Movie Defense Force: Batman & Robin

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The last time I watched this, I started an ice pun counter: 23. 23 ice puns. It malfunctioned on me.

I for one am grateful this movie exists, for without it, we would not have the absolutely ****ing hilarious Nostalgia Critic review of the movie. "A bat credit card. A BAT CREDIT CARD!! You had the gall to give one of the greatest superheroes ever a bat credit card!! (loud yelling, waving around and firing a gun randomly (how did he get a gun in the building?)) Security has to restrain him. Then he starts ranting all over again.

I don't feel that this movie was all that great even taken in the context that Jim suggested. Batman Forever pulled that off. If anything, this was a second bucket of ice water splashed in the faces of fans and comic-book makers alike, telling them to pack that brooding, violent, rage-fueled shit up and toss it in the attic. Now that we've all gotten a close look at Frank Miller, we've all started to slowly come around to the reality that the grimdark attitudes of the 80's and 90's did not "save" comic books, they didn't improve them in any tangible way. The Dark Knight Returns did NOT save comic books or Batman in particular. It just created a trend. One where juvenile fits of bloody violence were gobbled up by 80's kids who had grown up on finer things like G.I. Joe and Transformers, and now were trying to create some kind of balance between the relative confidence and entertainment they enjoyed as kids, and the hormonal awkwardness of puberty they were going through.

The dark, angry comics of the 90's were basically a metaphor for a swath of pop-culture-hungry teens unsure of what to with their own inadvertent erections, and getting angrier by the minute. Like Louis CK has pointed out young men are basically just giant erections thrusting blindly at everything in sight, and that's a crude if apt metaphor for the transition comics were going through at the time. Teen boys wanted violence, wanted guns, wanted women in with gigantic balloon-shaped racks in compromised, objectified positions. And the comic book industry, so gleeful to have a market again, not to mention an excuse to make bloody, sexualized comics under the misleading blanket term "mature" were only too happy to provide it.

And that's why these zany Batman films were necessary. When these movies came out there was a huge fan uproar about how they had "ruined" Batman, but as so many sharp-eyed critics and readers have pointed out, nothing could be further from the truth. It was a reminder that comic books are meant to be about fantastic stories about super heroes and super villains. Big epic struggles between good and evil, bizarre aliens and god-like creatures, and ordinary men doing extraordinary things in the name of justice and all that's good. It's about a man becoming a ninja in a bat-costume to scare criminals and stop them from committing crimes. It's not about a borderline psychotic with ocean-deep mental issues talking to the imaginary forces that push him to be Batman, nor is it about a mopey and unmotivated "forever alone" bachelor with the world's saddest depression beard staring into empty space and doing everything in his power to NOT BE BATMAN, because apparently Nolan has it in his head that Batman has to exist in a hyper-realistic setting where such people are insane or desperate, not that he's dealing with a fantasy setting where men dress like bats and fight men in refrigerated suits that fire ice beams, or a man with a disease that turns him into a giant half-man, half-croc monster. Nolan is the man so obsessed with reality that he forced Superman to kill just to smack us in the face with it and say "there are no Paladins in the real world!"

But we're not talking about the "real world" are we? We're talking about superheroes in a comic book setting. And paladins DO exist there. Whether they wear the black cowl of the Batman or the bright red shield of Superman, Paladins DO exist and they DO go through their many heroic battles refusing to stoop to the level of the villains, even when things are at their worst. That's what MAKES them heroes.

This uncomfortable response to the gritty and "real" depiction of superheroes has been slow to take shape but it has been growing. We didn't have the words for it then, didn't know how to say it without being ostracized, but now we're grown up, we are truly mature, and we can say without irony or fear that we love True. Campy. Fantastic. Comics. We love Superman being the boyscout. We love Batman taking in a boy sidekick. We love Iron Man going through the drive-thru. We We love it when the deadpan Agent Coulson has his fanboy moment with his childhood hero, Captain America.

