ComicsAlliance Reviews ‘Batman & Robin’ (1997), Part Two
Each week, Chris Sims and David Uzumeri take a look back at one of the most successful and influential comic book movie franchises of all time, in ComicsAlliance’s in-depth retrospective on the Batman films.
Chris: Welcome back to Remedial Batmanology, everyone! This week, we finally finish off the Burton/Schumacher era and our chronicle of David’s maiden voyage through the choppy waters of 1997′s Batman & Robin.David: It’s a pretty damn fun voyage so far, I’m not going to lie. In the first half, we witnessed the debuts of Mister Freeze and Poison Ivy, who was nerdy scientist Pamela Isley before being transformed by a totally random bunch of chemicals and foliage into … well, Poison Ivy. We also met Bane, who is basically Captain America, if Steve Rogers was a killer from a South American prison. We also both found and lost John Glover as Jason Woodrue.
Chris: And so far, that’s been my biggest problem with this movie: The brief, bright candle that was a scenery-chewing John Glover performance was snuffed out all too soon.
David: Other than that, this is really just stylish, campy fun.
Chris: And now, it’s time to see if my bold (and so far 100% correct) that this is the best of these four Batman movies despite being almost universally reviled holds up in the second half!
Chris: When we last left Schumacher’s magnum opus, Bruce Wayne and Alfred had just had a conversation about the nature of Batman that showed a better understanding of the character than anything else we’ve seen in the franchise thus far. Now, as we resume, Dick Grayson heads to the garage, where, after an hour of him bitching about Batman not thinking he’s as good at crime-fighting as he should be because he totally is, he gets put flat on his ass by a schoolgirl.
Chris: And not just any schoolgirl: A computer science major. He just got dropped by a nerd.
David: 1. I really love how she magically has the EXACT skillset it takes to work with Batman. Like, Dick Grayson was a circus acrobat, but Barbara just knows kung fu… because. 2. Alicia Silverstone looks ridiculous in biker gear. 3. Why the Hell does she have an American accent?
Chris: I’m trying to think of an explanation for that, and I can’t. I mean, her parents are English, and she’s been in England at school, so she’s presumably from there. I seriously think it comes down to the fact that nobody could be bothered to pass that information along to Silverstone. Or maybe they did, and we are actually witnessing her attempt at an English accent.
David: After that, we go to Arkham Asylum, which is apparently on top of a straight-up mesa with sheer cliff faces.
Chris: It looks so much like Castlevania that I expected to see a dude in a loincloth whipping Medusa Heads.
David: There, we see Freeze being brought in, and he’s actually in a locked fridge with his head through the freezer door. It even has the hinges the door used to be on.
Chris: I seriously think this fantastic. Not only is it a pretty clever, subtle idea — you spotted it right off, but I’ve seen this movie five or six times and didn’t notice it was a fridge until this one — but it also explains Arkham Asylum in a nutshell. No wonder they can’t keep anyone locked up when this is the best specialized equipment that they can afford.
David: Fries tries to break out, but he can’t live outside the COLD ZONE, which is a supercooled column in the center of the room. How the temperature doesn’t spread, I have no idea, but I’ll just go with it.
Chris: This is another holdover element from Batman ’66, except reversed. One of the more memorable deathtraps from that series involved Freeze having a room set at 50 below, with “heat rays” illuminating a safe path for his henchmen, leading to him trapping Batman and Robin in a steadily shrinking safe zone that would force one of them to sacrifice himself, freezing to death so that the other might live.
David: GOD, I LOVE DEATHTRAPS.
Chris: You and me both, brother. Fortunately, Batman had taken the precaution of wearing insulated Bat-Longjohns. The victory is in the preparation. But anyway, you missed the most important part of that scene!
David: “Allow me to break the ice.”
Chris: Almost. The person Freeze is saying that to is WWE Hall of Famer Jesse “The Body” Ventura.
David: Holy crap, and former governor of Minnesota!
