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Batman Forever

The 1995 movie directed by Joel Schumacher

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The Live Action Animated Batman Movie!

  • Sep 20, 2008
Pros: Nicole Kidman looks great

Cons: Poorly directed

The Bottom Line: From now on, forget the star rating. Just look at the recommendation.

Batman Forever is a cartoon. It doesn’t quite mimic a cartoon the way Batman and Robin does, putting cartoon sounds into scenes, and there aren’t any bubbles reading “Oof!” or “Pow!” like there were on the old television show either. But Batman Forever, the third movie in the Batman series and the most reviled Batman movie after Batman and Robin, does throw away the dark comic book look from Batman and Batman Returns. Director Joel Schumacher, who had taken over the series from the great Tim Burton, did just about everything he could to distance himself from Burton’s style, which was deferential to the comic book. He even went so far as to introduce a new Batman in Val Kilmer, though this probably had more to do with a contract dispute with Michael Keaton than anything.

Let’s forget about Batman Begins and The Dark Knight for now. Those movies took the franchise to a level it could never have previously fathomed. So, forgetting Christopher Nolan and just looking at the first four movies, Val Kilmer is the most mysterious and engaging of the three actors who portrayed Batman. His version of Bruce Wayne is dark and soft-spoken and conflicted but steely. He does justice to Bruce Wayne in a way that only Christian Bale compares to. He is also lucky enough to get his hands on the clear front-runner for hottest woman in a Batman movie: Nicole Kidman and her perfect American accent playing Dr. Chase Meridian. Kidman is so sexy in the role that during the finale, when The Riddler presents Batman with a choice between Robin and Meridian, you wouldn’t blame Batman for just taking Meridian and just letting Boy Wonder plunge to his death.

Batman Forever is probably the Batman movie with the least amount of plot. The plot in a nutshell is basically about Batman meeting his sidekick and dropping the two villains of the movie, Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey going hilariously over the top as Two-Face and The Riddler respectively. Jones and Carrey are doing their finest check-cashing work in Batman Forever, and that’s perfectly okay. Two-Face and The Riddler are easily the least developed villains in the Batman movies. Two-Face, as everyone knows, is district attorney Harvey Dent after an accident. In the movie, we see a clip of Dent’s accident when Bruce Wayne runs it on his TV. In the clip, we clearly see Batman clearly save Dent from an assassination attempt. Yet, Dent is stuck with his deformation, blames Batman, and goes on to terrorize Gotham City in ways befitting of a James Bond villain. The Riddler is even worse. We meet Edward Nygma, a software developer at Wayne Enterprises who idolizes Bruce Wayne in a somewhat creepy kind of way. He develops what is basically a virtual reality device which attaches to the top of a television set which has the side effect of letting him read peoples’ minds. He proposes a partnership with Bruce, but when Bruce turns him down, he goes completely bonkers, forms his own mega-corporation to sell his device, and somehow becomes obsesses with getting Batman. It’s as if writers Lee Batchler, Janet Scott Batchler, and Akiva Goldsman just couldn’t think of anything else. Batman Forever? The movie could conceivably be called Get Batman! Even in the much-loathed Batman and Robin, the villains were better developed.

I really can’t knock the villains too much because they’re good at what they do. Jones and Carrey are both very theatrical in their parts and the bulk of my rating for Batman Forever comes from their efforts. Both are a lot of fun to watch, and they make Batman Forever the type of movie where you almost want the bad guys to win.

To get an idea of just how badly directed Batman Forever is, there is also one scene in Batman Forever which shouldn’t even be there. It’s a great, action-packed scene in which Batman, driving the Batmobile, is suddenly ambushed by Two-Face and his thugs. Batman leads them on a chase through Gotham City’s back alleys and streets, and when he gets to a dead ends, he uses the Batmobile’s zipline device to climb the wall as Two-Face’s cars all crash into the wall and explode all around him. It’s a fun scene, to be sure, but it has absolutely no bearing on any of the characters. Perhaps it was filmed by mistake and the editors just threw it into the finals version to prevent it from becoming too talky.

