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POPCORN FOREVER - A BATMAN FOREVER 10th Aniversary Retrospective
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Author: Peter Van Goethem

Note: as a template for this piece, I've used Gregg Bray's wonderful look back on BATMAN RETURNS, an article for all its eloquence and richness of content I wish I'd written. Many of these opinions and thoughts have been composed while spending time and discussing them on the BATMAN-ON-FILM message boards, a cool website to visit, frequented by some of the most interesting people I’ve met on the internet.

REMEMBERING BATMAN FOREVER, THE HYPE

The first time I became aware of the hype around BATMAN FOREVER -a title I found very intriguing- was when I saw a teaser poster hanging in a shop. It was completely black, adorned only by the familiar bat-symbol, which was encircled by a large green question mark. A futuristic font at the bottom only read a release date. I made a mental note. Not long after, the promotion campaign exploded in the media. The hype was enormous. Everywhere people wore T-shirts with the logo, bat-merchandise was being sold by the tons and MTV, as well as about every radio station were constantly playing U2's latest hit-single, a song called "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me".

In 1995, U2 was one of my favourite bands. They had developed a unique style that blended bizarre cult- and pop-imagery and a rock sound that had a definite edge (no pun intended). It was the “Zooropa” period, a world tour that had frontman Bono dressed up as either "Mister MacPhisto", a diabolical Elvis-like cabaret singer, or as "The Fly", a dark leather-clad poète-maudit with sunglasses. It was in these forms that he appeared in the music video to BATMAN FOREVER’s soundtrack single. The song was a tense composition with dark lyrics, an almost industrial-sounding repetitive guitar riff and musical cues reminiscent of David Bowie’s “Berlin” period. The video was done in animation, in a gaudy, but also distinctly hard-boiled style that would later remind me of Frank Miller’s art on his legendary “THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS.” The animated sequences blended with shots from the movie, telling an eclectic and confusing pop-artsy story of a maniacal Riddler who haunts and pursues Bono to the point that he is run over by a car sporting a jet-engine. The singer is brought to a shadowy hospital, where he is given medical care of the sorts Jack Napier received after his acid-bath. As a result, he is transformed in the MacPhisto character, a twisted parody of his pop star persona. Some mayhem ensues that ends in a confrontation with an animated Batman, who turns out to be none other than a different part of his split psyche. The video ends under the bewildering decrescendo of string instruments, while the singer morphs continuously from one identity into the other.

A teenager at the time, this incomprehensibly cool video made me excited about the movie beyond all normal expectations.

Whereas the latest bat-hype surrounding BATMAN BEGINS has shrouded much of its villains in a haze of secrecy, it was clear from the start that FOREVER was banking on the evil characters to draw in the audiences. Of course, we already knew who Batman was, from two excellent movies, but the larger crowds were yet to be introduced to the illusive RIDDLER and the dichotomous fiend TWO-FACE. The part of the Riddler had gone to comedian Jim Carrey. World famous for his portrayals of the lewd Ace Ventura, in Pet Detective and the green-faced one-man rollercoaster THE MASK, Carrey had made a bold move playing a villain, the type of role he’d later both have stellar failures in – THE CABLEGUY- as well as his greatest triumphs – A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS. At this point, nobody assumed Carrey had anything more in him than frenetically flaying hips and an uncannily malleable face, let alone the acting skills to pull off such delicate and emotional parts as in ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND and THE TRUMAN SHOW. Still, at this time, Carrey was a big star and a guarantee for some outrageous fun. From the looks of it, Carrey’s no doubt prima-donna performance was going to be weighted down by the actor chosen to play Two-Face, a character I knew from the amazing ANIMATED SERIES as a tragic, but deadly serious villain: Tommy Lee Jones, the man with the face like granite would play the corrupted alter-ego of Harvey Dent.

But who would be Batman? I had been shocked to find that Tim Burton was no longer directing the films and even more distraught to learn Michael Keaton had left with him. Two of the main reasons I loved this character so much, would no longer participate in breathing life into him. When the news came that Val Kilmer would be taking over, I was actually relieved. I genuinely thought they’d found a suitable replacement. Val Kilmer meant to me a strong male lead: when I was younger I had been impressed by his role as a roguish warrior-knight in the fantasy epic WILLOW, by his quirky portrayal of singer Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s THE DOORS and especially in the part of Doc Holliday in the excellent western TOMBSTONE.