Chris: That’s right: There are two people in this scene who later went on to run entire states.
David: That other cop must cry at night for his lack of achievement. But wow, that is totally bizarre.
Chris: Clearly, the American political system is based entirely on Predator and Batman & Robin. If only Carl Weathers would’ve signed up to play Chief O’Hara, he’d be running Texas by now. I also like how Freeze says “My name is Freeze — learn it well!” As though they’re not going to be able to remember who the blue-skinned guy with an ice gun who has to live in a cold-ray is. “What was that guy’s name again? Killer Moth? Crazy Quilt?”
David: Mr. Zero? Captain Cold?
Chris: It’s the chilling sound of their doom, Uzi.
David: In the next scene, Joel Schumacher has sex with neon.
Chris: Joel Schumacher doesn’t “have sex” with neon, David. He makes love to it.
David: The next scene… apparently, when they condemn Turkish baths in Gotham, even the condemned signs on the boards are in full neon.
David: So much neon spraypaint. We also see the return of the neon voodoo people Robin fought in Batman Forever.
Chris: I’m actually surprised that they didn’t bring back Don “The Dragon” Wilson and just put him under a different set of face-paint. Instead, we get a gang of neon La Parkas, and… Look. I’m not judging, okay? I’m just saying, when you get matching hoodies and then install blacklights so that you can hang out with your boys in an abandoned Turkish Bath, the other gangs are going to talk.
David: What other gangs? The guys who work in the ice palace and get paid to laugh at bad television?
Chris: Did… did you just call The Year Without a Santa Claus “bad television?”
David: Childish television, then! I’ve never seen it! And Arnold was really upset when people didn’t laugh. Er, Freeze. I literally keep forgetting he plays a character.
Chris: You can tell he’s playing someone else because Freeze is faithful to his wife. Anyway, first you hadn’t seen RoboCop, now you haven’t seen a Rankin & Bass Christmas classic… Uzi, are these movies and Smallville the first things you’ve ever actually watched? Because if so, I am suddenly overflowing with sympathy for you.
David: I’m not very culturally aware, okay?! But yeah, Poison Ivy gets Bane to scare them off, and then do all the work of redecorating.
Chris: Which involves building a throne that even Georgia O’Keefe would say was maybe a little too suggestive.
David: She also causes plants to grow by dropping what looks like a combination of gelcaps and cheap crystals.
Chris: Now that Poison Ivy has her headquarters set up, we cut to Bruce having dinner with Julie Madison, as played by Elle Macpherson. This has about as much to do with the actual plot of the movie as Adam West’s interactions with Lisa Carson in that one episode of Batman ’66 where she invites him in for “milk… and cookies,” but it does give us a nice behind-the-scenes story.
David: Hit me!
Chris: When an interviewer asked what the cast would like to take home from the movie if they could have anything, everyone picked a prop except George Clooney, who said “Elle Macpherson.”
David: I’d also like to point out that this means that two people acted in this movie with the popular nickname of “The Body.”
Chris: I believe she once did color commentary alongside Gorilla Monsoon.
David: I’m honestly not sure why she’s in this movie, to be honest with you. She doesn’t seem to play much of a role so far, but I guess she might later.
Chris: She was originally going to have a larger role that involved her getting killed, but that was cut out of the final draft for pretty obvious reasons of wanting to make a live-action cartoon devoted to kids. I do think Schumacher planned on bringing her back for Batman Triumphant, though, which would’ve made her Movie Batman’s most long-lasting romantic relationship. Outside of Alfred, I mean
David: But yeah, she basically asks Bruce to marry her, and he gives his big “I’m too complicated and dark!” excuse, but then he basically has a flashback trip on Ivy’s pheromones and calls Julie “Ivy,” which pisses her off.
Chris: But who could stay mad at Clooney? That face… Those eyes…
Chris: Uh, sorry, where were we? Oh, right: Time for a MOTORCYCLE RACE!
