It’s funny. Back in the day when I used to love any superhero movie that came in to theaters, I found myself getting excited by “Batman & Robin.” Why? Because he mentions Superman in the opening for a brief second. Nevertheless that was when fans and Warner were still considering a Batman and Superman movie, and that never came to fruition, thankfully. “Batman & Robin” is a glorious mess. It’s a movie so awful that it’s compelling at times.
Someone somewhere thought Uma Thurman was attractive enough to play the seductive Poison Ivy. Someone somewhere thought it was a good idea to make Arnold Schwarzenegger Mr. Freeze and provide him with so much dialogue you could barely understand anything he mutters aloud. Someone somewhere thought it’d be a good idea to introduce Batgirl. And for some reason even though she’s now Alfred’s long lost niece, in the finale we discover he’s prepared a Bat suit for her and mysteriously has her measurements. Since when is Alfred a sentient being?
Once again Batman takes a back seat and is reduced to supporting character as the villainous trio of Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Bane take the stage while the script introduces Barbara Pennyworth as Batgirl along with the continued adventures of Robin. Schumacher further demystifies Batman yet again by making him a lovable superhero that all of Gotham adores and cherishes. In the first “Batman” he was like the Moth man, someone everyone talked about but were never sure existed. This time he’s appearing at aristocratic parties like a parade float and hob knobbing with the Gotham elite. Way to stay with the people, Batman!
This time around Batman and Robin are bickering like a married couple, fighting over cars, and arguing over who should be trusted in their relationship. While in the throws of their marital squabbling, Mr. Freeze is on the scene looking for a diamond that could help restore his sick wife, while Pamela Isely wreaks havoc as the floral thug Poison Ivy who is never discreet about her crime. Ivy dresses like a drag queen for most of the film, while Batman and Robin battle for her affection thanks to her pheromones. Meanwhile, Alfred has suddenly taken ill and is on his death bed, and Bruce must find a way to cure him, or make peace with his inevitable passing. Much of what occurs in the film is a complete misfire and every attempt at drama and character focus is flat and uninspiring.
While George Clooney is an interesting choice for Bruce Wayne, he’s much too self-aware for Batman and comes off like he’s almost too smarmy to wear the suit. Bruce’s conflict with Alfred’s death is completely bland and often times limp melodrama, while the conflict of Barbara’s life is forced and incredibly uninteresting. The action set pieces are completely and utterly tedious and never quite manage to deliver any impact or tension as they did in the first two Batman movies. It’s tough to fear for Batman and Robin’s welfare when they come prepared with ice skates on their boots. Alicia Silverstone was the basic It girl of the nineties, so it’s a no brainer she’d be cast as Batgirl.
It’s just sad that she’s a horribly unconvincing Barbara who can barely mutter an inadvertently comical kung fu “hyah!” let alone a strong right hook. “Batman & Robin” is a film that’s still every bit as wretched as it was when I first laid eyes on it. I could write an entire book about this calamity of a film, but thankfully Batman went on to better things. The death knell of the original series, “Batman & Robin” is a colossal waste of time and a pure piece of dreck that fails to deliver anything of merit or worth at every turn. Poor casting, poor writing, poor special effects, just piss poor all around.