Later I heard of the addition of Robin. While I had always stood doubtful towards his place in the Batman mythos –I’m one of those fans who feels Batman needs to be a loner- I was willing to give him a chance in the movies. After all, it would bring a fresh aspect to the saga and who knew, could prove a valuable addition. Chris O’Donnell would be playing him, to whom I had no particular objections. While part of me yearned to see Batman and Catwoman meet again, it was clear this was not going to happen in FOREVER. By now accustomed to the cinematic rule that Batman, much like James Bond, cannot have a girlfriend for longer than the duration of one movie, I welcomed the dazzling Nicole Kidman to the bat-cast. At this point in her career Nicole was not regarded as the Oscar-worthy thespian she is today, but as some frivolous eye-candy, a hottie-du-jour for Bruce Wayne to woo his way about. The anticipation was high, the expectations stratospheric. One fine Wednesday afternoon I sat down in a darkened theatre and waited for the movie to start.…

REMEMBERING BATMAN FOREVER, THE FILM

The brightly coloured Warner Brothers logo is cast in shadows as dark clouds rise overhead. From its golden metal, it transmutes into unpolished stone and then morphs into the bat-symbol. From the black backdrop, suddenly the shimmering word “FOREVER” appears and then fades away. This is not the first time the bat-franchise has played this metatextual game of appearances. In the opening sequence of BATMAN (‘89) we followed the camera through a labyrinth of concrete canyons, which turned out to be a carved bat-emblem. In BATMAN RETURNS, the title appeared through a cloud of fluttering bats, unfurling its letters like giant batwings. And in the ANIMATED SERIES, a similar trick as in FOREVER is played: the WB logo transforms into the shape of a zeppelin flying over Gotham City. So we have a running theme here. Gimmicky? Sure. Cool? You bet.

The first name to appear on screen is not the director, but the producer: Tim Burton. This to me, however formal it may have been, was a re-assurance and it put to rest any last lingering worries. As if the name Burton alone acted as a seal of approval from the master himself. An unfamiliar theme started playing: Danny Elfman, composer of the fantastic BATMAN and BATMAN RETURNS scores, had also left with long-time collaborator Burton. Elliot Goldenthal provided a theme that actually sounded pretty good. To the tones of his pompous and mysterious “Batman Overture” the actors’ names whizzed past the screen like large metallic monoliths, each in their token colour. It was an overly dramatic, ridiculously epic opening sequence, but it was a welcome change from simple standing credits that I –at the time- very much enjoyed.

Cut to Batman in the cave, suiting up and preparing to go into battle. Something about this scene did not feel right. Was it the music that had degenerated from a string-dominated symphony into a loud blaring of horns? Was it the much discussed exploration of Batman’s tight rubber-clad body with unnecessary butt-shot? Or was it the explicit product placement as Batman replies: “I’ll get drive-thru.” to his butler’s query whether he should make a sandwich? I don’t know, but something was wrong. I brushed it away though and continued watching. We follow Batman in his spiffy new Batmobile, a vehicle that looks like a jacked-up Formula 1 racecar with a large bat shaped fin on its back, to the scene of a crime, where –as usual- the Gotham police force is standing idly by, waiting for the Caped Crusader to save the day. Commissioner Gordon (Pat Hingle) explains the situation, but Batman has more eyes for the lovely Dr. Chase Meridian (a name I’ve heard Gregg Bray describe as sounding more like a financial merger than a woman). A renowned clinical psychiatrist, she’s been called in to discuss the case of Batman’s nemesis Two-Face, who has escaped the confines of Arkham Asylum to rob a bank. The supposedly “witty” banter that follows is more like an exchange of psychological clichés intermixed with sexual innuendo. It’s rather embarrassing to watch a reclusive creature of the night chat up a bombshell blonde he’s only just met, but hey it’s Hollywood, right? A stirring action scene follows. The set-up of the robbery, which really could only have been thought up by a madman, involved a massive steel bank vault being hoisted from a building by a helicopter (!) and Batman narrowly escaping death twice: first by boiling acid, next by bailing on the chopper as it crashes straight into Gotham’s very own statue of liberty.

