How bad is it really? Seriously… how terrible was 'Batman and Robin'? This reporter had to find out. This came about as I was doing some research for an article I was writing for the blog on the worst blockbusters ever… if the Internet is good for one thing, it is good for generating lists… and at the top of this list, almost every time, was this movie 'Batman & Robin', with the exception of one list which had 'The Phantom Menace' listed at the top. 'Speed 2' was generally near the top as well. So I decided to buckle down and watch it myself, with the odd thing being that 1) I saw it the theaters back in 1997 and don't remember a damn thing about it, and 2) I own it, and every other Batman movie on some form of digital disc. So I did watch 'Batman & Robin', and how bad was it? Jebus… It was awful. Took me three days to get through it. Tomes have been written about the awfulness of 'Batman & Robin' by those who write far better than me, but nonetheless, we are here to tell what we saw.
Gotta say one thing for Joel Schumacher's film, it certainly wastes no time getting its audience into the action. Almost immediately, Batman (George Clooney) and Robin (Chris O'Donnell) are dispatched to the hyper colorful Gotham Museum to do battle with the nefarious Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger). We should mention as Batman and Robin get ready, we are blessed with great shots of Bat Buns, Bat Pecs and Bat Crotch. This also lets us know that it doesn't take much time to realize that this same audience is in a heap of trouble. This action is frenetic, hyper, nonsensical and features some of the worst wire work we've seen since 1970's era kung fu flicks. The dialog consists of mainly gawdawful one-liners, and most anybody who's seen this movie have picked out there favorite / worse ones, especially considering the entire script is constructed of 90% of one-liners… but we knew we were in the land of the hopeless when Batman and Robin popped out the Bat Blades and started ice skating. It's looking like the reports might be true.
So the movie plays on and we realize that as characters, Mr. Freeze is terrible, Batman is wishy-washy and Robin is a whiner, but we still have Poison Ivy on deck to maybe save the day. We love us some Uma Thurman here at the FCU, but Poison Ivy didn't save the day… but I think she was the least terrible if only because she seemed to be the only one who realized the movie was supposed to be one big joke, so at least she didn't really make it worse. She speaks mostly in stale one-liners too.
There's more frenetic action, Robin continues to incessantly whine, Mr. Freeze continues making cold references, and about halfway through 'Batman and Robin' is looking to be one of the worst movies ever made. Amazingly, it's about to get even worse, because Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) is on her way. And while there was really no saving this movie before Batgirl showed up, now it will become legendary. It will be more than a decade before we see a blockbuster almost as bad as this one, and we're looking at you 'The Last Airbender'.
Quick story, and really the only thing I have to add to the biblical amount of words that have been written about this movie. A good friend of mine who lives in L.A. was in some trendy restaurant a few years back, because he's that kind of guy, and at the table behind him was one guy railing on another guy basically saying 'I did not kill the franchise! I'm not talking the fall for that… it was screwed long before it got to me'. And that person, according to my friend, was George Clooney yelling at his agent. True story. According to my friend. Who really doesn't lie. Much. Apparently George said a lot more, but we're not going to get into that. But why was this movie so terrible? Let's examine the main players, shall we?
George Clooney - Batman. George Clooney has an easy, boyish charm to him. That really doesn't work for Batman. Even when Bruce Wayne received the worst news, he just gave us that sly boyish grin that basically let us know how good looking he is, and that everything is under control because bad things don't really happen to beautiful people. It was a fail.
Chris O'Donnell - Robin. This Robin was conceived poorly in Batman Forever, and just got worse here. Robin as the petulant, whining, insubordinate child probably would've been more tolerable if, say, Robin wasn't like thirty.
Arnold Schwarzenegger - Mr. Freeze. I get it… George, Chris, Uma, and Alicia aren't BIG enough. We need a big star to set this off. Doesn't get much bigger than Arnold and WB is still paying him for this movie. The rub is that this is Batman we are talking about and Batman all by his lonesome sells tickets, not necessarily the stars in Batman which makes this easily one of the worst casting decisions in cinematic history, and we love Arnold here at the FCU. Rumor is that Patrick Stewart was in line to play Mr. Freeze. Obviously Mr. Stewart is a better actor than Arnold but beyond that, WB probably could've saved themselves about 20 million dollars, and Patrick Stewart probably would've refused to say 'Cool Party' or 'Tonight Hell Freezes Over' or 'Allow me to break the Ice' or 'It's the Chilling Sound of your Doom'.
Uma Thurman - Poison Ivy. She had terrible one liners as well, but you know… for whatever reason we didn't mind Uma in this movie. Hell if I know why.
Alicia Silverstone - Batgirl. Anybody who chews up their food and spits it back in their babies mouth is alright in my book. This is how Alicia feeds her kids. But Batgirl… I thought Alicia was a solid casting choice, being young and beautiful, if not all that athletic… but the non-athletic part is probably what did her in. Resulting in the worst catfight between her and Poison Ivy I think I've ever seen. And why did they make her Alfred's niece as opposed to Commissioner Gordon's daughter? Probably because they made Commissioner Gordon a buffoon I guess.
Joe Schumacher. He survived this mess... gave me Blood Creek... Bat nipples and all. But yeah, it was a bad as we all heard. Worse even.