Batman Forever (1995) – Review

2 Stars

Returning to the ‘campy’ colorful world of the 1960s incarnation of Batman, this third entry into the series is the worst of the original quad-trilogy. Bringing in fresh director Joel Schumacher to lighten things up resulted in a film that has flashes of brilliance yet more often than not resembles a music video on steroids. Replacing Michael Keaton in the title role is Val Kilmer, who makes for an acceptable if somewhat unmemorable Dark Knight. Notorious stories of a contentious relationship between Kilmer and Schumacher effectively ensured this being his only appearance in the franchise.

Casting Jim Carrey at the height of his popularity as ‘The Riddler’ was a brilliant move commercially. He is very entertaining as the mad scientist turned super-villain, though often his shtick goes too far over-the top. However his alter ego, Edward Nigma’s ongoing one-up man ship of Bruce Wayne during a charity event is giggle inducing. Unfortunately Tommy Lee Jones is lost in the shuffle and his ‘Two-Face’ fails to register as anything other than stunt casting.

The most disappointing aspect of this installment is the addition of ‘Robin’ to the cast. The sequence at the carnival in which Dick Grayson’s family is inadvertently murdered by ‘Two-face’ is one of the film’s high-points. Yet, the screenplay treats him as either comic relief, (joyriding in the batmobile for girls) or a whining punk. Very little chemistry is evident between Kilmer and O’ Donnell, enough to make one wonder if the icy relationship between star and director extended to costars as well.

Admittedly the film is gorgeous to look at. Visual eye candy in the best sense, outlandish color design and exaggerated lighting by Stephen Goldblatt a.s.c. give this version of Gotham a less menacing vibe. Once again the score is a major asset in suggesting thematic overtones. New composer Elliot Goldenthal was brought in to replace Danny Elfman, and Goldenthal makes it his own, with a bigger, louder and sometimes circus-like sound. The Top Grossing film of 1995 out-grossing the previous sequel 1992s Batman Returns by a wide margin.

Director: Joel Schumacher
Stars: Val Kilmer, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman

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