As I think back to the first minutes of the film and how I experienced them in the theatre, I’m quite unfair in the negative way I’ve described them above. They may be hammy and spectacular in a conventional kind of way, but while I was sitting there, watching them for the very first time, it was great fun. Some aspects were ridiculously impractical, insanely silly and feverishly flashy, but they made some grand popcorn entertainment. It had tempo, a lot of stylish camerawork and some cool effects. I wish I could say I spotted the shallowness of this movie when I was a teenager. I wish I could claim to already having been a jaded cinema aficionado that saw BATMAN FOREVER for the commercial and trite spectacle it is right away. But the fact is, I didn’t. And that’s when I got hooked. The fondness with which I remember FOREVER is a completely irrational one, based on feelings of nostalgia and love for all things Batman that are even remotely good. Being an adult and something of a film-buff, I could easily tear down FOREVER, but the kid in me won’t let me. And if Batman teaches us anything, it’s to listen to the spoilt child inside of us.

Any saved-up frustration I may have about FOREVER, I can easily vent in the endlessly negative critique I have about its dismal sequel, BATMAN & ROBIN. So that’s how FOREVER gets a positive review from me. It’s one of my guilty pleasures to genuinely enjoy this film, in all its glammed-up badness. I’ll continue this review in an unapologetic tone, but I wanted to make clear that however much I’ll rave or rant about this movie, it all started with an easily impressed, 13-year old blockbuster-fan.

After the razzle-dazzle of the first scene featuring the first of the movie’s villains, we are introduced to the second one. Edward Nygma –what’s in a name?- is a geekish employee of Wayne Enterprises, the corporate business empire that acts as the Batman’s pastime during the day. Edward obviously has a huge crush on his employer, a gay subtext many fans seem to take offence to, but I personally have no problems with. During a visit from Bruce Wayne to his company, Edward is quick to propose to Bruce his latest invention: THE BOX, a technological novelty that tampers with people’s neural pathways to inject television images straight into the mind. How it works is not explained, neither does it have to: some crazy plot-devices you have to take with a leap of faith. Bruce, ever the crusader for ethics and sanity (I’m obviously being sarcastic), refuses to support the idea, leaving the heart-broken Edward crushed and bent on revenge. “You were supposed to understand… I’ll MAKE you understand!” he mutters as the object of his spurned affections walks out the door.

Thus begins a transformation into the Riddler. Psychologically this is easily explained. Edward loses the identity that he has obsessively constructed around his work: the rejection by Bruce of both his professional and amorous endeavours leads to the destruction of his feeling of self-worth, which translates into the construction of a new, dominant but deranged persona. His mental instability is only heightened by the (surprising) side-effect the Box has on him: while he’s testing the device on his unwitting supervisor, part of the subject’s neural energy is transferred to Edward, amplifying his intelligence. After this experiment and subsequent vicious murder of his boss, we see Edward sitting in his squalid little apartment, designing an appropriate get-up for his “new and improved” state of mind. Not much later, he’ll show up with a new haircut (a bright red flattop), in a green skin-tight lycra suit covered with question marks. He is now the Riddler, quizzical arch-villain and criminal mastermind intent on enslaving humanity with his mind-control machine.

If all this seems a little abrupt, that’s cause… it is. But the rushedness with which mild-mannered scientist Edward is remixed into the extravagant Riddler, is actually a theme faithfully adopted from the comics. Since Batman’s conception in 1939, his foils never had much need for lengthy contemplation before turning to a life of crime. The theme that all it takes to push someone over the edge is simply “one bad day”, has been famously explored beforehand – by writer Alan Moore in 1988’s “THE KILLING JOKE.”

Edward’s character in the movie is constructed as a critical analysis of media dominance in contemporary society. Already before succumbing to utter lunacy, it’s clear that Edward is a television addict, shown in the fact he desires nothing more than to escape harsh reality and dive into the beautiful make-belief world of TV and the overt game show lingo he adopts when he becomes the Riddler. His apartment is a clutter of television screens, all set on different channels and his masterpiece invention, the Box, turns viewers into zombies. The rush that comes from tapping into Box-users also acts as a drug for Edward, a drug he even sells to Two-Face in exchange for a criminal partnership that will allow him to produce and distribute Boxes to every citizen in Gotham. Edward himself becomes the greatest junkie of his own machine, feeding himself an artificial high by stealing people’s thoughts. A short scene where we see the Riddler sitting on a throne while the input of all the minds of Gotham flows into his head, is quite telling in that aspect, since it shows Edward shivering with a contorted face, almost overdosing on bliss. The way Edward is written is a definite post-modern look on information-dependency and related identity construction in our media-ized society.