Marvel seems to have realized this sooner than DC did, maybe because DC got lucky with The Dark Knight. I for one feel they did. I loved the movie when I saw it but the more I think about it these days the more I realize the movie is actually pretty confusing, depressing, and poorly put together. But we weren't even paying attention to it at the time, we just wanted Joker scenes. If you cut out the Joker from the movie, there's actually very little that feels exciting or fun about the film.

But that's beside the point. The point is someone in Marvel--or at least Marvel Films--realized that if you're going to make a superhero movie, then cut loose and go all out. Alien Viking Gods. Mystical artifacts. Heroes wearing the American Flag. An archer that shoots arrows that shoot bullets. Don't apologize for it, just make it FUN. So now we have Marvel Films picking up steam with each step. Its movies are fun, it's got all kinds of projects lined up, even Agents of SHIELD, despite an uneasy start, is building momentum.

DC's effort to keep up has been almost painful to watch, and it fumbled its most latest attempt. Superman KILLS Zod. What the actual fuck?

And it says something, right from our little fanboy souls, when we watch Superman snap Zod's neck and recoil, yet Captain America, a superhero who has killed dozens of badguys, is still considered the untarnished superhero. That's how powerful the symbol of Superman being unflappable is, that him killing Zod to save a family is worse than Captain America gunning down Nazis and Chitauri. He STILL has the moral high ground even after he starts killing people! That's how WRONG it is for Superman to kill someone! Captain America killing badguys is still morally acceptable to use than Superman killing them.

I've raved long enough. Batman and Robin didn't destroy Batman, and while it wasn't the best movie, it was a necessary wake-up call that comic books can't abandon their roots. DC needs to stop trying to shove "dark and gritty" down our throats like it's the 19-goddamn-90's. It needs to dig deep and remember the time when comics were fun, or it will never catch up to Marvel.

And I've got a great idea for a Robin movie, so call me.

Despite the silliness and the hate this movie gets, it's still more fun and interesting to watch than any of the ones from Christopher Nolan.

This movie was horrendous and nothing like the insanely entertaining Batman: The Movie. The reason being the Adam West Batman WAS the Batman of that era. It just worked. The show was epic and very influential at the time.

Same goes for Burton's Batman. Still had a bit of campyness to it (costumed villains in the 90's were going to be campy no matter what) but that film really defined Batman for the coming generations and influenced one of the greatest animated...no...greatest shows ever.

Even the horribly overrated Nolan Batman films (seriously, 1 good film out of 3 and Nolan is a genius???)got some of it right.

This movie was pure shit which butchered just about everything with the only good being Arnold and his one liners. This movie is indefensible. While the previous film was incredibly bad, it at least had Jim Carrey hamming it up and we were able to witness Tommy Lee Jones losing his mind on the big screen right before our very eyes. It even borrowed a bit from the comics with Robin's weird thing he had with Two-Face at the time. The only shit part was that Robin is like 30 in this film and Chris O was too damn old for the film. They also boned up Batgirl but whatever. Batman and Robin on the other hand featured the worse Batman actor to date, a not sexy at all Poison Ivy, Bane is basically a bagman, and a Mr. Freeze that's more golden age goofy than the Victor Fries we all grew up with.

Ah Jim...I seriously beleive you were taking the piss on this one, haha.

I can understand the Adam West defense, but poor acting is worse than hammy acting. At least the Zap Branigan school of acting is amusing, the Shatner school...is just painful.

Not saying that comic movies must always be serious. The Timmverse had plenty of kooky fun, but they also always had just enough heart as well. Hell, I can even get behind supporting Daredevil (the Director's Cut); but B&R was just a confused mess.

I guess it is kind of entertaining, but I can't stand to look at Fake-Bane.

One thing that should be brought up is the awesome Freeze Gun from this movie. I want it. Badly. Also, why haven't we had a decent ice gun in an FPS since Duke Nukem 3D? Sad.

sketch_zeppelin:

I do agree we could use less dark DC movie but not something as craptastic as Batman and Robin.

