Logline: Batman and Robin must stop Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy from freezing Gotham City.
Review: Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin was the second Batman movie I saw on the big screen as a child and I enjoyed it at the time. The theatrical poster hung in my room adjacent to its predecessor, Batman Forever (1995). In the years since its release, I became aware of the movie’s notoriously bad reputation and the fact that it killed the Batman franchise until Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) revived it. After revisiting the movie which I had not seen since I was a child, I realized that it is just as bad as its reputation suggests. In fact, Batman & Robin has to be one of the worst movies ever released by a major Hollywood studio.
The level of camp in this movie is ridiculous and there is absolutely no logic behind it. The dark, serious tone of Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) is abandoned and instead, the tone of this movie is very much in line with the 1960s television series. Schumacher’s first Batman movie, Batman Forever is cartoonish and over the top but it is still an enjoyable movie that is fairly well made. Batman & Robin, on the other hand, is a complete mess. One could nitpick it to no end.
Batman & Robin is marred by bad writing and acting and is so sloppily made, it is laughable. The movie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, George Clooney as Batman, Chris O’Donnell as Robin, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, and Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. The players are not bad actors and in fact, some of them are great actors (I’m looking at you Mr. Clooney) but the material is so horrendous that virtually everyone is bad in this movie. Mr. Freeze’s endless ice puns aside, there are so many cringe-worthy one liners. In one line, Poison Ivy quips, ” I’m a lover, not a fighter. That’s why every Poison Ivy action figure comes complete with him!” This proves the notion that Batman & Robin is really just a two-hour long toy commercial; a feature-length film whose number one purpose was to market and sell toys.
The portrayal of all the characters is terrible. Casting Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze must be one of the absolute worst casting decisions in the history of film. Mr. Freeze constantly mutters dumb one liners pertaining to ice and cold. Some examples include: “Let’s kick some ice,” “What killed the dinosaurs? The ice age!,” “Tonight’s forecast: a freeze is coming,””Alright, everyone. Chill,” “Cool party,” and “The ice man cometh.” There are plenty more scattered throughout the film. As for Poison Ivy, she is the most over the top character in the entire movie and that is saying a lot. Bane is also featured. His character is reduced to a grunting, idiotic buffoon jacked up on steroids. As for the heroes, there is absolutely no duality in Batman/Bruce Wayne; just George Clooney in a rubber suit with bat nipples. Robin whines throughout the movie and is very annoying. Batgirl is shoehorned in and her inclusion is poorly executed.
Batman & Robin shows how one movie can ruin an entire franchise. This movie is so bad that no one involved tries to defend it. In fact, Schumacher apologized for it. You can search Batman & Robin on Youtube and find a plethora of videos devoted to making fun of it. My complaints are just the tip of the iceberg. Oh no, not another ice pun! One thing is certain. Batman & Robin is the absolute worst Batman movie ever made.
Rating (out of ****): *1/2