It is not the first time the media has been put under scrutiny in Batman fiction. Frank Miller showed us a future vision of Batman in “THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS” (1986), that was narratively centred on media coverage of large news networks. This style was in a way adapted in BATMAN (1989), that featured newsrooms giving us frequent reports of the Batman and the Joker’s exploits. In that movie, Joker also abused the power of television, to broadcast twisted commercials for the products he had poisoned. In RETURNS (1992) it was the Penguin who employed political spin and propaganda in the media to get himself elected as mayor of Gotham. An obviously critical discourse of extreme capitalist ideology negatively influencing people’s freedoms is clearly a running theme in Batman’s movie career. BATMAN BEGINS (2005) promises to feature corporate sharks who may or may not be in league with gangsters, so perhaps this is one tradition that will not be broken.

This critical subtext is one of the few themes in FOREVER worth exploring however. The movie continues with a budding romance between Batman and Chase Meridian that runs over in an actual romance between Bruce and Chase. This theme seems lifted straight out of SUPERMAN, where reporter Lois Lane first falls in love with the Man of Steel before realising her true feelings for Clark Kent, the hero’s alter ego. BATMAN (’89) copied the same pattern, where the love-interest and damsel-in-distress Vicki Vale first harbors a fascination for the Dark Knight, before she is enamoured by Bruce Wayne, not realising they are the same person. Chase is supposed to be an “educated woman,” but she comes across as dumb, childish and frankly, rather sluttish. Her confessed love of men in “hot black rubber” comes right before the question if Batman wants her in “skin-tight vinyl and a whip”, a lame intertextual reference to Catwoman. All the while dressed in only a negligée, standing outside on the roof of Police headquarters, mind you. It all stands pretty exemplary for how women are treated in FOREVER. Chase Meridian, as well as Two-Face’s girlfriends Sugar & Spice, are playthings to be toyed around, or commodities to be bargained with (Sugar, played by a lovely Drew Barrymore, will later be loaned out as female window-dressing to Edward Nygma and Chase is used as a hostage by the Riddler). Women are merely status symbols in this movie that is ultimately about male contrasts being confronted with each other. Batman is the macho alpha-male, who is thrust into battle with the Riddler, who is effeminate and cerebral. Two-Face unifies both sophistication and lechery. Robin acts as youth and enthusiasm versus Batman’s adulthood and world-weariness.

Speaking of Robin… While considered by many as an integral part of Batman lore, Robin in FOREVER accomplishes little or nothing but to annoy the viewers. An acrobat orphaned by Two-Face, Richard Grayson is supposed to function as a dark mirror to what happened in Bruce Wayne’s past. The movie presents Dick as someone Bruce must learn to trust and guide, so that he’ll not make the same mistakes Bruce did. While we feel sympathy for Dick’s loss and his desire for revenge is understandable, ultimately he just comes over as spoilt, ungrateful and arrogant. It doesn’t help that Chris O’Donnell is clearly 25, but acts like a surly teenager going through puberty, throwing tantrums when he does not get his way. His character development goes pretty much nowhere and he ends up as no more than what Two-Face from the comic books often calls him: the Boy Hostage.

But the measure of development that Robin gets is still much more than the excuse for a part that is given to that very nemesis, Two-Face. One of the comics’ most tragic villains, a living personification of schizophrenia, he is reduced to the Riddler’s sidekick, a feeble parody of the original character. It’s been argued that Tommy Lee Jones, usually known for his stoic performances wanted to upstage Carrey, by hamming up his part. Of course what can’t be denied is that the role is just poorly written. He plays no part of any value and could just as easily have been left out of the movie entirely. Two-Face financially furthers the Riddler’s plan to put a Box in every living room in America because the Riddler has promised him the solution to “the greatest Riddle of all. The MOTHER of all riddles!” - namely the secret identity of Batman. As Edward Nygma becomes ever more popular among Gotham’s elite and his business is booming, Two-Face grows impatient. After yet another failed assassination attempt on the Bat’s life, by a stroke of luck the evil duo discover what they were looking for all along: Bruce Wayne is Batman. The man Nygma has an obsession with turns out to be the same man whose identity he’s been reaching after. It’s ironic that Nygma goes through the same process of cross-identification that is stereotypically reserved for the women in Batman’s life. A plot is hatched to finally destroy Batman and because in a superhero movie, no death trap can be straightforward, instead of putting a bullet through Bruce’s head, he is left alive after he has been attacked in his home, where he was his most vulnerable.