Booster Gold: the Movie.

It can't get here soon enough.

As someone whose first exposition to Batman was Adam Wests version, I never had a problem with it :)
Actually it felt more right than the Batman Returns. Now that one was really stupid. It slashed through the canon like crazy...

Well, there was The Brave and the Bold cartoon series, with its retro looks and a tendency to feature as manyDC character as it could fit in both old school and new.

What I don't understand is the people that actually liked Batman Forever, but hated Batman & Robin. Val Kilmer had bat-nipples and gratuitous ass shots of the suit and neon henchmen and on and on and on. Anyone (Warner Brothers Executives!) who saw it should have been prepared for where B&R was going.

I have to say, though, if I had to sit through either the Burton films or the Schumacher films played 10 times in a row for some arbitrary reason, I'd much rather watch BF and B&R. Burton was just as over the top and campy and hammy, but everyone dressed in black so people imagine it was grittier for some reason.

twosage:
What I don't understand is the people that actually liked Batman Forever, but hated Batman & Robin. Val Kilmer had bat-nipples and gratuitous ass shots of the suit and neon henchmen and on and on and on. Anyone (Warner Brothers Executives!) who saw it should have been prepared for where B&R was going.

I have to say, though, if I had to sit through either the Burton films or the Schumacher films played 10 times in a row for some arbitrary reason, I'd much rather watch BF and B&R. Burton was just as over the top and campy and hammy, but everyone dressed in black so people imagine it was grittier for some reason.

I never minded the ass shots and nipples - if you're going to craft a chestplate to be shaped like abs then why not nipples.

But batman forever treated the characters seriously. The riddler and two face seem genuinely insane even if it's simply in an over the top campy style. Batman and Robin just took it too far.

wizzy555:

twosage:
What I don't understand is the people that actually liked Batman Forever, but hated Batman & Robin. Val Kilmer had bat-nipples and gratuitous ass shots of the suit and neon henchmen and on and on and on. Anyone (Warner Brothers Executives!) who saw it should have been prepared for where B&R was going.

I have to say, though, if I had to sit through either the Burton films or the Schumacher films played 10 times in a row for some arbitrary reason, I'd much rather watch BF and B&R. Burton was just as over the top and campy and hammy, but everyone dressed in black so people imagine it was grittier for some reason.

I never minded the ass shots and nipples - if you're going to craft a chestplate to be shaped like abs then why not nipples.

But batman forever treated the characters seriously. The riddler and two face seem genuinely insane even if it's simply in an over the top campy style. Batman and Robin just took it too far.

I think you may need to watch it again. Two-face is just as one-note as Mr. Freeze. He's constantly making duality puns and has basically no motivation beyond he got burned on the face once. Riddler is... well Jim Carrey at his worst. Just constant mugging and dancing around. The only thing that Batman Forever legitimately has going for it is the psychological arc that Bruce has, topped off with "I'm Batman and Bruce Wayne, not because I have to be, but because I choose to be". That has the potential to be a powerful Batman story in the way that Alfred suffering silently with a degenerative disease... actually, that's pretty interesting, too. Both of the movies have genuinely interesting character arcs, but they are just lost underneath all of the silliness.

But I still think they both compare favorably to Batman and Batman Returns. All four remind me of the last few years of Roger Moore Bond movies. Just silly, over the top, and a shoe-horned plot about a madman wanting to do a wide-scale bad thing with ridiculous props. Maybe this whole franchise was some sort of reaction to the suddenly-darker Timothy Dalton version of Bond that smuggled cellists across borders and fought drug lords...?

I gotta respect anyone who makes a video and says, without equivocation, that they liked this movie. Props to you Jim.

I remember being disappointed with this movie even before it hit theaters, because at one point they wanted to have a very sympathetic Mr Freeze (similar to the Batman:TAS version) with Patrick Stewart doing it. When they moved away from that to the future Governator...I passed.

