Rating: 1 Star
The following review contains spoilers.
Going into this, I thought I might actually really like it. I haven’t seen any of the original Batman “quadrilogy” or whatever since they were first released years ago, and given the Schumacher films’ reputations as “too silly,” and given how delightful the “too silly” 1966 Batman was, I had high hopes. But the problem with Batman Forever is not its silliness, it’s its terribleness.
Quick character round-up: Two-Face wants to kill Batman. The Riddler wants to suck everyone’s brainwaves into his brain to make him smarter or something (though even when he succeeds he never actually seems any smarter). Dr. Chase Meridian wants to have sex with Batman. Robin wants to kill Two-Face. And Batman just wants to defeat the bad guys and stop “dreaming during the day” about the aftermath of his parents’ murder. Apparently he had suppressed memories of falling through a hole on his property into the Bat Cave as a child, except that makes no sense because if he suppressed the memory of falling into the Bat Cave then why is there currently a Bat Cave? Did he find it again later? And who cares if he suppressed that memory? It’s neither a big plot revelation nor a big character revelation.
And that’s one of many examples where things just happen or people just do things and it doesn’t make sense for the plot or for the characters. A lot of people were bothered that the Batman and Robin costumes have nipples on them, and yes the costumes are absurdly ugly, but the real issue behind that choice is the reasoning that lead to it. Schumacher has said the costumes were emulating the perfect physiques of Greek statues, but why would Bruce Wayne or Dick Grayson want their costumes to resemble the perfect physiques of Greek statues? You could certainly want to do a unique take on the Batman character where he’s a bodybuilding narcissist, but that’s not what this movie is doing. It’s just one more thoughtless piece of random business in this whole thoughtless random movie.
Batman as a character has improved somewhat in this movie over the Burton films. He actually seems competent at being a vigilante. He has a few impressive fight scenes, he escapes from death traps, he tries to save people and stop criminals, he refuses to kill (well, mostly), and he has a double-life as a playboy industrialist. So in some ways this Batman is an upgrade.
The scene where Batman is hanging off a helicopter about to crash into a giant eyeball looked cool.
This movie is all-around ugly. It’s grotesque and repulsive. It has three dominant colors: green, red, and purple, and all are the least appealing shades of those colors imaginable. Lightning casts a red light during a rain storm. The Riddler and Two-Face hatch their plot in a room that is inexplicably and nauseatingly filled with rotating green spotlights. Robin’s big “hey I’m a cool guy” fight scene takes place in an alleyway that glows in the dark like 50 blacklight posters, fighting gang members who look like “Macho Man” Randy Savage dressed as a luchador, and whose costumes also glow in the dark. Even their weapons glow in the dark!
All of the acting in this movie is terrible, but especially when it comes to the villains. Tommy Lee Jones has never been more miscast or given a worse performance. Jim Carrey, who can be a little much to take in the best of times, has never been more annoying. It’s like Schumacher saw The Mask and said “Can you go bigger?” Jones is doing a bad Jack-Nicholson-as-the-Joker impression and Carrey is doing his worst Robin Williams. Both characters have virtually the same personality and spend every scene cackling and hopping up and down and it’s exhausting to watch. Carrey has not a single line of dialogue that is not a joke and not a single joke that is funny. When Jones is not laughing, he’s grunting. Their costumes are hideously ugly. Carrey’s hair changes length and color in every scene for no reason. There is not a single aspect of either character’s performance, costuming, dialogue, or characterization that is successful.
Dr. Chase Meridian is the worst. In Meridian’s first scene she meets Batman and gives him some useless advice about taking on Two-Face, and in her second scene she turns on the Bat Signal and waits on the roof of the GCPD in lingerie hoping Batman will show up and have sex with her. Every woman in this movie is a sex object. Even the woman Robin rescues from the neon wrestlers asks to kiss him as a reward for preventing her implied gang rape. Drew Barrymore and Debi Mazar can occasionally be seen just standing around in lingerie and depressing the hell out of me.
Bruce Wayne’s secret code word to open a trap door in his office at Wayne Enterprises and shoot through a magic tunnel all the way back to the Bat Cave is “chair.” Because there is no other time someone might say the word “chair” in his office.