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Tuesday December 2, 2008 1:09 am

Batman and Robin: Opposing Viewpoints (Part Two)




Posted by David Torres Categories: Movies, Reviews, DC Comics

I’d like to thank Evan C. Price for contributing to Comix 411 with Part One of this “Batman and Robin” argument. It takes a real man to admit that on some level he liked “Batman and Robin”. I promised him that I wouldn’t bash him and call him an idiot for liking the film because we all have our likes and dislikes. I didn’t like the Lord of the Rings movies. I thought they were long and boring. I’m in the Kevin Smith camp on this one. (If you saw Clerks 2 you know what I’m talking about.)

Well, when I first saw “Batman and Robin,” I hated it. And after viewing it in its entirety after the first time since I saw it in the theaters, I still don’t like it.  Just like other comic fans who have talked about the film over the years I agree that the film is campy, poorly acted, and poorly written.  So I will start off with my short list (and it will be short) of the stuff that I did like about the film.

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The first thing I liked about the film was the opening action sequence with Batman and Robin vs Mr. Freeze and his minions. I know everyone talks about how bad it was with the Bat-ice skates and I agree, but I think director Joel Schumacher directed a good visual action sequence here.

The second thing was Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. Although she camped it up as much and as bad as everyone else in this movie, I thought she looked like the character. If she were playing it straight up, she would have been a good Poison Ivy. So there you have it. My short list of things I liked about “Batman and Robin” (told you it would be short).

What’s fascinating to me about the screenplay for this film is that it was written by Akiva Goldsman who won an Oscar years later for “A Beautiful Mind”. How can one person be responsible for one incredibly awful film and one amazing film. Maybe Schumacher told him to really camp it up.

One of the things I hate about the Schumacher films is the treatment of Commissioner Gordon. He went from a capable police officer to a bumbling idiot that made the TV show Commissioner Gordon look like a genius. That’s why I was so happy with Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon in the recent Batman movies. He not only looks the part, but he acts the part. I would give him a Oscar nomination for best supporting actor for “The Dark Knight.”

In his review, Mr. Price talks about Schumacher being the only Batman director with consistency in the “world” he has created for his Batman films. I disagree. Although both of his films are more colorful than the two Burton and Nolan films, I think between “Batman Forever” and “Batman and Robin,” things got much more colorful and much more campier and sillier that makes it stand alone from all the others. I liked “Batman Forever” because it still wasn’t completely silly. I liked the introduction of Arkham Asylum and the subplot of Bruce still being tortured by the death of his parents. To that extent, things were still somewhat serious, but I think once Schumacher got complete control and Burton was no longer involved, Schumacher went the route of creating a live action cartoon. My favorite of these four Batman films is “Batman Returns,” but it’s a true testament to Christopher Nolan and what he’s done when you compare these four films and the two Nolan films. I hope the next one lives up to its predecessors.

As for Mr. Freeze singing “Snow Miser” from “The Year Without a Santa Claus,” I think that scene is the epitome of why this film is hated by fans. Although, the 1960s Batman TV show has a special place in every fanboy’s heart, no one wants to go back to that type of storytelling when it comes to live action comic book films. I always wondered if “Batman and Robin” was somehow released in the 1960s if today’s fans would look at it more fondly.

Comic book fans are not looking for Shakespeare when we go to see comic movies, but we do want a well written action story. We don’t want continuous puns as we were subjected to by Arnold Schwarzenegger. I think he covered every cold and ice pun there is in the English language. So with all due respect to Mr. Price, I can’t go easy on “Batmand and Robin.” Over the past few years with the Spider-Man movies, X-Men, Iron Man, and the Christopher Nolan Batman films, comic book films are finally being done right and it’s not only entertaining the core audience, they’re also entertaining the masses. And when a film crosses the core audience and makes that non-comic fan watch the film again and again on cable or buy it on home video - you know you have something special.

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