Alfred: Can I persuade you to take a sandwich with you, sir?
Beware: Spoilers may follow
That’s literally the first line of the movie people. And should overall establish the overall tone of the movie for you. With so many complaints of Tim Burton’s Batman Returns being too dark and violent he was demoted to a producer in this one and replaced with director Joel Schumacher who took on a much campier and family-friendly approach to this movie. And it was a massive downgrade. So what better to do than take a look at how this film began the caped crusader’s downfall?
The story revolves around our main hero Bruce Wayne/Batman (Val Kilmer) going up against the villainous duo of Harvey Dent/Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and Ed Nygma/Riddler (Jim Carrey). At his side are love interest psychiatrist Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) andBruce’s orphaned young ward Dick Grayson/Robin (Chris O’ Donnell).
Like its predecessors, Batman Forever does give a sense of themes and dilemmas. In this movie’s case, it’s that of justice and vengeance. However, these themes and dilemmas are vastly overshadowed by the corny one-liners, cheesy dialogue, bright and flashy colors, and over the top and subpar performances alike from our characters. Also unlike the last two movies where the dilemmas were both shown and told to the right amount, that is not the case here. The movie really has no idea whether it wants to be complex and deep or fun and kid-friendly and its attempts to do both cause the movie to suffer.
Val Kilmer as Batman/Bruce is a serious step backward from Michael Keaton. Kilmer fails to look any bit of awesome or intimidating as Batman. When it comes to talking about his struggles, as Bruce Wayne Kilmer doesn’t have any sort of conviction or passion in what he’s saying. All in all he doesn’t make that much of a convincing Batman orBruce.
Chris O’ Donnell as Robin/Dick is one of the more interesting characters in this movie. His storyline, to be frank, is not a bad setup. If anything it’s a very good story. We do get an idea of his pain and struggle he goes through over the course of the movie. Even his costume in the climax looks amazing. You can tell Burton had some sort of say in regards to that. The main problem with it though is that O’ Donnell looked way too old for this storyline despite his attempts to make this a believable character. Through his rebellious personality and his talking, you can tell that this seems like how like a teenager or pre-teen would act. It should have been a teen or kid playing this part. Robin’s been portrayed as a youngster before so I don’t think anyone would have minded here.
Nicole Kidman as the love interest Chase Meridian is not all that great. Nothing about her really stands out compared to either Selina Kyle or Vicki Vale. The thing about Vale and Selina in the first two films is that they were interesting on their own. If you were to take Bruce/Batman out of the picture they would still be interesting to an extent. And yet the worst part about it all is Bruce halfway through the movie claims he’s never been in love before completely disregarding his past relationships.
Michael Gough as Alfred the butler is one of the few actors to reprise his role from the first two movies. And he’s still every bit as great. He’s still very fatherly and gives a sense of family to Bruce and Robin and vice-versa.
Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey/Two-Face is easily by far the worst part of this whole movie. The first problem with him is his lack of an origin story. There is a slight flashback shown of how he became Two-Face but it’s very short and makes little sense. Harvey Dent even though little was shown of him in the first movie was established as a shining man of Gotham. Aman who wanted to bring stability and order to the city. So spending time with the character as an idealist man to a corrupted criminal would be interesting to see. However, given that it’s a different actor and the fact that we don’t Jones as the shining white knight prior to becoming Two-Face we fail to see his conflicting personalities. Also, his performance is rather silly and over-the-top so that doesn’t help much.
Jim Carrey as the Riddler is the exact opposite in that he is the best part of the movie. Despite his ridiculous pajamas, he wears he is a ton of fun to watch. He’s funny, he’scampy, comical, and chewing the scenery in virtually every scene he’s in. Despite his lack of complex character his performance and dialogue are enjoyable every step of the way.
Despite having a few perks Batman Forever is, to be frank not a great movie. Most aspects of the movie range from average to bad. This movie truly was the beginning of the end for Batman. Unfortunately, this was only the tip of the iceberg of what was coming to freeze the caped crusader’s legacy for a long time (oh great now I’m doing it).