Batman And Robin Review

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The Dynamic Duo battles the combined forces of Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy with the help of their new ally, Batgirl.


The Batsuit is wrapped around Clooney; O'Donnell returns as Robin; Arnie is Mr. Freeze and Thurman is Poison Ivy. The only other thing you need to know is that Wayne's Uncle Alfred (Michael Gough) is unwell and Alicia Silverstone arrives not to nurse him but to free him from his life of servitude.

So much for social conscience, but is it fun? Well, yes it is. For the first half-hour it is, anyway: close-ups of the bat and the bird getting suited and booted; chilling with Mr. Freeze in a wham-bam set piece; introducing bad-guy Bane; and fertilising fantasies as Poison Ivy turns from nerdy botanist to vengeful sadist. It all leaves you ready for more.

But then more is exactly what you get. Rather too much more, as both plot and audience attention span stretch to breaking point.

Schumacher has learnt a little from Batman Forever and has reined in the vertigo-inducing crash-cuts making Batman And Robin a lot easier on the eye. But with the change of pace comes a change in emphasis, the target audience now perhaps a little younger and more receptive to cornball wisecracks.

The overall impact is more like the 60s TV series than anything envisaged by D.C. Comics' Bob Kane (whose consultancy credit must be largely contractual) or Tim Burton (whose gloomy architecture of the first two films is the sole remnant of his Dark Knight vision).

In place of Gothic pathos, Schumacher has a simple three-point plan. One: never let anyone say anything profound when there's an excruciating pun to be made. Two: never let anyone use a doorway when there's a wall to smash through. And, three: never ever get the good guys into a situation that can't be solved by a Bathook-and-wire firing thingy. Actually, there's is another, unwritten rule; never let the good guys upstage the talent. And so they don't.

O'Donnell's independent-streak strop soon wears thin and although Clooney is cool in the suit, his Wayne is too laconic, too angst-free, and given to unseemly smirking. Batman And Robin therefore is once more about the nemeses: about Arnie looking like a cross between Gary Glitter and the Lloyd's building, Uma as a set of French curves squeezed deliciously into a green Lycra body-stocking, and er, Bane (her grunting muscleman sidekick who grunts and, yup, has muscles).

But even Arnie (his name at the top of the credits, his dumb-ass one-liner shtick squeezed until the pips shriek for mercy) cannot compete with Thurman. In perhaps the sexiest turn ever seen in a PG rating, she melts celluloid every time she touches it, camping it up but never denting her cool cred. Silverstone and Elle Macpherson (as Bruce Wayne's squeeze) don't even come close. In fact, Silverstone is a major disappointment; though apparently fresh from "Oxbridge", she's not even asked to attempt an English accent, and sulks the whole movie through until, almost too late, the bat and the bird finally get a bat-bird and audiences turn on Batman Begins.

Camp end to dreadful era for Schumacher at the helm of the Batman franchise. Let's hope he doesn't get his hands on it again.