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Here you will find opinion pieces regarding BATMAN BEGINS and the BATMAN film franchise.


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REMEMBERING BATMAN AND ROBIN
Friday, February 11, 2005, by Greg Bray

“Hi Freeze. I’m Batman.”

No. Not by a long shot. When Jett first asked me if I were interested in writing a retrospective onBATMAN AND ROBIN, I immediately agreed. I had just written a piece on BATMAN RETURNS, a film I absolutely admire. A great deal of my thoughts were recent in my mind, as I had entertained many wonderful cyber-conversations with folks on the forum. The film is controversial, and as such the debate is perennially ripe. Is it a good film? Is it a good BATMAN film? And from there, we can break off into conversations about adaptation, cinema, and the works of Tim Burton.

So, then I decided to look for inspiration in creating this new piece. There are many aspects of B&R I remember, particularly from the early hype.

REMEMBERING BATMA N AND ROBIN: THE HYPE

This is the first Batman film I was able to track on the World Wide Web. A friend I used to spend time with had access to the Internet in 1996 (my God, she must have been RICH!), so I began looking at sites to see if there was any information available.

There was some. I remember a few sites, one ran by a fellow named “Patrick.” Another by “MMPreston88.” And then there were some early fan sites that would blossom later on.

The news leaked through gradually. Joel would be back after his financially successful turn at directing BATMAN FOREVER. I had enjoyed it, more or less. When I first saw it in the theater, I remember flinching at a few moments, but being entertained over all.

I saw FOREVER twice more in the theater. And then I saw it at a special screening at a college in Poughkeepsie, shortly before the videotape release. And I felt something, not generated by the previous two films – boredom. After the immediate entertainment value washed away, there seemed to be very little that stayed. It wasn’t a bad film, just watered down. It had not said anything about the character that the previous films hadn’t already said, and more fluidly. And Two-Face? I had been just happy to see him on the screen—but suddenly that wasn’t enough. Since WB put him on the screen, why couldn’t it have been done well?

I first read about Val Kilmer being released through a fan-magazine. It might have been “Cinescape,” “Comics Scene,” or one of those types of mags. There was a picture of George Clooney from the film From Dusk Til Dawn. Behind him was a giant bat – a still from the BATMAN FOREVER Trading Cards.

The article was a brief and succinct. In it, Joel confessed to have ‘”fired Val for being an asshole,” and then went on to say that Tommy Lee Jones was needlessly cruel to Jim Carrey on the set. He then mentioned he didn’t feel the need to say nice things about them. His exact words aren’t in front of me, but they were something to the tune of: “In this town, we act like we have to be nice to some people, for fear they might not work with us again. I don’t want to work with some of them again.” It felt catty. Honest, I suppose, but it didn’t leave the best taste in my mouth. Something was wrong in dodge.

As rumors circulated the net, there were bits and pieces of information. There was a suggestion that Catwoman might make a cameo (that would have been nice). Or that the first ten minutes of the film would be a James Bond style intro, with Batman verses The Scarecrow, and then going up against Mr. Freeze (also could have been interesting). But soon some of these earlier rumors were dispelled.

And then some harder news came in. It seemed that the tone was going to be even lighter than the third. “It’s a comic book,” Joel had said. “And I feel COMIC is a very important word.” And then another quote. “I look at Batman as a big pop-culture opera.”

And then there came some casting news. Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy (I could live with that). Arnold as Mr. Freeze. Not my first choice, to be sure, but when reflecting on his turn as The Terminator, I felt that he had the possibility to play the cold, emotionless mutated scientist. Chris O’Donnell returned as Robin (I thought he handled the role just fine previously, so it was nice to see him back). Last and least, Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. The cast now seemed a bit too crowded, and the inclusion of Batgirl smacked of desperation, when there really didn’t seem any reason for it.

In any event, some more news came in. Robin was going to be “Nightwing,” which essentially makes the title a complete misnomer. There were going to be new third act vehicles, including “The Bat Hammer,’” and “The Bat-Cat.” Ah, they were going straight from the comic book material, then.

Budget reports came in, indicating this was going to be the most expensive of the three. And then filling out the rest of the cast were Uma Thurman, Vendela, and a cameo by…Coolio. Oh, No.

