Sunday, June 24, 2012

Batman Forever (1995) DVD

Rating:  3 out 5 faces that you find, and another, and another until revenge becomes your whole life.

Plot Synopsis:  Riddler teams with Two Face in a plot to brainwash Gotham.  A lot of green is involved.  There’s a crappy subplot with a super hot Nicole Kidman and we get Robin.  And Bat-nipples.

The Good:

-This started my love affair with Nicole Kidman

-The villains are awesome, Jim Carey, as hammy as he is, is awesome as Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones is fucking fantastic as Two-Face.

-The visuals, bright, colorful, just as timeless and comic booky as Burton’s Gotham but in a totally different way.

-“Boyeee’s... kill the Bat!”

-Val Kilmer’s Batman, he’s got the cool confidence and imposing personality for Bruce Wayne but not really the physique for Batman.  He does a good job, I can’t take that away from him and he brings with him an interesting take on the character.

-Two Face’s henchmen, exactly what I would expect his cannon fodder to look like.

-Two Face uses “The Club”.

-The Bat Luge from his office to the Bat Cave.

-The visual effects are good.  The effects get better every movie.

-Everyone puts in a good performance, you can’t say that anyone didn’t bring their A game.  They all go balls out, as ridiculous as it may, at times, be everyone does their best.  But ALL these actors are professionals who do a good job in everything they do.

-I love the riddles Riddler leaves behind.  They used a New York Times crossword puzzle maker to create the riddles and it shows.  They’re clever and creative and their construction is awesome, they all have multiple parts that move and change which makes them better than just a typed note or sky writing.

-Nigma lives above the Criss Cross Laundry whose sign looks like a crossword puzzle.  Have I mentioned how much I love little things like this?

-The Flying Grayson’s wardrobe, it looks very much like the classic Robin outfit.

-It’s nice to get away from the monochrome palette of the previous movies and get more color, especially the purples, reds and greens of this movie.

-Jim Carey got pretty good with that cane, all the little flourishes shows that he must have practiced for hours on handling it.

-Two Face’s two girls, smoking hot Drew Barrymore and sultry Debi Mazar

-“What’s behind this locked door.” “Master Bruce’s dead wives.” Alfred you can be such a smart ass.

-Is that fucking En Vogue?  The African American all woman R&B super group?

-“How’s my mole?” I just realized he added the mole to look more like Bruce Wayne.

-“I need a good name, Bat-Boy, Nightwing, what do you think?” Not Nightwing, that name is just stupid.

-I’ve never seen Tommy Lee Jones so totally out of control.  He’s not restraining himself at all, every character moment it’s like he asked himself “Should I be more subtle?” and the reply was a resounding “HELL NO! If anything be more overt!”

-Riddler destroying the Batcave, throwing his little green Bat sphere bombs.

-Bruce slides down a table to deliver a drop kick to a thug.

-The image of a question mark with the Bat-Signal in the period.

-“Holy rusted metal Batman.  The ground it’s all metal and full of holes, you know, holey.”

-At least they don’t kill off Riddler.

-Our first view of Arkham Asylum.

The Bad:

-These movies make me hate Gordon.

-As much as I like this Two Face it’s not really THE Two Face.  Two Face is really more about controlled anger.  He doesn’t represent the total chaos that Joker does but isn’t as intellectual as someone like Penguin or Riddler.  He is both total, complete order as well as total, complete chaos.  Which side makes decisions is chosen by the coin flip but the personality is always total control with pure anger simmering underneath.  You never know when Horrible Harv is going to burst through the surface of Harvey Dent but Harvey Dent is still mostly in control.  So to see him really played as a total psycho, while interesting, isn’t a real representation of the character.  However the character is played so well by Tommy Lee Jones that I’m willing to overlook that and enjoy the character.

-As much as I like this Riddler it’s not really THE Riddler.  Riddler is not that bombastic, he may have moments where he’s not completely in control, he may slip and let his emotions out but Riddler is the epitome of the cerebral villain and is completely logical.  He might act childishly competitive at times but he wouldn't be so totally and completely out of control with his emotions and behavior.  But again the character is played so well that you can enjoy the character for what it is.

-The portrayals of the villains are too “Joker-like”.  They play them as campy, over the top, psycho’s.  While camp is definitely the theme of the Shumacher Batman movies the portrayals aren’t really true to the comic characters or really, even all that deep.  It would have almost been more interesting to see them use Billy Dee Williams as Two Face (since they already established him as Harvey Dent).  You would have gotten such a different performance and probably one closer to, who I believe, Two Face really is.  He’s not really crazy like the Joker is, he’s methodical, he’s cold, he’s introverted, he’s troubled.  He clearly has mental problems but they don’t manifest in the same way.  We get the same with Riddler, we have the same troubled genius but it’s just too flamboyant.  I think Jim Carey’s portrayal is a little closer to who I think the Riddler is if it was just toned down a little.  As one off appearances I love these villains and how they’re played but not as canonical, accurate portrayals of these characters.

-Val Kilmer’s Batman.  Something just doesn’t seem right about him, I think it might be his inset chin.