David: Dear Lord, the different gangs at this motorcycle race. There’s an entire group dressed up like Alex DeLarge and another group dressed up like British dandies and you still think they’re saying things about the neon people?
Chris: If the Midtown Dandies are not on DC Reboot Continuity, I am going to protest so hard at San Diego.
David: Holy sh** is that Coolio?!
Chris: Yes, David: This is a movie with John Glover and Coolio in it.
David: Dear Lord, and the KISS punks even have a little kid with them! That’s adorable. I want to live in Gotham City.
Chris: Maybe you could get a nice apartment in the head of a statue. Anyway, we now learn that Barbara has been sneaking out and using Bruce Wayne’s collection of vintage motorcycles to win street races and make a ton of money.
David: This race sequence is great. It’s just so over the top. Did Batgirl just cold cock a dude on a motorcycle?!
Chris: The way they drive on the crazy sky-bridges and statuary of Movie Gotham is seriously like a live-action version of Mario Kart, only crazier. I keep expecting a Blue Shell to show up and knock Robin off the course.
David: They practically do; there are exploding balls in the very first part of the course. It’s completely mental, but just so damn entertaining. Just dudes crashing through windows and hitting posts in this weird urban-neon environment. It’s like Rainbow Road.
Chris: I think I’ve made it clear before that the architecture of Schumacher’s Gotham City is far and away my favorite thing about these movies, and even though this scene is completely goofy and has very little to do with the plot, I love that it actually uses those backgrounds for something.
David: It’s just a well-directed action sequence. Robin saves Barbara’s life at the end and we return to the mansion for an argument about Alfred. It turns out Barbara’s saving money to get Alfred out of his “life of servitude,” which is actually an interesting character beat. It’s really rare that someone calls Bruce out on the whole master/servant relationship with Alfred, when they’re supposedly as close as family.
Chris: Exactly. While we know that Bruce and Alfred really are that close, from the outside it looks weird and exploitative. And that’s without knowing about the scene in Year One where Bruce counts Alfred among the possessions his father left to him.
David: I also got the feeling Alfred makes an absolutely obscene amount of money. Like, I’m sure the dude could retire to Tahiti tomorrow if he wanted to. It’s weird, but if Batman is a Dark Knight then Alfred is really way more of a squire than Robin is, chauffeuring him around, making his meals, carrying his suit, etc.
Chris: I like that Barbara is upset about Alfred “subjugating his life and dreams to someone else,” but then becomes totally cool with it when she finds out that Bruce is really Batman. When, really, that requires way more subjugating of one’s own life and dreams than just cooking for some rich dude. Unless of course his life and dreams are to hang out with Batman, something I can definitely relate to.
David: But before that, Bruce tells Dick that Alfred’s dying –
Chris: While wearing his signature bathrobe!
David: — and then Mister Freeze makes a rotating ice sculpture music box with parts from his clock. Then Poison Ivy shows up and kisses the guards to death.
Chris: Not to take away from the fun of seeing Jesse “The Body” Ventura get made out to death or anything, but this movie has a really interesting focus on character moments, especially when you consider its reputation. Freeze carving the little music box really sticks out to me.
David: It’s super-economical, but effective.
Chris: And of course, it’s immediately cast aside so that we can get back to the scenery chewing, which I also have no problem with whatsoever.
David: But then we get to the criminal property locker, which …. this is a great sequence.
Chris: I keep thinking that the Property Locker scene is a bit of a missed opportunity, since they only really threw in the Riddler and Two-Face’s gear. But then I remember that the Schumacher movies are the only ones that don’t have the bad guys dying at the end. It’s hard to have a Rocket Penguin or an acid flower in there when those dudes were straight up killed in their movies.
David: But now, Bane shows up in his established role as The Dude Who Wrecks Stuff, and reaches through the window to pull the guard out of the building through the wall. It’s awesome. He even rounds up all of Freeze’s equipment and runs it to his cell in a shopping cart. Every scene with Bane is hilarious — holy shit did that laundry service line really just happen?
