I had a thought the other day. The thought was--I really want to watch Batman Forever but I don't want anyone to know that I want to...so maybe I'll just pretend that I'm watching it for research purposes when in actuality I'll be laughing gleefully at how much I enjoy Val Kilmer as the Dark Knight. Yes it was a very long thought. I also realize that I just told you this thought--which is fine because I'm not afraid to hide my secret love affair anymore. That's right, I've been oddly attracted to Batman Forever since I first saw it at the Drive-In when I was a wee one. I should also note that when I was a wee one I bought a giant poster of Val Kilmer as Batman. As time grew on I got suspicious that his eyes were actual little cameras--which prompted me to get undressed in my closet. Too much information? Probably.
Of course, when I was a wee one I failed to realize how horrible a movie Batman Forever truly is. But is it? Well technically yes. The completely atrocious writing and impromptu karate laundry scene leaves very little to be desired--but like any mostly terribly movie there are some things that I believe are worth mentioning.
I don't read comic books but I have been doing quite a bit of research lately on the origins of our heroes and villains. One thing that Batman Forever does have going for it is that it's pretty faithful to the source material. From Two-Face's evil origins, to his psychosis and weakness revolving around his coin. Heck, even the details of his coin are spot on. Even Robin's entrance is faithful to a point, and perhaps most appreciative is his throw back costume--added nicely into the mix by tweaking a story about circus performers.
Even The Riddler who although his origins were changed a bit, still maintains that sinister need and desire to make Batman battle "death traps" as a test of will. These are riddles and traps that he deems impossible to solve--which oddly enough sounds very similar to another villain we all know--Jigsaw.
Yes, you cannot deny that Batman Forever respects at least the greater portion of the Batman legacy. For what it's worth, the earlier Batman films seem to be much more focused on maintaining a world similar to that of the comic books. This is evident in the loudness of Gotham city and the loudness of our villains costumes. Two Face is eccentric and looks like a pimp while his burn scars resemble purple Gak.
This annoyed me at first as I thought back to how stunnigly realistic Two-Face's burns were in The Dark Knight. But really, Batman Forever was just honoring what was outlined in the comics. Batman Forever feels more like a comic book which by all accounts should have been the secret to its success. However due to what is largely poor execution, the film is sadly washed away with the filth of Batman and Robin.
Another surprising thing to admire is Jim Carrey as he plays Edward Nygma.
I will agree that Jim Carrey's performance as The Riddler is at times severly annoying--but think back to his portrayal of kooky scientist Edward Nygma. It's actually one of the better performances out of the whole movie. There's something so sad about his love affair with Bruce Wayne and yet so creepy at the same time. His obsession and how utterly destroyed he is when Bruce turns his proposal down is the calm before the storm. Like many have said, Jim Carrey is actually at his best when he is at his quietest. The brief scene of him as the slobbering Nygma is a reminder that Carrey is playing the character with much more depth than we once thought.
He adds a certain Single White Female note of uncomfortableness that is always appreciated in my book.
And finally there is Val Kilmer. I read somewhere once that Val Kilmer and Michael Keaton tied for 2nd place in the best Batman contest, behind Christian Bale. What I love best about Val Kilmer's performance is his distance. He's not a smarmy, schmoozing person in or out of the bat costume (coughGeorgeClooneycough). He has a dark side that although is hidden when he is Bruce Wayne, it also is still visible behind the rich man's facade. He's got issues, he's got a past--he's not an alien, he's just a regular guy. Kilmer's Batman isn't outwardly tempted by beautiful women, and he's certainly not quick to make friends. Yes, his eventual love triangle with himself, Nicole Kidman and himself as Batman remains a thorn in my side---but he was still dark and distant while doing it at least.
Look, Batman Forever tries right? It even tries to include cute little homages to the comics, the holy rotted metal for instance, Robin's costume, and of course the inside peek at Arkham Asylum. Batman Forever in many ways is like Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. A film that was much more in line with what the book details right down to the Oompa Loompa songs--yet something about it just feels like too much. It's a nice reminder that movies can't always be like their source material because the source material is a different medium. It won't translate the same way. Of course one wonders that if Batman Forever had some better writing, could it really have been a contender?
Phew okay enough tooting Batman Forever's horn, let's get out all the bad stuff.....
I LOVE how 90s this movie is. Black lights?! I feel like we're in the backroom at Spencer Gifts..you know the room with the drawings of marijuana leaves and mushrooms. Nothing says Saturday afternoon like going to Spencer Gifts and seeing your shirt turn blue!
So wait a minute...Edward Nygma's invention was just 3D? How disappointing. I really thought it was some giant wave of the future. Now that I know I can get the same effects by slapping some 3D glasses on and avoiding the threat of my brain leaking out--I think I can finally get rid of Edward's terrible giant headpiece that's gathering dust in my closet.
Karate laundry time! Man, Chris O'Donnell how did you get so cool? More importantly, how did you have the time to fine tune your art of karate laundry while you were fine tuning your art of highly dangerous trapeze stunts?
After all these years I still find Drew Barrymore's cameo to be so random. And look it's Debbi Mazar too! Strange.
I really can't handle the awkward love triangle in this. And also, how stupid are people that they can't figure out that Bruce Wayne is Batman? Let's think...who could possibly have the money to be a superhero with super expensive bat mobiles, and bat planes and bat boats? I mean come on...and then when Robin shows up? Oh that's funny...Batman now has a young man as a sidekick...Bruce Wayne just took that young man Dick Grayson into custody....what a coincidence!
I also can't handle the fact that we are suppose to believe that Nicole Kidman is a psychologist. She uses words like "wacko" to describe a patient and takes her clothes off the moment Batman blinks. I've seen some stuff in my day and while Nicole Kidman isn't as unbelievable as Denise Richards was when she played a nuclear scientist--she is still questionable in my book.
Well, there you have it. Batman Forever is a terrible movie but I still maintain that it does hold a few things to appreciate. At least it's not Batman and Robin okay? OKAY?!