Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Batman Review Project-Part Four-Batman Forever

Ok, I'm just going to be honest right now about my feelings towards Batman Forever and I'm ready for the abuse. I like this's a totally guilty pleasure movie. If I'm home on a Saturday afternoon doing some chores and this is on TV I will watch it while folding clothes or have it on has background noise. This movie kind of makes me feel like I'm ten again going to movies with dad and so it has a special place in my heart. However, I am willing to admit that this movie is flawed, campy and over the top a lot of the time, but it still holds a special place in my geek heart.

So after Batman Returns came out a lot of parent groups complained that this take on Batman was not something they wanted their children to see and were upset that such an 'adult' take on Batman was being marketed to children. (Clearly my parents didn't care...) Even though Batman Returns made a ton of money the heads at Warner Brothers figured even more money could be made if they branched out to a wider audience and made the series more 'family friendly'. With that in mind, Burton was moved to a producer role and Joel Schumacher was brought in to direct the film. Schumacher actually wanted to reboot the whole series or do a prequel based on Batman: Year One, but Warner Brothers said no. Keaton was offered $15 million to play the role, but he turned it down since he was unhappy with the direction the series was move. Johnny Depp, Ralph Fiennes and William Baldwin were all in the running to replace Keaton, but Val Kilmer was cast after Schumacher saw his work in Tombstone. Tommy Lee Jones was offered the part of Two-Face after his work with Schumacher on The Client even though Billy Dee Williams played Harvey Dent in the first Batman and was really looking forward to being Two-Face in the sequel. Jones only took the role because it was his son's favorite character.  Marlon Waynes was also cast and had actually signed to play Robin in this film after he was cut from Batman Returns. However, they decided to replace him for reasons unknown....Waynes says it was because they wanted somebody white to play Robin...(I think he was joking...maybe). Leonardo DiCaprio was in the running, but lost out to Chris O'Donnell.

So our movie opens up with really no set up at all has Batman (Val Kilmer) is already to go and stop crime. It's revealed that Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) has taken a bank hostage and killed two people. Ok let's back up...I know how Two-Face was created, but does everybody else know his story? Harvey Dent/Two-Face is a really interesting character and we really don't get any sort of back story on him. It's just 'Poof' here's our bad guy and the conflict. The animated series told a better back story than a major motion picture. We actually saw in the animated series that he and Bruce were friends, that he was having rage control issues that caused a split in his personality and that Bruce/Batman actually feels really horrible that he failed to help his best friend in his time of need. This was a two hour movie and this could have all been explained in a five to ten minute flashback. Instead we're just introduced to the character and I will give credit were it is due, Jones's delivery of Two-Face's opening monologue is fun to watch and his reveal and look is close to the animated series look, well the cartoon type look is there.... but why is he so pink? For 1995 the make-up is ok, it really doesn't hold up though compared to movie make up effects today.

Batman gets to scene and we're also introduced to Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman). She's there to help the Gotham PD profile Two-Face...or get under Batman's cape I'm really not sure what she's trying to do. I will give admit though it was fun to see one of Batman's love interest let us know right out of the gate that's she's crazy. So after a really long action scene that ends with Two-Face crashing his helicopter into the Statue of Liberty or a very close look alike...seriously when did Gotham get the Statue of Liberty? Two-Face jumps out with a parachute and Batman just falls into the ocean and both live to fight another day.

The next morning we get to see Bruce Wayne doing Bruce Wayne stuff as he makes a visit to one of his offices that deals in technology and we're introduced to Edward Nygam or Jim Carrey. This casting brings up another glaring issue with this film. Even when I was kid watching this I didn't see Edward Nygam or the Riddler, I saw Jim Carrey and if you think about it too much it can take you out of the film. Carrey doesn't give a bad performance, he's simply doing what is asked of him and at times he can be fun to watch, I think the reason I didn't care for him is that I'm not a Riddler fan so take my thoughts on this with a grain of salt. So Nygam has an idea for a device that would manipulate the brain waves and beam the TV show right into your head, it's like 3D on crack.  The interaction between Nygam and Wayne is really awkward to watch, the comics show the Riddler has a very smart and collected person, this guy comes off almost like manic pixie dream girl trying to get the boy of her dreams to pay attention to them and the line reading from Kilmer is kind of dry, monotone and at times comes off a little douche-like, but for the most part he's just boring to watch. Needless to say Wayne's rejection of his dream project doesn't go well and thus sets up our second bad guy.

