And here we are, the last of the Burton/Schumacher tetralogy. I got a lot to say, so let’s jump right in.
Batman & Robin starts with our duo (Mr. George Clooney as the new Batman and Chris O’Donnell returning as Robin) bickering. Robin is going through a rebellious teenage phase, which is a bad look for a 27-year-old. The villains this time are Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), and Bane (nobody you’ve heard of). Originally apart, the villains team up against Batman, ignoring their obviously conflicting goals. Poison Ivy betrays Freeze, he tries to encase the world in ice, and with the introduction of Batgirl our dynamic trio save the day. Oh, and Alfred was dying of the same disease Mr. Freeze’s wife had, and that gets cured at the end.
There’s also a love interest who has no character whatsoever and I would’ve forgotten about her entirely except that she’s been around in the comics since the 1930’s, and she also appeared more recently after Batman died fighting the Joker, but due to magic metal Bruce Wayne came back with no memories and was happy so Commissioner Gordon became the new Batman until things went to shit, so Bruce decided he needed to be Batman again so he hooked himself up to a machine that force feeds a person Batman’s memories, and Julie–that’s her name–shows back up because her dad sold the gun to Joe Chill that was used to kill Bruce’s parents, so she felt it was only right that she was the one who killed happy Bruce Wayne.
👏 COMIC 👏 BOOKS 👏 ARE 👏 DUMB! 👏
Anyway, I’m going to try to sandwich criticisms between something positive. So… one of the golden rules of writing is “show, don’t tell.” The idea being stories flow better if the audience finds out information organically, rather than clumsy info dumps. And this movie is all about info dumps: Commissioner Gordon tells Batman all about Mr. Freeze before we meet the character. Poison Ivy explains who she is and why she is where she is to a tape recorder. It’s just lazy.
On the positive side, I’d like to give a shoutout to Michael Gough (Alfred) and Pat Hingle (Gordon), the two actors who have been in all 4 movies. And Uma Thurman in this movie is, in a word, perfect. The level of camp she brings to this movie not only fits the tone, but IS the tone. So what if her plan to team up with Freeze doesn’t make sense? She brings this amazing drag queen-like energy to the whole thing, and it’s by far the best thing in the movie.
But coming back around to complains, Robin is consistently wrong. He whines that Batman doesn’t trust him, and the movie shows us that Batman shouldn’t. When he got iced by Freeze at the beginning because he didn’t follow orders, almost died, and let the bad guy get away is big proof that he’s reckless. He later ignores Batman trying to warn him that Poison Ivy doesn’t actually love him and really wants to kill him, which is absolutely true. Sure, he’s under the influence of mind controlling plant spores, but he’s still an idiot and I’m glad he didn’t get a solo Robin/Nightwing movie.
So that’s the end of this era of Batman movies. And I gotta say, I’m a little proud of myself for having wrapped up without mentioning the Bat credit card. Wait… FUCK.
Previous: Batman Forever
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