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I'll be blunt at first. Batman and Robin is insulting when you compare it to the darker Tim Burton adaptations and the more recent Christopher Nolan adaptations. It, and by extension, Joel Schumacher's work on the series, took everything dark and menacing, everything emblematic of the revolutionary storylines which brought Batman back from the campy laughingstock that the silver age had turned him into, and forgot about it. This is a movie that decided the bronze age never happened, and that "the killing joke" and "year one" never happened either. Make no mistake about how bad this movie is. It is garish. It is laughable. It is over the top. But it is perfect, once you understand what it really is.
This movie is the silver age. That's what it really is at its heart. It's the Adam West Batman movie if it actually had a budget. All the bad, far-fetched puns are there. All the overacting, and all the underacting, is there. Any pretension you had over watching something serious is shattered in the opening scenes. Whatever nonsense Batman Forever didn't live up to, this movie fulfilled. Nay, it took the flag carried by the last movie and ran the last few miles, finishing well past the finish line and leaving an indent in the shape of the batsymbol on a nearby wall. Because watching this movie is like watching a cartoon. Hell, the environments look cartoony. Gotham City is caked in neon, looking like how a camp gay man would decorate ancient greece. Interior scenes are awash in clashing colors, as if the gaffer's were all colorblind. Even the extras are awash in clashing colors, like they've been painted on; dressed for the set of a kids show from the 60s set in the future. The total set design, from costumes to gadgets, perfectly capture the hilarious stupidity of the 1960s comic book style. Even the batmobile looks like a toy. It all seems so fake and unreal that you're convinced whatever you're seeing was not intended to be seen by someone your age. Batman and Robin is a child's dream and an adult's nightmare.
This movie is bad, but if you can just pretend it was a modern remake of the 60s series, a silver age comic book brought to life, then you might find it just a little bit fun, while you're inner child will be shrieking with inane joy. All that was missing was shark repellent.
Disagreed,...as someone who enjoyed the Silver Age stuff,I can tell you now that NO! It fails at even being Silver Age.
You see the Adam West stuff didn't try to be serious in anyway,this movie couldn't decide when to and not to be serious. Batman Forever had this problem to,but it was very downplayed compared to the bipolarity of this one.
Seriously it switches too much between "Sick Alfred"/"The tragedy of Mr. Freeze"/"Oh look another orphan backstory" and "Ha ha ha look at that Bat Credit Card"/"Eee hee hee a Blizzard of Puns"/ and "Ha ha ha what a hilraiously ridiculous premise". There's no consistent tone at all,...Nolan's are consistently dark and serious,Burton's are consistently dark and campy,the 60's are consistently light and campy. There's too much Mood Whiplash for it to count as Silver Age or enjoyable
Finally the actors all phoned in at the silly parts,George Clooney doesn't sound like Adam West who always sounds drunk,he sounds annoyed. O'Donnell's robin doesn't have the endearing or funny doormat elements of Burt Ward's Robin,because it's clear that the bratty elements of darker stories were put in. There's nothing natural about the campy moments like in the 60's,...it's all forced.
Oh yeah and any kid that wasn't disgusted by the nipples/codpieces/buttshots,cringing at the puns because lets face even a kid wouldn't find Freeze funny,would get nauseated from all the Dutch Angle s and eye colors.
It's no good in any viewpoint. If it wasn't for Michael Gough,it'd be the equivalent of Spy Kids 3 D.
Having watched some of the old Batman shows on the Hub, I was surprised how many of episodes played at pathos, or at least pretended to. Off the top of my head, the very first episode sees one of the Riddler's minions die at the end, causing Batman to mourn the loss and see it as a tragedy, and Mr. Freeze actually had some genuine emotion that sounds suspiciously like what made its way into the cartoon. It played its more ridiculous elements with a straight-faced seriousness, more than a little tongue-in-cheek in their delivery, but such that a kid (or, as the movie said, "lovers of adventure, lovers of pure escapism, lovers of unadulterated entertainment...") could get into it.
Well, that was the first season, anyway. It really did go downhill after a while. I can't speak for the comics, but I see very heavy influence coming from the Adam West TV show, seriousness and all.
I've only seen a few episodes and the movie. The latter is one of the greatest Batman things if you can just accept the goofiness and parody elements of it.
And yet, Batman And Robin feels painful for it. I'm not sure why. Very confusing.
Face Palm,... what part of "The actors clearly phoned it in" do you not understand? The difference between the Adam West show and this is that the former never took itself seriously,...sure it had some pretty good moments,but always in the same tone. The jokes and lines came off naturally because of it
This? Everything is very stilted,the tone shifts every scene,....attempting to use Spoiled Brat ! Robin in this setting does not work. The jokes are very very forced most of the time.
Yeah, um...we've got The Brave and the Bold for that. Hell, we can go back and watch the Adam West stuff if we want to, it's on the Hub now. See, those things were actually kinda funny. None of these jokes land at all—not in delivery, not in pacing or editing, nothing. If that's what it was trying for, it failed pretty badly.
On the subject of whether or not the old show ever took it seriously, I just wanted to throw this out there, courtesy of IMDb:
Batman: Mr. Freeze, give yourself up. We can get help for you... medical help!
Mr. Freeze: In prison? This I do not believe. No, you must pay for what you did to me, for forcing me to live like this: never again to know the warmth of a summer breeze, never to feel the heat of burning logs in vintertime! Revenge. That is what I need! Revenge! I will have revenge!
The only ridiculous thing about it is that it's an iceman (with a pronounced Russian accent) saying it to a man in a bat costume on a stylized set. The basis for colorful, over-comic-book earnestness was there. Whether or not it carried it off is another story. (Whether or not the actors were giving a real effort or phoned it in is also another matter. Adam West's "tone" was frequently straight-faced drama against a backdrop of, well, everything. It didn't take itself as seriously as Batman & Robin, maybe, but taking it as Schumacher's source material, it had precedent.)
Ok first off I'd like to point out that the Adam West Batman NEVER had bat-nipples/crotch/butt stuff like the Batman and Robin Movie did. Even for a supposedly campy movie, that was just terrible. Secondly, even if you use "camp" as a way to make this kinda movie, there's still the quality of that camp. If the camp is pulled of right, it's funny, but for Batman and Robin, it doesn't pull it off.
Remember the very dark Batman Returns with its very dark rocket penguins?
Silver Age? Not half. At least the '60s show knew it was primarily a comedic show with some unexpected moment of near-pathos (as the second commenter pointed out, making any extrapolation on my part borderline pointless). Batman and Robin doesn't know what the hell it wants to be. Series/Gotham is struggling with these very same problems as we speak.
No mister, Batman Robin is more of a Dork Age unto itself.
@Batman39: Emphasis on dark and camp. The penguins and clowns were silly yes,but it was still about child murder and revenge and consistently dark about it all. And the ending, good heavens that ending is still the bleakest one yet. Camp =/= light, they just usually go together.
@Bastard: Gotham is clearly trying to be dark and camp like Burton's films, and none of the actors are phoning it in there
Dork Age is the correct term, and the thing is, a little consistency and effort could've actually made it pretty good.
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