Logline: With the help of his new partner Robin, Batman must face The Riddler and Two-Face.
Review: Released nearly three years after Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever is much lighter in tone. Enter “Batnipples” and neon lights…lots of neon lights. Batman Forever is pure spectacle. It is a colorful, over the top comic book movie that is both guilty pleasure and visual tour de force.
I have always been a Batman fan. Batman Forever was the first Batman movie I saw in theaters as a child and I had the theatrical poster above my bed. I owned all the Batman movies on VHS as a kid and would watch them many times. Revisiting Batman Forever as an adult, I notice all the flaws that I was oblivious to as a child.
One of my biggest problems with the film is the villains. The Riddler is played by Jim Carrey and Two-Face is played by Tommy Lee Jones. Carey and Jones are both great actors but their performances in this film are much too over the top and they come off as annoying most of the time. The way in which the Two-Face character is handled is particularly disappointing. He does not have the kind of duality one would expect from the character. Bruce’s love interest, Dr. Chase Meridian is played by Nicole Kidman who is fine in the role but the character is underwritten. Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman is solid and I really like him in the role. Chris O’Donnell gives a good performance as Robin even if the actor does seem a bit too old for the part. Michael Gough turns in another great performance as Alfred and is wonderful in every scene he appears.
Batman Forever is worth watching for the visuals alone. The visual design is flashy, colorful, and stunning even if some of the CGI looks dated. Unlike the previous two films, Batman Forever attempts to shed light on Batman’s character and draws parallels between he and Robin. I appreciated these scenes that delved into the character and Kilmer plays it very well. There was even some additional material along these lines but it ended up on the cutting room floor. These deleted scenes have been released on the DVD and Blu-ray and can also be found online.
Batman Forever has a stellar soundtrack featuring great tunes like Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” and U2’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me.” While not as strong as Danny Elfman’s scores for Batman and Batman Returns, Elliot Goldenthal’s music is very good.
Batman Forever often gets unfairly paired with Schumacher’s Batman & Robin (1997), a complete mess. Admittedly, Schumacher takes the series in a much different direction but for what it is worth, I enjoy Batman Forever. Despite all its flaws, it is still a campy fun ride and a nostalgic one at that.
Rating (out of ****): ***