Batman & Robin (1997): Bad Puns, Writing, Acting and an all Around Disaster

Batman and Robin

    “Batman & Robin” is the worst movie I have ever watched. Rarely have I ever seen something that had no redeemable aspects to it, as even Michael Bay films have explosions and action when you can actually see the action happening. This…the actors, script, score and characters are all awful. I usually try to look for something positive to say about a film as some bad things have some redeemable traits in the end, this was film where I couldn’t find any. I’m honestly surprised this film didn’t kill more film careers…at the very least Schumacher should have realized that he can’t direct. This film is a travesty.

    The film was directed by Joel Schumacher, written by Akiva Goldsman and produced by Peter MacGregor-Scott.

    The story, if it can be called that…involves Batman (George Clooney) and Robin (Chris O’Donnell) working to stop Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and the new villain Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) from destroying Gotham. Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) arrives in town as well when Alfred falls ill (Michael Gough).

  There is nothing good to say about this film so I won’t even bother listing Pros and Okays, this film sucks all the way through.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack doesn’t know if it wants to be Burton or Adam West’s “Batman” score. It’s chaotic and unfocused and doesn’t do anything to present our characters and scenes and just blends together in a score of awfulness. Elliot Goldenthal did a horrible job.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is awful…we get close ups of people’s faces and other times we have shots that are just bland and boring. There is no character in any of the scenes and it brings the entire thing down further.

The Writing – Akiva Goldman is an awful writer…maybe this film was just a fluke, but it is a pretty horrendous fluke. None of the characters have clear motivation, the drama is contrived ranging from love venom to contrived family drama…nothing works, it sucks.

The Characters – Related to the writing, the characters are nothing like their comic counterparts…and I would have settled for corny Adam West versions of these characters as that could have worked if that was the story we were given. Instead our characters kill and are supposed to be intense and cool, and just come off looking silly…from the designs of the suits, to the dialogue…nothing works about them.

Bane – Bane is a skinny prisoner who is pumped full of venom to become a big guy. He can just repeat words and is just muscle. There is nothing good about this character and he is easily defeated by the tube on the back of his head getting pulled out. What a waste of a fascinating character from the comics. This one is just muscle and could have been replaced by any goon.

Alfred – Alfred is dying, and I wish I cared but we never see our characters deal with him dying. He looks pained at times but Schumacher can’t give it the weight it deserves so it just becomes a footnote in the script as Alfred is relegated to just another body at Wayne Manor. Also they save him thanks to Mr. Freeze so what drama was there in dealing with mortality just goes away. Poor Michael Gough for being in this…

Barbara Wilson / Batgirl – Batgirl like Robin is presented as a rebel and badass but just comes off as stupid. The way she speaks makes her sound like an airhead and she doesn’t really help her case when random goons she is racing trick her and Robin leading to them almost getting killed. Making her Alfred’ niece was just contrived too. We learn nothing about this character and she contributes nothing to the picture.

Dick Grayson / Robin – Chris O’Donnell, you are an awful Robin. Your character was annoying in “Batman Forever” and here you are even worse. In this his punk tendencies and clashing with Batman are played up as he “loves” Poison Ivy. Seriously, this guy a joke of a character. Everything he does nearly leads to him getting killed and he just ends up getting captured or hurt. Screw this character.

Bruce Wayne / Batman – George Clooney is the worst Batman. His dialogue feels stilted and unnatural, he doesn’t feel disconnected like Bruce Wayne should and the only defining trait he has is that he is protective of Robin. His suit is also awful too as it has nipples and a cod piece. Clooney looks the part but he can’t act it at all, and he’s a great actor and this crappy script ruined him too.

Dr. Pamela Isley / Poison Ivy – Uma Thurman is a good actress but she is awful in this. Her character is a walking sex object and she has no character but a strange crush on Mr. Freeze and wanting to kill humanity. Her motivations are never fully explored and she’s all the worst aspects of what Hollywood does to their female villains. She only fights using sex and she is the only villain who gets punished in the end. Seriously, this script and this presentation of her character are awful. Poison Ivy is an interesting character (like Bane) but this script clearly didn’t know how to write her at all.

Mr. Freeze – Arnold makes bad puns, he loves his wife who is frozen but it’s unbelievable because his performance feels completely phoned in. It doesn’t help that he changes immediate at the end after learning about Poison Ivy’s betrayal…the tragedy of Mr. Freeze is one of the best stories to come out of animation and the comics but all of that is turned to crap as Mr. Feeze is just a gigantic buffoon whose plans change on a whim and is easily manipulated by clearly untrustworthy people (Poison Ivy). Also his costume looks awful and his goons fight with hockey sticks…really. Screw this movie for ruining another great character who may never see good live action film because of the film.

The Jokes – This film has so many bad puns, and they are one liners. It is just awful as there is no charm to any of it and all the puns feel forced. I am huge fan of puns as anyone who knows me can attest, but it is possible to do them wrong and this movie is a shining example.

The Ending – The power of friendship beats the baddies and Freeze implies he’s going to torture or do worse to Poison Ivy, you know a kids movie.

     How could so many things go wrong? Shumacher’s “Batman Forever” was at least mediocre, this doesn’t even strive for that. I can see why Tim Burton didn’t want to produce this crap and feel bad for everyone connected to this film. The acting, writing, filming and soundtrack are all just awful and there is nothing redeemable in this. The film even tries to kill Alfred but we care so little about the characters around him it doesn’t matter. Even with that, they just bring him back to life. This is a movie that could have done camp well, instead it didn’t know what it wanted to be and became an atrocity of a picture. This is a film that is only worth watching to take down as all the things not to do in film making are on display here. Seriously, Schumacher showed just how bad of a director he could be in this and Akiva Goldsman’s script is just a travesty. Let this film be a cautionary tale that it doesn’t matter how great your characters are in the comics (all the characters in this film) they can still be ruined on screen if their stories are put into the wrong hands.

Final Score: 0 / 10. Worst film I’ve ever watched.

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