Batman & Robin (1997) Review

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice hits Cinemas March 25th 2016 as the collective nerd word waits with baited breath as two of the most iconic hero’s of all time go one on one.

so what better way to look forward to the future than to have a glance back at the highs and lows (So many low’s) of the icons that changed the genre forever!

It’s hard to think of a film that is more actively disliked than this one. It’s not the worst movie ever made, far from it, and in fact it ended up as one of the highest-grossing films of 1997. But Batman & Robin is easily one of the most reviled movies ever made. I defy you to find a single positive review of this movie anywhere, by any critic. In 1999, readers of the UK magazines SFX and Comics International voted this the worst comic book adaptation ever made.

Why is this film so hated? If it were about any other character besides Batman, I doubt we’d even be having this discussion. Batman is behind only Superman as the most enduring and beloved comic book character ever created, and a lot of this has to do with the unique nature of the character. Batman was the first costumed superhero who didn’t get his powers because he came from another planet, had chemicals spilled on him, or got exposed to atomic radiation. As Conan O’Brien once joked, Batman’s only superpower is that he goes to the gym a lot.

Essentially, Batman is one of the few costumed crimefighters who chooses to be a superhero. And in the sixty-plus years since his first appearance, a great number of comic book creators have devoted a lot of ink to exploring his motivations. Take the tragedy that drives Batman, and couple it with the sinister bat imagery he utilizes, and the stage is set for a limitless number of dark, Gothic stories that examine issues of justice, revenge, and vigilantism in the seedy underbelly of the big city.

Was it faithful? More or less. Was it serious? Not really. It had plot holes you could drive the huge new and improved Batmobile through, and it devoted very little time to understanding the character or his motivations. But it did have amazing visual design, strong performances by both Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and a plot that at least attempted to be semi-coherent.

The film didn’t quite succeed in its attempts to be humorous, but at least it featured an actual comic actor, Jim Carrey, and action sequences that at the very least attempted to play by the rules of physics. No doubt this was due in large part to the oversight of Tim Burton as a producer.

By the time Batman & Robin rolled around, however, Burton had moved on. Left to his own devices, Schumacher quickly tossed any notion of doing a serious portrayal of the Dark Knight in the trash. Apparently, out of that same dumpster, Schumacher scrounged up a whole batch of smirky one-liners, ludicrous stunts, and sound effects that appeared designed to test the upper limits of theater THX sound systems.

I would say that by this point, the Batman franchise had been reduced to the level of the campy 60’s Adam West TV series, but that would be an insult to Adam West.

So put together a director that can’t direct comedy, and a writer who can’t write comedy, and what kind of Batman movie do they come up with? That’s right, a big, glorified, slapstick comedy.

Making matters worse was the paint-by-numbers formula that arose when it came to providing Batman with villains. After the obligatory appearance of the Joker in the first film, Batman Returns introduced us to two villains, Catwoman and the Penguin. Batman Forever picked up on this formula and provided us with two more villains, the Riddler and Two Face. So, after only three films, they had exhausted the supply of really famous Batman villains.

Towards the credits end  we get pointless extreme close-ups of various parts of Batman and Robin’s bodies as they suit up. We zoom in on black latex gloves being slipped on, black latex belts being buckled, and, gratuitously, we even zoom in on both of their rear ends as they pull up their black latex underpants (and who could forget the infamous bat suit nipples!)

The only saving grace in this cartoon come to life is the casting of the one and only original Alfred, in fact he is quite the focus of this film at times as he should be he has earned that by this point.

But sadly between the odd suits and bat credit-cards this is perhaps the worst comic book adaptation ever made (Green Lantern bad!)

so out of a possible five stars Batman and Robin gains:

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