Combustible Celluloid
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With: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, John Glover, Elle Macpherson, Vivica A. Fox
Written by: Akiva Goldsman
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for strong stylized action and some innuendos
Running Time: 125
Date: 06/12/1997

Batman & Robin (1997)

1 Star (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This fourth modern Batman film features perhaps the worst screenplay -- or at least the worst dialogue -- ever written. Of course, scribe Akiva Goldsman inexplicably went on to win an Oscar four years later for A Beautiful Mind. Almost every line here is some kind of feeble quip or pun, each hoping to live on as a "Make my day" or an "I'll be back" and failing. Arnold Schwarzenegger gives perhaps the movie's worst performance as the villainous Mr. Freeze, though it's a close call. Joel Schumacher decorates the film with his usual colorful visuals, and the film is often dazzling, but his tendency toward camp outweighs any saving graces. He saturates the film with neon pinks and greens, which clash with the story's inherent blackness. The bat costumes are now homoerotic fetish objects -- an extremely out of place idea -- and the action scenes vary from ludicrous to dull. George Clooney takes over the Batman/Bruce Wayne role, and he's too playful for the dark knight, doing his little head-bobble that worked on "ER." He's more in league with Adam West than with Michael Keaton. Chris O'Donnell is a pointless Robin. Uma Thurman overacts as Poison Ivy and Alicia Silverstone underacts as Batgirl (she's now Alfred's niece instead of Commissioner Gordon's daughter). Only Michael Gough as Alfred brings the movie any dignity. It's not quite a disaster, but it's close.

DVD Details: Warner Home Video re-released the film in 2005 as part of its new Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997. The two-disc set comes with severalmaking-of featurettes (all of which I avoided), and four music videos(apparently aimed at four different fan bases) by The Smashing Pumpkins,R. Kelly, Jewell and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

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