Chris: Would you care to elaborate for our readers who aren’t following along at home?
David: Bane continues his mad shopping cart dash right into Freeze’s cell, at which point Arnold somehow exclaims without cracking up, “WOW! A laundry service that delivers!”
Chris: That line is nothing compared to Freeze saying he needs diamonds to power his armor, and Ivy snarling, “I’LL HELP YOU GRAB YOUR ROCKS.”
David: Or Mister Freeze freezing the pipes and blowing up the wall and then going “ALWAYS WINTERIZE YOUR PIPES.” Poison Ivy is also shocked that it’s a straight drop down from the cell. Did she not, I dunno, look at the place she was breaking into for more than two seconds?
Chris: I think the escape from Arkham is actually pretty clever with the way it uses Freeze’s suit, but that pun… Do you think that during the scripting process, they just wrote down every possible word they could come up with that had anything at all to do with cold, and then write scenes around it?
David: I’m pretty close to believing that.
Chris: Ivy’s reaction to the knowledge that Freeze has a wife is also pretty great, but yeah. She did not think this jailbreak through at all.
David: Freeze also calls Bane “Meat Loaf.”
Chris: So in the end, all three crooks just jump off a cliff, Wile E. Coyote style, and somehow manage to survive. This is… I mean, there’s no way around it, it’s ridiculous. But considering that we’ve seen two guys jump out of a space rocket and land safely, it’s actually more believable than what they’ve set a precedent for.
David: Bane also waves around like a gorilla when he jumps. God, Bane is HILARIOUS.
Chris: Bruce and Alfred have another touching moment that’s interrupted with the knowledge that Freeze has escaped, so Batman and Robin head over to the ice cream factory, where Commissioner Gordon shows them a photo of Bane and Ivy arriving in Gotham City.
Chris: Say what you want about today’s TSA regulations, but at least they don’t let gigantic dudes in luchador masks and spiked collars with glowing green drug tubes stuck in their heads just wander into the country anymore.
David: They took down six security guards! Bruce and Dick then have a conversation where they both claim to be “totally over” Poison Ivy, before remarking Great stems, though.” “Buds, too.”
Chris: This might be the crowning pun in the entire movie. They discover Nora Fries, and also the knowledge that Freeze has discovered a cure for the first stage of MacGregor Syndrome, but not the advanced fourth stage that Nora has. Because apparently it’s a disease that works like Dr. Wily.
David: Freeze and Ivy watch from below, and then Freeze turns on the A/C in the room and freezes the lungs of all the cops upstairs, while Bane and Ivy take on Batman and Robin. Bane continues to have no dialogue and just swaggers around hitting things.
Chris: Ivy hits Robin with her pheromone dust, which seems to work just fine, but when she tries it on Batman, he just powers through it like it’s nothing. And considering that about an hour ago it made Batman whip out his credit card to pay $7,000,000 so that he could bang her, this doesn’t really make any sense.
David: “Why are all the gorgeous women homicidal maniacs?” Bruce. Dude. Buddy. Just throwing this out there: You’re banging Elle Macpherson.
Chris: But he was even fantasizing about Ivy while on his date with her! As near as I can tell, the movie offers no explanation whatsoever for why Batman can suddenly resist Ivy’s charms with the power of righteousness.
David: Isn’t “the power of righteousness” explanation enough? If it’s good enough for Kuwata, it’s good enough for me.
Chris: Yes, but Kuwata has Batman actually saying it. Here, it’s never even addresed. I’m willing to say that this, along with Barbara’s lack of an accent, is the first thing about this movie that violates its own internal logic.
David: Yeah, I’ll agree with that.
Chris: And of course, it leads to Robin being dumped into a vat of ice cream.
Chris: Shockingly, this movie doesn’t follow that up with a line about a “cold shower.” Ivy and Bane take advantage of Batman and Robin’s little spat to vamoose, leading to Commissioner Gordon to show up and yell at them for letting the bad guys get away.
David: When even Gotham cops question your competence, something’s up.
