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The Dark Knight of Gotham City confronts a dastardly duo: Two-Face and the Riddler. Formerly District Attorney Harvey Dent, Two-Face believes Batman caused the courtroom accident which left him disfigured on one side. And Edward Nygma, computer-genius and former employee of millionaire Bruce Wayne, is out to get the philanthropist; as The Riddler. Former circus acrobat Dick Grayson, his family killed by Two-Face, becomes Wayne's ward and Batman's new partner Robin.
After two stints helming the Batman series, director Tim Burton was given da boot. Warner Brothers had decided that Burton's trademark dark tone wasn't doing enough to bring in the kiddies, so they made what would turn out to be a disastrous decision: they gave the franchise to one Joel Schumacher. And so begins a Gotham of gaudy neon lights, so begins the infamous bat-nipples, and so begins the beginning of the end for the Caped Crusader's initial film series.
Review by Crispy
Added: January 09, 2008
On the second anniversary of the day Batman first caught him, Two-Face has planned a huge heist of the Second Bank of Gotham. It's not so much an effort born of greed, but a trap for the hero. Indeed, Batman soon finds himself and a guard trapped in a safe that's slowly filling with acid and dangling from a helicopter. The conflict ends in a stalemate, as Two-Face is unable to kill Batman and Batman is unable to arrest the criminal. Meanwhile, one of Wayne's employees, Edward Nygma, has been working on a brain manipulation advice, (it was originally supposed to serve as a VR compliment to television) but after Wayne shoots the idea down, Ed flies off the handle. He forcefully tests it on the head of his department, and discovers it has the unintended side-effect of funneling the user's intelligence into Nygma. Seeing a means to gain his revenge, he fakes his guinea pig's suicide and resigns from his job. Bruce Wayne has now started dating Dr. Chase Meridian, a psychologist who finds herself unable to choose between Bruce and Batman, and takes her to the charity circus, where the highlight of the show is the death-defying trapeze act, the Flying Graysons. The good times quickly come to an end when Two-Face makes an appearance, dangling a huge bomb from the ceiling and demanding to know the identity of Batman. In the fray, Bruce is powerless to do anything, while the Grayson family uses their acrobatic skills to take the bomb up to the roof and safely dispose of it in the nearby harbor. None to happy to see this, Two-Face begins firing into the rafters, killing three of the four and leaving young Dick an orphan. Upon seeing the destruction on live TV, Nygma dubs himself the Riddler and convinces Two-Face that he will help him figure out Batman's identity if he helps him spread his Boxes throughout Gotham. As the two begin their crime spree, Wayne has taken Dick into his home; the young man is hell-bent on vengeance, demanding that Bruce makes him his new partner and help him kill Two-Face.
Schumacher's Gotham is completely different than Burton's. While the latter presented a dark, gritty city that really commanded a sinister tone, this new Gotham is more like Las Vegas on a bad LSD trip. Instead of being predominately black, now it's awash in blues, purples and oranges. It also has been decorated with huge statues of gargoyles throughout the city. The whole thing gives off the impression of a gothic circus run by that kid in high school who shops exclusively at Hot Topic. While I could see how this is aimed at the kids more than the first two, it's kind of negated by scenes of Dick in the Batmobile trying to pick up hookers or Two-Face ramming a helicopter into the Statue of Liberty's face. Schumacher's biggest problem is he doesn't know when to say when. Burton knows how to go completely off the charts without the viewer even feeling it, but his successor doesn't have that skill. The new look of Gotham, the addition of the annoying paparazzi (Elizabeth Sanders), and scenes like the Batmobile driving straight up a wall or the deus ex machina that wraps up the bank heist; it all adds up to this film slamming you right in the face.
Along with the man in the director chair, the man in the bat-suit is new as well. Keaton decided not to make it a Bat Trick, and Val Kilmer was quickly cast. I must say, he was fantastic in the role. He's one of the few Bruce Waynes who, in my opinion, has successfully been able to be a badass Batman as well as filling all the ranges between the depressed Bruce and the Playboy Bruce. Although I'm sure I'm losing cool points for this, I'll take Val over Michael anytime. As for the newly introduced Robin, Chris O'Donnell proves himself to be pretty much useless. Sure, he got the job done, but next to Val he was certainly lacking. However, there is a silver lining to this cloud. When Schumacher came in, he made a lot of casting changes. Originally, Dick was to be played by Marlon Wayans. There's one dodged bullet. As for Bruce's girl, I'm really not sure what Nicole Kidman was going for but she just came off as a slut here. Guess that was for the kiddies too.
