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03/12/2018 22:35:50 •••

So Bad, Even A Kid Couldn't Even Stomach It

This film came out on home release when I was 11 years old. I'd grown up watching the '89 Batman and Forever, and I'd seen Returns but it horrified me so I couldn't enjoy it much (although I love it now as an adult). Forever was my favorite, so I was able to enjoy a good mix of darkness and camp. This film, however, throws all the good storytelling of the first three films out the window and takes a fat dump all over the Batman name.

I was pretty excited to watch this movie since I enjoyed Forever so much, so when I was at a friend's house and they popped it in, I was ready for some awesome dark knight action. Then the film starts...with Batman riding down the back of a dinosaur statue like he's surfing, Mr. Freeze seemingly unable to utter a single word or sentence that isn't laced with the most putrid puns, Batman and Robin both apparently having ice skates built into their boots, and playing literal ice hockey against the enemy for possession of a MacGuffin.

I didn't even make it ten minutes into the film before I had to walk away and go do something else while the rest of the kids watched the movie. I felt utterly insulted by the film. It was painfully obvious that it was trying so hard to pander to "the kids," my demographic, that it became a Saturday morning cartoon in live action. This was NOT the Batman I knew and loved. This was a load of garbage trying to sell action figures, not tell a story.

Imagine my surprise and therapeutic validation when I finally watched it from start to finish for the first time a month ago as a 30-year-old man and afterward watched some of the behind-the-scenes stuff, only to hear Schumacher himself state that during filming he kept beating the actors and crew over the head with the notion, "REMEMBER PEOPLE, THIS IS A CARTOON!" if anyone started taking it seriously. It turns out my childhood assessment that this felt like a crappy Saturday morning cartoon was dead on, admitted by the director himself. Then, at the end of the behind-the-scenes snippet, he offered a sincere apology to anyone who loved Batman Forever and felt betrayed by this film. Talk about quieting childhood demons.

Thank you for the apology, Schumacher. It was much-needed and much-appreciated to the scorned 11-year-old boy who still lived somewhere inside of me.

I will give credit where it's due and say that the subplot with Alfred's health declining is nice and offers the only hint of intelligence and heart this film has, but other than that, it's just a soulless action figure commercial. As for those who say the film works as a revival of the '60s Batman, that may have worked as its own film, but that "99% comedy" style had no place tarnishing this particular film canon, an otherwise great trilogy in which each film had a fair balance of darkness and camp. As part of the continuity it takes place in, this movie flat-out sucks.


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