- Rated PG-13
- Buy the DVD
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
atman Returns," Tim Burton's 1992 sequel to his original film, was a huge step forward for the Batman franchise. It would seem only fitting for Burton to take the iconic superhero to even darker places in his third adventure on the big screen. Instead, "Batman Forever" takes two giant steps backward. Burton has thrown in the towel as the film's director (though he serves as the movie's producer) and his replacement is Joel Schumacher. Michael Keaton has vanished from behind the mask to make room for Val Kilmer. And the dark, gloomy city of Gotham has been transformed into a rich metropolis flooded by neon lights and colorful characters. Nevertheless, if you're a sucker for the same campy special effects, frivolous villains and horrible writing that inundated the 1960's TV series, you'll absolutely love "Forever."
Batman (Kilmer) is still playing hero to the citizens of Gotham City when Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones), the latest villain to graduate from Bad Guy Academy, begins his reign of terror with his gang of ridiculous looking S&M goons. As the city's former district attorney, Two-Face (AKA Harvey Dent) has turned to a life of crime after being scarred on one side of his face by acid. His main objection is the execution of the Dark Knight, but knowing well enough that two villains are always better than one, Two-Face teams up with Gotham's newest baddie, The Riddler (Jim Carrey), in an attempt to take down the Bat. With the use of his own cunning invention that allows the controller to harvest the collective intelligence of an entire city, The Riddler believes that his new-gained powers will reveal the hidden identity and location of Batman.
And it's not like Batman doesn't already have enough on his plate fighting off two villains, but now he has to deal with a beautiful psychoanalyst Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) and a bratty, ex-circus performer Dick Grayson (Chris O'Donnell). Bruce takes Grayson under his wing after the Grayson's parents are killed during one of Two-Face's infamous stunts. Dick quickly discovers the secret behind the cape while snooping around the mansion, and he wants in as Batman's sidekick, but Bruce has better things to worry about than keeping a leash on the callous Grayson; though it's pretty obvious that Dick finally gets his wish in the end, or the next film wouldn't be called "Batman and Robin."
"Batman Forever" ultimately feels like a thorough rehashing of "Batman Returns," with almost all of the same elements from the previous sequel. Batman must, essentially, fall in love with girl, while dealing with his own inner demons on the side. Don't forget that the villains will also succeed in capturing the hero, only to allow him to escape because they feel the need to waste time instead of simply killing him. The character of Batman has been so diluted by Schumacher with a number of lame one-liners resulting in the hero's own humiliation, that it's no wonder Kilmer didn't come back for a second costume fitting. Or maybe it was the rubber nipples on the bat suit that turned him away?
The film's lone saving grace is the fanatical performance by Carrey as The Riddler, who steals every scene he appears in with comic poise, though that's still not saying too much considering the god-awful acting by the rest of the cast. The only thing missing from this miserable experience were the giant "POW" and "WHAM" balloons that popped up when Adam West threw a punch in the old days. Though if it's any consolation, the film would have been better for it.
Two-Disc Special Edition DVD Review:
The two-disc special edition of director Joel Schumacher's takeover of the Batman franchise includes a full-length commentary track and deleted scenes on disc one, as well as a number of extras on disc two. The second disc includes a documentary on how a new cast and crew created a different version of the classic tale, part five of "The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight," and five production design featurettes. Also included in the set is a music video by Seal and profile galleries for the heroes and villains of "Batman Forever."