My first image of BATMAN AND ROBIN came from an over-the-counter tabloid magazine. Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy were caught going from their trailers to the set, via some paparazzi that had snuck on the set, and taken pictures.

This kind of publicity would cause uproar with George Clooney, who would later speak out against the paparazzi, especially after the death of Princess Di.

I would later see some photos from “Entertainment Weekly.” These shots were studio stills. This was in late March/early April 1997. There was a still of George Clooney in costume. To be honest, it was not flattering. The still was taken from a low-angle, and the mouth appeared ill fitting. In addition, his eyes were far too wide when the photo was snapped. “Batman Taken By Surprise” should have been the header.

There were two pictures of the scrumptious Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy (whatever else happened in the movie, DAMN she looked good). A few pics of Freeze, and a still of Ivy standing between Batman and Nightwi—er, Robin. I now know this scene is the “auction” scene from the film—possibly the worst scene in the film—but at that time, I thought it looked interesting.

I was not wild about some of the sets and lights, as they looked way over-the-top. And Freeze’s costume simply made no sense. A more traditional costume, or one as seen in the Animated Series, would have been far more favorable. I did not mind the tinted make up of his skin, but the costume appeared to have a great deal of neon involved, and I couldn’t figure out how his helmet managed to keep him cold. And how could he do other things—such as walk?

So, there was some indication there that this was not going to be a good film. But I managed to keep some hope in check.

The next pics came from “Vanity Fair.” It boasted the third act costumes. I out-right hated them. Batman’s sonar suit was my least favorite of the series thus far, and these looked like even more modified versions. It appeared, up front, that Joel was going to try to out-do his science fiction and camp aspects of BATMAN FOREVER. I was worried.

Finally, I saw the trailer. I first saw it when I was staying in Ithaca, New York. I was dating a girl who had to audition at the school for a scholarship in—I forget if it was musical theater, opera, or performing arts. In that area.

While at the hotel, I saw a brief glimpse of B&R. “Hi Freeze. I’m Batman.”

George didn’t alter his voice as Batman. And his head had a slight bob to it, much like his performance on ER. So he immediately did not seem invested in the character. The camera angles were a bit extreme. There were murderous hockey henchmen—sure they’re practical on ice, but if Mr. Freeze ever sent them on a simple errand (such as getting McBurgers during July) I’m confident they would have failed miserably.

Also, there was a weird pink tint to the lighting. Quite frankly, it looked terrible. A quick shot of Elle McPherson, a quick shot of George Clooney by the fire place. A few other shots put together—“My name is Freeze. Learn it well. For it is the chilling sound of your doom.” I assume Akiva Goldsman’s 3-year-old son wrote that line.

The novelization of Batman and Robin appeared in bookshelves about a month before its release. I was in a Connecticut bookstore when I picked it up. I owned all of the Batman Film Novels, but I never read them until after seeing the films. I decided my curiosity was too strong. If this film was going to be awful, then I needed to know in advance.

To my surprise, it was not as awful as I had suspected. There were some moments that made me cringe. A space ship blasting out of a museum. Batgirl (a complete nuisance from her first appearance in the book), saying “Pow, Biff, Splat,” when fighting Poison Ivy. Bane being chucked in there for no apparent reason whatsoever.

But then, there were some wonderful moments for the characters. Alfred telling an eight-year-old Bruce Wayne’s psychiatrist that he would look after the boy. Bruce meeting Victor when both were quite young, and Bruce being in awe of his athleticism. In fact, the book indicated that Bruce’s training was done in part due to Victor’s influence on him during their brief encounter. To drive this point home, there is a moment, after Freeze steals the Wayne Diamond, when Batman is forced to eject from his Batmobile, and damn near fly toward Freeze to apprehend him. As he does this, he remembers his first encounter with Fries, and is able to suspend himself for an extra minute, due to some of his specialized training (learned from Fries).

So even with the entire “bang, splat, pow,” and some overly burlesque lines, it seemed that the film might have redeeming qualities. Of course, all the moments I appreciated in the book never made it to the screen. I doubt any of them were shot.

