Batman & Robin (1997)

(Release Date: June 12, 1997
[moved up from June 20, which many of the teaser posters have printed on them.])

A bigger piece of crap than an unpassable turd!

It took Doomsday to kill Superman, but only Joel to Break the Bat!

J.C. Mašek III... 
You think this is insulting to Batman? Watch THIS piss!
J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

I was at one of those "organic" grocery stores the other day, and noticed a sale sign for their bananas. Beneath it was a sign that read "Will ripen quicker if kept in a brown paper bag with an apple." I don't know what it was about that sign, but it immediately made me incredibly angry. I hate that sign, man! I really, really hate that sign. You know what else I hate? I hate it when white people think they can say obviously racist things in front of me just because I'm melanin-challenged. I hate it when quote whore movie reviewers refer to certain films as "The Best Reviewed Film of the Year". It's not just a cop-out, it's also incredibly stupid. They can't all be, man! I can't stand it when yuppie dimwits attempt to make pop culture references in a ritualistic assassination of comedy that includes quips like "Dude, where's my car?", "Show me the Money!", "Where's the Beef?", "I know Noshink!", or anything with the addition of "izzle" within it. I hate DVDs that advertise their special features as including "Interactive Menus". I hate competing beer commercials that describe the relative health benefits of their product versus another based on "carb" content. I hate those lame violence-laded unrated On Demand B-Movies with plenty of profanity, but absolutely NO NUDITY whatsoever. Do you think we watch these things for the storylines? I hate when fat guys wear shorts, and I really hate it when those same fat guys wear shirts that are short enough to show their hairy gut hanging out from below the hem. But above all these things, I HATE THIS MOVIE!

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From the dark depths of hell, a cabal of demons who hate comic books and continuity managed to bribe everyone from the president to the janitor at Time Warner Communications in order to get this joyless experiment in unnecessary surgery produced. It's called Batman & Robin, and it's the filmic equivalent to a cant hook to the gut.

But for the presence of monstrous director Joel Schumacher this might have been a halfway (or even quarter way) decent movie. Take the existing cast (I'll even accept George Clooney as Bruce Wayne, albeit grudgingly) and the existing villains and mix it the hell up. Throw in Patrick "Dad" Stewart as Mr. Freeze, keep Arnold Schwarzenegger (accent and all) as Bane, make Chris O'Donnell grow some hair, and give Robin a less ridiculous costume, put a wig on Alicia Silverstone, and keep Batgirl's origin intact, allow Uma Thurman to actually act as Poison Ivy, and when it's all topped off, remove the constant homoerotic aura surrounding Batman and Robin. Or better yet, scrap the whole thing and give us a tolerable pill to swallow.

Instead, we get this thing, a terror of a movie (so bad it makes King Kong Lives look like Lawrence of Arabia), which seems to have the singular mission to make the 1960's Camp-O-Rama Batman feel like serious art by contrast. This multiplex infection is intentionally overacted, embarrassingly directed for all representations of the gut-punchingly ludicrous and is written as if screenwriter Akiva Goldsman was told to turn in the worst script he could, with bonus bucks for each bad pun! I've created an entire sidebar to detail just some of what's wrong with this piece of celluloid bacteria, but please note, this is only a short, short representation of the butt-cancer this thing really is. Make your own list, kids. If you have time, that is.

Batman and Robin have become bickering metrosexual "brothers" in this one, racing away from the Batcave (now decorated like a Dallas gay bar) to battle Schwarzeneggroll's Mr. Freeze, who has almost as many flash-freezing gadgets in his collection as he has incredibly stupid lines. Almost. This does as good a job of setting up the action and conflict in this film as a half hour of Night Court prepares an aspiring lawyer for the Bar Exam! Meanwhile, back in South America, Pamela Isley (Uma Thurman) is experimenting both with animal/ plant hybrids and over-expressive 1930's style acting. One of the two (and I'm not sure which) mutates her into the evil villain Poison Ivy. Soon, with the two and a half villains of Ivy, Freeze and Bane (Jeep Swenson) in town, Batman and Robin clearly have their gay-as-pink-ink work cut out for them.

However, what follows is a cringe-worthy montage of barely connected fight scenes, silly surprises and the kind of acting one might find in a high school play when all the talented kids had already graduated. In such an overloaded and undeveloped character listing, it's no surprise that returning series actors Michael Gough (as Alfred the Butler) and Pat Hingle (as Commissioner Gordon) receive the shortest of the short ends of the stick. Still they plug away with the rest of the actors as over-the-top as you can imagine, regardless of how uncharacteristic this really is. They aren't alone. The improbable amount of cameos in this film seems to exist as a winner-take-naught competition for the most unrealistic acting in a bit part since Charlie McCarthy showed up in The Muppet Movie. Although I do recommend you try not to look directly at this pants-load (without safety goggles), if you do look closely you'll see terrible appearances by John Glover, Elle Macpherson, Vivica A. Fox, Jesse Ventura, Nicky Katt and (no, it wasn't a trick of the neon) Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

To go on recapping the plot would be pretty futile, so let's just say this. In the end, Batman, Robin, Batgirl and Alfred win, and everyone is happier than a dancing Care Bear! The best thing about this movie is that it is indeed so bad that it's funny. In Joel Schumacher's heartless endeavor to "lighten up" the series, he has succeeded in creating something that might be taken as seriously as your average Godzilla movie. Fans of Batman will be so offended they might just miss the comparative command-of-character that Adam West displayed. I can say that while Uma Thurman was terrible in this film (though it's much less her fault than that of a self-centered and deluded director), she does look incredibly hot here. Either as the bookish, and librarian-hot Dr. Isley or as the often scantily-clad and midriff-bearing Ivy, there's one redeeming quality here. For all the horrifying costume choices, I've got no complaints about ooo-la-la Uma! The rest? Holy Shit, Batman!

Sometimes I wonder if there are actually two Joel Schumachers. The one who gave us the acceptably watchable fare of St. Elmo's Fire, Flatliners and The Lost Boys could maybe have been abducted by aliens in league with the minions of Satan and replaced by the Insect Lord who gave us Bad Company, 8MM and this thing, only to be returned just in time to hand us the superb adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera. No? Too far fetched? Well then watch Batman and Robin and you'll re-define that term but quick! Because Batman and Robin is a Dog! And I don't mean "Ace the Bat Hound", either. Crack a brew and get all your most sarcastic friends together for this one... but don't attempt this one alone. Zombies have been created by less a curse than this. While we can all be thankful that in 2005 Batman Begins did manage to redeem the franchise, I dare say that at least in Batman & Robin all the villains' names were pronounced correctly? See you in the next reel... same Bat-Time, same Bat-Website!

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Batman & Robin reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
who is responsible for his opinions especially those concerning insane crap like this.
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