Guy Liner, Acrobats, and that one song by Seal: Batman Forever Revisited
In preparation of the July 20th release of Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated trilogy closer, The Dark Knight Rises, The Bro Journey is reviewing each of the previous six Batman films (in order) that have preceded it. We continue with 1995′s Batman Forever.
Riddle me this, riddle me that, whose afraid of Val Kilmer’s bat-ass? Ten seconds into 1995’s “Fuck Tim Burton, let’s get this sexually-frustrated-yet-family-friendly merchandizing machine a’rollin” Batman Forever, Matt made the most insightful observation to ever grace the cinema world, “Holy shit, this is WAY more intense than the last two.”
Although intense might not be the best word to describe Joel Schumacher’s first foray into Gotham (yes folks, he got another go with Batman & Robin, but just chill, we’ll get to that later), there are plenty of examples of the franchise taking some BIG jumps into the world of over-the-top BLOCKBUSTER-level of moviedom. MORE EXPLOSIONS. MORE BLACK LIGHTS. MORE BAT-VEHICLES. MORE CGI. MORE SEXUALIZATION OF THE BATSUIT (i.e. Nipples (George Clooney has officially been exonerated for what I always believe was his doing) and multi-second assshots). However, above all else, it is the SO-FAR-INTO-LALALAND-THAT-THERE-IS-NO-COMING-BACK performances of Jim Carrey as The Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face (along with one very special song, but more on that later) that really makes this third Batman installment memorable.
“We’re two minutes in and I already have a boner.” Although this comment could be attached to a whole mess of different situations from Batman Forever, what Matthew was referring to here was the onslaught of smoldering lust that is Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian. Sometimes you forget that the former Mrs. Tom “Have you ever jumped on Oprah’s couch? ‘Cus I Have” Cruise was absolutely stunning (not that she’s some mewling quim now, but 17 years ago (wow, that just sunk in), WHOA).
In addition, Alfred is still kicking ass and taking names, except when he doesn’t shut the door to the Batcave behind him and Chris O’Donnell as Dick “Robin” Grayson does some crazy acrobatics that lead him to stumbling into the single most secretive basement on Earth. You got rear camera capabilities on the Batmobile 15 years before anyone else did and yet you can’t keep a circus performer with an earing out of your top-secret lair with millions of dollars worth of armor, vehicles, and rare species of GIGANTO bats inside? Step it up Bruce.
Anyway, back to the villains. Let’s keep in mind that, up to this point, Jim Carrey was most famous for starring in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb & Dumber. Now, as this is the post-Burton, pre-Schumacher era of Batman, the whole thing is essentially a giant comic book come-to-life with the incredibly preposterous costumes and secret lairs (side note- as Matt and I love to do while watching any sort of fantasy-esque movie, we identified all of the holes in the outlandish plot, which meant spending at least half the time commenting on how fast Edward Nigma/The Riddler was able to raise enough start-up capital to get his 3D TV/Brain Transmitter/Blenders in every home in Gotham AND build an incredibly isolated, yet easy to find because Batman-IS-Batman oceanic lair with floating mines that are all triggered from a command module fashioned after the popular board game, Battleship. I mean SERIOUSLY, there’s only one scene where The Riddler and Two-Face rob a bank and they get $250,00 or something like that. I know things were good during the Clinton administration, but really?), which provides the perfect environment for Jim Carrey to, uh, ya know, do his Jim Carrey thing. However, it’s Tommy Lee Jones who really embraces the nuttiness of his role as Harvey Dent turned punk rock Two-Face (side note – as Matt oh-so eloquently pointed out during our viewing of Batman, the last time we saw Dent, he was black. And now he’s white again. And for some reason, his suit mutated to match his face. And he has Drew Barrymore and Debi Mazar (who you might know as Ray Liotta’s sidepiece in Goodfellas or Vincent Chase’s Publicist from Entourage) as his stay-at-the-lair concubines to match his split personalities. Simply put, Carrey and Jones are both out of this world crazy and freakin’ awesome in Batman Forever.
Some other observations from the viewing would include Bruce Wayne’s epic tube-slide that transports him within a pod from his office in Wayne Tower to his mansion, which in all likelihood, is in a completely different county. I’m also 90% sure that the building in which Dick/Robin saves an entire hippodrome full of people from a bomb presented by Two-Face is actually Union Terminal in Cincinnati. So does that make Cincinnati Gotham? Is Mike Brown Two-Face? Is Walt Jocketty The Riddler? Is Joey Votto Batman? I digress, but The Dark Knight Rises was filmed in Pittsburgh so ya never know…
Also, let us touch on something often overlooked and frankly pretty impressive about Batman Forever, the soundtrack. U2, The Flaming Lips, PJ Harvey, Mazzy Star, The Offspring, Brandy!? They’re all on there. Oh and one more. You see folks, at the beginning of the movie, I mentioned to my cohort that Seal’s EPIC “Kissed By A Rose” was on the soundtrack. As he usually does, Matt doubted the validity of my assertion and claimed that “Kissed By A Rose” appeared on the soundtrack for the coolest Batman movie, Batman & Robin. Our good friend and mentor Kevin agreed with his foolish musings. I, however, knew that such accusations were false and this incompetent trollop would meet his end soon enough. Lucky for me, I remembered that it didn’t come on until the latter-half of the closing fucking credits, so after yacking on about the Head Foam Designer and who provided catering for the cast, the ethereal opening notes of Seal’s utter masterpiece rang out and Matt’s cries of defeat echoed in my fulfilled soul. Amen.
In the end, Batman Forever was actually better than I expected, at least from an entertainment level and that is exactly how the pre-Nolan era should be viewed. Although Batman has taken on a much deeper, darker, and more complex mythology since Batman Begins came out in 2005, the Batman franchise, especially under the reign of Schumacher, was about being fun to watch and marveling at the evolution of Bruce Wayne’s use of the grappling hook in dire situations. Sure, Val Kilmer wasn’t the greatest Batman or the smoothest Bruce Wayne, but he did rock guyliner and was the first to rock nipps on the Batsuit. Oh, and this: