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Batman & Robin
  [rating: 1 of 4 stars]movie review by Gary Johnson

Go to:
the official web site for Batman & Robin

Occasionally a TV commercial attempts to imitate an action movie, giving us a mini-plot played out with flashes of chrome and oily reflections. These commercials immediately give themselves away and announce their own artificiality with hyperactive camera work and actors who pose like mannequins. Well, that's what's happening in Batman & Robin: large sections of this movie look and feel like setups for TV commercials.


Movie poster for Batman & Robin.

Warner Brothers. All rights reserved.)

The movie keeps hitting you with peak after peak, with a veritable unending stream of climaxes. Nearly every action scene is designed like a thirty second commercial, packed to the brim with eye candy. But it's a painfully thin and unnourishing diet. It's sort of like sucking on nothing but popsicles for two or three days. That first popsicle or two might be pretty good. But eventually they become sickening.

The opening sequence features Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, stealing a huge diamond from a museum and using his ice blaster to freeze everyone in sight. With the entire floor of the museum hall frozen, Mr. Freeze's henchmen skate into play, complete with hockey sticks. Batman and Robin immediately sprout ice skates from their boots and join the impromptu hockey game, while Mr. Freeze continues blasting the museum and intoning one-liners in Freddy Kruger fashion: "Hell freezes over!" It's one of the most ludicrous scenes in all of the Batman series. It announces immediately where this movie is headed--toward the camp and kitschy terrain of the TV Batman. All that's missing are the BAMs, ZAPs, and POWs.

George Clooney as Batman and Chris O'Donnell as Robin.

Warner Brothers. All rights reserved.)

In the past, Batman was deeply troubled--a vigilante run amuck. He was haunted by the murder of his parents. He sat alone, usually in the dark, obsessed with the past. But the new Batman is cheerier. With George Clooney in control, he even smiles some. Now he's concerned about whether he should be trusting Robin more (even though Robin is brash and constantly in danger of injuring himself and compromising their missions). This is a kinder, gentler Batman. Now he has soft-focused recollections of growing up with Alfred the butler. But at least the easy cynicism of the past Batman movies gave his character some depth. Now he is just a well-adjusted millionaire who spends millions of dollars on his crime fighting toys. The Batcave is filled with great looking gadgets that have little functional purpose. Their sole reason for existing is to wow the movie audience.

Whereas The Dark Knight (the graphic novel that reawakened interest in Batman) emphasized the human side of Bruce Wayne's character, this new Batman emphasizes his other-worldly qualities. Now he's much more like Superman. In the opening minutes of the movie, when Batman and Robin ride a missile toward the stars and then fall away, they glide to earth on sheets of fuselage, surfing the sky, never once concerned that their lives are in mortal danger. Batman and Robin have become not just crime fighters with powerful, athletic, and gymnastic moves: now they are demi-gods--half-man, half-god like creatures who can survive anything.

Arnold Schwarz-
enegger as Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, and Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl

(©1997 Warner Brothers. All rights reserved.)

The filmmakers do manage a few interesting touches. Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), with the aid of hypnotic dust that she blows through the air, intoxicates Batman and Robin and causes them to fight amongst themselves. Robin insists he wants equal billing: "I want my own spotlight!" At one point, in disgust, Robin announces, "That's it. I'm going solo!"

But the movie continues to give us the same stuff over and over. Poison Ivy keeps blowing her lust dust. Mr. Freeze keeps blasting people with his ice blaster. The laser is cool for about the first 5 or 6 people that he zaps. But he keeps using it over and over again. And just when it's time for the big final threat from Mr. Freeze--the ultimate terror that will place the entire planet in jeopardy--what happens? Mr. Freeze decides to use a super big ice blaster and freeze everyone. Now we get to see thousands more people turned to ice. Ho-hum. As a result, Batman & Robin ends up hopelessly repetitive and downright boring. Director Joel Schumacher keeps the action going at a breakneck pace, but even the action scenes resemble outtakes from Battle of the Gladiators.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is hopelessly miscast as Mr. Freeze. Arnold is great at action roles where his inflated muscles are part of the character that he plays. But virtually anyone could be clad in Mr. Freeze's suit and still look like a formidable foe. This movie asks him to do what he is weakest at--acting. As Mr. Freeze continues to zap people with his ice blaster and toss out one-liners (all involving ice, of course), the jokes drop like bricks--with nary a chuckle from the audience.

Uma Thurman is almost as bad as Schwarzenegger. She hams it up in every scene she's in, overacting outrageously. Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl is one of the few pleasant surprises, but she's given painfully little to do until the end of the movie.

This movie is an absolute mess and without a doubt the worst movie in the Batman series. It's possibly one of the worst big budget movies ever made, period.

Go to Batman & Robin Web site

Warner Brothers Web site

A Warner Brothers Presentation


Mr. FreezeArnold Schwarzenegger
Batman/Bruce WayneGeorge Clooney
Robin/Dick GraysonChris O'Donnell
Poison IvyUma Thurman
Batgirl/Barbara WilsonAlicia Silverstone
Alfred PennyworthMichael Gough
Commissioner GordonPat Hingle
Julie MadisonElle Macpherson
Dr. Jason WoodrueJohn Glover
Ms. B. HavenVivica A. Fox
Nora FriesVendela K. Thommessen
Gossip GertyElizabeth Sanders
BaneJeep Swenson
Directed byJoel Schumacher
Produced byPeter Macgregor-Scott
Screenplay byAkiva Goldsman
Director of PhotographyStephen Goldblatt
Production DesignerBarbara Ling
ComposerElliot Goldenthal
EditorDennis Virkler
Costume DesignersIngrid Ferrin
Robert Turturice
Visual Effects SupervisorJohn Dykstra
Co-ProducerWilliam M. Elvin
Executive ProducersBenjamin Melniker
Michael E. Uslan
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