-Bat nipples.

-“It’s the car right?  Chicks love the car.” Batman doesn’t really do one liners

-That is one gay ass Batmobile.

-I think 75% of this script is one liners.  However I also don’t mind it all that much.

-Oh yeah, that totally looks like suicide.  Fuck you Gordon.

-Is there really such a thing as a socialite charity circus?

-Chris O’Donnel is really fucking old looking to be Robin.

-I don’t like Two Face’s involvement in Robin’s origin.

-“I’m a 90’s angst ridden teen.  I’m so badass and alternative with an in your face attitude.”

-Val Kilmer is an exhale talker, he exhales heavily as he talks.  He also wears his pants very high.

-Who fucking does laundry like that?  I must integrate kung fu into everything I do and show off at all times!

-“So, hey Bruce, how are you doing?” “My parents were murdered in front of my eyes as a kid.  I dream about it every night, the blood soaked memories scream at me from the darkness.  I get an erection when I choke hobo’s.  I like to set children on fire.  I’m a furry.” “So I guess ‘not well’, huh?”  TMI Bruce, TMI.

-Well that kiss was pointless.

-Batman would not give up being Batman just for a girl.  If he did he wouldn’t just leave, he’d have someone there to take over.  Bruce Wayne understands that the world NEEDS a Batman, he’d rather that burden not fall on anyone else so he would stay Batman but if for whatever reason he decided that HE doesn’t need to be Batman he would make sure that SOMEONE would be there to be Batman.

-Rubberized Bat-Cheeks.

-Really Batman, you’re going to give Gordon the half Fonzie?  He can’t see you in your Bat-Plane.

-Batman, I see you’re a fan of things falling off the sides of things to create new things.

-“I will not kill you Two Face.  I will save you so that you can die later.”

-“Was that over the top?  I can never tell.” I know Jim Carey, I’ve seen you’re other movies.

-Fatman! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  You tell him Jim!  You zinged him buddy, you got him good!

-So, what happens to Sugar and Spice?  They just kind of vanish.

The Ugly:

-“OH NO!  BOILING ACID!” Thanks nerdy exposition guard.

-Val Kilmer’s Batman.  I don’t know how to feel about Val Kilmer’s Batman.

-Two Face’s Yin-Yang motif.  I don’t know, there are probably better ways to express a binary state but the yin-yang motif is most often represented by showing just one half so you have this weird paisley/amoeba blob on things.  It took me forever to even realize that’s what that was on all the guns.

-The love subplot with Meridian Chase.  Totally pointless, it feels shoehorned in so they could have Nicole Kidman there to attract all the teens and single dads.  It’s like they felt they HAD to have a love interest so they crammed her in there.  It doesn’t really seem to go anywhere.  First Wayne makes a move and she says she loves Batman, so Batman makes a move and she says she loves Wayne, so Wayne reveals he’s Batman and then her fucking head explodes.

-There is no toning down Jim Carey, I see that now, I understand.

-Where did those Riddler helmets come from?  Did he bring them in with them?  I didn’t see him bring them in?  Were they just sitting there?

-Riddler looks like Annie Lennox.

-Riddler’s unitard doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

Final Thoughts:  Say what you will about Joel Shumacher but his touch really makes this film WORK.  He comes in and makes some subtle changes which make a huge difference.  The simple addition of color would have been enough but he changed the overall tone without complete destroying it (like Batman and Robin would).  If you pay attention to the opening credits you notice Tim Burton’s name as a producer.  Or at least he was given a producers credit.  This is something you will not notice in Batman and Robin which may explain why this feels more like an evolution rather than a total abandonment of everything the series was about.  You get a lot of what Burton was going for with just a touch of camp and what camp there is isn’t insulting.  The movie feels more reigned in and is more in the general tone of the previous two when compared to B&R.  It may be owed entirely to that Tim Burton Producer credit or it may have just been a way for the studio to pay Burton the money they already owed him and it was the studio that reigned in Shumacher.  Who really knows?

            I was obsessed with this movie as a kid, I made my parents buy every magazine with it on the cover.   I bought the action figures (I still have the Two Face, no other line released a Two Face so I HAD to have this one), I saw it in the theaters, I asked for the VHS for my birthday and I was super psyched when I got it.  I opened it up and was so excited to see it and then me and all my friends ran downstairs to watch it and we probably watched it more than once taking breaks to re-enact the scenes with ourselves or our action figures (this same group of friends had a Summerslam marathon where we watched the same Summerslam pay per view over and over again all night, we did the same with Aliens).  Obvious I’ve gotten older, I was 42 then, and looking at it now at 59 it feels different.  It holds a lot of nostalgia for me but it’s also held up pretty well as a movie.  It’s not instantly dated (until the En Vogue cameo) like Batman ’89 is, the action holds up, the acting holds up, the effects hold up, all in all it’s a solid movie.  It’s not the greatest movie, it’s probably not even a great movie, you could argue that it’s not even a really good movie, but it’s an OK movie and worth checking out as a Batman fan.

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