Batman Forever (1995)
★★ / ★★★★
While checking up on Wayne Enterprises’ electronics division, Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer) was approached by the nervous Dr. Edward Nygma (Jim Carrey), a brilliant scientist and a longtime fan of the humanitarian, about a project that needed funding. Dr. Nygma wished to put a device in every home in Gotham City which would send beams from the television signal directly to the brain, allowing the viewers to feel like they were inside the program. Bruce detected that the underlying assumption involved mind manipulation so he refused to continue Dr. Nygma’s project. The outraged scientist, eventually turning into The Riddler, promised to get revenge on Bruce for turning down his proposition. Directed by Joel Schumacher, “Batman Forever” was so cartoonish in just about every respect and yet it might have held up if there was something else behind the glitter, sensuality, and explosions. The events that transpired felt so disconnected from one another. Characters entered and exited scenes which served little point in moving the story forward. For instance, Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman), a psychologist specializing in multiple personality disorders, and Bruce were supposed to discuss the trauma that the latter experienced due to his parents’ death. This was a golden opportunity because up to this point, the audience was offered no in-depth explanation of the tragedy. However, their sessions came off so laughably phony. With every other line uttered, Dr. Meridian outwardly flirted with her patient. Kidman’s decision to sport a sultry bedroom voice made her character appear meretricious when she was supposed to be, first and foremost, smart and knowing. I just hate it when women are supposed to be intellectuals and yet their hair glowed as if they were in a shampoo commercial, their red, puffy lips were always prominent every time the camera focused on their faces, and, if the camera somehow managed to pull back, it was all about the curves and featuring the most desirable angles. I like women exuding raw sexuality but if that is the only factor that the film focuses on about the character when clearly she has something more to offer, it looks completely ridiculous. Worse, it took me out of the experience. On the other hand, I did somewhat enjoy the introduction of Robin (Chris O’Donnell), how he came off as an ungrateful brat after Bruce provided a home for him when he had no one else. O’Donnell and Kilmer shared good chemistry when they argued. However, in terms of offering excellent reasons as to why Batman needed a partner to fight crime, the screenplay by Lee Batchler, Janet Scott Batchler, and Akiva Goldsman proved lackluster. The same problem applied as to why The Riddler needed Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) to hunt Batman. The former may not rely on guns but he had the brain in setting up ingenious traps. Meanwhile, Two-Face, formerly known as Harvey Dent, provoked chaos so randomly, he came off like a pest that desperately needed pesticide more than an antagonist with clear motivations. Unlike The Riddler, very little background information was offered about Two-Face. “Batman Forever” occasionally showed a glimmer of interesting material, such as Dr. Nygma’s creepy obsession with Bruce, but it was unfortunate that its priority was on expanding the elements that didn’t work. At least the riddles made me think.