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BATMAN AND ROBIN SE DVD REVIEW
Monday, October 17, 2005, 12:00 PM CENTRAL TIME
© Copyright 2005 William E. Ramey and ON-FILM Entertainment. All rights reserved.
BATMAN AND ROBIN - a film that I would say practically all Bat-fans agree on.
A juvenile analysis sure, but the truth nonetheless.
After the box office success of 1995’s BATMAN FOREVER, Warner Bros. immediately OK’d a third BATMAN movie sequel. Premiering in June of 1997, the two year gap between films was the quickest turn-around in franchise history. And for the third time in four films, another actor would don the cape and cowl and star as Batman. In this case, Val Kilmer declined to return for another outing - or was fired depending on who you ask - and George Clooney was chosen by director Joel Schumacher as his replacement.
Joining Clooney was Chris O’Donnell returning as Robin; Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze; Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy; and Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl (for the love of Pete, why!?!). Again, Michael Gough and Pat Hingle reprised their roles as Alfred and Commissioner Gordon respectively.
Basically, BATMAN AND ROBIN is an ultra camped-out, silly version of BATMAN FOREVER. I mean, it copies the film damn near scene for scene - it is just stupider (is that a word?).
Initially, B&R did well at the box office. It’s Batman you know - people come out to see him on film. But the exact opposite of BATMAN BEGINS took place - poor word of mouth doomed BATMAN AND ROBIN. And deservingly so.
To this day, I can’t for the life of me fathom what Joel Schumacher and Warner Bros. were thinking. I guess on paper, B&R looked to be BATMAN FOREVER 2, and that equaled money and box office success.
Obviously, that is not what happened.
After the Bat-debacle of ‘97, the BATMAN franchise went into hibernation for eight years. After several attempts to get the franchise back up and running, Warner Bros. turned to director Christopher Nolan which led to the highly successful and critically acclaimed BATMAN BEGINS this past summer. But I digress.
Today we are here to talk about the new BATMAN AND ROBIN SPECIAL EDITION DVD which will be released on October 18th.
As much as we all dislike B&R, this is a film that all Bat-fans should own. Frankly, I was looking forward to seeing the “extras” that were to be included on this DVD - in particular, hearing just what director Joel Schumacher had to say about it. And if you haven’t already heard, he does apologize to the fans. Not necessarily for making the thing, but for offending anyone.
Uh, Mr. Schumacher, you offended damn near everyone with it.
To be fair, Joel does not shy away from any of the blame. He doesn’t point figures at the studio or the merchandisers and say “It was THEM!” He says he was there and was part of it all. And for that, I give him props.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, lets take at look at disc 2 and the special features that are to be found.
SHADOWS OF THE BAT: THE CINEMATIC SAGA OF THE DARK KNIGHT, Part 6
As with the other three SE Bat-DVDs, I absolutely loved this documentary. Again, we have interviews ( and all the cast and crew and behind the scenes film and video. Most of the interviews (Joel Schumacher, Chris O’ Donnell, Uma Thurman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Akiva Goldsman, Michael Uslan, Peter MacGregor-Scott, et al) are recent and were made specifically for this DVD - including those with Schumacher and O’Donnell. Sadly (I guess), George Clooney’s is taken from various interviews he gave back in ‘97 to promote the film.
Basically, the people behind the film made a conscious effort to kick the silliness, camp, and nonsense up a notch - and they certainly succeeded. It is almost laughable - well not almost - it actually is - to think that they thought that the audience would dig this film. It’s not as if they were walking around saying “This is one serious BATMAN film here we’re making!” So I guess we can give them credit for making the film they set out to make.
This documentary provides several featurettes focusing on behind the scenes set video and interviews with the cast and crew of BATMAN AND ROBIN. These segments include “Bigger, Bolder, Brighter (The Production Design of BATMAN AND ROBIN;” “Maximum Overdrive (The Vehicles of BATMAN AND ROBIN;” “Dressed to Thrill (The Costumes of BATMAN AND ROBIN);” “Frozen Freaks and Femme Fatales” - which focuses on the makeup of the two villains of the film; and “Freeze Frame (The Visual Effects of BATMAN AND ROBIN.”
THE HEROS AND THE VILLAINS
As with all the SE DVDs, this documentary has several individual segments on each hero and villain of the film. All include behind the scenes video, interviews, and comic book comparisons.
Disc 2 includes four music videos from songs featured on the pop soundtrack. “Foolish Games” by Jewel; “Gotham City” by R. Kelly; “Look Into My Eyes” by Bone Thugs N-Harmony; and the best one of the lot - “The End Is The Beginning Is The End” by The Smashing Pumpkins. Meh - except for that last one. But, they are part of the film’s history and should be included.
Disc one is the movie itself. As with all four DVDs, the sound and picture are excellent - the film is not. It is presented in “matted” widescreen format and in both 5.1 Dolby and DTS Surround Sound.
A commentary track by director Joel Schumacher is available. While somewhat interesting, it is not as good as the two provided by Tim Burton for his Bat-flicks.
An additional scene titled “Alfred’s Lost Love” is included, which doesn’t really add anything to the DVD - except that it is footage we haven’t seen (The additional scenes on the FOREVER disc are better).
Overall, I found the BATMAN AND ROBIN the weakest of the four Bat-SE DVDs. Now that doesn’t mean that it is bad. In fact, it’s good, it’s not just great. To be honest, I don’t know if my dislike for the film influenced my opinion of the DVD. Probably not, as I dislike BATMAN RETURNS just as much, but enjoyed the SE version quite a bit. I would still recommend that all Bat-fans include it as part of their collection, because it does have historical value.