Chris: Ivy also takes this opportunity to unplug Freeze’s wife, presumably killing her so that she can have Freeze all to herself. It’s also worth noting that Ms. B. Haven doesn’t show up again for the rest of the movie, which makes me think she’s also “feeding the plants.”
David: It’s a hilariously dick move on Ivy’s part. She also blames Batman for it, which even Freeze should realize makes no sense.
Chris: We are then treated to Ivy’s plan, which is to kill everyone by freezing them and then grow a bunch of plants in place of people. One would think that these plans would have difficulty co-existing, but, well, there you go.
David: She also shows off her mutated plant, which is basically a snake’s head on a flower.
Chris: I wonder when Golobulous and Nemesis Enforcer are going to show up.
David: They’ll be the only two people left in the world, prompting Freeze to declare them “Adam… and EVIL!” I mean, these guys really like announcing that they are not morally gray.
Chris: They full-on embrace their evil. Back at the batcave, a doctor reveals that Alfred is suffering from — you guessed it — MacGregor Syndrome! Stage One! The very disease that Freeze can cure!
David: God bless you, plot contrivances!
Chris: Bruce announces that he’s going to go out and beat up Freeze until he gets the cure — which seems like a solid plan — but then Dick gets upset because he declares that he’s going to do so alone. This also doesn’t make sense, since the last time we saw Robin he was declaring his intent to “go solo,” but I guess we can chalk that up to Ivy’s lust dust.
Chris: The movie also makes an attempt to present Bruce as being in the wrong for not trusting Robin, conveniently ignoring the fact that Robin totally sucks at being a crime-fighter and actually is responsible for everyone getting away all the time.
David: As we just saw with Mister Freeze. I mean, it sounds like Bruce is basically totally right, and Robin’s completely hurting his groove.
Chris: It’s hard to train someone to be a kid sidekick when you start at age 25, I guess. But while that’s going on, Alfred, on his death bed, gives Barbara the CD-ROM he’s been making and tells her to find his brother and give it to him, to which she responds “yeah, f*** that.”
David: Barbara’s not about trust and honor, apparently. Then, at a party, Poison Ivy uses her pheromones on Commissioner Gordon to get the key to the top of the GCPD building, where she promptly has Bane throw the Bat-Signal onto the street.
Chris: Meanwhile, Barbara uses a knife to cut open Alfred’s jewel case, which seriously looks like it could withstand a bomb. Either way, she pops the disc into her Mac and we get to see her trying to crack his password with the slowest.
E v e r .
David: Considering the password ends up being three letters long, it probably would have taken her less time to brute force it.
Chris: I like that the first password she tries is “Alfred,” which is basically saying “I think my uncle is dumb.”
David: I expected the password to end up being her own name, to be honest with you.
Chris: She keeps banging away at the keyboard, and we switch to a scene of Bruce and Alfred talking on Alfred’s deathbed, and, no joke, it’s a genuinely good scene.
David: It’s really a shame George Clooney never got more chances to play Batman, because he’s a really good Bruce Wayne.
Chris: He really is, and he and Gough play off of each other really well. And when Bruce finally tells Alfred that he loves him, man. It’s a heartbreaker.
David: That’s not verbalized very much, is it?
Chris: It’s not, and when it is, it’s usually pretty heavy-handed. Andi t would be here, too, if Clooney and Gough weren’t actually doing a really good job with this scene. I think it’s the one shining example of everyone actually trying in this movie.
David: Yeah, I’ll agree with that. It’s a great scene, with some actual emotional acting. It’s really a weird oasis of humanity in this desert of camp.
Chris: Yeah, it almost doesn’t work because of that, because of being such a departure from the rest of the movie, especially when we already know that a cure exists and it’s a foregone conclusion that Batman’s going to save him. But it does serve as a nice remidner that, oh right, these guys actually are good actors.
David: But enough of that, we’ve got a Robin-Signal to deal with!
