Batman and Robin try to keep their relationship together even as they must stop Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy from freezing Gotham City. (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 and Robin Review
The final entry of the 2019 4K re-released Batman quadrilogy is by far one of the worst big Hollywood films I have ever seen. I remember seeing this movie in the theater and just marveling at how laughably (and painfully) bad this movie is. Batman and Robin saw Joel Schumacher at his absolute worst, taking everything that didn't work about his 1995 film Batman Forever and ratcheting it up to eleven. Kilmer was replaced by ER star George Clooney for the title role of Batman, and while Clooney probably isn't the single worst choice for playing someone like Bruce Wayne, he just proves to be a very odd and miscast Batman. (I disliked him as Batman so much that it took him playing Danny Ocean in 2001 for me to even remotely like him as an actor.) The cast of the film, on paper, is rather impressive, but with a stupid script, bad acting, insanely goofy sound effects, terrible wire work, cheesy set, prop and costume designs, and even nipple shapes on the rubber bat suits, Batman and Robin is perfectly terrible. (I mean, it even recycles the "vat of chemicals" bit from the first film to explain how Mr. Freeze was created, but the way it's done here is so laughably bad, it's actually insulting. Oh, and a scene where Robin is being attacked by vines underwater actually reverses the footage of him coming out of the water in order to extend the sequence, and then reuses it when he finally comes out. It's really sad.) It's the kind of movie that was born to be riffed on by the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew (and has been via many of the original cast's side venture, Rifftrax). Seriously folks, it's dumbfounding just how awful this movie is. I did decide to check out some of Schumacher's commentary on the 4K disc, because I was curious what in the world he could say about this movie. In the few minutes I did listen, he admitted that the studio pushed for it to be more kid-friendly than he wanted it to be, and that it was meant to be more "toyetic," a phrase coined for the design of a movie to be able to easily produce and sell toys. (I don't think "kid-friendly" is, by nature, a bad thing--animated films have proved time and again to be great AND kid-friendly!) Whatever his excuses are, this movie successfully doomed the existing state of this franchise (but thankfully would eventually lead to Christian Bale's turn in the infinitely better Batman Begins in 2005).
The content of this film is, indeed, the most kid-friendly of all of them. I even was thinking, while watching this, how my 8-year-old could probably handle it. (However, because I love my son, I wouldn't want to show him such a downright terrible film.) There are a few creepy moments--like when the scientist boss of Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy goes a little nuts and shoves her into a table of beakers and chemicals (which would ultimately lead to her becoming Poison Ivy), and the creation of Bane is also potentially scary (although downright goofy). Otherwise, this movie is just too silly and ridiculous to be all that intense or terrifying. (And who doesn't think of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Turbo-Man when he delivers some truly cheesy one-liners?) The only thing this movie seemed to be ahead of its time with is the unusual amount of anti-male remarks some of the female characters make, especially Barbara/Batgirl. Clearly, no one making this movie knew their audience at all.
Of these four Batman films, Batman and Robin is by far the worst. If you want a good example of a really bad movie, this is it, friends. I can't think of a single thing that's redeemable about it--other than it inadvertently giving us Batman Begins. The 4K transfer is quite good--showing us every shiny sparkle on Arnie's skin paint--so it's really the best presentation of the film from a visual standpoint. Still, unless you're desperate for a new drink coaster that will make quite a conversation piece, I just wouldn't ever recommend Batman and Robin.- 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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