With $100 million, a philanthropic soul might feed starving masses, fund scholarly research,
maybe even devote the money to world peace. On the other hand, a Hollywood moviemaker might, for instance, assemble a star-studded cast, cobble together a lacklustre script, spend oodles on special effects, even more on promoting the movie to preteens—and then release a film sequel that promises hot thrills and delivers mindless tedium. A film, perhaps, like Batman Forever.
Distancing itself from the bleakness of its Tim Burton-directed predecessors, the latest instalment in the Batman series presents a livelier, brighter Dark Avenger. Gone are the subtleties of character and the repressed,
brooding Gotham that made Batman (1989) so compelling. Instead, director Joel Schumacher creates a candy-striped Gotham of reds and yellows, with cartoonish characters to match. It is, at first, a refreshing change, reinforced by a bigname cast that includes Nicole Kidman as Batman’s love interest, Chase Meridian; Chris O’Donnell as sidekick Robin; Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Two-Face; Torontonian Jim Carrey as the Riddler, and Val Kilmer as Batman, donning the mask Michael Keaton wore in the first two movies.
But Batman Forever does not fly. Kilmer’s evident discomfort both as the Caped Crusader and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, only points out what a talented actor Michael Keaton real-
ly is. Or maybe the problem lies in the lack a credible plot, the movie’s flat one-liners or its two-dimensional villains. Jones is wasted as the cackling Two-Face, and Carrey’s Riddler merely irritating. Then again, the actors can hardly compete with the overwhelming rush of special effects and stunts, cut so quickly that they are difficult to follow.
Maybe the kids will like it. But to anyone other than the young in mind, Batman Forever can be dismissed as a super-heroic effort that all too soon becomes mired in its own guano.
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