So I recently had an idea for a new weekly "column" if you will, titled "It Wasn't That Bad". So if the title doesn't give it away, I will be reviewing films that are somewhat outcast and reviled by many.
Up first, I decided to go with Batman Forever. Now while a lot of people dislike this movie, I don't think it's actually to do with the content of this film - it's because of the direction it took the franchise in (a direction which eventually led to the notorious Batman & Robin). Let me begin by saying that I am huge Batman fan, always have been. I also love the Tim Burton Batman films. Both Batman and Batman Returns are absolute classics and I prefer them even to the Nolan films. The gothic noir feel to both films really complemented the stories and Michael Keaton was brilliant as Batman. Plus, there were gothic backstories for the sensational villains such as Jack Nicholson's brilliant Joker, Danny DeVtio's terrifying Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer's glorious Catwoman.
However, after the first two Burton films, Warner Bros. wanted to take Batman in a lighter direction. Thus, Joel Schumacer was hired to direct, Tim Burton was changed to the Executive Producer and Val Kilmer stepped in as Batman when Michael Keaton walked away from the project because of the direction change.
However, I have one issue with Batman Forever and that is how underrated it is. Everyone remembers how awesome Burton's films are and they all remember how infamous Batman & Robin turned out to be. But many people seem to be indifferent to Batman Forever.
Sure Batman Forever doesn't have the sheer brilliance of the mastermind of Tim Burton, and it doesn't tell the epic stories of Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy but it doesn't try to be either of those things, it doesn't try to be anything it's not. But that doesn't mean that it can't be entertaining. To Batman Forever's credit, it is literally like a comic-book come to life without ever becoming too 'out there' (unlike it's successor).
Val Kilmer did a great job as Batman - and I loved the fact that his scenes were always accompanied by Elliot Goldenthal's epic Batman score, which is also highly underrated, yeah it may not be Danny Elfman's flawless Batman score but it still fitted the film brilliantly and should be praised for that! Kilmer's Batman seemed like the perfect law enforcing vigilante without ever going too dark. He did a great job of conveying Bruce's emotional struggles over his parents' death. It was one of the first times we get to see a Bruce Wayne storyline take cener stage - something that the later films would adopt.
The villains were the perfect blend of eccentricity. Critics didn't seem to respond too well to Tommy Lee Jones' 'happy' portrayal of Two-Face, however I believe that in this 'comic-like' world, he did the best with what he was given. It showed that Harvey's mind had been scarred, not just his face. However, everybody seems to agree that Jim Carey's Riddler was the gem of the film. I would agree. I honestly don't know if we'll ever see a better representation of the Riddler. He had everything, the Nygma nerdiness, the eccentric genius-ness. It was perfect.
Although, I liked Nicole Kidman, I did dislike the fact that Bruce had to have a different love interest in every film.
The one thing that seemed to annoy people the most about this film (and the sequel) was the tone of the film. Although I wouldn't say it was necessarily bright, it was significantly lighter than the previous two. Some would label the tone as dull, which I would disagree with. In addition, the neon lights and gigantic buildings were a far cry from Burton's noirish Gotham. However, think about it, the bright neon lights mixed with the 'dull' story is the perfect reflection of Two-Face's character - bright and colourful on the outside but dark and twisted on the inside.
Look, I am by no means saying that Batman Forever is my favourite Batman film, because it's not. However, it does feature a star-studded cast and packs an entertaining punch. It deals rather well with the introduction of Robin and Chris O' Donnell does a great job. Furthermore, we all know that the future Batman films are headed in the beloved dark/grim direction so this is the best 'light' Batman we're going to get for the forseeable future. So, if you're a Batman fan who likes to entertained and are looking for action-packed entertainment rather than a complex story: then Batman Forever is for you.
It may not be a critical masterpiece but it deserves some respect as it is a pretty decent and entertaining film. And it holds up incredibly well, considering the fact that it was released 20 years ago and let's not forget, it became the first film EVER to make $20 million in one day!!
I'll let you decide for yourself, but at least I can say with all honesty that Batman Forever really wasn't that bad!
Check out the trailer below:
Be sure to check back again next week for the next film in It Wasn't That Bad! Thanks for reading! :)