Chris: But not before Barbara actually figures out the password, which is literally written on a photograph sitting right next to her the entire time. Thus, the computer says “access allowed” in an oddly seductive voice, and Barabara is treated to a 700 MB of every single one of Batman’s secrets, protected solely by a 3-letter password. Good call, Alfred.
David: I can’t imagine how much longer it would have taken her if he made the password, like, “P3g.”
Chris: I think she would’ve gone into his room where he lay dying and started bugging him about it.
David: That sounds about right. So Freeze decides he’s going to make a big doomsday machine out of all those diamonds and Wayne’s big telescope.
Chris: Because “No matter what they tell you, Mr. Bane, it is the size of your gun that matters.” Oof. Ivy has also jacked the Bat-Signal and turned it into the Robin Signal, leading George Clooney to deliver the most perfect line reading of the entire movie: “She’s trying to kill you, Dick.”
David: I was going to comment on that! Clooney murdered on that little bit of acting. I certainly laughed out loud.
Chris: It’s great! It also leads to him giving a speech about trusting each other, which basically translates into “do what I say, Robin.”
David: So then Barbara goes into the Batcave, where — I am not making this up — Alfred has programmed his “brain algorithms” into the Bat-Computer. It is then revealed that he totally saw her finding the Batcave and wanting her own suit coming. Alfred doesn’t even know that she knows kung fu. Yet he took the liberty of straight-up making her a Batgirl outfit out of nowhere.
Chris: And Silverstone kind of mumbles her way through delivering “Suit me up, Uncle Alfred,” making it the creepiest line of the movie. Then,in the interest of gender equality, we get one of Schumacher’s signature suit-up sequences with ultra-close-up shots of Batgirl’s junk.
David: And her high heels. Why does she have high heels.
Chris: Why do Batman and Robin have gigantic codpieces?
David: Dick’s armor is a codpiece.
Chris: It’s also weird as hell that Alfred designed a skintight leather outfit with thigh-high zippered boots for his niece, too.
David: Anyway, so Robin goes after Poison Ivy, and after getting her to tell him her plan, he finally kisses her before revealing he’s got fake lips! Ivy then just throws him in a pool.
David: Then she gets some plants to tie Batman up, right before Batgirl crashes through the roof out of damn nowhere.
Chris: The fake lips are seriously fantastic. Say it’s silly if you want, but how else are you going to make out with Poison Ivy and not die? Huh? Answer me that, critics.
David: It’s not silly at all, it’s the most Batmanny thing Robin has done in two movies. Victory status? In the preparation.
Chris: There’s also some astonishing innuendo in this scene. “I need a sign.” “How about ‘Slippery When Wet?’”
David: I dunno if it beats Batgirl’s lecturing Poison Ivy about how using sex appeal to get what you want gives women a bad name.
Chris: That’s the leather-clad pot in ultra-high heeled boots calling the kettle in the skin-tight corset black, isn’t it?
David: So Batgirl dispatches Poison Ivy, at which point Batman and Robin are just completely nonchalant about the whole “someone knows our secret identities and decided join up with us” thing. Like, Batman freak out about this last movie, and here he’s just “oh, okay.”
Chris: I would have a lot of trouble believing that a) Batman doesn’t know exactly what’s going on, and b) at this point, he’s completely used to Alferd f***ing up his life, since he’s been doing it for four movies. Either way, Ivy gets eaten by her own giant flytrap (which doesn’t make a lot of sense) and Robin almost drowns because he sucks.
David: Their banter is pretty great, though. “She knows our secrets.” “I guess we have to kill her.” “Yup. We’ll kill her later, though. We have work to do!”
Chris: Clooney’s Batman does like to tell jokes. Freeze starts icing up the city with his super-telescope cold-gun, freezing Gothamites in their tracks, which means that Batman and Robin have, as previously established, eleven minutes to thaw out the city. This is apparently enough time for everyone to get a new costume for absolutely no reason.
Chris: Even Batgirl, who just got her costume like two minutes ago.
