsurprisingly, the boy blunder suffers that very fate. At least I haven’t attacked the homosexual convenience of nipples on suits and constant shots of BATMAN’S ASS. Soft core pornography isn’t this bad, EVER.

Member of the crew who should’ve been fired: While this is another classic example of cinema that is an indictment on everyone involved, if I had to pick one (instead of the bailout answer of everyone) crew member to give the axe, I’d wield it smoothly and rapidly towards writer Akiva Goldsman, who scripted a total piece of shit with bad lines, bad story, and incredibly over the top puns. If Arnold says Freeze one more time, my television will commit suicide all by itself. For a better example, click here.

Best name in the cast: How about that cameo appearance by former professional wrestler and Minnesota Governor Jesse “the Body” Ventura? Just a few years before Ventura’s “We shocked the world” campaign, he was a simple and gullible guard at Gotham’s famed Arkham Asylum. He also dies in the movie. There’s a payoff.

Quote of the Film:
“That's right, Dick. I want them so much, I can taste it.” -Bruce Wayne, giving us another line that, while delivered deadpan, is perfect fodder for the sheer stupidity of it all.

Final Thoughts: I know, we’ve already gathered that this movie sucks and you should all be ashamed of yourselves for forcing me to review it. But, through all of the complaints, at least we know that we’re (or at least I’m) not alone in the constant flood of hatred for this film. While The Dark Knight makes huge bank because Christopher Nolan “gets” the Gotham City regime, Joel Schumacher’s career has never recovered from the hits he got in his Batman directing prowess. Schumacher moved on to becoming something of an enigma himself, showing up every once in a while to direct films like The Number 23. Oh, guess what? That movie sucked, too. Maybe he should quit his day job. I’ve watched this movie dozens of times. I mean really, dozens of times, and I can safely say that it gets worse every single time I see it. How bad does a movie have to be to get worse each time you watch it? It’s like a contest in endurance, but even when the credits roll, I feel like I’m always on the losing side.

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