What The Film?! is a weekly column exclusive to Under The Gun Review that brings to light the plot holes Hollywood hoped you’d never notice. Written by comedy writer Dane Sager, this column shows no mercy to films that try and pull the proverbial wool over our eyes.
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This Week’s Movie: Batman (3 of 3) 1995-1997
I’m going to let you in on a secret. I’m going to tell you about a memory that you all have repressed to the extent that the opposite of what is true is a definitive in pop-culture. This truth will feel like a Bull-Mastiff’s bark; it will resonate deep inside you, shaking every part of your body. Are you ready?
1997′s Batman & Robin is not the gayest Batman movie. 1995′s Batman Forever’s homosexual undertones are more upfront. Batman Forever has homosexual overtones with Batman undertones.
Batman Forever was made after Tim Burton was forced out of the franchise due to how absolutely awful 1993′s Batman Returns was. When Tim Burton left, so did Michael Keaton so Warner Brothers had to recast Batman as well as the role of Harvey Dent (who was played by Billy Dee Williams in 1989′s Batman). It had a great cast, with Val Kilmer as Batman, Jim Carrey as The Riddler, Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face, and Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian. For everything that Batman Forever got right, there were just as many things it got wrong.
Two-Face’s and Robin’s origin were basically how they happened in the comics and The Ridder’s was close enough. Plot wise, this movie was pretty accurate to Batman, just not tone wise. Every single character is acting like the Joker. Every villain just puts on their best Jack Nicholson impression. There are a huge group of people who shrug off The Riddler as a poor knock off of The Joker because of this movie. There’s even people I’ve talked to who are confident that Jim Carrey actually played The Joker in this movie. In his opening scene, Two-Face explains that a coin flip is random and must be trusted, being the only true justice. Despite this, in one scene he keeps flipping his coin till he gets the answer he wants. This is not how you execute two of Batman’s biggest villains.
Robin is unfortunately introduced in this movie and is both stupid and unlikable. The worst part is that this is the most likeable you could do Robin in a movie. You can’t make a 12 year old fight crime with Batman and make it not stupid, so you have to up the age. But lets give him a ear-ring. But lets make him kind of a prick. But lets make him Kung Fu his laundry while undressing Alfred with his eyes. He’s just so creepy and weird.
The Riddler ends up building a machine to read people’s minds and desperately wants to read Bruce Wayne’s mind for most of the movie. When he discovers that Bruce is constantly thinking about Bats, he figures out he’s Batman. He had no idea Bruce was Batman. He had no real reason to read his mind other than for the movie to have him find out he’s Batman.
Bruce Wayne starts seeing a psychatrist to deal with a repressed memory of a red leather book that was in his father’s room. He brings up this red leather book multiple times throughout the movie, but it’s a plot point that never gets resolved. It’s like how 80% of The Amazing Spider-Man was plot points that were never tied up.
Bruce ends up dating his psychiatrist character and feels confident and stable enough in that situation that he decides to retire being Batman. Despite having Two-Face and Riddler destroying the city and knowing he’s the only one who can stop them.
Riddler and Two-Face storm Wayne Mannor and Bruce is shot in the head. He goes into a coma for a few days where there was obviously a deleted scene dealing with the red leather book that was cut out. He wakes up, figures out who The Riddler is (“I am the TITS” he clearly thinks as he storms out of the room), puts on his Batman costume and storms Riddler’s oddly steampunk fortress where he defeats The Riddler, convinces Robin to not kill Two-Face for moral reasons, and then kills Two-Face himself. The End.
Batman & Robin is my most watched Batman movie. I’ve seen it at least once a year since 2004 or so. It is hilarious. It is Mystery Science Theater 3000 bad. It’s incredible, I don’t think I could go a year without watching it. It’s absolutely 100% worth seeing, regardless of what your tastes in movies are. While you can justify a lot of Batman Forever by viewing it as a live action cartoon, Batman & Robin is bad with no justification.
Val Kilmer passed on this sequel and was replaced by George Clooney. While Clooney’s Batman was exactly like his Bruce Wayne, he was a good Bruce Wayne, just an awful Batman. The Dark Knight Rises’ villain choice of Bane is a great one, especially when you consider how awful Bane is in Batman & Robin. The brilliant and ruthless villain is reduced to a Frankenstein’s Monster type role, being a henchman for Poison Ivy. Poison Ivy teams up with Mr. Freeze because they want to eliminate all of humanity, freeze the world, and then repopulate it with man-eating-plants. No, these plants can’t grow in ice, and yes, if they killed everyone then the plants would have nothing to eat. In order to freeze the world, they need to power a laser with diamonds. Diamonds are a power source that power a laser that freezes the world. I can’t even talk about this movie, it’s just way too dumb. It’s like trying to tell you why mud is dirty. It’s just awful and amazing.
Mr. Freeze took his origin from the Batman: The Animated Series’ episode “Heart of Ice”. It, similar to Batman Forever, used the source material, but treated it in such a campy-hokey way that it was just awful. Mr. Freeze’s tragic origin is undermined by his constant ice puns and general retardation. Its writer Akiva Goldsman has won an Academy award for his writing, just not for this movie. When asked about the incredible difference between his Oscar winning work and Batman & Robin, he proudly replied with “I have more ice puns if you’d like to hear them”.
The biggest fault in its production was that while Batman Forever was successful, its merchandising outsold ticket sales so WB decided to make this movie as toy friendly as possible. Many villains, several changes to the Batsuit, and almost every time they leave the Bat-Cave the dynamic duo use different vehicles. Ever wonder why Iron Man has a different suit in each movie? So they can sell you a new toy. This was literally a two hour toy commercial and it was so bad that it took eight years before the next Batman movie, 2005′s Batman Begins. Having that Batmanless eight year gap from 97-05 was painful as a massive Batman fan but the wait was ultimately worth it. Batman Begins proved so popular that it started the Reboot craze we’re all in. Hell, after The Dark Knight Rises they’re rebooting it again.