Batman Forever is quite the downgrade from the first two films in the franchise despite performances from Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey.
Michael Keaton likely saw the writing on the walls and made the best decision to leave the franchise. Yeah, Batman Returns was a dark film but Batman is a dark character. Where Batman Forever goes wrong is that the film returns to the campy tones of the television series. This may have worked once upon a time but for those familiar with the comics, going campy isn’t a good idea. Anyway, Val Kilmer steps up to the plate as Batman. He takes a swing and misses.
It seems like Bruce Wayne has a new girlfriend in every single film. Enter Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman), a psychiatrist. She will find herself held hostage and in need of rescue by the end of the film. This is one of those tropes in comic book movies that are seemingly inescapable. It’s the classic save the girl or save the partner situation. In this case, it’s orphaned circus acrobat Dick Grayson (Chris O’Donnell). Sidekick Robin was bound to be introduced during the series at some point. Is Batman ready to work with a partner? This is the question of the hour.
The Batman villains are always coming up with ways to either control the city or destroy it. Harvey Dent/Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and Edward Nygma/Riddler (Jim Carrey) are hellbent on controlling Gotham City. It’s no surprise that both of them want to know Batman’s identity.
It is one thing for Val Kilmer to replace Michael Keaton. It is another thing to watch Tommy Lee Jones replace Billy Dee Williams. I get Harvey becoming Two-Face at some point because he’s a villain. Why is it that Williams has to get replaced in the process? This one of those things that I find making no sense during a four-film binge watch. You see one man in Batman and another person in Batman Forever. This might be forgivable if the second actor is of the same skin color.
There isn’t any fun to be found in watching Batman Forever. This is certainly the most unfortunate about watching the film. It is always possible to find fun moments even in films with a darker tone. But to lighten up the film with a campier tone shouldn’t sacrifice the quality. Yet here we are seeing the writing on the walls.
DIRECTOR: Joel Schumacher
SCREENWRITERS: Lee Batchler & Janet Scott-Batchler and Akiva Goldsman
CAST: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle