Batman Forever is the third of the Burton/Schumacher Batman movies. This one is directed by Schumacher, with Burton and Peter MacGregor-Scott producing. Val Kilmer takes over from Keaton as Batman, while villain duties go to Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, and Jim Carrey as the Riddler. Dick Grayson/Robin is introduced too, played by Chris O’Donnell and Bruce Wayne’s love interest in this movie is a psychiatrist called Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman), a role created for the movie.
After the previous two movies were criticised for being too dark, the third movie took a step away from that, becoming more camp, and injecting a lot more colour into it. It also portrayed a less troubled Bruce Wayne than previous outings. It was kind of half way between the 60’s version and the 89/92 versions.
The story involves Two-Face, who blames Batman for his disfigurement and wants revenge, teaming up with Edward Nygma (The Riddler) an ex-employee of Wayne Enterprises who had his business offer turned down when he presented it to Bruce Wayne, due to the danger his invention presented. The device in question can suck peoples thoughts out of their mind, making The Riddler more intelligent.
Bruce Wayne develops a relationship with Chase Meridian, who likes both Batman and Bruce, unaware they are the same person. While the pair on a date at the circus, all the members of The Flying Grayson’s family except Dick, the youngest, are murdered when they attempt to stop Two-Face after he crashes the event, despite Bruce’s efforts. Grayson is then taken in by Bruce. He soon discovers Batman’s true identity. But as The Riddler grows more and more intelligent, he also uncovers the big secret.
Chase is then kidnapped by the two villains, leading to a showdown between them and Batman and his new sidekick Robin.
This movie is the start of a serious back-slide in quality that wrecked the franchise to the point it would be another 8 years (until Batman Begins rebooted it) before another movie was attempted after Batman & Robin. This movie is not as bad as that, but it is a definite step down from Batman Returns.
The acting is not as good as the previous two movies. Kilmer is probably the most boring batman, but not the worst. The best that can be said about him as Batman is that he had a great Batsuit, which at least one-ups Clooney. Chris O’Donnell I can’t decide how to feel about. Is it his fault if he was horribly miscast in this movie? He is far too old to be Batman’s protogé in this movie. Kidman is good as Meridian but is no replacement for Pfeiffers Catwoman.
Tommy Lee Jones does his best with the misunderstanding of Two-Faces character that we are given, which turns him into a bit of a joke character. The standout performance, though, is from Jim Carrey as The Riddler. He is by far the most interesting character to watch, even if near the end the constant exaggeration of expressions does wear a little thin. He totally throws himself into it, and gives The Riddler a slightly sinister edge at times amongst the crazy. This Riddler deserves a way better movie. He is great, and while you could argue over who was the best Riddler, there is no denying that Carrey is hugely entertaining in this movie.
The score is decent but fails to live up to the previous movies also. While all that I’ve mentioned about this movie so far is not terrible, but just not as good as the previous two, what is terrible is the depiction of Gotham. Which is a shame because everything else at least looks great.
There is more action this time around. Sometimes good, like the flying Graysons scene, but sometimes pretty standard, even annoying. For instance, the scene at start has a guy that literally narrates the action going on around him. It irritates after even a few seconds, but it continues for the entire scene. Why? are we too stupid to realise what is going on, or was that really the best script they could come up with? Again, it does look great.
The Batmobile in this movie looks cool, not the best one but cool, as does the Batwing and short-lived Batboat. It is a theme in this movie; everything (almost everything) looks good, but there is no real substance behind it. This is probably the most commercialised version of Batman we will ever see.
Overall not the worst Batman movie, but not that great at all and can’t seem to find the right groove to inhabit, not being as fun camp as the 1966 movie, but also lacking any real depth. It’s still entertaining in parts, mostly thanks to Carrey, and even if you did get bored, the neon colours will keep you awake.
Movie info from Wikipedia:
|Directed by||Joel Schumacher|
|Music by||Elliot Goldenthal|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$336.5 million|