Bruce is called away by the Bat Signal and goes to meet with Gordon only to find Dr. Meridian there trying to get under his cape. He informs her that the Bat Signal is not for booty calls...yeah he's sees that she's crazy and maybe he'll stay away from her. Seriously she's supposed to be a well respected doctor and she's throwing herself at Batman like a drunken prom date saying she wants to help him.  No bad female lead...bad...I know we all have needs, but come on it's taking it to a whole different level when you start using the Bat Signal to get a date. So Batman flees into the night as Gordon shows up in his PJ's trying to figure out why the doctor he called in to help profile a killer is dressed like a Victoria's Secret's model playing with the Bat Signal.

On the other side of the plot Nygam is working on his 3D Blender. (seriously it looks like a blender with a glow stick) Which of course he's found out by his boss, this leads to knocking his boss out and using him to try out his new toy, and than we find out that his 3D Blender can suck things out of your mind and Nygam gets them and it makes him smarter. I don't even know how that works, but ok whatever plot. So after threatening the crazy man who tied him up and used him like a lab rat, the boss is killed by being thrown out of a window and falling into a giant waterfall. They really need to start using a shatter proof glass in these offices, less people would be killed if they did.

The next morning Bruce is watching the news and this is when we get our 20 second explanation of why Two-Face wants Batman dead. Dent was questioning a mob boss, mob boss managed to sneak acid in and toss it at Dent, Batman tried to save him and failed....why not kill the mob guy or the dude who didn't do the check right before he got into court or maybe Two Face did and we don't know since developing character isn't important. So Bruce gets a call that their was an accident at the office. Bruce goes to work and the cops are trying to figure out why the manager guy jumped out a window. Nygam forges a letter and somehow doctors the security cam footage to make it look like he jumped and since he fell into a giant waterfall the body will never be found. Oh it's so perfect. So Bruce is confused about why someone would kill themselves at his office and finds that he's been left a present in the shape of riddle. I will say whoever was in charge of making those pop up stalker cards did a good job and I will give him props for making them.

So we're than treated to Nygam making another pop up stalker card and than he drives out to the middle of nowhere and tapes to the gates of Wayne Manor. I find it a little hard to believe that Bruce doesn't have cameras at the front gate of his house, considering he had them in his own home in the 1st movie. But this handy little detail gives Bruce a reason to go visit Dr. Meridian. Oh Bruce when will you learn to stay away from the crazy ones? So this interaction is a little funny to watch, she gives off the vibe that she can't stand him and it's more than just because he broke her office door. She just seems annoyed that he's there and questioning her diagnosis about his stalker all the while Bruce is tripping over himself to ask her out. Despite the fact he broke into her office and she seems to not care about him she agrees to go out with him to a charity circus event.

Now I know a lot of people complain about the color scheme of this movie, but for this scene all the really bright neon colors make sense here. It's a circus with clowns and the like it should be loud and colorful. Plus this movie seems to actually move around Gotham unlike our last movie where we seemed confined to a few places. We're introduced to the Flying Grayson's...oh no I know where this going already even when I was ten I knew nothing good was about to happen here. Despite that this is a really cool scene to watch, Mitch Gaylord was Chris O'Donnell's stunt double in this scene and this is a guy who won Olympic metals back in 1984 so to watch him perform is just amazing even it's only for a few seconds. Of course someone has to ruin all the fun we're having and Two-Face shows up and takes everybody hostage with a huge bomb until someone comes forward with Batman. So they start raising the bomb to the top of the arena and hey the Flying Family thinks they can do something so they start trying to get the bomb out of the tent. Meanwhile Bruce is the only person to start kicking some bad guy ass and no one finds this odd not even Gordon comes to help him and he's the police. So Dick gets the bomb and starts to get it out and Two-Face notices that someone is messing with his bomb and...well falling over 70 feet when you're not set up to be the love interest is always bad. (Seriously Catwoman was pushed out of a window well over 70 feet and landed in some snow and only went crazy....maybe the snow was padding) So after saving all the rich and powerful of Gotham, Two-Face gets away after murdering the family who saved everybody leaving Dick an orphan. I feel a scene is missing here...the one where Bruce takes Chase home after their 1st date. They seemed to be having a really good time, right up until they were taken hostage, he ditched her to fight bad guys and they watched three people fall to their deaths. How do you set up a second date after that?