And while I can enjoy the idea of a campy style comic book movie, I think you'd really have to work to find the right mix to make it work. It'd almost have to be something along the lines of True Lies, something that is just bordering on self-aware without crossing that line. Otherwise you'd end up something like...well, something like Batman and Robin. And that's just not good.

I like Batman and Robin aswell as Batman Forever. Admittedly, i'm also a huge fan of 60s Batman and still watch some of the episodes once in a while. Shame it never got a DVD release. But i can also see why people were dissapointed by them. I thing if i expected a sequel to Batman Returns i would have been angry myself.

I'd vote for no more new batman. We had about enough batman and any attempt to give batman a new direction would have to be reaching so far that the end product would bear the name but little else of batman.

We have had campy batman before, there was the adam west series and a movie.
Later we had the Tim burton batman movies and animated series. Which i really liked.
Then we had campy batman again in two movies and then we got gritty batman again because apparently there's very little you can do with the character.
But that would also mean that we have already seen everything that can be done with the character.

So why would anyone wish for more batman movies? Maybe if they'd make a million more there will be one where the scarecrow gets a decent part. And another one where we see a gritty dark robin. Maybe there'd even be a batman beyond movie...

But really, i got about enough of gotham.

Why not shake it up and make way too many movies about a totally different character. Maybe one day, we'll get a tankgirl movie that's actually good.

Sometimes it feels like you are trying to hard.

So, you liked Street Fighter... fine. It surely has its moments. But this? This movie is irredeemable. Its stupid and campy without acknowledging its campyness. The movie and the actors are all over the place: they make the Batcard reference right before we find out Alfred is dying, and we are supposed to care? Batman and Robin represents what was wrong with comic movies at the time. Its nothing but colorful advertisement for toys aimed exclusively at children.

Not that ultra dark and moody Batman is a lot better as a character, but at least its consistent.

You say that we should appreciate it in a post-Nolan world, but you don't realize that Nolan was the one that restored DC to movies. Before him, Schumacher and Clooney burned down the most profitable franchise DC ever had, and even when they are owned by a movie corporation, it took them 10 years and a massive success to try to make another movie again.

Jim, I've been with you on all your defense missions...but I just got to say I disagree here. I can see where you're coming from...but no. Just....no. Would it be cool if DC got their act together and tried to make a superhero movie that wasnt depressing? Yes. But you dont have to be retarded to be not depressing. Marvel can make fun movies that are not grimdark and not retarded.

Batman and Robin was retarded back then, I was relatively young when I first saw it and relatively easy to please...and I still facepalmed through the entire thing. It was awful then, and it is awful now.

I think The Flash or Wonder Woman would be great DC heroes for a campy movie.

twosage:

wizzy555:

twosage:
What I don't understand is the people that actually liked Batman Forever, but hated Batman & Robin. Val Kilmer had bat-nipples and gratuitous ass shots of the suit and neon henchmen and on and on and on. Anyone (Warner Brothers Executives!) who saw it should have been prepared for where B&R was going.

I have to say, though, if I had to sit through either the Burton films or the Schumacher films played 10 times in a row for some arbitrary reason, I'd much rather watch BF and B&R. Burton was just as over the top and campy and hammy, but everyone dressed in black so people imagine it was grittier for some reason.

I never minded the ass shots and nipples - if you're going to craft a chestplate to be shaped like abs then why not nipples.

But batman forever treated the characters seriously. The riddler and two face seem genuinely insane even if it's simply in an over the top campy style. Batman and Robin just took it too far.

I think you may need to watch it again. Two-face is just as one-note as Mr. Freeze. He's constantly making duality puns and has basically no motivation beyond he got burned on the face once. Riddler is... well Jim Carrey at his worst. Just constant mugging and dancing around. The only thing that Batman Forever legitimately has going for it is the psychological arc that Bruce has, topped off with "I'm Batman and Bruce Wayne, not because I have to be, but because I choose to be". That has the potential to be a powerful Batman story in the way that Alfred suffering silently with a degenerative disease... actually, that's pretty interesting, too. Both of the movies have genuinely interesting character arcs, but they are just lost underneath all of the silliness.

