Holy mess-of-a-movie, Batman! There is too much going on here, and pretty much all of it is crap.
For starters, the franchise has fully committed to the “live action cartoon” idea at this point. The colors are saturated, the sets are gimmicky, and the action sequences are comical. There’s also another eye-rolling product placement line, this time involving Batman and a major credit card company. This line alone makes me question why George Clooney would agree to star in this movie.
On to the cast… Clooney is our third Caped Crusader. He is also the worst. You’d think he’d be perfect as the billionaire playboy, but he’s just not that great. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s actually bad, or if the script is to blame. Maybe Clooney just suffers by comparison to Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer. Chris O’Donnell is back as Dick Grayson/Robin, and he’s an even bigger dick than before. He is resentful of Wayne/Batman for treating him like a sidekick instead of a partner, but that’s probably because he’s mostly terrible at everything and so easily swayed by a pretty face.
Those pretty faces are Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy and Alicia Silverstone as Barbara Wilson/Batgirl. Thurman is a great actress, but she isn’t given much to work with here. Poison Ivy is reduced to a one-dimensional figure the same as The Riddler was in Batman Forever. She’s also given the same story arc as Catwoman in Batman Returns: mousey woman discovers her boss’ evil secret; mousey woman is murdered by her evil boss; mousey woman somehow survives and comes back as a sexy femme fatale and decides to make trouble for Gotham. Yawn. Alicia Silverstone on the other hand is terrible as Batgirl. She’s not even Batgirl, really– she’s Cher Horowitz in a rubber suit. Only Cher would never advocate violence, she would prefer to negotiate with the baddies. And wearing that hideous bat suit? As if!
Finally, Arnold Schwarzenegger rounds out the cast as Mr. Freeze. He’s actually perfect in this role. It’s a shame he has to share villain duties with Poison Ivy and Bane (who is reduced to a dumb thug/lackey for Poison Ivy). His character has the potential to be complex, but the backstory and character development is truncated in order to make room for the other two and Batgirl.
There’s also the issue of gratuitous chest and butt shots when the bat characters suit up. At the beginning of the movie we’re treated to Batman and Robin’s backsides. This is an obvious ploy to make it OK to show the same when Batgirl joins the fray. We’re not that dumb, thank you very much, Filmmakers. Unfortunately for you, you’re movie is.
This is the worst comic book movie ever made. It’s really hard to fathom how it all turned out so bad. The cast is really good. George Clooney is the new Batman replacing Val Kilmer from Batman Forever. He should’ve been great. In his real life, Clooney IS Bruce Wayne. He is a womanising playboy who will never get married, just like Bruce Wayne pretends to be. In this film though, he’s nowhere near as charming as Clooney has been in other roles. He also leaves a lot to be desired as Batman. I don’t believe him to be a believable Dark Knight, he’s just not got the presence required for the role. Michael Keaton was a good Batman, but a ordinary Bruce Wayne. Kilmer was good as Wayne, but an average Batman. Clooney is terrible at both.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the villain Mr. Freeze. His character should’ve been great. This is similar to tommy Lee Jones’s Harvey Dent in Forever where the backstory is barely explored at all. Freeze’s story is ignored for the most part. He is reduced to a pun happy jewel thief and not much more. It’s a shame to waste Arnold in an underdeveloped role like this. Arnie does the best he can, but the script is awful and he can only do so much.
Another wasted talent in this film is Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. Normally Thurman is really solid. Just as Arnold is wasted in this film, so too is Thurman. The plant controlling eco-terrorist is reduced to not much more than a sexy femme fatale trying to come between Batman and Robin.
Speaking of Robin, Chris O’Donnell is back again as The ‘Boy Wonder’. He was really charming in Batman Forever, but in this film he comes across as a whiney brat.
Alicia Silverstone rounds out the main cast as Batgirl. She is pretty and looks great in her skin tight bat suit, but Silverstone struggles to pull off the role of superhero. Unfortunately for her, she will always be Cher from Clueless. Her character feels like Cher in a bat suit. She doesn’t have the talent to convince me she can be anybody else.
It’s hard to fathom how some of the decisions during this films production got made. This film is one big toy commercial and not much more. It’s campy tone and cartoony pictures really hurt the film. It’s fine to want to make these films family friendly, but this goes so far in that direction it becomes a caricature of the previous films.
The only redeeming feature I can see for this film is the gadgets. Batman, Robin and Batgirl all have cool gadgets throughout the film. I really liked the grappling hooks they used. They reminded me of Spider-Man’s web shooters. They were cool.