The next morning Dick is taken out to Wayne Manor since Bruce agreed to take him in. Now this made scene when Dick was a child in the comics and animated series, in this setting not so much. I'm going to guess that Dick is about seventeen. (a very old looking seventeen) and had been with the circus since he was a kid and no one was willing to look out for him there and when he goes to leave Bruce says the circus must be halfway to Metropolis by than. They didn't even stop to mourn the fact that three long time performers had been brutally killed the night before. That's just cold in my opinion. So Dick wants to track down Two-Face and kill him for what he's done and Bruce talks him out of it with a broken down motorcycle that Dick can keep if he fixes it and stays. The drive to avenge his family is stopped for the time being. We also get some flashbacks from Bruce here about his parent's funeral and he blames himself for what has happened to Dick's family and compares it to his own family's lost. This is cut short when Bruce gets another riddle from his stalker in the mail. Wow these guys are easily distracted from vengeance and brooding by a good side project.

We're also treated to some filler scenes of Nygam trying to work on his bad guy identity and Two-Face trying to kill Batman again until we get to Two-Face's hide out. Somehow using his glow stick blender Nygam found Two-Face's hide out and Two Face is ready to cap him until he offers Two Face a deal, help me get money to fund the glow stick blender and somehow he'll figure out who Batman is. I really don't think Batman has time to watch TV that's on 3D crack, but ok I'll follow along. So we get some more filler scenes between Two-Face and Riddler stealing a bunch of cash and filler of Dick spending time with Alfred at Wayne manor and I find myself enjoying the little interactions between Alfred and Dick more than the bad guys sub plot. The quip about Master Wayne's dead wives behind the locked door and the look on Dick's face was funny and more entertaining than all the filler stealing money scenes.

No one questions where all this money came from to start his company and we're treated to another round of filler scenes has Nygam's company starts and he's sucking the brain waves from Gotham. I never realized before how many filler scenes this movie had until I had to really sit down and think about it. They really don't add much to the plot, story or add character development to the movie, it's just there to kill time really. So after all the filler is finished, we're back to Wayne Manor and Dick breaking into the locked room and into the Bat Cave...I never realized that Alfred just hung out in the Bat Cave when Bruce isn't there, does he take tea down there what is he doing in the Bat Cave? And were is Bruce?

He's either on a date or having a session with Chase, it's hard to tell. They seem to have being seeing each other for awhile which even though we don't see them it makes the idea of them having a relationship some what more believable than the prior love interest who only had one date with him. So they're talking about Bruce's repressed memories and he sees all her Batman Fanfiction and has a little hissy fit about her work. She explains that she's fascinated by why he does what he does and she needs to know why. The moment starts to get tender but is interrupted by Alfred paging Bruce on his watch cam like he's James Bond right in front of Chase and she doesn't seem at all interested in the fact that her boyfriend has a wrist cam and is talking with his British butler about how Bruce's ward has disappeared and stolen a car.

Somehow Dick has stolen the Batmobile and is using it to pick up hookers. I just want to know how he found the keys and why Alfred didn't stop him? Hooker pick up is interrupted by a damsel in distress and Dick leaves the Batmobile with the hood open and keys inside and none of the hookers thought to take it. I'm disappointed in these hookers. Dick gets into a fight with the lesser version of the Insane Clown Posse and is about to get his ass handed to him when Batman shows up and saves him. Dick repays his savior by trying to punch him in the face for getting his family killed. They go back to Wayne Manor were Dick explains that all he wants is to avenge his family and all he thinks about is killing Two-Face. (He must have finished that bike) He asks Bruce to train him to be his partner. This goes over like a lead balloon and Bruce tells him no.

We than jump cut to Bruce, Chase and Dick going to a Nygam-tech party has a new version of the glow stick blender is about to come out that beams images into your brain. We're treated to another awkward scene of Bruce and Nygam interaction and even Nygam hitting on Chase and her going off with him to dance. Why....I don't know? So Bruce is tricked into using the machine and while this is going on Two-Face breaks into the party, tried of waiting for his partner to delivery the goods and wants Batman. So Bruce sneaks out and has a Batsuit hidden in the car. Dick also sees what is going down and sneaks out too and has his own suit in the car. The bad guys are really getting sloppy about watching the exits and that car has a lot of room. Batman comes in and saves Chase and they kiss, she clearly forgot she came with a date and tells him to come to her place at midnight. Batman takes off after Two-Face only to end up in a death trap almost buried alive, until Dick comes to his rescue. We're taken back to the Batcave where Bruce is being patched up...did he go back to the party to let Chase know he was ok? Seriously every time you two have gone on a public date people die or get taken hostage don't you talk about that? Dick is once again begging Bruce to train him. This scene would actually be moving if the line delivery was better on Bruce's part.

