Warning: This review contains spoilers.
Batman Forever was directed by Joel Schumacher and is a reboot of sorts of the Batman franchise as well as being the third installment of the series. Just like Batman and Robin, I really liked this movie when I was a kid. I found it to be entertaining, fun and I enjoyed Jim Carrey’s Riddler and Tommy Lee Jone’s Two Face. Re-watching the movie now though, it is nowhere near as good as I remembered it to be.
First up, the pros: Val Kilmer is a good Batman and Bruce Wayne. Michael Keaton was better, but since Batman Returns didn’t make as much money as Warner Brothers was hoping he was kicked off the project with Tim Burton. Kilmer was a good replacement; it’s just that he’s stuck in this director’s movie.
You can tell from the opening frame that Joel Schumacher has no idea what Batman is supposed to be. The movie is extremely colorful and almost looks like a comic book but not in a good way.
From the opening shot, everything we first see of the city of Gotham is just bright with colors and it looks completely artificial and fake. It’s now a completely different world than the other two movies that came before it but it keeps some of the same actors like Alfred who is portrayed by Michael Dough and Commissioner Gordon played by Pat Hingle. So it’s not a complete reboot, just a new direction? The movie is inconsistent in tone, atmosphere and everything is over the top.
Tommy Lee Jones is a great actor, but should he have been Two Face? No. But it doesn’t really matter, because he’s an actor following directions, just like Jim Carrey is. They’re just both really over the top and whimsical and the two are The Joker. Schumacher must have thought that villains are supposed to be out of their minds and just crazy but Two Face isn’t like that at all in the comic books (thank god The Dark Knight came along and changed that).
Jim Carrey is good as The Riddler. His lair is awesome as well. He leaves riddles at Batman’s mansion (which are really easy to solve) after Bruce refuses to finance his project, which is a device that beams television directly into a person’s brain. He decides to team-up with Two face in order to kill Batman. The marketing actually marketed Jim Carrey as the main villain of the movie, which is a lie since Two Face is the main villain of the film. They decided to put Jim Carrey on all the posters and ads and they lied to us all.
Dick Grayson (Robin) also makes his first appearance and is portrayed by Chris O’Donnell who doesn’t do a bad job in the role. Dick’s parents are killed in the circus and he is sent to go live with Bruce Wayne by Commissioner Gordon (why? He isn’t old enough to live by himself?) and he finds out that Bruce Wayne is Batman and steals the Batmobile, which results in a confrontation between him and Batman and insists on becoming his partner.
Bruce Wayne also has flashbacks of his parent’s murder whom are killed by Two Face in this film not The Joker which is what happened in the first film; which means more inconsistences. This leads to some overlong and drawn out scenes with Nicole Kidman who plays Dr. Chase and is a psychiatrist. Kidman is a good actress but has nothing to do in this film. She’s a damsel in distress and her chemistry with Val Kilmer is nonexistent and their scenes together are really boring. It’s nowhere near as entertaining as Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer’s relationship.
The climax of this movie is fine, not really exciting but it does it’s job. Batman and Robin locate the two villains on an island after they kidnap Dr. Chase and blow up the bat cave. Robin has the opportunity to kill Two Face but lets him live (which I always thought was a stupid decision) and Two Face obviously takes him captive. Batman is forced to chose between saving Dr. Chase and Robin. He manages to save both of them and defeat The Riddler in the process. Two Face however points a gun at them but looses his balance looking for his coin and falls to his death. The Riddler is put in the mental institution and believes that he is Batman and Dr. Chase tells Bruce that his secret is safe after visiting him seeing that he is clearly insane.
Overall, Batman Forever is not a very good movie. It’s way too campy and has over the top performances from it’s villains. There are some engaging scenes and some boring scenes throughout. It’s also extremely inconsistent with the other films of the series up to this point. But compared to Batman and Robin, this film is a downright masterpiece.