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November 10, 2009

Film Fatale: Batman and Robin

batmanandrobinAfter the success of Batman Forever, Warner Bros. wanted to create a sequel, quickly. They fast tracked production, which was only one mistake which led to the downfall of 1997’s Batman & Robin. Joel Schumacher who directed Batman Forever and Akiva Goldsman who wrote it, were hired on again to tackle this project. Schumacher wanted to pay tribute to the campy 60s Batman television series and artist Dick Sprang’s work. What came out of that idea was an uber-campy interpretation of the Batman we all know and love. Now, some people like campy, some don’t. This movie needs a different review approach because it is so bad, but there are times when it’s so bad, it’s good.

For instance, the casting. George Clooney played a horrible Batman, but he’s exactly the guy you’d want to see play Batman. He’s the quintessential “cool-suave-playboy-bachelor” that epitomizes Bruce Wayne’s image. He might have done a bad job but it’s not like he had a lot to work with, and it was interesting to get to see him in that role. There’s even some ironic foreshadowing with all the references to him being an eternal bachelor which Clooney is so famous for nowadays. Then there’s Chris O’Donnell as Robin. He’s perfect as that lovable yet annoying young sidekick who saves the day, and then is the reason the villain escapes. And then there’s Batgirl. Adding her to the cast in my opinion was a big mistake, so who better to fill the shoes of this character than bad actress (I’m sorry) Alicia Silverstone. Uma Thurman is actually a good choice for her role with those long legs, sex appeal, and ability to switch between the nerdy disheveled Dr. Pamela Isley and sexy smoldering Poison Ivy. Finally, last but certainly not least, is the genius casting of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. He truly rocks, in this role (pun intended, horrible I know but this movie is campy in the extreme and demands lame jokes).

000170The plot is that Mr. Freeze’s wife has a made-up disease which Alfred has as well. Mr. Freeze wants to hold Gotham hostage to fund his research so he can cure his wife’s disease, while Poison Ivy just wants to destroy all human life so Mother Nature can rule once more. Right off the bat (again, bad pun intended) we are treated to alternate shots of Batman and Robin suiting up and grabbing gear complete with butt, crotch, and nipple shots. Nipples and bigger cod pieces were added to the costumes in this movie by the way. The nipples on Batgirl’s costume could cut bulletproof glass.

000118There is definitely no shortage of cheesy one-liners in this movie. In fact it seems to be mostly comprised of them. Mr. Freeze’s first two for example are real gems- “The ice man cometh,” and “I’m afraid that my condition has left me cold, to your pleas of mercy.” The best of the best is also supplied by Arnold in which he alternates saying a line to one prison guard then to the other and back again- “Allow me to break the ice… My name is Freeze… learn it well… for it’s the chilling sound of your doom.” Dun dun dun! Loud music and violence follows. Truly awesome.

000077Parts of his back story were based on the Batman: The Animated Series episode titled “Heart of Ice.” I loved the fact that his character was given some real heart with the reason he was doing all of this being the love he had for his wife. The best villains are never one dimensional. I’m a girl alright, and dammit if I don’t love seeing movies featuring a man being that in love with a woman. I mean he sheds a tear while watching their wedding video, then it turns to ice and blows away……… *sniff*


000026There are too many things I could comment on so I’m going to stick to just three. First, is a line that Poison Ivy gives “I’m a lover, not a fighter. That’s why every Poison Ivy action figure comes complete, with him!” Come on, I don’t even need to explain that one. Second, the one good thing I can say is the scene at the beginning of the movie where Robin saves Batman from the capsule rocketing into space, has a great visual shot. The moment when they’re flying away using the doors as surfboards, and you see the capsule explode in the distance behind them, is pretty darn cool.

000083Third, is the costumes of the smaller characters are atrocious, let me repeat, atrocious. The “hockey team from hell” (Freeze’s minions) look like shitty mummies with their dirty ripped up white attire. The gang at Turkish Bath, where Poison Ivy eventually sets up shop, looks like crap as well with their black get-ups and neon paint. The dancers at the flower ball look like they’re just wearing shorts and pom poms on their heads, hands and feet. Even the outfits of the crowd watching the bike race are horrible. Maybe it was a result of fast tracking the shoot so there wasn’t enough time to develop the costumes more; that’s what I’d like to think.


batman_begins_posterDuring the making of this film Warner Bros. loved the dailies (footage shot each day of filming) so much that they immediately made plans for a sequel. Joel Schumacher was set to return as director as well as writer Akiva Goldsman, plus actors Clooney and O’Donnell. Well Goldsman said I’m out and was replaced with Mark Protosevich. A script was created titled Batman Triumphant. After all the bad press from Batman & Robin, everything and everyone was scrapped from the fledgling sequel while they considered having Darren Aronofsky direct an adaptation of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. That idea was subsequently scrapped as well. In the end they decided to go with a different vision, one created by director and co-writer Cristopher Nolan, and writer David S. Goyer. That vision of Batman would become realized in Batman Begins. Nolan would also go on to direct and co-write The Dark Knight. Who knows? If Batman & Robin hadn’t been so bad, it might not have led to the development of two pieces of cinematic genius. If for nothing else besides that, I think Batman & Robin deserves just a little bit of gratitude.


The Movie Lady



  1. George Clooney was a good Bruce Wayne, but Michael Keaton was a better Batman. That’s about all I can say about this “movie”.

  2. “The “hockey team from hell” (Freeze’s minions) look like shitty mummies with their dirty ripped up white attire.” Hilarious! Great article Movie Lady!

    Was it true that Clooney stated he was purposefully playing Bruce Wayne/Batman as gay in this movie?

    I agree with you 100% about Uma Thurman being the perfect choice for Poison Ivy at the time.

  3. Clooney actually admitted that he took the role for the absurd amount of money they gave him and really wasnt invested in the part. I’m surprised Bane’s horrible appearence wasnt mentioned…man that sucked! there were a few good visuals in the film but nothing could have saved it.

  4. I think this movie gets way too much heat. Yeah it wasnt the side of Batman we love, but it was a great representation of the 60s TV show. Also Joel Schummacher originally wanted to do a Year One movie based off Frank Miller’s work, but the studio didnt want that. So some respect to Schummacher.

  5. Eli

    I’m on board with the Uma Thurman choice, love that woman.

  6. InfiniteSpeech

    The problem with “campy” is that you don’t take it seriously and the TV show barely worked for the era in which campy was “cool”. This movie just seemed really dumbed down in certain parts and didn’t seem to take itself seriously like the first two. Villians on ice skates? Bane is an idiot? constant one liners? excessive butt and nipple shots?? I will give credit to some of the visual effects and set design but thats it.

  7. billy

    I’m probably in the minority here but other than Jack’s Joker, I hought all these movies sucked. I’m just not a big “live action” fan to begin with though.

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