Movie Review: "Batman Forever" (1995)

1 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Batman Forever
Doesn't the cover look like a direct-to-video sequel or something?
Doesn't the cover look like a direct-to-video sequel or something? | Source

DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers.

Prior to "Batman Forever", the last time we saw Batman... he lost his batmobile, saved the children of Gotham City from the Penguin, and lost contact with Catwoman. A lot had occurred, behind the scenes, between "Batman Returns" and "Batman Forever". A lot of bad things. The tale of the first 'Batman' franchise (i.e. the Tim Burton/Joel Schmaucher films) is one of selling toys, marketing, and tragedy.

Warner Bros. wasn't satisfied with the backlash they received from children's parents in regards to "Batman" and "Batman Returns". Think about it, they were selling kids merchandise for dark and gothic films that depict themes of child neglect, children being kidnapped, and all these sexual undertones (i.e. a hot woman in skintight vinyl with a whip). "Batman Returns" more or less took most of the heat, but both movies were pretty dark for children nonetheless.

This led to Warner Bros. seeking to take the series into a completely different direction, one that was more marketable to the kiddies and the concerned parents. Cue the campy scenes, neon lights, over-the-top villains, awkward music score, and the gay undertones. Tim Burton and Michael Keaton certainly weren't going to stand for that nonsense, so they left. Enter Joel Schmaucher. It's rather odd that he directed the two 'Batman' films that destroyed the franchise, because if you were to watch his 'Batman' movies and "The Lost Boys" back to back, you would think they were done by two different directors.

'Forever' Wasn't Long Enough

"Batman Forever" is a far cry from the vision that Tim Burton had laid down in the first two movies. There's so much campiness in "Batman Forever" that it's not even funny, all you have to do is look at the poster for the movie, it looks more like a direct-to-video spoof rather than a true 'Batman' sequel.

Many people always mention "Batman & Robin" being the big bad one, but it all started with "Batman Forever" though. This film laid the seed for what was to come in "Batman & Robin" which was the final nail in the coffin. As far as titles go, 'Forever' is the wrong word, being that the series didn't last long after "Batman Forever". "Batman Dies" is a more fitting title, I think.

Gone are the gothic atmosphere, the Danny Elfman score, and nitty-gritty landscape of Gotham City. Now we have neon lights everywhere, bright cheery colors, and a musical score that sounds like it's from a bootleg 'Phantom of the Opera'. Let's not forget about the close-ups of Batman's nipples and butt (what on Earth were they thinking?).

This is not the Tim Burton Batman in any way whatsoever. In a sense, you can actually pick up that they were sort of aiming to reboot the entire series with this movie. It's kind of like a loose sequel (i.e. "Superman Returns"). We have the parents and kiddies to thank for this; aside from a few flashbacks to the death of Bruce Wayne's parents, this movie tries to distance itself from the previous two whenever and wherever it can. Regardless, I think "Batman Begins" showed us how to execute a proper reboot.

Jim Carrey-ed Away

One major problem with "Batman Forever" are the villains themselves. They are portrayed as being way too over-the-top, much like the entirety of this film. Jim Carrey plays the Riddler, actually he's playing as his usual over-the-top self that he plays in almost every movie he is in. As a result, Tommy Lee Jones felt like he was going to be out-shined by Carrey's performance, so he decided to portray Two-Face as over-the-top as well. As a result, Two-Face becomes a Joker wannabe of sorts.

It's okay for the Joker to be over-the-top but Two-Face and the Riddler? This is not the 60s TV show here. Now, Two-Face was redeemed in "The Dark Knight", so I'll leave that alone. But as far as the Riddler goes, the closest we ever got to a more suitable portrayal of him would have to be Jigsaw from the "Saw" movies.

However, Joel Schmaucher and Warner Bros. decided otherwise. They gave their villains tight outfits and colorful hair. Every time Two-Face and Riddler open their mouths in this movie, it made me bow my head in shame. Speaking of Two-Face, I must say that the history of Harvey Dent throughout the first three 'Batman' movies is quite embarrassing.

What do I mean by that? Well, in "Batman", Harvey Dent was played by Billy Dee Williams whom had signed up for the role thinking that he was going to play Two-Face in one of the sequels. That would have been pretty cool to have Billy Dee Williams play Two-Face, but he never appeared in any of the sequels. Something tells me race had something to do with it, I guess a black actor playing a 'Batman' villain was sort of a big deal in the late '80s and early '90s?

Given that the Kingpin was played by Michael Clarke Duncan in "Daredevil", I'd say that's thankfully no longer an issue. But nevertheless, Harvey Dent was scrapped in "Batman Returns" and instead replaced by a brand new character named Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). At the end of "Batman Returns", Catwoman fried him, leading one to think that if this were indeed Harvey Dent, then he would probably emerge as Two-Face from this incident by the start of the third film.

But no, "Batman Forever" gives us a totally different Harvey Dent, a very colorful and animated one. Imagine the arc that could have been built up with this character over these three films if they had stuck with the original plan. It would have been amazing. And then there's the Riddler. Jim Carrey blew this character out of proportion, big time. Supposedly, Tim Burton wanted Robin Williams for the part (this was before Schmaucher stepped in). After seeing Williams as a perverted psycho in "One Hour Photo", it would have been a lot more interesting to see what he could do as a 'Batman' villain. Instead, we got Bruce Almighty.

Adventures in babysitting, anyone?
Adventures in babysitting, anyone? | Source

A Partner in Crime

As if this movie couldn't get any worse, they decided to bring Robin into the series at this point. Well, what do you know? It's the goddamn TV show all over again. At least they gave him a more suitable outfit, I'll give them credit for that. However, my thing is if you're going to bring Robin into a 'Batman' sequel, make sure you kill him off before the movie is over.

