Batman and Robin (review)

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Bring Me the Head of Joel Schumacher!

Friends of mine coined themselves a new word after they saw last year’s Spawn: they said it was “beyawful” — “beyond awful” — the worst movie they had ever seen.

They have yet to see Batman and Robin (starring George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Alicia Silverstone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Uma Thurman… who should all be ashamed of themselves).
This… length of celluloid is an example of the worst type of corporate moviemaking — throw in a bunch of “stars” (not actors) to play a pile of villains and heroes, pay ’em tons, and you can dispense with characterization and a coherent script. Shot like a commercial for Bruce Wayne(TM) Bat Gear, this is soulless, heartless moviemaking by committee.

What frightens me is that somewhere in Hollywood, someone — probably many someones — read this script and thought, This would make a movie humans would appreciate seeing.

Not since The Celestine Prophecy has anything so enraged me in its asininity. This thing contains the most unbelievably inane dialogue I’ve ever heard in a movie. Actually uttered, in dead seriousness: “Kill the heroes!” “I’m afraid you’ll have to die,” and “She’s definitely evil.” (Print cannot truly convey the horror.) Batman and the Boy Dunder don’t speak to one another — they quip. There are jokes about action figures that are meant to be ironically self-referential, but they’re just dumb. It’s a pathetic attempt to replicate “Xena: Warrior Princess” or “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” and it fails miserably. Do you see what you’ve wrought, Sam Raimi? Everyone thinks they’re as cool as you now.

Batman and Robin is cartoony in the worst way — every “character” in the movie defies the laws of physics in ways that would make Wily Coyote blush. When the ever-escalating ridiculousness finally culminates in Batman and Robin “surfing” on air currents from 30,000 feet to land safely on the ground, your normally more restrained filosopher — I’m embarrassed to admit — at last yelled “What the f*ck!” at the television, scaring the cats.

And where oh where is our charmingly psychotic Bruce Wayne? Michael Keaton inhabited Batman, made Batman a symptom of Wayne’s tortured soul. Okay, I’ll even take Val Kilmer in those little glasses. But I don’t get the Clooney thing, that gosh-darn, bashful-little-boy bit — why do women find it attractive that a man can’t make eye contact for more than two seconds? Tim Burton’s dark, brooding, introspective Bruce Wayne has been turned into… Doug Ross. Clooney’s good on ER, but he sucks on toast here.

I shan’t even go into the absurd plot.

Batman and Robin is without a single redeeming quality. I, who can always find something of interest in a flick — make that almost always — instead find myself simply slack-jawed at its awfulness. To paraphrase the wonderful curmudgeon Dorothy Parker: This is not a movie to be tossed aside light — it is to be thrown with great force.

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