David: Maybe they’re just … ice suits?
Chris: They’re terrible is what they are.
David: They all grapple up to the telescope, and I have to say, this is the dopest planetarium I’ve ever seen. Amazing things in this scene: There is a “Gotham Standard time,” and Gotham City uses keyboards with confrigurations I have never seen before in my life.
Chris: You’ve never used a UWCARNY keyboard? Putting the spacebar at the top is supposed to make it a lot faster. Batman’s plan is to use the satellites they talked about earlier in the movie to thaw out Gotham City by creating sunrise six hours early, and while everyond and their brother’s been expecting that ever since the plot point was introduced, it does sort of make Freeze’s plan seem pretty lame. I mean, he wants to create “an eternal winter,” right? But apparently it’s going to end… tomorrow.
David: But everyone will be dead, I guess!
Chris: Unless they’re, you know, inside.
David: Well, I think everyone was supposed to be frozen inside too? I guess that doesn’t make any sense. Also, Batman thaws out those poor scientists from earlier. Who then get to hang from the freeze gun during an entire extended fight. And provide color commentary.
Chris: I guess at first, the plan is actually to use the telescope to focus the sunlight as a super-laser, but that actually seems way more dangerous than a freeze ray Batgirl and Robin knock the tube out of Bane’s lucha mask, causing him to immediately deflate into the guy in the first panel of a Charles Atlas ad.
David: That’s a really, really easy to beat supersoldier.
Chris: Batman then shoves a heater into Mr. Freeze’s suit, tells him that “the heat is on,” and then he Shoryuken uppercuts him off a building. Seriously, I do not understand how people don’t like this. Freeze also has some bombs that don’t really do anything except add five minutes to the running time of the movie and show us once again that Batgirl and Robin are basically useless.
David: And somehowe, everything completely thaws without totally flooding Gotham City. Well, not everything — Freeze beats up Batman again, but then they use the mirrors themselves to shine light on the city using Barbara’s Super-Computer-Programming.
Chris: Then, having thoroughly defeated Freeze’s plan, Batman appeals to his humanity by telling him his wife’s actaully okay, and asks him for the cure to MacGregor Syndrome Stage One. Which Freeze keeps inside his armor, for reasons I cannot even begin to explain.
David: He has two of them, just so he can pun “take two of these and call me in the morning.” Fries is classy to the end.
Chris: He lives his gimmick, man.
David: They save Alfred, and then — why would they do this?! — they make Freeze Ivy’s cellmate. And let him wear his power armor.
Chris: Presumably because the guards want Freeze to straight up murder her because she offed Jesse the Body. Thus, Alfred is cured in a matter of about five minutes, Ivy is defeated and locked up in Arkham with bad hair, Freeze is actually more-or-less redeemed, and everything works out okay.
David: I just wish that, right as everything lit up and it was day outside, Batman had gone “Batman digs this day.”
David: This is absolutely the best of the original four movies. It’s just dumb and entertaining.
Chris: I honestly don’t see anything that happens in Batman & Robin that’s sillier or more nonsensical than elements of Batman ’89, or especially Returns. There’s just more of it, and less of an attempt to jam it into a movie that’s “serious” and “dark,” which creates something that’s actually more cohesive as a whole.
David: And yet, somehow, it pulls off the best human moments out of the four movies.
Chris: Clooney has joked about this movie a lot — when he was nominated for the Oscar for Michael Clayton, I remember him telling reporters that he was there to pick up his Lifetime Achievement for Batman & Robin — but he’s actually pretty solid in the role. He does a more convincing Bruce Wayne than anyone else. My real high point, though, is Poison Ivy.
Chris: You talked a lot about Jim Carrey attempting to channel Frank Gorshin as the Riddler in Forever, but while I think that’s a pretty miserable failure, Uma Thurman is way more successful at trying to be Julie Newmar.
David: She does a great job doing the campy sex-vamp thing. A GREAT job.