But I still think they both compare favorably to Batman and Batman Returns. All four remind me of the last few years of Roger Moore Bond movies. Just silly, over the top, and a shoe-horned plot about a madman wanting to do a wide-scale bad thing with ridiculous props. Maybe this whole franchise was some sort of reaction to the suddenly-darker Timothy Dalton version of Bond that smuggled cellists across borders and fought drug lords...?

Yeah but those versions of two-face and the riddler are manically insane (motivation may be weak but it's there and logically coherent) and portrayed darker. They are both obsessed with batman/Bruce Wayne, the manic delight as they play with him makes sense in the given context.

Mr Freeze is suppose to be doing what is necessary to save his wife, poison ivy is trying to save plants, not having fun with toys as they fight the good guys.

Wow... I forgot how nearly every female in this movie is dressed in something extremely kinky. Or how insane Arnold's armor looked. I may have to use this for a drinking game this weekend.

... I actually always liked this movie.

And I can't stand the Chris Nolan Batman movies.

So... there's that.

I have to admit that I like the bane from THIS film over the one in Nolan's.
Schumacher's is, pretty much, right out of the comics; Where as Nolan's is more like bad cosplay!

Yes I objected to the nipples but I objected louder to the Bat-CRACK from Batman FOREVER.

Seriously... Did we really need to see that?!

Nostalgia Critic, you wanna take this one?

There was one- count 'em, one- moment I remember liking in B&R, and it was one moment that was actually played straight- Mr. Freeze sculpting an effigy of his wife to keep him company in prison. That kind of worked, surprisingly- one tiny moment of pathos in a landslide of neon freakshow.

The rest of it---- gah.

Thing is, I remember liking the Adam West Batman as a kid. But I liked it straight. Sure, in retrospect it was silly and campy and ridiculous. But it also had a certain weird respect for the underlying character and theme. Yeah, Batman was going to be going up against some wacky villain and their overly thematic and/or ridiculously Rube Goldberg-esque killing machine of the moment while the narrator waxed melodramatic about their danger. But Batman and Robin themselves were taking it as straight-men. The world was absurd, but Batman and Robin were still about fighting crime and protecting the innocent and advancing a vertitable Boy Scout code of honor.

Batman and Robin felt like it didn't respect the characters, didn't respect what had been done in the past, didn't even respect the audience. It didn't go quite far enough to move into out-and-out parody, and in that respect, it's hard to credit the idea that its creation was an act of bravery. It felt more like a sneering "You want me to hock my artistic credibility to sell action figures? Fine, we'll see how you like this!"

It wasn't just campy- it was rushed. It was ugly. It was full of action that was poorly staged, poorly shot, and frequently all but indecipherable on the screen. Long minutes of characters speaking out exposition. No one to like, to one to cheer for, and not a thing to care about.

Batman Forever didn't trip this particular switch for me, Bat-Nipples and all. In that, it was a short, "Ha ha, okay, yeah, I get it- the suit is kind of fetishistic." B&R had so much contempt for its audience that it repeated that joke at least twice- and recycled the "chicks dig the car" line.

I'm sorry, Sterling, I'm just not with you on this one. I think Batman and Robin should be buried where only Rifftrax can find it.

The one saving grace of this film is that it was so awful, when some near-unheard of director stepped forward with the wacky idea of starting the series all over again, WB said, 'Yeah, why not? It could hardly be any worse.'

You want a cheap and cheerful Adam-West-style Batman film to lighten the mood ahead of the inevitably gloomy Batman vs. Superman? Watch Adam West's Batman the Movie. Adam West's Batman gets away with its awfulness by the age-old defence of being thoroughly of its time. Batman & Robin wasn't only well beyond its time, but it was so tragic it surpassed the standard so bad it's bad, tried a desperate grab for so bad it's good, missed by so much even a Bat-grapple couldn't save it and landed up to its rubber nipples in so-shit-it's-worse.