Unaware of this, I began looking forward to B&R. I began defending it when comic and film periodicals were mourning the death of what Burton had laid out. Why put that in there? Surely, we should support the industry for translating comics to film. Sure some of the dialogue sounds a bit hooky, but some of the dialogue in the comics is a bit cheesy too when read aloud.

I finally saw a trailer for the film, sometime in May 1997. Again, I saw the line about “My Name is Freeze,” and “Hi Freeze, I’m Batman.” And “All right everybody, CHILL!” But there were a few cool (oh, forgive me, no pun intended) shots. There was a shot that was flashing, and closing in on Freeze’s face (the museum shot when he froze the guard without the intersecting gun or guard shots). There was a shot of Arkham. Poison Ivy looked great. And…. and….I felt myself talking me into liking the film. My mind rebelled at the idea of a bad Batman film being made. Why would anyone make a bad Batman film? Surely, everybody knows the character. Many have read the comics growing up. I know, we are all familiar wit the sixties series, but that was years ago. Wasn’t BATMAN ‘89 a triumph? Didn’t it gross oodles of money? Won’t the series go back to that, after B&R?

And then came the article. “We’re trying to reach a demographic beyond the typical Batman readers. This is not the Dark Knight.” Those were Joel Schumacher’s words in a magazine with his Bat-Trio in their third act suits on the cover. This is not the Dark Knight. No? Then, what are we doing here?

This looks bad, Batman. REAL bad. I had read the book. I had seen the various photos. I had read Joel disregarding the comics, and desiring to make a pop-opera burlesque show out of the Dark Knight—oh, sorry. Batman. The Dark Knight isn’t being done this time.

And I took a deep breath. I was ready, fully ready, to regret this experience.

But then a glimmer of hope emerged. I rented the film ‘Mars Attacks,’ and the trailer preceding the film was, you guessed it, for Batman and Robin. The film showed some dramatic elements that I had read in the book. “A Partnership in Trouble.” Fighting between Batman and Robin. “My rules keep us alive and you will abide with them.” “A Legend in Danger.” “Alfred’s not sick, he’s dying.” “I spent my whole life trying to beat back death, but I can’t can I?” “None of us can.” And then, the narrator making more announcements over Danny Elfman’s score, and action shots that looked well executed. “When Venom, meets Vengeance, Justice Can Not Fight Alone.” “Suit me up, Uncle Alfred.” Oh, jeeeezus.

“I’m asking you friend, partner, brother…” Bruce fades into Batman “Will you help me?’”

When I heard Clooney deliver the ‘Will you help me’ line, I felt a bit better. His voice did seem a bit darker.

Yes, there were going to be some over-the-top science fiction elements, and yes, there were going to be some campy lines—but there was still some hope for it to be decent. Uneven, yes, but decent.

The next day, BATMAN AND ROBIN was unleashed on a completely suspicious public. As I stood in line, I spoke about the films with those around me. One guy like the first movie, and that was it so far. Others liked all three. One guy, wearing a black ball-cap with a silver Bat-logo on it, said that he only cared for the second one.

REMEMBERING BATMAN AND ROBIN: THE MOVIE

And then we were ushered into the theater, and it was time to go. The film began, as the last film did, with the WB logo morphing into a Bat-symbol. And then I had some thoughts about the parts of the book I enjoyed. Maybe there were going to be some great moments in it after all. It is a Batman film, and surely a Batman film, no matter how much it may deviate from the source material, must have something redeeming. Maybe some of that great material with the psychiatrist, and young Victor Fries impresses an even younger Bruce Wayne.

The credits began, and they were way too far over the top. A bat symbol and a robin symbol flying around each other through animated clouds? And then Batman and Robin began suiting up. Ten seconds later I was ready to leave.

There were no redeeming qualities to this film. None.

Which brings me back to my original point. When discussing BATMAN RETURNS on the message boards here at BATMAN ON FILM, the conversation is ripe with debate, ideas, opinions, and thoughts. When discussing B&R there are usually frowning emoticons present in the conversation. Even the most articulate poster, who will spend paragraphs either defending RETURNS, or questioning its popularity with a specific group, will suddenly sound like a monosyllabic teenager. “Batman and Robin Sucks.” Yes. It sucks. It’s simply one of the worst films ever made. There are some out in cyberspace who consider this film a BAD film, but surely not one of the worst ever made.