 Bruce presents what his life is like since he sought vengeance on the killer and how it is just soul crushing at times and it never ends and Dick doesn't care and he won't stop until he gets Two-Face. Dick leaves and Bruce scolds Alfred for encouraging Dick. Alfred explains that he needs someone to help him through this and that Bruce should know that better than anyone. Bruce is confused about Chase she seems to want Batman more than him and Alfred encourages him to go to her. So Batman goes to Chase and he's ready to let her have him and she tells him she loves someone else. Wow this lady is tease, but Batman doesn't care and leaves with a really creepy smile on his face.

Two-Face is mourning the fact that his death trap didn't work and that Batman got out alive. Riddler cheers him up with the fact that he has figure out that Bruce Wayne is Batman with the help of the glow stick blender 2.0. On the other side the plot Bruce is telling Dick that he is giving up being Batman for Chase and the chance for a normal life. He plans on telling her everything and he wishes Dick luck. Dick takes his costume and his fixed bike and rides into the night. Chase comes over for dinner and Alfred is passing out Halloween candy to children who clearly walked miles with no parents to get some candy. This works out great for Two-Face and Riddler they now have a way to trick an old man into opening a door. Bruce is in the process of spilling everything to his girlfriend/shrink and just has she figures out he's Batman they are rudely interpreted by Two-Face and his gang. Riddler breaks into the Batcave and blows it up while Two-Face's gang is getting their asses kicked by Bruce and Chase. Two-Face sits off to the side flipping his coin and flipping it until it gives him the ok to kill Bruce. Now he flips it repeatedly which is going against his character, once it said no that should have been it. But he keeps doing it until he gets the answer he wants and he shoots his best friend and really doesn't seem to care. The bullet grazes him and he falls down a marble staircase. Two-Face is ready to finish the job as the goons grab Chase, but Riddler stops him and leaves another clue for Bruce.

Bruce wakes up later...Alfred should have gone to medical school considering how many times he's fixed him up and tells Bruce that the cave is ruin, Chase has been taken and Dick ran away. What a way to wake a guy up Alfred, why don't you tell him his dog died while your at it? So they sit down with the riddles and figure out that Nygam is the Riddler. So somehow only one Batsuit remains and the Bat-plane and Bat-Boat survived. Oh hey look who's's Dick in a much better suit with the R for Robin. Alfred also should have gone into being a a fashion designer since he just whipped that costume up while Bruce was out.

So let's just cut to the end shall we, our heroes go to take out the bad guys, they get split up, Robin gets a chance to kill Two-Face and has a change of heart and gets taken by Two-Face, Batman has to choose between Robin and Chase and manages to save them both by breaking the giant glow stick blender driving Nygam crazy. Two-Face goes to kill them and has second thoughts since Bruce is his I wish we could have worked that into the whole story. He goes to flip for it and Batman tosses a bunch of coins into the air and Two-Face falls to his death much like Robin's family and Robin seems pleased with karma and gravity. Our movie ends with Riddler locked up in Arkham and telling Chase that he is Batman. Chase tells Bruce that his secret is safe and they kiss while Alfred looks on creepy like and the Duo goes on to fight crime. The end...

I know I have poked fun at this movie the entire review, but I still love it despite it's flaws. I chalk it up to nostalgic reasons that this movie makes me feel like a kid again. It's just plain don't think about it fun like the 1st movie. I like the fact that we see more of Gotham this time despite that fact it looks like a neon glow stick blew up in town. The dialogue in this actually good, it just not deliver well or with a lot of emotion. The story could have been worked on had we dropped some of the filler scenes and focused more on Bruce's relationships with the people in his life. I do miss Danny Elfman's score, but the soundtrack is still fun to listen too. I am guilty of listening to Kiss from a Rose on repeat when I was kid and watching the music video a lot when MTV still had music videos. All in all this isn't a bad watch if you want to kill two hours and I find this one to be more child friendly than Batman Returns and would let my nieces and nephews watch it and not worry about it being overly violent.

Next time....oh and Robin review.

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