I'm going to come right out and say that Jim Carrey annoys the hell out of me. He twitches a lot, makes weird voices, acts like a complete jackass, and not much else. As the Riddler, this is pretty much all he did for the two hour running time. It's not very often that Carrey is able to contain himself long enough to make a decent flick, and this certainly wasn't one of those times. In the original Batman, Harvey Dent was played by Billy Dee Williams. When he signed that contract, it came with full expectations that he would be back to play Two-Face. In fact, he had a clause in the contract stating he would have to be bought out if he couldn't play the character. Well, Schumacher had long ago decided that he wanted Tommy Lee Jones, and Williams was indeed bought out. While I sympathize with him, Jones' performance was utterly amazing. He's obviously having a blast and holds nothing back here; capable of hitting that same level of going over-the-top without ramming it down your throat that I praised Burton for earlier. In fact, he was even able to make Carrey somewhat enjoyable. The chemistry between the two really surprised me, as Jones' performance acts as a sort of happy medium between 'normal' and Carrey's shenanigans.
Despite Schumacher's over-indulgence, Kilmer and Jones were successfully able to carry, nay, save this film. Thanks to these two, it still ended up being a really fun movie, but sadly, neither of them would return to the next installment, Batman & Robin. Still, their work here was more than appreciated. 7/10
- added 01/09/2008, 05:56 PM
This might be my least favorite in the franchise.
The first two films were incredible because of Tim
Burton and Michael Keaton. The fourth film, as
horrible as it was, was so bad it was funny and
that made it entertaining -- plus, George Clooney
was not a horrible Bruce Wayne. "Batman Begins"
was a very interesting take on the franchise and
was quite entertaining. "Batman Forever" was just
a train wreck. Jim Carrey is way too Jim Carrey,
Tommy Lee Jones is way too Jim Carrey, Nicole
Kidman is a totally uninteresting female lead and
Val Kilmer just doesn't work as Bruce Wayne or
Batman. I don't know if Joel Schumacher ruined
the franchise, but he certainly took it down a
path it shouldn't have gone. This first step was
a doozy. 3/10.
- added 01/09/2008, 09:46 PM
Jones was going full throttle yes, but to say he
was "too Jim Carrey" is completely unfounded. Like
I said, Carrey just acts like a seven year old
with ADHD and too much sugar. I think Jones was
really the embodiment of what WB wanted to do with
the Batman franchise. Instead of the brooding tone
the Burton villains had, now they wanted a more
animated, cartoonish atmosphere, and I feel Jones
was successfully able to capture that feeling yet
still come across as a villain to be feared. Now,
whether or not you prefer the darker Burton
villains is neither here nor there; I prefer them
myself, but the score I gave it was based more on
the movie itself, and not how it compares to the
previous entries. And really, how can you compare
them? Even though it's the same franchise, this is
a completely different affair to what came before.
- added 01/09/2008, 11:05 PM
He said BAT TRICK. 10/10 for the review and the
- added 01/10/2008, 10:00 AM
Wow. My assertion that Tommy Lee Jones was too
Jim Carrey is 'unfounded'? Wow. That really puts
me in my place. Odd considering I can't watch
that film with anyone without them bowling over
laughing about Jones' hideously over-the-top
- added 01/10/2008, 10:39 AM
Jim Carrey based his performance on the late Frank
Gorshin who played The Riddler in the 60's TV
series, and based on that he is pretty much spot
on. I think Val Kilmer was a much better Batman
than George Clooney, who played the role way to
happy, Bruce Wayne is a tormented soul, Val had
that feeling George did not. They pretty much
fucked up with the character of Two-Face (my
favorite Batman villain), but then again so did
Burton with The Penguin. All in all this movie is
not bad at all, a good comic book adventure,
"Batman & Robin" on the other hand....