I have to respectfully disagree, and pinpoint the various levels that this film is a misfire. If I may quote the great filmmaker, Orson Welles. “Now that’s what I call suck-age.” He was referring to the lyrics of “That’s Amore” at a “Dean Martin Celebrity Roast.”

THE SCRIPT In attempting to capture some semblance of story, Joel Schumacher, along with screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, first used the basic outline of BATMAN FOREVER. If one were to sit down, and view both films simultaneously on two separate monitors, the comparisons between the two would seem just about right—time-wise. Examine, for instance, the first act. Freeze has taken guards in the museum. Two Face has taken guards in the bank. Batman is trapped in a vault being lifted, inexplicably, by a helicopter. Batman is trapped, inexplicably, in a rocket headed for unknown space. Through over-the-top theatrics, Batman is able to save the day. That sentence is applicable for either film.

The dialogue is a series of one-liners, reminiscent of a burlesque program. I would use the term ‘vaudeville,’ but that would be an insult to vaudevillians everywhere. More than several lines fall flat. Including most of Mr. Freeze’s. “You’re not sending me to the cooler.” “The Iceman Cometh.” “Let’s Kick Some Ice.” “Freeze in Hell Batman.” And then a few scene-specific jokes that simply do not pull the audience in. “A laundry service that delivers! Wow!” And responding to Poison Ivy’s inquiry of his size, “No, always go a size smaller. Makes me look slimmer.”

Poison Ivy is not given much better to work with. Her dialogue usually refers specifically to her genitalia, or the genitals of others. “Someone’s about to hit the honey pot.” “My garden needs tending.” When Mr. Freeze is in need of his diamonds to power his suit—more on THAT in a moment—Poison Ivy cheerfully tells him, “I’ll help you grab your rocks.” And of course, when Robin asks for a sign (meaning of trust), she forcefully coos “How about slippery when wet?” How about Joel re-release this as a Silent Film?

Each character is presented with a gem to deliver. Batman has to warn Robin about Poison Ivy’s true nature. “She wants to kill you, DICK.” Joel Schumacher decided to show us that, with the proper emphasis, Dick Grayson’s name could be taken out of context, to look like an insult. Or maybe it was Batman noticed, for the first time; Grayson had been bulking up his codpiece a bit.

Batgirl has to school Poison Ivy in twentieth century feminism. “Read a book, sister, that passive aggressive number went out years ago. Chicks like you give women a bad name.” And with that who in the audience isn’t leaning on the edge of their seats, ready for a good catfight?

Poison Ivy has one more that is worth mentioning. “Who needs a frigid wife, anyway?” The character seems absolutely incapable of keeping her dialogue above the waste. Yes, I misspelled that intentionally.

I could go on and on with this: “Adam and Evil.” “First Gotham, and then The World.” “It IS the size of your gun that counts.” Nice to see Mr. Freeze has noted the anatomical usage in the conversation around him, and decided to throw his wang into the fold as well.

In addition, Joel Schumacher’s understanding of comic-book dialogue is absolutely limited. I tend to shift the blame of this voyage toward the captain (thanks BOF posters), as ultimately he could have called for rewrites, or editing a few scenes out of the film to make it less nauseating. For example, Joel is under the impression that villains deliver monologues. Which in fact, they do. But it tends to be delivered to someone in the room. “Gotham’s warm blooded protectors of the status quo. First, I will get rid of Batman and Robin, etc. etc., then Gotham will be mine for the greening.” Yes, poison Ivy delivers a monologue; I supposed a soliloquy really, in a crowded observatory with countless onlookers. But it is meant to be only heard by we, the audience. This seems to break the rules of diegetic and non-diegetic sounds.

Diegetic sounds are those sounds which character in the film can hear. The dialogue, sound effects, etc. Non-diegetic refers to those sounds which we, the audience are aware of, but which the characters are not. Such as the film’s score. There are times where non-diegetic sounds become diegetic. For example, in the film Muriel’s Wedding We hear the sound of an ABBA song, and as we move into a girl’s bedroom, the sound alters so that the song appears to be originating from her stereo. Mel Brooks also had fun with this idea, during his film ‘High Anxiety. His chauffeur implies that a character may have been murdered. We hear an orchestra strike a theme, quite similar to that of PSYCHO. Mel and the driver look around suspiciously, and then Mel's eyes fix on something out the window. Passing them, is an orchestral tour bus with the people inside playing their instruments.

