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"Batman Forever"

by Eleanor Ringel

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Maybe Michael Keaton made his move too soon. "Batman Forever" isn't anything to rival "Schindler's List" but it's a darn good cartoon movie. And isn't that what a Batman movie should be? Val Kilmer, best-known as Doc Holliday in "Tombstone" and Jim Morrison in "The Doors," is now the man behind the Bat-mask. Frankly, he does just as well as Keaton in a role that basically comes down to playing straight man for a colorful collection of gadgets and villains. It's quite a collection in this third installment. First, there's Tommy Lee Jones as the ghastly Two-Face who's obsessed with ruining Batman forever (hmm...maybe that's where they got the title). Then there's Jim Carrey as a nerdy scientist transformed into the Riddler by one of his own experiments. He's obsessed with ruining Bruce Wyane forever. The two team up without realizing their targets are one and the same. Robin turns up in the muscular guise of a very buff Chris O'Donnell. Nicole Kidman slinks and tosses her hair as the love interest, a shrink torn between the super hero and his alter ego. Director Joel Schumacher has gone to considerable trouble to distance his Batman movie from its darker predecessors directed by Tim Burton. He's moved it out of Burton's gothic Gotham City shadows, made it a kinder, friendlier enterprise. Ironically, the one place he fails is in the big action scenes which amount to little more than poorly staged noise that take time away from the characters. So riddle me this: Batman forever? Well, maybe not. But at least for the rest of the summer.

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