We now return to our regularly scheduled programme of reviewing all the films Michael Owen hasn’t seen. More a threat than a title, Batman Forever stars Val Kilmer as Gotham’s most eligible batchelor as he comes face to face to face with Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and the Riddler (Jim Carrey).
It’s easy to forget that Kilmer played the Dark Knight (even while watching the movie), emerging chin-first as the worst ever Batman against some very stiff competition. Thankfully he wasn’t Batman forever; in fact he wasn’t Batman ever again. The film also tends to fall between the cracks. Despite Batman & Robin‘s worse reputation, there’s something to be said for that movie’s colourful kitsch for kids, compared to this Tim Burton wannabe for no one.
Like Batman & Robin, this 1995 instalment is only watchable when the villain is on screen – the villain being the Riddler; Two-Face is little more than a glorified henchman. While Carrey is fittingly energetic (his hyperactive presence far more challenging than the character’s instantly solvable riddles), the serious-looking Jones is woefully miscast as a flamboyant pink villain, his Harvey about as much use as an invisible rabbit. He doesn’t look like a burns victim so much as a man who missed a wet paint sign and fell asleep against a wall.
Dr. Meridian (Nicole Kidman dipping her toe in the DC waters decades before Aquaman) is similarly superfluous, existing only to flirt with Batman in whispered tones, apparently not realising his ears are completely covered by rubber. We also meet Robin (Chris O’Donnell) and learn the origin story of his circus costume. For all this overcrowding of characters, none of them actually do anything, resulting in zero plot progression – the picture keeps repeating the tired pattern where one or both of the villains gatecrashes a function and fights Batman. Forever.
Working from a script that reads like a first draft (“I was scared at first but only at first”), Joel Schumacher’s over-reliance on a CGI Gotham, incoherent action sequences and gaudy aesthetics (on multiple occasions the screen turns entirely red for no reason) makes for the second-worst Batman flick after Batman v Superman. At least bats only urinate when in flight; Batman Forever takes a shit where it stands.