The monologues are meant to be non-diegetic, as the people around them can’t hear what the say, and diagetic, as it is originating from their own mouths, at the same time. This principle is not to be categorized under “post modern film theory,” but rather under the category of “sloppy filmmaking.” It is not even a variety of a fourth-wall aside. They could have at least looked into the camera.

This kind of fourth wall asides rarely works in comedies, and surely are not meant to be used when a villain is outlining their plans. “First I will freeze Gotham, and then I’ll kill the bat, and watch his heart freeze in my hands. REVENGE!” I almost expected one of Freeze’s henchmen to tap him on his shoulder, and ask whom is he speaking with.

Again, some films break the fourth wall and do so convincingly. Airplane! the movie for one, has a very funny aside. “What a pisser.” Jean-Luc Goddard’s film, Poirot Le Fou, broke the wall several times, until one character finally asked the other whom he was speaking to. “The audience of course.” But this French new wave classic was playing with genre traditions in its second cinema context.

Batman and Robin on the other hand? To be quite honest, it’s a poor fit.

In addition to the plot being strikingly familiar to BATMAN FOREVER, we are given a few more gems, no pun intended. The use of diamonds in this film is simply way off base. I know that elements in the Batman comics have been based in science fiction, but at the very least they provide us with enough safety-rope to suspend our disbelief. Diamonds are put into a large suit so that Mr. Freeze’s suit can have power. We’re told that they’re laser enhanced, but we are never given enough of the technology to completely convince us of the argument. Why not just simply use coal?

This idea is used for two simple purposes. One is so the audience can be delighted with the reminder that the Iceman wants Ice. Second—okay, this only has one purpose.

Later in the film, Bruce Wayne donates the Wayne Diamond to an auctioning off of women for what appears to be a date. At last, Joel has found a use for women—slave labor. Moving on. The girl, dressed up as a flower, will be allowed to wear the Wayne diamond, which is an absurdly large red jewel. To be fair, diamonds have been known to be tinted at times. But I have never seen a diamond that has the appearance and the cut of a ruby.

Earlier in the film, we see Freeze has stolen a diamond from the museum. It is said to be the largest diamond in the world. In actuality, it is the largest diamond in any world. The largest diamond known to exist in our own universe can be comfortably held in one hand, and easily misplaced if it weren’t for a fortune worth of security. Having stated this, the first giant diamond in Batman and Robin, which happens to be located amongst other miscellaneous antiquities, including a giant dinosaur, an Inca ruin, and some pottery from central Asia, is about twice that size.

THE CHARACTERS

We have already examined Freeze’s goal. Ah! Now the hockey team makes sense..ha ha.

Yes, ultimately it is to save his frozen wife, but it is easy to gloss over this point when surrounded by the mind numbing activity of hot ice recovery. Poison Ivy’s mission isn’t as straightforward. She was killed by Jason Woodrue, given Bane as an assistant, and now has come to Gotham City to enact revenge on—well, it seems that her goal should be Wayne Enterprises, but that is not it. Then it seems her goal is to ruin Gotham City and turn it into a garden. But then she teams up with Mr. Freeze whose goal is to Freeze the world, which seems counter productive to her own designs, but no matter. Poison Ivy’s only real role in the film is to confuse Batman and Robin by putting her vines between them, and want what she can not have—Mr. Freeze. Thank Goodness! The classic theme of unrequited lust between a vegetable woman and a snow man! By the third act, Ivy is simply there so Batgirl can fight her and win. In all fairness, Joel did not want the men to completely win in the battle of the sexes.

Robin is there to question Batman’s role model status. And to want Poison Ivy in one scene, but then change his mind and want Batgirl in—the same scene.

