Thursday, 30 March 2017

TBT - Batman and Robin (1997)

I'm so tired right now. I've had a string of early shifts this week and it's killing me. Tomorrow is my last day before I have a week off and I can't wait. I just need to sleep for a week. I have no plans and, quite frankly, it's a delightful thought. Still, before I can start to relax too much I have to get tomorrow over and done with. And before I can get work finished I have to go to bed. And before I do that I have to finish this review. God, why did I leave this to the last minute again? I was getting so much better with my schedule. So, this is no doubt going to be terrible and rushed but it's an idea I've been thinking about all week. So let's just get on with it.


Apparently, back in 2010 Batman and Robin was officially named the worst film ever by readers of Empire magazine. I mean, I know it's a terrible film, that's not something I'm going to argue with, but "the worst" film ever made? That seems a bit melodramatic. I've since loads of films I'd rather watch less than I'd watch Batman and Robin. Plus, a lot of the arguments against Joel Schumacher's second time adapting the adventures of the Caped Crusader onto the screen revolve around it being a killer of a successful franchise. When it was released this would have been true but you can hardly say that now. Without Joel Schumacher there would, realistically, have been no Christopher Nolan. It took a film so desperately bad and stupid for people to say "we need a new, darker Dark Knight". Batman and Robin is the Joker to The Dark Knight's Batman. And don't people really love the Joker?

Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that this film is full of redeeming features. This isn't like the time I tried to defend the prequels to you all. I'm not stupid. I know this film is bad. However, I'm here to argue that is falls into the category of 'so bad it's good'. Everything about this film is trying to get me to hate it but I just can't. It makes me cringe but in the same way that people really seem to like about The Inbetweeners. You know that everything happening before your eyes is bad and should be stopped. Can you stop watching it though? I can't.

Of course, I'm not a fucking moron. This film is downright bad. It was a misguided attempt to turn the character of Batman into a cartoon character that would appeal to children and create loads of money through merchandising. It was film-making for all the wrong reasons and Joel Schumacher was too arrogant to see that he couldn't pull it off. Batman, as fans of the comic books are always ready to remind us, is serious business. This film is like a fucking toy advert that makes Adam West's television series look like a bloody Shakespeare play. It's bad. The batsuit nipples, the bat credit card, Alicia Silverstone, Mr Freeze, Uma Thurman, Chris O'Donnell, Bane. I could sit here just typing out everything single person or inanimate object that appears in this movie because it's all just awful.

However, I can't help but like this film just a little bit. I mean doesn't it kind of fill you with joy that a film could be made that's quite this bad? There are barely any (and that's being too nice) redeeming features of this film which, in itself, is a bit of a redeeming feature. It's the same mentality I have about Mama Mia. I hate that film with every fibre of me being but I sometimes have a huge desire to sit there and watch it. Why? Because it's so fucking bad and that's kind of comforting. I think we live in what could be described as a Golden Age of Hollywood where actors are getting better, scripts are getting more intelligent and well-written, and directors are finding new ways to knock our socks off. So, when one major fuck up slips through the cracks you have to kind of love it. It's like those contestants that somehow get through to the live rounds on X Factor despite having no real talent. The audience loves them because they are so bad.

But that's not the only reason to love it. Batman and Robin is camp and shitty, undoubtedly. But it's meant to be camp and shitty. It plays off against the super dark Tim Burton offerings to get back to the unintentionally camp and shitty 60s show... on purpose. If nothing else, you have to admire the fact that Joel Schumacher sees Batman for what he kind of is. Yes, the comic book character is dark and gritty and everything. But there has always been an inherent silliness to the character. He's a billionaire who dresses like a fucking bat. He has loads of bat related toys, gadgets and vehicles. That's always been silly. This just puts that at the forefront instead of pretending this is all just very cool and realistic. The reason this film is so reviled is not because it is truly "the worst film ever" but because it's the worst Batman film ever. For awful comic book fans that's the worst thing in the world.

They need to chill the fuck out. Now, I love Tim Burton's Batman films more than any other films that have been made about Bruce Wayne and his alter ego. But I have to admit that there are some improvements here. These feel more self-aware and less bogged down with u necessary tension. George Clooney makes a pretty decent and not-someone-you-instantly-want-to-punch-in-the-face kind of Bruce Wayne. Yes, he's not great but he brings a softer and more human side to the character. It's nice. This is the one of the few versions of Bruce Wayne that you might actually want to have a beer with. These positives aren't anything to write home about but they're something.

I'm not going to pretend this film is good: it's not. It fails at being a comedy, it fails at being dramatic, it fails at telling a decent story, and it fails at creating interesting characters with interesting arcs. It is the results of three or four small plots being sewn together by someone who has never seen a needle and thread before. However, it does succeed in being terrible. Which, quite frankly, is not nothing. It's something. And it's something that demands to be remembered every now and then. Because, how else will we all remember Arnie telling us it's "ice to see you"?

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