It’s safe to say that what I’ve so far described is what was roughly in the original “Batchler” draft. By all accounts, this is not a bad script for a Hollywood blockbuster. It is a much inferior story when compared to the previous two or BEGINS, but it could have worked, given a good lead character to hold it all together. And therein lies the rub. Warner Brothers, not content with the backlash of RETURNS –it hadn’t, while still a financial success, made quite as much money as they had hoped and enraged parental groups had decried it to be unsuitable for children- had done away with Tim Burton’s darkly artistic vision and found the first draft still too gloomy, too deep and psychological. It needed pruning, to lighten it up, make it more shallow and happy. The man for the job was Akiva Goldsman. In the original script, Dick coming into Bruce’s life brings back a lot of painful memories. Bruce begins to have nightmares of his parents’ death, leading him to repressed memories about a red book. Throughout the movie, these recurring dreams will haunt Bruce, up to the point where he is knocked unconscious while defending Chase from Two-Face’s thugs. The blow to his head (granted, a plot device that could have come out of a Looney Tunes cartoon) has caused him to suffer partial amnesia: he can no longer remember his identity as Batman. Ever faithful Alfred then takes him down to the cave, where he leaves Bruce to re-live his greatest horrors. Down in the darkness of the cave, which is metaphorical for his own soul, Bruce once again meets the creature that inspired him so many years ago: the monstrous bat. In a very symbolic moment, Bruce and the bat seem to become as one, the cinematic equivalent that he has confronted his fears and is ready to face whatever lies ahead. In re-enacting the moment he decided to become a bat to strike fear in the hearts of the wicked, Bruce also remembers what the red ledger in his dreams stands for. It was his father’s diary, in which Thomas Wayne had written that it was HIS choice and not young Bruce’s, to go to the cinema the night they were murdered. Facing this reality, Bruce is alleviated from much of the guilt he felt over their deaths and finally comes to some psychological closure. He realises that his mission as Batman is not a punishment, but a worthwhile attempt to change the world for the better. As he emerges from the cave –a moment that once again seems to have been in homage to THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS- he stands before Alfred and tells him “I understand now that I'm Batman... forever”. This seminal moment has rejuvenated him, made him ready to fight any challenge given to him. Of course, none of this made the final cut. So instead we’re stranded with a story that makes no sense, an unfinished tale that lacks proper motivation.

The finale of the film may lack in storytelling, it’s definitely the showstopper of the production. After finally having figured out the painfully obvious, namely who the Riddler is, Batman and Robin, in shiny new suits, make their way to the ominous Claw Island, where the villain has his lair. In truth, I’m surprised they even bothered with having Bruce solve the inane word puzzles to come to the conclusion that it was Nygma all along. The Riddler, probably tired of waiting for his sweetheart, decided to broadcast one final taunt: a huge green laser-image of a question mark, placed over the bat-signal that had been lit in the sky by the police. Batman, flying over Gotham in the Batwing only needed to follow the lasers’ origin to find out where the Riddler was hiding. Anyway, when he ends up in front of the Riddler, who is holding Robin and Chase captive, Batman is forced to chose between the two –de facto a choice between his two lives, one public and one hidden. This all takes place in a grand hall, egomaniacally decorated on all sides by flashing question marks. The Riddler is sitting on his throne, dressed in a sparkling silver outfit. “Was that over the top? I can never tell!” he cries, ironically summing up the entire production of the movie in two short sentences. Batman decides that it really is and ends it with a very deus ex machina solution. Predictably, good triumphs over evil. Two-Face dies (in a very forced ending to make it look like it was his own fault and not Batman’s) and Edward ends up a raving lunatic in Arkham Asylum, oblivious of fact or fiction.

Sitting through two hours of such idiocy, you would think anyone would hate it with a passion. Like I said before, not so with me. Every time I re-watch it, I find myself utterly amused by its many faults and utterly entertained by everything else. The movie makes no sense, but I can forgive it that. It conveys a sexist message, but I try to look past that. The reason I still like it after all these years, is an ambiguous one. On the one hand I’m fond of it because it’s about Batman, but on the other hand I enjoy it because in fact it’s… really not. Which leads me to the next point…

IS FOREVER A GOOD BATMAN FILM?

