Friday, November 29, 2013

"BAD" COMIC BOOK MOVIES I STILL DIG: Batman Forever

Like the jacket? It keeps me safe when I'm... jogging at night!

As the world's biggest fan Riddler fan, when I heard the foe was going to be in Batman Forever, played by Ace Ventura: Pet Detective's Jim Carrey, I almost pitched my tent outside the local theatre there and then. Infact if Warner Bros. had cut Two-Face from the film, I'd probably still be in that same cinema demanding a replay.

Now Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent isn't a bad call - far from it. What is, is getting Lee to turn one of the most tragic and interesting souls in the DC Universe into a footnote of camp duality based one-liners. (And I'll admit, I'm still craving what Billy Dee Williams would've done with the role, after playing Dent in Tim Burton's Batman). 

Jim's Riddler not only homaged 'TV Riddler' Frank Gorshin, it allowed his character to develop. When his self-perception of being a kindred spirit to Bruce Wayne is severed by his idol himself, the annoying, bumbling, computer genius / no one, Edward struggles to answer 'Who Am I?'. Executing those he deems responsible for his state, leads to a new identity, and as The Riddler, his mind unifies and strengthens.

Having designed a cable TV box that absorbs the watchers brain activity, the man who once struggled with his own I.D. soon finds himself possessing the answer to the age old riddle 'Who is Batman?'

While director Joel Schumacher attempts to pony up the Dark Knight with James Bond, by overplaying the bat-gadgets and casting The Saint Val Kilmer in the title role, the next best performance in the film is actually dual-stolen by Drew Barrymore's fun-loving Sugar (the pre-cursor to Harley Quinn?) and the alluring Dr Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman).

A criminal psychiatrist aiding the Gotham P.D., Chase's lines and pursuit of the 'bad boy' in Batman steal every scene.

As the interactive riddles fly and circus act the Flying Graysons die, one Grayson survives to vow revenge on Two Face's reign of terror, and that is Dick. At Nightwing age already, the film jokes about this in-scene, as Chris O'Donnell's character brainstorms a name in the hopes of convincing Batman to let him join in against the two united foes.

Still, Chris pulls off the infamous yellow caped role of Robin, in part due this being the age of 90210, where all actors played younger roles, and also to a boyish all-American wholesomeness gained from his prior work in films like Fried Green Tomatoes, making you cheer as Bruce finally concedes, and the Dynamic Duo is reborn. 

There's more hand-to-hand combat in this film than in prior bat-flicks, and while I don't dig the light-up Batmobile, a 'Batman' in a futuristic neon city does have potential. Writer Grant Morrison visited this idea in his run on the comics (like above in Batman #700) and of course there's Batman Beyond, yet despite Tim Burton on board as producer, Batman Forever doesn't fully use the idea until the final battle. 

Of course, by then a bat-plane, bat-boat and bat-cave have being destroyed, Chase has being bat-captured and a man of questions is almost a God, but hey, as long as Batman has the greatest weapon of all, he'll always be the one the bookie favours.

 It should've stayed on the cutting-room floor:  Gotham media have clear footage of Bats in action during Dent's court case. What gives?

 Did you know?  When The Riddler says "Batman? Batman, you say? Coming for you?", Jim is imitating Cesar Romero's Joker.

6 comments:

  1. as far as i'm concerned there were no Batman movies before Nolan's Batman Begins. just like with Judge Dredd there was now movie for that character till last year.

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  2. After the slight disappointment of Batman Forever [spoilt for me because I could not help saying 'Catwoman is NOT blonde', even though Michelle Phieffer was phenomenal] this movie made me...indifferent. Jim Carrey was prob the only actor who couldve played the Riddler at that point in time [Robin Williams would've been good but perhaps a bit too old] and Chris O Donnell was flavour of the moment, and so was Nicole Kidman.
    Thought the stunts were good, and having Dick Grayson as a kind of rebel thug with a heart was a neat touch. Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones did overact though at points for me, which threatened to leer into 1960s Batman tv show territory [mind you, this movie was positively Shakesperian compared to what came next - Batman and Robin!]. The whole experience just left me cold and feeling the entire franchise just needed to be rested [of course the next film did precisely that!].
    On a negative note, when I moved house, my niece [who was eight at the time] wrapped the video [yes one of those VHS videos!] of this up and gave it me as a housewarming present. Only afterwards I discovered shed already got it as a present and got bored of it so passed it on to me!

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  3. Thanks for the comments guys! Dave I know a few people who have drawn the line at Nolan, though most still include Jack's Joker as well. Always good to know a trinity of movies works so well. While the Joker's of the franchises are close, comparing Bane's is a one sided event huh? :)

    Saw Dredd for the first time last night. Wasn't the Dredd I was expecting, or as fast paced. The special effects pre-lockdown were a bit low budget, but after the building was sealed tight things got better. I'd probably rest it at 3/5 - hopefully there's another, but much room for improvement to me.

    Karl, that last bit actually made me laugh out loud. I think I've had gifts before that I've thought of forwarding on too - but I think I've resisted the temptation in most cases!

    Glad you agree Michelle Phieffer was phenomenal - I really don't get it when people diss her take - I thought she was stunning and really had the duality down pat. I too wish they'd rested the Bat movies here before the more characters for more happy meal toys brigade got their hooks in.

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  4. oh Dan, i'm so disappointed : )

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  5. I put this Batman movie on the same plain as the Disney version of the Three Muskateers. Lots of fun to watch, not great if you dissect it, and both capitalized on Chris O'Donnell before he was cliche. Which we all have to admit was a very very small window.
    My favorite bit was Drew Barrymore and Debi Mazar as Sugar and Spice. The scenes they were in stole the show for me, and I've always wanted to do those costumes.

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  6. May be it was all the built up hype ya reckon Dave ;) Like a Suicide Squad picture we know about.

    Drew was great here Random - when you can take a small role and really make it shine, that has to be true talent. The security guard from the safe at the start... not so much.

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