Batgirl is there simply as a signal of desperation. There was little to no reason to include Batgirl in the film, and even less reason to make her the British daughter of Alfred’s (hopefully) MUCH younger sister. I suppose Alicia said no to the British accent, which is fine, except we are never given any clues that she is anything more than a Britain. She went to Oxbridge (a cross, of course, of Cambridge and Oxford) college, and is the daughter of Peg Pennyworth. But, I suppose I’m nit-picking.

The argument could be made that Batgirl’s inclusion was to provide enough eye candy to make everyone in the audience happy. Additionally, making her Alfred illegitimate daughter…er…niece, would bring Alfred’s heartstring tugging “I’m Dying” storyline more to the forefront. Whatever the argument can be made for her presence, the result is less-than-focused storytelling. Moments that could have been use to develop her character were replaced with a terrible motorcycle chase scene.

Batman seemingly has his hands full. As Bruce Wayne, he’s donated a large telescope that happens to be powered by large crystals (I wish Planetariums, the Smithsonian, or another astronomical lab would tell us about those remarkable crystals), apparently in the hopes of having something to do in the third act. There is a struggle in his partnership between he and Nightwing—I mean, Robin. He is dating Elle McPherson, although I must give him credit there. Bruce Wayne has decided to hide his alter ego from her, and dismiss it as him having had some wild times. The fact that there’s little to no subtext between them in terms of their possible nocturnal activities unintentionally brings spot light to the fact that Joel simply has absolutely no idea about this side of human sexuality. Poison Ivy keeps blowing dust in his face, making her want her badly—well, as badly as Batman is able to, I suppose.

The fact that he is able in one scene to overcome the pheromone dust is a testament to men not falling to the wants of women so easily. In addition, Poison Ivy’s lips are filled with venom. A kiss can be deadly, but not if one were to wear rubber lips. Again, we push through to find a cozy message of safe sex, and the underlying subtext of vagina détente.

The saving grace should be Alfred. Gough handles his role with warmth and dignity, even if some of his dialogue is on the nose. We feel a great relationship between he and Bruce Wayne, although the flashbacks we are given are merely scratching the surface. Somehow, it is difficult to imagine Bruce Wayne as being damaged with the warm paternity of Alfred’s love shrouding him. Nevertheless, whatever the film was, and whatever the series had become, Michael Gough deserves applause for his performance.

THE VISUALS: Costumes, Lighting, and Less

Joel was clearly influenced by the comics he grew up with in the 1950s. He employs a visual palette with the attempt to bring this aesthetic to life. Why it fails is not only due to its out of date context, but also due to the size and the scope of the exterior sets meshed with his homo-erotic fetishism. To be fair, I can not chastise him for being gay. I live in New Paltz, New York, and support same-sex marriages. More directly related to the superhero film genre, Brian Singer is openly gay, and he has crafted two wonderful X-MEN films. However, Joel has clear worship of erotic imagery, from the close-ups of the Bat-Buns, to adorning the batsuits with nipples, exaggerated codpieces, to the production design itself. We see multi-story statures of nude males—there is a scene that calls for Batman and Robin, nippled-and-codpieced, to drive their vehicles all over said statue. You have to wade through the visual subtext here.

THE INFLUENCES

When discussing BATMAN RETURNS, we can discuss the intertextual nature of the film. Burton referenced many icons of German Expressionism, while also referencing specific frames of the comics (whether intentionally or not is another debate). Schumacher attempted to fill this void as well, by referencing, first and foremost the 1960s series. Batgirl was first brought to screen in the 1960s program, as Barbara Gordon. It’s true, in the 1950s there was a Batwoman and a Batgirl, to dispel rumors of Bruce and Dick’s homosexual activity, but those characters are relegated to “Earth 2.” So, in a sense, Batgirl is a reference to her television counterpart from decades earlier. In addition, there are a few moments in the shooting script that further support this idea. She says “biff, pow, splat,” when fighting Poison Ivy, and even hums her 1960s theme when fighting poison Ivy. Wisely removed from the final edit.

Also, we have celebrity cameos. A real life politician votes for Poison Ivy in the audience, Coolio is at the motorcycle race, and John Glover has a brief stint as Dr. Jason Woodrue. This idea references the 1960s program, when Batman and Robin would walk up walls to have “citizens such as Edward G. Robinson, Sammy Davis, Jr., and even Dick Clark to pop out and say hello.