I suppose FOREVER conforms to a lot of classic Batman story-elements. In fact, probably more so than any other of the movies does it stand very close to the comics. BATMAN deviated too much from its origins to please diehard fans, RETURNS is much more a Burtonesque fairytale than a real Batman story and BATMAN & ROBIN is closer in spirit to the camp 60’ies television series. But to me personally, it’s hardly a Batman movie at all. Val Kilmer, who does a valiant effort to play an incredibly underwritten part, may have the suit on, but rarely convinces me he IS the Dark Knight. FOREVER is an amazing testament on how to make movies that suspend no disbelief whatsoever and still manage to wildly entertain its audience. The narrative lacks every explanation or verisimilitude and the actors are forced to deliver their lines like cardboard cut-outs. And yet, they’re surprisingly good at that. Tommy Lee Jones was just miscast, I won’t tread more ground on that one. But Jim Carrey really delivers. His Riddler is not the most ingenious criminal - in fact he relies heavily on dumb luck and simple trickery. But much like the crazed Frank Gorshin in the sixties, Carrey gives us a Riddler that prances and dances, jokes and mocks and delivers some deliciously kinky villainy. His evil is sincere; his obsession is consequent. And even though the camp is sometimes too much to bear, Carrey swims through the insanity of flashing neon and kitschy plotlines like it’s his second nature. And you have to give him credit for that, if for nothing else. Speaking of neon, I dare you to check out the sets of FOREVER next time you see it. Aesthetically I’m more a fan of Anton Furst’s grandiose art deco architecture and design and of Bo Welch’s expressionistic nightmarish Weimaresque city, but the work that has been put into FOREVER is not to be underestimated. Sure, it goes a little lost in the sickly glow of pink and green lighting, but production design deserves some mayor kudos. The gargantuesque statues that are strewn though the Gotham cityscape make it a fantastical metropolis in the tradition of Tim Burton and some of the locations are amazingly crafted. Bruce Wayne’s office at Wayne Enterprises for instance, visible for little more than a second, is a beautifully decorated set, with a large window overlooking the majestic city. In constructing the sets for the film, some genuine thought has been put into how the different locations reflect the characters’ state of mind. This is a concept that is true to the 1930’ies tradition of expressionism that Burton had envisioned as the perfect habitat for Batman. An especially well-produced scene is the one in which we see the Riddler locked up in Arkham. The smoky fog that hangs low around the gothic tower of the asylum, the dead tree outside the rusty gates, the small and dank cell and the black and white striped straightjacket could have come straight out of a Tim Burton film. Musically it’s not always my cup of tea. The soundtrack certainly has some hits and misses and Elliot Goldenthal’s score is often misplaced. But sometimes it touches on exactly the right motifs. The Riddler’s theme for instance is filled with menace and perversity, mainly achieved by use of a Theremin, a bizarre instrument that gave many camp 1950’s horror and sci-fi movies it’s signature sound - sound that works well with the metaphor of Edward as the mad scientist creating a monster (the Riddler).

BATMAN FOREVER is a far from perfect film. It’s flawed even to people who have no emotional connection to Batman whatsoever. I would have loved that Tim Burton had gotten his way and the trilogy could be ended in the same vein, with the same deep and artistic form and content that his Batman films had. Instead we got something completely different. Bat-fans who love the Burton approach may regret that and fans who hate the dark theatrics of Burton’s films, may be glad. But both have to live with the fact that FOREVER spawned BATMAN & ROBIN, a film that has been called the death of Batman on film. Of course, not even a movie so utterly ridiculous as B&R could keep a great character like the Dark Knight down and in 2005 we are happy to welcome BATMAN BEGINS. What I mean is that there is not one way to make a definitive Batman movie. Opinions to which approach should be used will forever more differ and all that can be said about the past films is that what’s done is done. There is little point in trying to change the past, or trying to change our vision of it. BATMAN FOREVER will always give me part of the thrill it did in 1995, now ten years ago. I think back to it with a taste of irony, with some melancholy and a lot of nostalgia. And no matter how much I may objectively find it a loud and obnoxious movie that turns Batman’s world from a delightful gothic carnival into a glam-rock opera, I will continue to like it. I hope that one day I can say, in the words of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight: “I used to be nostalgic…when I was old.”

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