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Batman & Robin

1 rating: -3.0
A movie directed by Joel Schumacher

The Caped Crusader returns to battle the abominable Mr. Freeze and green-thumbed Poison Ivy. To save his ailing wife, Dr. Victor Fries turns to a life of crime after a hideous accident makes him unable to tolerate even moderate temperatures, while Dr. … see full wiki

Director: Joel Schumacher
Release Date: 1997
MPAA Rating: PG-13
1 review about Batman & Robin

Neon Batman

  • Dec 11, 2008
Pros: It's fun!

Cons: The cold puns

The Bottom Line: Yes, it's entertaining enough to be reccommended.

The year it came out, Batman and Robin was actually a nominee for Best Picture at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. If you’ve ever bragged about how smart your tyke is, I hope the kid didn’t vote. Anyway, the award that year was won by Titanic.

Batman and Robin is widely considered the worst movie in the Batman series. Batman and Robin is in fact widely considered the worst movie, period. Like Batman Forever, Batman and Robin is nothing more than a live-action cartoon. But in this movie, director Joel Schumacher even added cartoon noises! They don’t dominate the movie. But they’re present in a handful of scenes. This makes me wonder: If Schumacher thought he was making a cartoon, why didn’t he just save a whole crapload of budget money and animate the freaking thing? They could have just brought in the voice talents of the outstanding Batman: The Animated Series.

There are two scenes in Batman and Robin which warrant complete animation. The first is one in which Mr. Freeze is making his henchmen sing carols to Christmas specials. Everyone in the scene is clearly freezing while Mr. Freeze himself just sits there calmly waving a baton. When one of the henchmen bursts into the room with important news, Mr. Freeze establishes himself as a supervillain by blasting him with the freeze ray. The other scene involves a bidding war for Poison Ivy, in which Batman shows Robin how he’ll be paying: He whips out his trusty Batcard! (“Never leave home without it!”)

I guess that idea just didn’t occur to anyone. At least not behind the scenes. The actors playing the lead roles in Batman and Robin all perform with that very idea in mind. George Clooney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman, Chris O’Donnell, and Alicia Silverstone all star in this bloated, neon-bathed superhero fantasy. Of that cast, only Clooney can talk about his career in the present tense eleven years after trying to be Adam West. While Thurman pops her head up every now and then, she doesn’t illuminate the marquee. Schwarzenegger is still among us, but he’s signing bills instead of silly one-line exclamations preceding the moment where he blows the bad guys away. And as for O’Donnell and Silverstone, well, to god there is no zero.

Schwarzenegger and Thurman respectively play Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy, and they animate themselves so much for Batman and Robin they are almost literally animated at times. Unlike Two-Face and The Riddler from Batman Forever, however, these two have adequate background stories in order to explain what they’re so upset about. Poison Ivy is a scientist who loves her plants and simply wants her plants to live in a world which won’t destroy them. Mr. Freeze kind of went nuts when his wife pulled a Schiavo in the later stages of an incurable disease. She is kept alive in a water-filled tube while Dr. Freeze attempts to find a cure for her. This doesn’t explain why he’s so bent on turning Gotham City into Buffalo, New York, though. So here’s what they’re after: Freeze wants a cure for the wifey. Ivy wants Freeze. A very weird love triangle develops which ultimately results in the two of them teaming up to freeze Gotham City over, then plant some new, less sentient beings there. Bane is in this thing too, generally being Ivy’s sidekick.

Meanwhile, Alfred comes down with the early stages of the disease keeping Freeze’s wife as a vegetable.  Robin is overexerting himself, getting hotheaded and egotistical. Alfred’s relative Barbara, the sweet innocent schoolgirl (yeah right) is going to stay with Bruce Wayne and company. What a convenient way to introduce Batgirl. She comes in just in time to save the other two in the finale.

You really can’t blame Joel Schumacher for screwing this sucker up. It wasn’t his fault. More blame should be placed on the writer, Akiva Goldsman. He was the one who gave the movie a supernatural presence which really doesn’t fit into Batman. He was the one who loaded up the script with silly clichés and one-liners. Arnold Schwarzenegger is more the victim here than anyone; saddled with an embarrassing backstory and just about every cold pun ever written, Ah-nuld brings his smirking and evil A-game in an effort to make the most of what he gets. But what that resulted in was merely the end of his career as an A-list star. He made a few more movies before winning Gary Gray’s seat in California, but I don’t think people are quite ready to live Mr. Freeze down.

It was also Goldsman who apparently decided to just give Batman and Robin the works. In the course of the movie, Batman tries to restrain Robin too much, people everywhere fall head-over-heels for Poison Ivy, especially when she blows a powder at them, Ivy escapes death once, Freeze is put into Arkham Asylum and breaks out, Robin gets whiny and egotistical and basically rebels against Batman, the sweet girl turns out to be a speed demon, and there’s a whole slew of assorted crap which Schumacher just can’t seem to properly field manage. It’s almost as if Goldsman knew this was his final crack at Batman and just wanted to do everything. And Goldsman is a fairly competent writer too. Among his credits The Client, A Beautiful Mind, and I Am Legend. Of course, he also wrote Lost in Space and I, Robot, so he’s made silly movies too.

Schumacher’s cartoon approach to directing reeks of surrender. With it, he seems to think “there’s no way to handle all of this, so I’m just going to throw it as far over the top as I possible can.” This approach might actually have saved Batman and Robin from being completely unwatchable because it creates an absurd setting for an absurd script. Could you imagine Burton or Nolan shooting with Goldsman’s script? Schumacher’s way actually makes it entertaining and if not believable, than just cartoonish enough for you to swallow your disbelief. Batman and Robin is very entertaining.

But that’s the only good thing you can say about it. The rest of this movie has been very deservedly panned. It’s watchable, but it is also an affront to Batman.


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