|Batman & Robin (1997; Warner Bros. Pictures)|
The plot centers on our two heroes fighting off an icy madman named Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who is stealing diamonds from Gotham City’s wealthy citizens and museums to build a machine to save his wife who is in a sort of stasis sleep due to an incurable illness. He has the cure, he just needs a few more rocks to power the machine, if only those pesky heroes will stay out of his way! Meanwhile, a lab assistant (Uma Thruman) is murdered by her boss and is strangely resurrected as Poison Ivy, a plant-obsessed temptress who uses pheromones to seduce and subdue her male victims and a poison kiss to finish them off. She attempts to drive a wedge between the Dynamic Duo and almost succeeds due to Chris O'Donnell’s hot-headed Dick Grayson’s rebellious nature. Yet another plot point involves the butler Alfred’s niece (Alicia Silverstone) arriving from England who would inexplicably become Batgirl. All this occurs while Alfred is dying of the very same ailment that Mr. Freeze’s love is afflicted with. WHEW!
What happened with Batman & Robin? Why was it such a disaster? Could it be that there is just too much crap crammed into this movie? I don’t think we’ll ever get a full explanation for all of the decisions that led this one down the road it traveled. It is a well-known fact that the studio decided to push production ahead of schedule and demanded an earlier release. So a rush-job could be part of the problem. Another thing that received a great deal of blame was the art direction that was bizarrely whimsical, even more so than Batman Forever. Some of the cast compared the pieces of the set to little plastic toys. It looked cheap and reportedly felt that way too. Barbara Ling’s production design is definitely partly to blame as this movie has a strange look and feel. The most notorious design decision of this movie are the infamous “Bat Nipples” on Batman and Robin’s breastplates. This inexplicable design choice just may have been the final nail in the coffin for this franchise.
Batman & Robin was called the worst movie ever by Empire magazine. I don’t agree as I have certainly seen many worse films, but that’s fine. Still, I do agree that it is one of the most ludicrous things ever put on film. It is excessive in every way; it is bombastic, ugly, loud and very poorly written. The characters spout out one-liners and pose after every bad piece of dialogue. Strange shots and bad special effects highlight the film, with weird montages of the heroes suiting up including close ups of the heroes butts, crotches and chests. The film is famous for its homo-eroticism, which is definitely prominent. I’m not sure what people were thinking here, this movie had big stars and big names behind it and given the introduction of Batgirl, I actually think they thought there was going to be a fourth sequel to this series. Fortunately for us, it would be eight years before the talented Christopher Nolan would take over the franchise and reboot the series with Batman Begins, a dark and serious retelling of the series.