Batman and Robin is the fourth film in the series but it’s also the film that finally kills the franchise by putting Batman out of his misery.
“This is why Superman works alone,” Batman (George Clooney) tells Robin (Chris O’Donnell).
With dialogue like this, you know we’re going to be in for a bumpy ride. It’s so much of a bumpy ride that I’m not even going to really dive into the plot like in most reviews. Doing so would just remind me of how miserable this film left me. There was so much potential that was only left squandered. Maybe another director would have done a better job. Maybe another pass on the screenplay would have helped. Listen, George Clooney isn’t a bad actor but even great actors cannot save shitty films.
I grew up being partial to this film mostly because of Batgirl. It had been quite some time since Wonder Woman aired on television. As such, it was hard to find female superheroes when I was coming of age in the late 1990s. It’s because of this that I’ve always had somewhat of an affinity for Alicia Silverstone’s performance as Barbara Wilson/Batgirl. The actress was coming off of a star-making performance as Cher Horowitz in Clueless two years prior. The thing is, when you’re a closeted trans girl, you take role models where you can get them. In this instance, Silverstone’s Batgirl was such a role model. Natalie Portman’s Padme Amidala would come around two years later with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Barbara does manage to dress in costume and kick butt during the third act. If only this were a better film!
In 1997, George Clooney was not quite movie star George Clooney. He was only starting to become one of very few TV stars to transition from TV to film. Clooney being one and Cheers actor Woody Harrelson being another. Again, there are so few of them! There may be others but these are the ones I can think off of the top of my head. Thank you, Long Shot! I cannot stress this enough: Clooney isn’t enough to save the film while taking over for Val Kilmer in the title role. It’s just really unfortunate. But hey, he does a far better job then Ben Affleck does in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League if it’s any consolation.
Akiva Goldsman’s script manages to double down on the Batman Forever‘s campy tone. Oh, does he ever! If you had told me that Batman and Robin was a sequel to the 1989 Batman film, I would have said you were crazy. The only thing tying the Schumacher films with the Tim Burton films are actors Pat Hingle and Michael Gough. They should have walked away when they had the chance! The film’s campy tone and dialogue only manage to get worse. Poison Ivy’s (Uma Thurman) mind control has been better in other comic book films. Bane was done better in The Dark Knight Rises. Arnold Schwarzenegger does an okay job as Mr. Freeze but he’s certainly no Terminator.
I’m sorry to say it but Batman and Robin is not a film that I ever care to revisit again. Thank G-d for the Christopher Nolan trilogy because this film killed a series that had a promising start.
DIRECTOR: Joel Schumacher
SCREENWRITER: Akiva Goldsman
CAST: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle