Here it is ladies and germs, the movie that’s regarded as one of the worst of the modern age. A film that brought a screeching halt to one of the most popular franchises of the time and actually managed to stall and entire genre. Watch, if you dare, as Batman – a superhero who has survived everyone from The Joker to Two-Face – comes a cropper from the deadliest duo he’s ever had to face: the spine chilling team of Joel Schumacher and George Clooney!
A top-tier blockbuster of stunning ineptitude, Batman & Robin has garnered legendary status on the fact that it took the world’s most popular superhero franchise and turned it into history’s most expensive pantomime. The script is simply hideous, the film is massively miscast and the tone is horribly judged as literally every decision made in front of and behind the camera proves to be the wrong one adding up to become one of the greatest cinematic blueprints of how not to tackle a particular genre.
Mr Freeze (a silvery, overacting Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bald cap) is the latest threat to lay siege to the put upon city of Gotham as he rampages through the local museum to obtain a sizable gem to power his research via a massive attempt at a five-finger-discount. After one of the most unnecessarily protracted opening action sequences in history that involves crime fighting duo Batman and Robin revealing they have ice skates improbably hidden in their boots (Conjuring the question that have they always been there? Y’know, just in case they ever needed to go up against a villainous ice hockey gang at some point?), Freeze launching a rocket into space, up-scaling his jewel heist into a legitimate attempt at genocide at the drop of a hat and Robin actually unironically screeching the word cowabunga as he sky surfs through the heavens on a makeshift surfboard, it becomes apparent that the cracks in the relationship of the crime fighting chums are beginning to show. Robin claims (actually, whines would be a more accurate description) that Bats is too protective and doesn’t trust Robin to get the job done; Batman just sighs and does that wobbly-head thing that George Clooney did for the entirety of the nineties.
But estrogen fueled change is on the horizon in the form of two femme fatales on either side of the hero/villain device. In the red corner is Poison Ivy, a sultry botanist who, via a freak accident, is reborn with a poison kiss and special dust that can turn men into quivering wrecks (or in Commissioner Gordon’s case a borderline drooling sex pest). In the blue corner is Barbra Wilson, Alfred’s niece (despite the fact he frickin’ looks 103) and student of Oxbridge (?) who is destined to pull on a cowl and become Batgirl because maybe Warner Bros can squeeze some more toys out of it. Alliances are made and tested and somewhere in amongst the wreckage of anything even resembling a damn story there’s a subplot about Alfred’s ailing health or some such shit.
To take a step back from the neon coloured fun vortex it’s fairly obvious as to what happened here: Warners seeing audiences respond to what Joel Schumacher did with Batman Forever ordered more of the same but more. Much more. Whether it made a lick of sense or not. It makes sense from a purely business perspective – take something popular and turn up the volume – but the sheer level of irritating buffoonery that results in this is nothing sort of stunning.
Behold and recoil of the following list of on screen atrocities…
Ivy infiltrates a charity ball disguised as giant pink gorilla and then tries to make the stripping off of said costume a slinky striptease. For no reason at all, both Dick Grayson and Barbara take part in an illegal motorbike street race which not only has no bearing on the plot and is never mentioned again, but is also organised and hosted by Coolio. Uma Thurman actually bellows the word “CURSES” when her character is defeated… and then swallowed and subdued by her own giant plant chair.
Last, but certainly not least is Batman busting out an honest to God, motherfucking Bat-credit card (complete with Ker-ching sound effect) in order to win a pheromone-addled bidding war. I won’t even bring up the Alfred A.I. batcomputer complete with Max Headroom glitches…
Everyone concerned seems caught up in this uncontrollable hurricane of campness and try to have as much fun as they possibly can (Arnie seems to be having a ball vomiting out a staggering amount of excruciating “cold” puns that seem to have all been written by a cabal of ADD suffering six year olds, while Thurman strides around in a costume that looks impossible to breathe in while coming across like a drunken Mae West tribute act) although it truly seems that the script writers have simply had enough of a mopey “my parents are dead” Bruce Wayne and subsequently give Clooney (a far cheerier Dark Knight than Kilmer) nothing to work with.
Eventually the film grinds mercifully to it’s climax where everything is saved and no problem can’t be solved with repeatedly firing batropes into the air. The audience remain slumped in their seats, exhausted and beaten into submission by unnecessary bat-costume changes worthy of a Katy Perry concert and ridiculous new and ugly bat-vehicles chucked out at a moments notice.
A crass, cynical, stupid piece of shit whose impressive production values conclusively prove that you can’t polish a turd, Batman & Robin should be forced on any director who even considers signing up for a tentpole blockbuster as a handy cautionary tale in order to avoid anything like this ever happening again.
Gotham City? God damn shitty, more like…