It’s currently very unfashionable to mix superheroes with campy fun, and as much as I would have loved to see Hugh Jackman spouting wolf-related puns, or an Iron Man suit made entirely of lycra, the change is probably for the best. And nowhere is this point proved better than in the first ever big-screen outing of the Caped Crusader.
And I mean nowhere. This film makes Batman and Robin look like The Dark Knight; it makes The Dark Knight look like Citizen Kane; and makes Citizen Kane look like The Expendables 2. The titular role is taken on by Adam West, who looks good as Bruce Wayne, but in Batman’s unforgiving spandex suit he looks like a Fathers 4 Justice campaigner going through a mid-life crisis.
The villains, who are three-dimensional characters with complex back-stories and motivations in some of the more recent adaptations, are here loud, gurning caricatures who have one or two defining characteristics which they constantly make puns about. The Penguin (played by Rocky‘s Burgess Meredith) contributes to the villains’ schemes by providing bird- and fish-related objects, as well as magic umbrellas; the Joker (Cesar Romero) works with practical jokes; and Catwoman uses a live cat as a weapon and is afraid of water. I’m surprised none of their characteristics is being pig-like, given the amount of ham they all demonstrate.
I get that this isn’t supposed to be a serious film, and it does have a few moments which are funny in the way they’re supposed to be, but this doesn’t excuse how horrifically executed it is. The acting is atrocious, the effects are below sub-par, the make-up is laughable, the plot is indecipherable and the writing utterly baffling. Characters can’t recognise each other if they’re wearing an eye-mask, until it suits the plot. Batman has a tool for everything, until it suits the plot. The lurches in logic are so bizarre it has an almost abstract quality to it, or would do if it wasn’t a sin to use the word ‘quality’ in any way relating to this film.
This is worth watching only for die-hard Batman completists, and people who like seeing fifth rate actors’ genitals barely stuffed into shoddy lycra costumes. Unfortunately I fall into both of those categories.