Commissioner Gordon has completely evolved into Chief O’Hara from the 1960s program, as well. No longer a tough cop with a dark past, this Gordon prefers to watch scenes of violence unfold, and adding such charming lines as “Miss Ivy you just met one of the most sinister men in Gotham City,” before slowly gallumphing away without showing any concern for the surrounding activities.

He’s shown as being agile, though. At least, we can take that implication. During a scene in Freeze’s hideout, the temperature suddenly drops, and the police investigators cry out “my lungs are freezing.” The only person able to crawl over to the heat switch and save the day is Gordon. Never mind that he has several decades on the other officers. Time for some training, guys?

There are other references in there as well. The New York Times noted “While the film veers recklessly from neo- ‘Triumph of the Will'’ to Hong Kong action to anything else the traffic will bear -- and that's just in the opening hockey match.” The article also includes, “AT a gala in Gotham City, the fabulous Poison Ivy makes her entrance in a fluffy magenta gorilla suit made from 450 Santa Claus wigs. Then she peels this off slowly as the band plays her theme song. And out comes the most show-stopping character in ‘Batman and Robin,’ the fourth and most frenetically gaudy feature in the series. As played by Uma Thurman, Poison Ivy is perfect, flaunting great looks, a mocking attitude and madly flamboyant disguises. Like Mae West, she mixes true femininity with the winking womanliness of a drag queen.” In other words, everything you’d want in a Batman film.

In addition, the San Francisco Chronicle points out “Poison Ivy is the film's best creation. She's a a radical environmentalist who gets bitten by snakes and buried in vines only to rise up, gorgeous and redheaded, like Botticelli's Venus. Like America's original femme fatale, Beatrice in Hawthorne's ‘Rappaccini's Daughter,’ Ivy has a poisonous kiss. Like Dietrich in ‘Blonde Venus,’ she shows up at a ritzy affair in a gorilla suit.” But to what purpose? Interetextuality is intended to not only showcase the director’s understanding of cinema past, but also to make it relevant to the material that is being put on the screen.

The debate over whether or not Burton’s cinematic references are necessary will continue to rage, but at least there is a debate. Those utilized in BATMAN AND ROBIN are without merit, and without debate. Throw in Batman and Robin clicking their heals for ice skates, and now we even have some Dorothy worship to add to the mix. The result? A clear lack of understanding of the values that make cinema worthwhile, as well as a lack of understanding of modern sex in modern cinema. I would throw in a clear devaluation of the source material. And a hodge-podge of messy scenes, frenetically intercut, in an attempt to make cineophiles cheer absent-minded referencing without noticing a lack of plot, characterization, sexist themes, and poorly directed performances.

Ultimately, the performers cannot be blamed for this film. Each actor has proven himself, or herself, in roles that demonstrates the range necessary for this type of film. O Brother Where Art Thou, Kill Bill, Scent of a Woman, The Terminator, Love! Valour! Compassion! are but a few films that the cast has appeared in.

IS IT A GOOD BATMAN FILM?

No. These problems listed are just the tip of the iceberg. Oh, God, now I’m doing it too. Let’s just end this now and hope for better things in Batman’s future.

AFTER BATMAN AND ROBIN

After the disastrous reviews, poor numbers, and failed merchandising campaign, Batman and Robin continues to be thought of as one of the poorest superhero films by those who value them. The name itself is now a stigma. Through my Internet surfing, I discovered, over the next year or more, a number of possible rumors for a fifth Batman film, which cumulating in my discovery of a site I now visit every day. JettD60’s BATMAN 5 Page, which is now BATMAN ON FILM. To read about the various developments of the next outing, I recommend you check out the ARCHIVES on the news page. It really is quite a development. As for Batman and Robin? I’m sure there will be a time where we’ll feel a little better about the film. Probably after BATMAN BEGINS opens. But even after then, even if we look at Batman and Robin (which Clooney has recently referred to as a comedy) with a smile—it still remains one of the worst films ever made.

A Special thanks to Jett and all of the BOF FORUM posters. Please check out the BATMAN ON FILM FORUM for some exciting conversations about every BATMAN —except for this one.

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