I wouldnt mind something like this to space it out, but not if youre making Ben Affleck the sacrificial lamb to do it. If it gets panned (which likely it probably will if reviewers say its like batman and robin), that pretty much guarantees Affleck doesnt get the chance to be batman (and may turn him off comic book movies again) and he has great potential at it.

Mr. Q:
STERLING!! This time you've gone too far!!! I backed you up on movies like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat! But, between this and your review of Transformers, you have truly lost your ever lovin' mind! And to end it on ice puns?!? THAT'S IT! TURN IN YOUR BADGE AND FIREARM!! YOU'RE OFF THE FORCE!!!

JK =P BTW, love the new avatar. Very spiffy.

As much as I want to enjoy the campy romp of Batman & Robin, I cannot. And its not just the rubber nipples and codpiece on the suits. There is so much that kills it as a movie; the terrible script, hiring actors who did not fit the part, total disregard for the cannon (I.E. Bane being the mindless henchman to Poison Ivy), the God awful puns, and so on. Hell, MovieBob covered this turd a hell of a lot better than I can during his retrospective of the Batman franchise.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/the-big-picture/6041-Batman-Revisited-Part-4

This movie might have worked if proper care was done with the story and aimed for a more Flash Gordon approach. But Warner Brothers was more concerned on it being a cash cow and a way to make action figures. While the movie could be seen as a swipe at the grim & gritty era of 90s comics, it just doesn't hold up enough for me to watch by itself. I have to sync it with the Rifftrax commentary just to enjoy it and even Mike and the gang are struggling to handle the pain of this stinker. But, this is my opinion and your mileage may vary.

Personally, if you're looking for a fun yet campy version of Batman, you've got other options. Either track down the 1966 Batman movie, find episodes of the '66 TV series online (Seriously, WB and Fox! Get off the pot and release the show on DVD/Blu-ray!), pick up the comic Batman '66 (a continuation of the TV series that is available in comic stores and digital), or watch Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series. The first season is getting a Blu-ray release this December.

Agreed, not to mention the infamous "Bat Credit Card". At least with "Batman Forever", that was easier to defend. Jim Carrey as The Riddler...XD Also, it's considerably easier to watch when the Rifftrax is included.

Eh, not feeling this one. Sure it's not the complete end of the world that history has made it out to be but I think that of all the things I want in terms of Batman another one of these (with all the baggage it entailes) is not it.

I see Jim is purposefully ignoring *that* scene. Is it because it would DESTROY his argument?
Perhaps.
Let's watch it again, Jim!

Me and my cousin watched all the old Batmans as kids, even this one, and we loved it. This film is silly, pantomime silly, but it's fun and ya know what, that ending is pretty grim, for Poison Ivy at least.

Nice avatar by the way Jim.

I don't think any of the Batman films have been done that well, they've all been flawed in some way. The Animated Series and The Brave And The Bold on the other hand really nailed the serious and camp versions of Batman and his world. I really hope they're taking notes from TAS for Superman versus Batman, for both characters, but I'm not hopeful.

That said, if I had to watch either Batman and Robin or one of the Nolan films, I'd pick Batman and Robin. At least it would be a laugh.

I suppose someone could make a wonderful sympethetic fiction about Oswald as he goes about killing JFK. This may have been a well done Batman movie comedy. We didn't want it!

Aptspire:
I see Jim is purposefully ignoring *that* scene. Is it because it would DESTROY his argument?
Perhaps.
Let's watch it again, Jim!

Damn! I was about to post that clip after GamerMage reminded me and you beat me to the punch.

I've been waiting for a video like this. If one campy / oddly sexual Batman gets a pass, why not another? It's been too long since I've seen it to give a full opinion but I really enjoyed this movie when I was about 9 or 10.

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