- added 01/10/2008, 10:49 AM
Anyone who watched Batman Begins will forget about
this poor excuse of a Batman movie.
- added 01/10/2008, 12:52 PM
Again I say, yes he was over the top and extremely
campy, I'm just saying what he was doing is
nothing compared to what Jim Carrey did/does. You
gotta realize, from where I'm sitting that's a
- added 01/10/2008, 02:21 PM
It was meant as an insult. Jim Carrey's mid-90's
comedy was awful because he didn't know how to
tone himself down at all, and neither did his
directors. Tommy Lee Jones was doing the exact
same thing as Two-Face and Joel Schumacher didn't
know how to tone it down at all. So, yes, if you
took it as an insult, then it came across
appropriately. I love Tommy Lee Jones. I
consider this to be his worst role ever.
- added 01/10/2008, 03:35 PM
- added 01/10/2008, 05:00 PM
Ever watch a little film called Man of the House?
- added 01/10/2008, 05:44 PM
Sure have. I didn't say it was the worst film
he's been in, I said it was his worst role ever.
In "Man of the House", at least he was playing
what he plays best.
- added 01/18/2008, 12:06 PM
Let me be the unpopular kid here and say: I hated
Burton's first "Batman". I will say it was my
least favorite Batman film (this counts any of
those shitty straight-to-video animated ones that
I may have caught), however, this one runs very
close in second place. Carrey's whole stint in the
90s was to be an irritating, over-the-top actor,
and it worked normally. This was no exception,
because I've always thought Riddler to be an
irritating, over-the-top villan. However, Tommy
Lee Jones was a bad Two-Face. I mean, his acting
style wouldn't have been able to fit into the
actual charecter of Two-Face. So, what, they
choose to make him obnoxious? How would that ever
work? Kilmer was not my favorite Batman, but
Clooney was one lower on the Wayne-scale for his
stupid and poor attempts at wit that he actually
managed to make sound like he was reading directly
from the script. That's... just weird... Anyway,
like I said, this film wasn't a peach. I suppose
they did what they could with the charecters and
ideas, but that really doesn't help akward (and
annoying) performance and direction from our leads
and Joel "Bat-Suit-Nipples" Schumacher.
...wait, Nicole Kidman had a charecter in this?
Where the hell was she? 3.9/10
- added 01/18/2008, 12:17 PM
She was the therapist Bruce was trying to nail.
Meanwhile, she just wanted to nail Batman. Funny
how life works huh.
grain of sand
- added 01/29/2008, 07:29 PM
don't like this one, but how bout that seal song
- added 07/27/2008, 07:17 PM
i dont know why no one else ever notices that all
the villains in the batman sequels were just
riffing off nicholson's joker. lame. this one gets
a lot of shit but it isn't nearly as bad as batman
and robin. i can still sit through this if i'm
extremely bored and it happens to be on tv. kilmer
is slighted mainly because of the movie itself,
but he's great as bruce, even with his ridiculous
enunciation of "i am batman!" in the
party scene. this movie would never fly nowadays,
so let's be thankful that people have a LITTLE bit
more care when it comes to beloved franchises, a
decade later. ... just a bit.
The Red Clover
- added 07/27/2008, 10:42 PM
I fell in love with Carrey's version of the
Riddler considering where he drew his inspiration
from. I agree Jim Carrey's portrayal of the
Riddler based on Frank Gorshin's was right on the
money but Two-Face was far too cartoonish. The
character is a killer who does what he wants based
on the flip of a coin, not some nut-job with a
suit that's half bland and half so-colorful you'd
think he just got back from a cruise.
The Red Clover
- added 07/27/2008, 10:44 PM
However, since the reviewer based his score on the
movie itself more than a comparison to the other
movies in the franchise, I have to agree -- this
movie sits somewhere between 5 and 7/10. Excellent
Rest Easy Soul
- added 12/26/2009, 10:11 AM
Jim Carrey makes me enjoy this movie.
- added 07/20/2010, 09:47 PM
I don't know why, but I did like Carrey as the
riddler. The rest of the film sucked and is
probably the worst in the bunch with next one
right behind them. 3/10