Thursday, August 14, 2014

Batman & Robin


  Oh boy. This should surprise nobody I guess... Batman & Robin is awful. God-awful.  I wanted to try and find new merits in the movie rather than just refresh my memory of how bad it was. After all, I found new things to appreciate about it's predecessor- is it really crazy to think I might have done the same with this...? Yeah, no, I know. Insane. I was just about hysterical when I saw Clooney in the Batsuit. He looks like George Clooney dressed up as Batman, not Batman himself.  It's so bad. He looks like a man in a clunky rubber suit with all the fake muscles and bat-nipples in the world. He's no longer what we're used to, he's no longer Batman. He's something... else The movie isn't even willing to push him into self-parody, Clooney languishes in this middle-ground of awfulness where he doesn't have room to act himself out of this restrictive rubber trap. The same can be said for literally everyone in the movie.

  Which is a shame because there are moments... very few and far in-between, but there are moments in the movie that look absolutely dynamic. If you can remove yourself from the dialog, the plot, and just about everything else and just look at these scenes...  they are crafted with technical skill and often an artistic eye. When Batman and Robin escape from Mr.Freeze's rocket by surfing out on the metal doors as the rocket explodes behind them? Perfect first example. It's a stupid scene. Batman had just said earlier, not three minutes earlier, that if the ship exploded it could kill thousands. Then he puts a bat-bomb on it and jumps the hell out. So you might be too busy facepalming to notice that regardless of the lazy writing, that moment actually looks... really cool. As well as an introductory shot of a mad scientist's lab in the amazon jungle, a car chase down the arm of a gargantuan statue, and more.

  These aren't reasons to watch the movie, but it's something I noticed which was nice. As well as the music, I love the theme. Yet aside from all that, there's not much to like about Batman & Robin. It plays out like a musical without singing and dancing. Everyone looks like they're in a stage play of Batman, Mr.Freeze is no exception. Trying to make his henchmen sing Christmas songs, while they're all freezing to death in his icebox of a lair. Lest I mention the opening, in the museum. Where for five minutes the movie is literally Batman on Ice! Complete with acrobatics, choreographed "fights", and some lovely spectacle. Ugh, agggh. It's so stupid looking. Batman and Robin consistently wait for bad things to happen. A villain needs to make a pun, so they stop... and let him, and then resume the chase. "You know what killed the dinosaurs?" Mr.Freeze asks... "The Ice Age!" he follows up. At this point, I'm not convinced a new ice age won't kill Batman and Robin as well if they take any longer to catch his shiny ass.

  I also realize that a review like this is objectively pointless. Nobody making the movie was trying to make a serious Batman movie. They were literally trying to sell toys to kids. What are we reviewing? The merits and demerits of a toy commercial? Who's the joke on here- honestly? Am I going to sit here and pick apart the acting in a toy advertisement? The plot? The seriousness? I'll say this, as a machine designed to sell toys, Batman & Robin succeeds with flying (neon) colors. There's no way a kid won't love this movie. Batman has a gadget for everything, and for a few bucks, your action figure of Batman can have all the same nifty gadgets. The movie displays everything possible. Bat-bikes, Batmobiles, Bat... skis? Which actually look like toys on screen. Nothing looks practical or functional. Things are loud and colorful for no reason except to make loud and colorful toys. I had the Batmobile from this movie as a kid. Who didn't? I also had the one from Forever, and I preferred playing with this one.

  From the zip, pow, whee sound effect scheme to the plot making excuses for new batsuits and bat-gadgets, to our villains looking like giant action figures themselves... Batman & Robin is a well oiled machine. Once you realize it is really ONLY selling toys to kids, you can neither hate it nor bash it. It exists. Oh well. It's good for a really painful laugh, and then you move on. Bruce Wayne seems like a closeted gay man here more than ever. He tries to explain to his long-time girlfriend that he's not the "marrying kind"... and it half sounds like a coming out speech. He seems largely immune to Poison Ivy's charm... I wonder why. Clooney probably just couldn't muster enough shits to give to make any part of his Batman performance serious. I don't blame him. I couldn't have either. I bet he realized he was only there to be an action figure for 90 minutes. That'd depress anybody interested in actually playing the dark knight himself.

  Sadly, not even nighttime is dark in this movi-er... toy commercial I mean. You've seen the bad press, you've heard the bad word of mouth. Even from a brand new point of view, Batman & Robin is beyond redemption. It will never been a good movie, or even a good Batman movie. The villains are toys, the heroes are toys, everyone and everything else is collateral damage. Aside from some really impressive sets, and a bombastic musical score, Batman & Robin is a movie that should have stayed in my childhood. Back where 9 year old me appreciated it. I will say this for this trainwreck of a production... sitting here, watching it, groaning at all the awful dialog, and averting my eyes from the over abundance of day-glo and neon... I found myself wishing, if only for a moment, that I was a little kid again. Because I know that as a little kid, this would still be a blast for me. When you're that young, any movie that gives you superheroes is golden. Batman & Robin was no exception, I loved it at that age, and for a moment I wished I was back then... loving it all over again.

  Not much else to say. Maybe in another 8 years or so, I'll watch it again. Not to review, not to criticise, not to groan at, but as a nostalgia trip. Like watching old commercials on youtube. It's an old friend from my childhood. The stuff nostalgia is made of. Does that make this movie okay? No, objectively it's still bad. We all know it. That hasn't changed while we weren't paying attention to it and I don't imagine it ever will. It's a weird chapter in this Batman franchise, but thankfully the last chapter. One that is easily skipped for those looking for good Batman movies- don't bother with this one. It's a frigid mess.

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