Batman must battle former district attorney Harvey Dent, who is now Two-Face and Edward Nygma, The Riddler with help from an amorous psychologist and a young circus acrobat who becomes his sidekick, Robin. (from IMDb)
Batman 4K 2019 Release Intro
Before Twilight's Robert Pattinson (yup, that's officially a thing now), before Batfleck, and even before Christopher Nolan's stellar Christian Bale-led trilogy, there were four other Batman adventures that spawned from 1989 to 1997. To celebrate 85 years of the caped crusader, Warner Bros. is re-releasing all four films individually in a brand new 4K transfer with updated accompanying blu-ray discs. (The movies will also be releasing collectively in a set on September 17.)
I was just a kid when Michael Keaton's Batman debuted. I still remember seeing it on the big screen... and being terrified. It wasn't a kids movie by any stretch of the imagination, and that kind of set the darker tone for the films that would follow (even though the final in the series, Batman and Robin, was the most "kid-friendly" of the bunch, despite still being pretty creepy at times). Revisiting these films all these years later, it just shows me how far superhero movies have really come. After this year's gigantic event film, Avengers: Endgame, or even Warner's newest property, Shazam!, the quality is so much greater than what was produced in the late 80's and 90's (and this is coming from someone whose top 4 favorite movies of all time are out of the 80's). For these Batman reviews, I'm going to give an overview of them as a movie and also in this new transfer quality, while giving my usual content breakdown at the end. The 4K discs didn't have any special features on them beyond commentaries, but the regular Blu-Ray discs included in these sets do. Since the main feature of these releases are their new 4K transfers, I'm going to just focus on that aspect (and not the blu-ray bonus features).
Batman Forever Review
Just over a year before this very website began, we were given a new kind of Batman in Batman Forever. Keaton was out and Val Kilmer was in, with director Joel Schumacher (tragically) taking over direction duties from Tim Burton. His style was exceptionally different, and I remember liking this film a lot more when I first saw it as a teenager. Revisiting it now, as an adult, and after seeing far better Batman movies, I'm surprised at how poorly this movie plays. I remember really liking Val Kilmer as Batman in the 90s, but today, I see just how poorly he worked as the Caped Crusader (especially those abysmal one-liners). Kilmer made a better Batman than a Bruce Wayne, so there was definitely some potential for him here, but the movie itself was just a hot mess. What a cast, though! I have long been a fan of both Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones, and it's still a trip to see them share the screen together (although it's sad I've since read that Tommy Lee hated working with Jim!). Both actors go way, way overboard with their respective roles, which in and of itself is slightly entertaining, but one can't help but wonder what this same cast could have done with, say, a Christopher Nolan script and direction. (Nolan isn't a perfect filmmaker, I know, but when you compare his work to these movies, there's just no contest). I could fill pages on all that's wrong with Joel Schumacher's Batman films, but just to name a few big ones--these films just continued to careen further and further off the rails into a neon-drenched cartoon world that was more embarassing than fun. And while Kim Bassinger's Vicki Vale was a good, strong female lead, the beautiful Nicole Kidman was reduced to this dopey damsel who literally throws herself at Batman while she's in skimpy lingerie. In the context of a more kid-friendly Batman film, it just comes off as something a horny young teen might imagine for these characters--not something you'd seriously expect in a movie like this. There are just so many things about the story, acting, set design, etc, that come of as sophomoric and immature. So much talent is wasted here.
But despite the tonal metamorphosis from the first two films to the next two, these movies still aren't particularly kid-friendly. The content for Batman Forever is certainly tamer than the Burton films, but here we're introduced to Chris O'Donnell as Robin and we are right there beside him as he watches his parents and sibling fall to their death from a highwire at the circus. At the same time, Two-Face (Jones) and Riddler (Carrey) are as sadistic as any Batman villain, and their over-the-top lunacy may certainly be disturbing (if not altogether inappropriate) for younger viewers. Still, Forever doesn't have the kind of eye-shielding graphic visuals that Burton's outings did, and that alone makes them a bit more consumable for wider audiences. (Miraculously enough, no one is charred to a creepy crisp in the Schumacher films.)
As you can imagine, the 4K transfer looks even better for this mid-90's outing. Schumacher's overtly colorful palette comes across strong in this crisp and vibrant presentation. Warner Bros. went back to the original negatives for these transfers and scanned them in at the highest resolution possible. Not every scene looks great, but I promise you we've never seen Batman Forever this clear or colorful before. If you're a fan of the film, it's worth getting this new release, even if it's a double-dip for you.
Of these four Batman films, Batman Forever just might have my favorite cast. It's not a good movie, but seeing Carrey and Jones ham it up together is a bit of a guilty pleasure. Still, it's cringe-worthy level bad in more ways than one, and that alone makes it impossible to recommend...- John DiBiase (reviewed: 6/1/19)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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