Dick Grayson, better know as Robin, is introduced in Batman Forever. He is a circus performer with The Flying Graysons, the trapeze act. When he is suddenly orphaned because his brothers and sisters decided to take the law into their own hands the night Two-Face invades the circus, Bruce Wayne takes him in. Grayson learns Bruce’s secret, of course, and afterward is bound and determined to help Bruce get rid of Two-Face. Bruce resists at first because he’s still in the Batman-is-a-curse phase of his double life. Although Chris O’Donnell plays Robin very meekly, Robin is the only one in the movie who resembles a semi-reasonable character. He even has a change of heart during the assault on Two-Face and The Riddler’s secret island hideout. After kicking the crap out of Two-Face, he says he would rather see Two-Face is jail than dead.

The Schumacher movies use a street gang of people who wear makeup which glows in the dark. These guys never serve any purpose throughout either of the two movies they appear in. Admittedly, they’re fun to watch, with their weird makeup and attack glo-sticks. But they’re not villains in the way Batman villains are villains. In Batman Forever, they’re seen harassing a girl before Robin, taking his first spin in the Batmobile, saves the girl, beats up the gang, and Batman drops in the save his skin. They’re a funny group for the series; they’re the only villains in the Batman movies who are actually afraid of Batman.

Joel Schumacher’s Gotham City is different from Tim Burton’s or Christopher Nolan’s. Schumacher’s was clearly built in a studio and it allows for more fantastical imagery than the other two. Schumacher uses quickly sweeping shots which capture the artistry and grandeur of the city. It looks impressive, but it mainly allows Schumacher to get away with weird feats of timing too. The neon glow also looks cool. It’s certainly a vision, but it seems more suited for a sci-fi movie.

Batman Forever is easily the better of the two Schumacher movies. It’s also fun to watch, which is why I’m going to recommend it. I love Bruce Wayne’s positive assertion in the end, in which Wayne triumphantly concludes that he’s no longer going to be Batman because he has to be, but because he chooses to be. And Nicole Kidman looks REALLY good. But it is by no means a good movie. It’s ridiculous, poorly shot, poorly edited, the dialogue is terrible, and a lot of the action is choppy. This is an at-risk recommendation.


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More Batman Forever (film) reviews
Quick Tip by . August 30, 2010
Bright and fun Batman movie with a new Batman, new sets, new car and new villians. Really refreshing after the gloom and doom of Batman Returns but it's nothing special.
Quick Tip by . July 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Colorful mish mash of action, pretty lights and all new sets, and an all new Batman. Not as bad as some claim it is but it's not a masterpiece.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Jim Carrey didn't do The Riddler justice, and it's a shame. The soundtrack was better than the movie.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
i love anything and everything batman and i love nicole kidman and jim carey alot
review by . September 30, 2009
Val Kilmer as Batman
I'm going to be honest, when I was younger this was my favorite Batman movie.  I liked the first two, but with a new director, the costumes, the wonderful toys and the sets were new, fun and different.      I think alot of other people feel the same way.  It's no secret that Batman Returns was a dismal and real kid unfriendly movie and it became a francize that no one was rushing towards anymore.  Everything I said above changed that overnight.      …
Quick Tip by . September 29, 2009
A nice step away from the dark void that Batman Returns was. Visuals get overblown at times but it's still fun. Val is good as Batman.
review by . April 08, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
"Batman Forever" isn't a top-tier comic-to-screen flick. What it is, however, is the best of the three subpar sequels of the "Batman" franchise so far. It's nowhere near as dark or moody as the first two movies, primarily due to the director, Joel Schumacher. It's a different type of film more akin to the cheesy TV series with Adam West. Don't get me wrong, it's still a fairly serious movie, but the mood of the film, from costumes to Gotham City, is more lighthearted than the first two films.Val …
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Nicholas Croston ()
Ranked #19
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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Gotham City is once again under siege, this time by the mind-controlling Riddler and the diabolical Harvey Two-Face. The Caped Crusader cleans up with the help of his new side-kick Robin in this effects-laden thrill ride.
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