Chris: Ivy’s better written than Freeze, in that she doesn’t have a constant string of puns, and Thurman’s delivery is perfect for the material, right down to her faux-sultry Mae West voice.
David: Yeah, see, I’m sorry, but honestly, I loved every single terrible Mister Freeze pun.
Chris: I think they’re one of those things that are horrible, then get funny again purely by sheer volume, but I can understand how they could grate on a viewer. Compared to the Penguin, though? I’ll take “Ice to meet you!” any day of the week.
David: Agreed completely. It just got to — like, I knew it’d be a pun every single time he opened his mouth, so even just trying to guess what it would be got more and more entertaining as the movie went on. And I kind of buy the idea that this brilliant scientist would dedicate himself to his gimmick to the point of every single thing he says being a pun. Like, I imagine him in the Freezemobile, on his way to a heist, writing this stuff down in a notebook.
Chris: There’s also never any doubt what someone’s motivation or goals are in this movie, even if their methods of accomplishing them seem out of left field, which is something else you can’t say about Batman ’89 or Returns, or even Forever, where Two-Face wants… stufff?
David: Yeah. Poison Ivy is a crazy plant lady who hates Wayne Enterprises. Freeze wants to save his wife and needs cash to do it. Barbara’s parents died and she’s thrillseeking. Batman and Robin are Batman and Robin. Alfred wants to make sure everything doesn’t completely go to hell when he’s gone.
Chris: Everything with Batgirl is terrible.
David: Suit me up, Uncle Alfred!
David: Batgirl was just one element too many, honestly. She barely did anything, and she’s super-annoying at the end when she starts going “ALL ME!” about beating up Poison Ivy. Congratulations, you beat up a hippie. Now you can join the Toronto police.
Chris: Silverstone’s the worst actor in the entire movie, her relationship with the other characters is tenuous, her costume is awful, and she creates bizarre plot holes just by existing. Why doesn’t she have an accent? How was she supposed to get to Wilfred in India when Alfred couldn’t do it and he had Bruce Wayne’s money backing him up? Why was her coming to Wayne Manor a big surprise when she had plans to free Alfred from servitude? How did Alfred know she would crack his password and go down into the Batcave? But the craziest thing about all those questions is that none of them actually matter to the plot. This would be virtually the same movie if you took her out of it completely.
David: She’s just completely vestigial.
Chris: Other than that, I can pretty much deal with everything else in the movie. Except maybe Batman’s winterized bat-suit. The hell were they thinking with that thing?
David: Yeah, the winterized suits are just terrible, all three of them. And Barbara went from a domino mask to a cowl for no reason. Seriously, she wears the regular Batgirl outfit for, like, two minutes.
Chris: I can understand why people would be disappointed in getting an over-the-top live-action cartoon if they went into this expecting something that wasn’t silly and ridiculous. I just don’t understand why they’d expect that, given the three movies that came before it.
David: And, I presume, all of the marketing around it. I don’t think they were like, “hey, go check out our new Batman movie, it’s a real serious exploration of the character and his themes.”
Chris: Batman & Robin is as much better than its reputation as Batman ’89 is worse than its reputation.
David: If you want to see a movie where lots of stuff blows up, everything’s neon and there are a bunch of good/entertaining actors having a whole lot of fun, you could do way, way worse than Batman & Robin.
Chris: You could see Transformers 3, for example. But regardless, this brings us to the end of an era for Batman films. So, Uzi, what have we learned?
David: Nobody in Hollywood can stand the idea of a straight take. At least not until 2005.
Chris: People like Batman when he’s dumb and goofy, but only as long as it’s not lit by neon.
David: Oh well. I’m sad we’ve come to the end of this era, but new excitements await us.
Chris: That’s right! Now that we’re through with the Burton/Schumacher films, next time it’ll be our pleasure to watch… oh no.
David: I hope we have lots of cat puns to look forward to. I like puns.
Chris: Why… Why is this happening?!
David: Because I hate you.
Chris: Our next feature on Remedial Batmanology: Catwoman (2004).