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DVD REVIEW : BATMAN FOREVER 2-Disc SPECIAL EDITION
Wednesday, October 12, 2005, 12:00 PM CENTRAL TIME
Author:
Jett

I’m a big history buff. I love all sorts of history - not just the stuff you learn about in school.

One of the things that I’ve gotten a big kick out of watching these BATMAN SE DVDs is the historical aspects of each - and all of them together as well. It didn’t matter if it was one of them that I really enjoy, like BATMAN, or one that I abhor, such as BATMAN RETURNS. I’m just a huge fan of the cinematic history of Batman.

Another thing that has been great watching these films is the wave of nostalgia that has swept over me as I watched each film. I’ve written a bit about what was going on with me at the time each film hit theater and how I felt upon seeing a new Bat-outing on screen. And today, I’m turning my attention briefly to 1995 and BATMAN FOREVER.

BATMAN FOREVER marked a change in the course for The Batman on film. After BATMAN RETURNS shocked many fans, parents, theater owners, merchandisers, and Warner Bros. due to its dark and bizarre atmosphere, a new director was brought on board for the third Bat-film - Joel Schumacher. Michael Keaton, The Batman of the two Burton films, declined to reprise his role, and was replaced by the younger Val Kilmer. Other additions to the cast included Tommy Lee Jones (Two Face), Jim Carrey (The Riddler), Chris O’Donnell (Richard Grayson/Robin), and Nicole Kidman (Dr. Chase Meridian). Michael Gough and Pat Hingle both returned as Alfred and Commissioner Gordon respectively.

FOREVER was - in my opinion - an improvement over its 1992 predecessor as a “Batman” film by a wide margin. While it is lighter than the previous two films - and sometimes sillier - I still consider it the second best of the “Burton/Schumacher” BATMAN films. And arguably, it gave audiences the most heroic Batman of those films. However, I must be fair and note that FOREVER - like BATMAN RETURNS - is a “love it or hate it” film among Bat-fans.

Now, let’s take a look at the BATMAN FOREVER SPECIAL EDITION DVD.

Like the two previous SE Bat-DVDs that I’ve reviewed, FOREVER is a 2-disc set, with the film found on one and the special features on the other. I’ll focus on disc 2 with all the special features, and then take a quick look at disc 1 and the film.

WHY IS BATMAN FOREVER?

This is a TV documentary hosted by Chris O’Donnell that appeared as basically an extended promo for the film back in 1995. It includes interviews with the cast and crew - which of course featured a new Batman and director - and a preview of the new film. Basically, its main message is to say “This isn’t like BATMAN RETURNS - which is good or bad depending on your point of view.

SHADOWS OF THE BAT: THE CINEMATIC HISTORY OF THE DARK KNIGHT, PART 5

Like with the previous two SE Bat-DVDs, this is the best part of the extras. Featuring in depth interviews with the cast and crew (Joel Schumacher, Tommy Lee Jones, Val Kilmer, Peter Macgregor Scott, Akiva Goldsman, Lee & Janet Scott Batchler, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Elizabeth Sanders Kane, Michael Gough, Michael Uslan, and others), the viewer gets to go behind the camera, so to speak, and get and insider's look at the film.

A lot of the interviews deal with what went into the changes to what had be established by Tim Burton (who stayed on as producer) and Michael Keaton, and doing something fresh and different - yet maintaining the continuity of the series. It should be noted that Val Kilmer is the only actor who donned the cape and cowl during the first series to do a new interview for this SE DVD (Both Keaton’s and Clooney’s interviews are dated and have been seen before).

Nonetheless, this segment offers a fantastic glimpse into the film and is interesting in terms of the history of the movie franchise.

BEYOND BATMAN

This is another segment of interviews and behind the scenes featurettes from the film. “Out of the Shadows” covers the production design of the film. “The Many Faces of Gotham City” depicts how the look of FOREVER‘s Gotham was designed and built. “Knight Moves” covers the stunt work done for the film. “Imaging FOREVER is about the special effects that were created for the movie. And finally, “Scoring FOREVER“ is a look at Elliot Goldenthal’s creation of a new musical score for the third Bat-film (It was particularly interesting hearing Mr. Goldenthal explain exactly how he came up with the "main theme" for FOREVER) .

THE HEROS AND THE VILLIANS

Another detailed look at the characters of the film. Each segment is stockpiled with interviews, comic book images and comparisons, and more behind the scenes video/film from the movie.

Disc 2 also features the Seal music video “Kiss From A Rose,” but sadly omits U2’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me.” As big as that band is today, its no surprise that it was not included. Although it should be considered a bit of a negative as it was the biggest hit from the film’s soundtrack.

One of the best aspects of the BATMAN FOREVER special features is that unlike the other three SE Bat-DVDs, it includes deleted scenes. In fact, there are seven scenes found on the disc that were not seen on the final cut of the film. The best two are “Escape From Arkham,” which features Dr. Burton going into Harvey Dent’s cell only to find him gone and “The Bat Must Die!” scribbled across the wall. This was originally intended to be the opening of the film.

The other is “The Secret of The Batcave” that has Bruce Wayne (who lost his memory from the bullet that grazed his head) finally facing his inner demons and realizing that he was Batman, “forever.”

The maddening thing about FOREVER is that is could have been a better film than what ultimately ended up onscreen. I wish that a “Director’s Cut” of the film that included these scenes would have been part of this Special Edition. Since Joel Schumacher likes the original cut of the film, I don’t see that happening any time soon. (It should be noted that all four Bat-films are featured in their original, theatrical form.)

DISC 1 - THE MOVIE

The film BATMAN FOREVER is featured on disc 1 in a “matted” widescreen format. The picture is sharp and clear, as the video transfer came out quite well. The sound is awesome as well - it is a new digital transfer with both 5.1 Dolby and DTS surround.

A commentary track by director Joel Schumacher is included. While I found Tim Burton’s commentary on for the first two films excellent, Schumacher’s is not as good. Not much analysis or “this is what I was thinking here” sort of stuff. You get observations such as “There’s Robin” and the like throughout. Certainly not the best, but better than nothing I guess.

Disc 1 also includes the full theatrical trailer to BATMAN FOREVER.

Subtitles are in English, French, and Spanish (film only), while the film can be played in both English and French.

Just like BATMAN RETURNS, BATMAN FOREVER may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, the Special Edition is well worth your time and expense. You will certainly find the bonus features quite interesting and will want to make the entire package part of your DVD collection.

BUY IT TODAY!

NEXT: BATMAN AND ROBIN

"Jett" is the creator and editor-in-chief of BATMAN ON FILM and ON-FILM.NET.

SYNOPSIS: Riddle me this, riddle me that, you'll find adventure on the wings of a bat! Brace for excitement as Val Kilmer (Batman), Tommy Lee Jones (Two-Face), Jim Carrey (the Riddler), Nicole Kidman (Dr. Chase Meridian) and chris O'Donnell (Robin) star in the third formidable film in Warner Bros.' Batman series. Joel Schumacher directs and Tim Burton co-produces this thrill-ride of a movie that thunders along on Batmobile, Batwing, Batboat, Batsub and bold heroics. Hang on!

DVD SPECS:
- 2-Disc Special Edition
- MPAA: PG-13
- 121 minutes
- Closed Captioning: Yes
- Sound Track Language: English
- Subtitles: English, Francais, Espanol
- Original Aspect Ratio: 1.78
- Widescreen [16:9 Transfer]
- English: Dolby Surround 5.1
- Francais: Dolby Surround Stereo 2.0
- English: Dolby Surround 5.1 DTS
- English: Stereo 2S

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