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Batman & Robin

movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Batman & Robin

Starring: Arnold Schwarznegger, George Clooney
Director: Joel Schumacher
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 130 Minutes
Release Date: June 1997
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: Chris O'Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, John Glover, Elle MacPherson, Vivica Fox

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows video review
2.  MrBrown read the review movie reviewvideo review
3.  David Wilcock read the review movie reviewmovie review
4.  Walter Frith read the review no stars
5.  Andrew Hicks read the review movie reviewmovie review
6.  Edward Johnson-Ott read the review video review
7.  Jerry Saravia read the review ---

Review by Steve Rhodes
½ star out of 4

If a producer had ever been foolish enough to give Ed Wood (director of arguably the worst movie ever made, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE) a hundred million dollars, the result could well have been this BATMAN & ROBIN.

In summer Hollywood studios usually figure that big budget action pictures will sell regardless of quality. But even with diminished expectations, BATMAN & ROBIN is surprisingly bad. It insults the viewer's intelligence with lifeless acting and a tired script. In our packed advanced screening, there was excitement in the air before the film started. But after the lights went down, the audience stared in almost silent disbelief at a film that was so DOA.

The third Batman movie, BATMAN FOREVER, which felt like it went on forever, had the misfortune to have been directed by Joel Schumacher. Schumacher appears to turn control of his action pictures over to the special effects department, and he takes an MTV rock video approach to the filmmaking. The fourth in the Batman series, BATMAN & ROBIN, again has Schumacher as the director. This time he manages to badly miscast the roles of Batman and Robin and then coach Arnold Schwarzenegger into giving the worst performance of his career.

From the film's opening line of "The Iceman Cometh," by Schwarzenegger as Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze, the dialog itself is frozen. The show features bad acting masquerading as camp. Mr. Freeze's lines are spoken staccato style, and all of the cast speaks without intonation. Less like acting than the reading aloud one would expect from a second grader.

The sets by Barbara Ling and the costumes by Ingrid Ferrin, Bob Ringwood, and Robert Turturice are quite colorful. There are the primary colors of the save-the-rain-forest benefit as well as scenes of blue gray ice. Savor these elements of the picture for they are all that is worthwhile. Had I not been there to review the film I would have walked out after five minutes, literally. It is that bad.

If you think George Clooney is an unlikely and unpromising choice for Batman, you are right. Whereas Michael Keaton was quirky and Val Kilmer was outlandish and brooding, Clooney gives such an inconsequential performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman that he blends into the background.

Chris O'Donnell suffers the same problem. As Dick Grayson/Robin, it is easy to forget he is even on the set.

The other leads, Uma Thurman as Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy and Alicia Silverstone as Barbara Wilson/Batgirl, had promise, but again, Schumacher manages to modulate their work and quickly to get to the repetitive stunts. Akiva Goldsman's script gives the two women the same throwaway lines as the rest of the cast. ("Come with me," teases Poison Ivy to Robin. "My garden needs tending.")

As I sat frozen as if by Mr. Freeze's big gun, I whiled away the time suffering through BATMAN & ROBIN wondering if there was any movie I enjoyed less this year. Although I could not recall all 137 movies I have seen this year, I could not think of any that were worse.

"If I must suffer, humanity will suffer with me," warns Mr. Freeze. And so will BATMAN & ROBIN's audiences.

BATMAN & ROBIN runs two long hours. It is rated PG-13 for cartoonish violence and sexual innuendoes. The film would be fine for kids around 8 or 9 and up, but I recommend seeing anything else. In comparison to BATMAN & ROBIN the summer's other action pictures look like masterpieces. If you do go, bring an interesting watch; you are going to be looking at it frequently. I thought about giving the film no stars, but decided I would give it one half of a star for the sets. Even so, I think I am being too generous.

Copyright 1997 Steve Rhodes

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