Now, I'm not trying to be sarcastic, but the idea here is that Robin is a mirror image of Batman, they both lost their parents to psychopaths, they both want revenge. Batman tries to persuade Robin away from it, but he persists and Batman eventually gives in. This would result in him tragically losing Robin by the end of the film, teaching Batman a very important lesson. That is what should have happened.

Remedies for "Batman Forever"

  • Kill Robin before the ending credits.
  • Keep the Danny Elfman score.
  • Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face.
  • Tim Burton directs.
  • Robin Williams as the Riddler. Please, anybody but Jim Carrey.
  • No neon lights, bright colors, or any campiness, please.
  • Some closure for Catwoman would have been really nice.

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Comments 9 comments

Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago

Actually, Tim Burton never left the franchise after "Batman Returns", he just went on to produce "Batman Forever", then left after that. In fact, during interviews, Burton actually praised this movie... Granted, it was an obvious biased opinion considering he produced it, but still... Anyway, I just thought I'd let you know, but you're right that Keaton did leave because he didn't agree with the changes.

To be honest, I don't think "Batman Forever" was that bad. Sure, it sucks in comparison to the previous films, and doesn't exactly seem like a sequel to the same universe that Burton established in the previous films. but, as you pointed out, Warner bros was trying to make this franchise revert back to it's more marketable friendly days like it was in the 60's. Hell, Schumacher even admitted that he was only making the movies for his kids, so that should tell you right there about how much respect he ever had for the character. Unlike Burton that wanted to portray Batman in the way he was presented in the recent comics of that time, Schumacher merely viewed the character as a kiddie character and nothing more. Kind of sad considering that we both know that he's capable of making good movies, but Schumacher just never respected the character as much as he should've.

That being said, I thought this film was okay. Granted, it's nowhere near as great as it could've been. However, it's fairly decent for what it tries to be. Sure, it's not as dark as Burton's version, but it still had a few Gothic themes there to it, while lightening up the franchise more as they intended. I think if Schumacher would've kept "Batman & Robin" under the same level of camp like he did with "Batman Forever", then it might've turned out okay. sadly, it seems like he took Batman completely back to the Adam West days with the fourth movie; which was a big mistake on his part.

Don't get me wrong, I do respect Adam West's version of Batman, as it did bring a lot of popularity to the character during that time, and you can at least respect his version since it was based on a Batman that was toned down to appease comic book censors at the time. However, as the comic books of "Batman" got darker, you could clearly tell that Burton was trying to make his movies honor the current issues of Batman by taking the character into his first non campy direction in cinema; while still having those over the top moments to appeal to old fans that grew up with the silly Adam West version. In that respect, you can really appreciate the Burton version, but I think the main problem with Schumacher is that he failed to realize that once fans got a taste of a more evolved and dark batman that...fans didn't want it to revert back to the campy cartoon Adam West version... Sadly, that's inevitably what happened. Kind of sad if you ask me.

Oh well. anyway, keep up the good work, as I look forward to your review of the next film.


Nickalooch profile image

Nickalooch 5 years ago from Columbia, MD

personally i thought the movie at the very best was ok. Val Kilmer for all intensive purposes could have been better in his performance and i'd rather never see Robin in a batman movie.

the Riddler played by Jim Carrey is to right on the nose, and the Two-Face character is completely wrong.


dinkan53 profile image

dinkan53 5 years ago from India

I love to watch this movie again. Jim Carrey was so perfect as a villain, and looked so good apart from his other films.(little bit different role)Jim Carrey decked out in a neon question-mark jacket, it was cool!!


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 5 years ago

I really love this movie (even if it's not that good of a movie, it's pure gold compared to it's sequel). It's not a great film, but it's fun. Also, as Stevennix2001 had said, Schumacher was making the Batman movies jarring and campy like the 1966 version with Adam West and Burt Ward.

Great Review, keep up the good work. Voted Up, Useful, and Interesting.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 5 years ago from The Garden State

"Forever" wasn't a bad flick but it definitely paled in comparison with the first two Burton films. Val Kilmer wasn't a bad Batman, but everything else in this movie was overshadowed by Jim Carrey. Even poor old Tommy Lee Jones had no chance against his scenery chewing.

On the other hand, this film captured Nicole Kidman when she was at her absolute peak of hottie perfection. :)


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago

Of course, another thing to point out is that the reason why there wasn't any closure to Catwoman's story was because around that time, Burton and Michelle Pfiefer were talking about the possibility of a spin off using the character; hence why he left her story open at the end of "Batman Returns." Unfortunately for the reasons you stated in this hub, the Catwoman movie was in production hell for years, and never got off the ground until both Burton and Pfiefer left the project altogether. Enter Halle Berry, and the interpretation of Catwoman where they completely ignored her history, and rewrote another one for her. Of course, that one bombed as we both know...hey speaking of which...are you planning on reviewing that movie?


SPomposello profile image

SPomposello 5 years ago from NY Author

Steve,

Yes, Tim Burton produced, but to me that doesn't really mean anything. Heck, Steven Spielberg produced how many bad movies in the last decade (i.e. Transformers 1-3)? Essentially, from that point of view, Burton left. About Catwoman... capital Y-E-S lol.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago

Oh my, you won't believe this video i found on youtube, as there's this one guy that found circumstantial evidence to prove that Tim Burton originally planned on introducing Robin in either of his batman films. you should watch it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3ljL5zMAJQ


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago

oops sorry, that link was to part 2 about the upcoming batman sequel. here's the original link i meant to give ya

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSZ0Wy6W2cA&feature...

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