Following the events that took place in Batman Forever, Bruce Wayne (George Clooney) and Dick Grayson (Chris O’Donnell), aka Batman and Robin respectively, face a new nemesis in Gotham: Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a former Nobel Prize winning scientist turned criminal following an accident in his cryogenics lab.
It doesn’t end there with Mr. Freeze. After a serum experiment gone wrong, botanist Dr. Pamela Isely (Uma Thurman) is transformed into Poison Ivy. Alongside her juiced-up behemoth Bane (Robert Swenson), they join forces with Mr. Freeze to make Gotham miserable.
As well as the moviegoers.
Meanwhile, back at the Batcave! Bruce’s loyal father figure and butler Alfred (Michael Gough) is dying. His niece Barbara Wilson (Alicia Silverstone) makes a surprise visit and is invited to stay. Turns out she’s got some crime fighting skills of her own, but Bruce puts his foot down at first.
‘Cause Robin feels insecure enough as it is. Having a girl upstage him with such ease would put him over the edge.
Those that are familiar with Batman know that it is Bane that breaks the Caped Crusader’s back. Not to be outdone, director Joel Schumacher flat out killed him. In fact, this film is evidence that he raped and left Batman for dead in a ditch, only to be picked off by the circling vultures from up above.
That should give you an idea of the level of bad Batman & Robin is at. Just how campy and overproduced is it? Well, Adam West’s Batman is the Dark Knight trilogy compared to this.
Some movies gradually ease into their crappiness. Batman & Robin thought, what the hell, let’s just take a giant dump on an iconic character’s legacy right from the beginning. Chris O’Donnell flashes that stupid grin and goes, “I want a car! Chicks dig the car!” Then, George Clooney turns to face him and in his best George Clooney impression replies, “This is why Superman works alone… I’m George Clooney… Playing Batman… You break it, you buy it… Yay.”
No, Superman works alone ’cause no one wanted to touch him with a 10 foot pole after Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
By the way, I just gotta point out to all of those that bitched and moaned about Christian Bale’s “horrible” Batman voice. At least he gave him a voice!
Anyway, It’s really hard trying to pick where to start with this film, so let’s go with the obvious sore thumb sticking out in this movie: George Clooney as Batman. I don’t know what casting director Mali Finn was thinking or what drugs she was on at the time, but George Clooney as Batman doesn’t even look good on paper. Clooney’s obviously a great actor, but the nipples on his Batsuit showed more emotional range than he did here.
Chris O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone – okay, nope. Nope. Nope. Too easy.
When you think of great Batman villains, the first that, of course, comes to mind is Joker (two great film performances from Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger and also memorably voice-acted by Luke Skywalker himself). There’s also Penguin, Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, Bane (I watch Swenson’s performance here and I’m instantly like, “Tom Hardy who?”), Ra’s al Ghul, Harley Quinn (my personal favorite as a kid), and although Two-Face and Riddler were horribly portrayed in Batman Forever, they’re great villains when done right.
Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy, though? I don’t care what writer you bring in here to work alongside Academy Award winning screenwriter Akiva Goldman (nope, he actually didn’t buy it off Ebay). Bring in David Mamet, Quentin Tarantino, the Nolan brothers, the Coen brothers, David S. Goyer, resurrect the corpse of Billy Wilder for all I care. None of them could muster any magic to make two of the dopiest comic book villains the slightest bit interesting.
Of course, if camp’s the angle you’re going for, it makes sense that you bring in someone like Schwarzenegger to play the villain. See? I’m already giving this film way more credit than it deserves. Arnold was paid a staggering $25 million to be in this movie, making him the highest paid actor at the time. Personally, if I was in charge of Warner Bros. I would’ve just run the $25 million through a paper shredder. You get much more value in return.
But, I’m not in charge, so what we got was the Governator spouting off so many ice and freeze puns, you wonder if Goldsman’s contract stipulated that his pay would be determined by how many “What killed the dinosaurs?! The Ice Age!!!!!!!!” type jokes he crams into the script.
Oh, and how can we forget about Alfred? Michael Gough and Pat Hingle were the only two actors to appear in all four Batman films from 1989-1997. I have a feeling back when he was reading through the script for Batman Forever, he was like, “Uh – hmm – can I… Wait. Can I persuade you to take a sand – who the hell wrote this?” Upon being asked to appear in Batman & Robin, I’m fairly certain the conversation between him and Schumacher went like this:
Michael Gough: “Look… Yeah, you’re gonna have to kill me off.”
Joel Schumacher: “Michael, I understand. You’re getting up there in age, and…”
Michael Gough: “No, it’s not that. This film, it’s… Well, it’s garbage.”
Joel Schumacher: “Hey, I know you’re a little apprehensive, but don’t worry. We’re really upping the ante. This film is gonna be such an eye-raping visually, it’s gonna be a blast. I got Akiva Goldsman squatting over a stack of papers right now, crapping out a script.”
Is there anything good in this film? Well, if we’re not counting seeing an ass shot of Alicia Silverstone suiting up as Batgirl (“Suit me up, Uncle Alfred!”)… then no. And, to be honest, as much as we all had to endure the numerous crotch and ass shots of Clooney and O’Donnell suiting up, Silverstone’s was bound to happen eventually… thankfully.
Ironically, she’s the only one that doesn’t have Bat-nipples.
The difference between the disasters that are Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin is this: Batman Forever is like getting shot in the head. Yeah, it’s bad, but – Bang! It’s done. It’s over. Batman & Robin, though is like getting shot in the balls. It won’t kill you, but it’s gonna hurt like a bitch, you’re never ever gonna forget the experience and you might possibly need surgery afterward. If Batman and Robin clicking their boots to turn them into ice skates doesn’t convince you that this film is a train wreck that managed to leave no survivors, Batman’s credit card with a “Forever” (Get it??!!!!) expiration date will.