Film Scouts Reviews

"Batman & Robin"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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It doesn't seem to matter who stars as Batman/Bruce Wayne; the Bat is bigger than mere mortals. So it took mega-star George Clooney to fill the Bat suit and make for a warmer Man (even though you gotta wonder about a guy who can't commit to Elle MacPherson). And who better to oppose him than the top star, the big Kahuna, the man who put the A in A-List, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Of course, Chris O'Donnell was smart enough to return as Robin. And every young actress in and out of Hollywood was vying for the roles of Batgirl and Poison Ivy, which went to Alicia Silverstone and Uma Thurman respectively. Continuing in his Batman-lite mode, director Joel Schumacher revamped the dark tones that Tim Burton painted in "Batman" and "Batman Returns" with the same watercolors he used in "Batman Forever". Yeah, the same formula is still at work, and he even got Akiva Goldsman to return as screenwriter. While linking clichés together doesn't make for a tight script, Batman can withstand even that.

Schumacher's former job as set designer gives him the edge when it comes to putting together visuals, and hiring Barbara Ling again to re-conceptualize Gotham was a smart move. Let's face it, the Batman series isn't based on character development or deep plot twists. It is based on costumes and stunts, explosions and action, gadgets and visual effects, and it is a sure winner in those departments. I did wonder about Batgirl's mobility in those high-heeled leather boots, but I doubt if that bothered of the men enjoying the view. Yes, this time Batman gets a bigger codpiece than Robin, and they both get nipples too. The Gotham night skyline is silhouetted beautifully and beams of light pour into the dark city. It looks like a Georgia O'Keefe from her New York era. The Gotham Observatory is like an elegant WPA project, while the Arkham Asylum is more medieval. Even the Batmobile comes out in a new model and the boys get to play with Bathammers, Batskiffs and Batsleds. What more could you want?

Plot? Oh, you wanted to know about plot! Mr. Freeze is going to steal all the diamonds in Gotham to power his frigidaire-suit, blackmail the city for money so he can find a cure for his frozen wife's illness, and take over the world, in that order. Batman and Robin are going to try to stop him but are distracted by the arrival of Alfred's niece. In the meantime, Poison Ivy has kisses to die for and wants to share them with all of mankind. The ultimate environmentalist, she wants to team with Freeze to destroy the people who are destroying the world. You know the drill. But the issues of making a family while dealing with double identities, beating the baddies, and wooing the babes, makes this a better Batman than expected. Rated PG-13. Warner Bros.

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