Batman and Robin also known as “Batman & Robin”
Reviewed by: Bill Williams
2 hr. 5 min.
Year of Release:
June 20, 1997 (wide)
disease / terminal illness
being haunted one’s past
What is man’s responsibility to the environment? Answer
How might rain forest destruction affect our weather? Answer
“Strength. Courage. Honor. And loyalty. It ALL comes together…”
The latest in the “Batman” series offers more of the same you expect in the series—Batman (George Clooney, taking over from Val Kilmer and Michael Keaton), Robin (Chris O'Donnell), and Batgirl (series newcomer Alicia Silverstone) against a vengeful Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and a diabolical Poison Ivy (a very campy Mae West-type performance by Uma Thurman).
It’s a lot of flash and spectacle highlighted by some incredible computer-generated special effects (a long way from “Batman Forever”) and multiple choreographed fight scenes, none of them violent to the point of overdone blood and gore.
The best performance comes not from any of the major stars but from series regular Michael Gough as Alfred, Batman’s butler. In the best moment of the film, the dying Alfred informs Bruce Wayne (Clooney) that he has loved him as a son and has freely given up any life he could have had to take care of the young orphan. It is this sense of family and belonging that brings the human element of unconditional love to an otherwise dark character.
In total contrast, Poison Ivy (Thurman) comes off as someone looking to replace God and become a god herself. As a Christian, I was very offended by her line, “God created the world in seven days, let’s see if I can do it better.” For that matter, she and Mr. Freeze (an equally campy Schwarzenegger) both see themselves as gods looking to destroy the world and recreate it in their images of ice and greenery. It’s this James Bond-ish mentality that ruins any other morality this film could have had, but then again, the “Batman” films have been more about the villains than the heart of the hero himself.
This film also has sexual innuendo from start to finish, from the very first scene with the heroes suiting up for battle, to an endless stream of sexual double-talk and wordplay. The original character certainly had none of that.
Director Joel Schumacher is set on making the Dark Knight of the comics very colorful, bringing an upbeat and campy (outlandish) quality to the series. In my own experience, Superman is supposed to be the campier of the two heroes, while Batman is the darker. Now the trend seems to have reversed itself, with Batman as a campy, colorful Joker-type hero, while the upcoming “Superman” film promises to be dark and dismal.
It’s rated PG-13 for comic-style violence (no bloodshed), and lots of sexual overtones. An alternate recommendation: either the 1966 “Batman” film with Adam West and Burt Ward as the heroes in a deliberately outlandish film that’s fun for kids of all ages, or 1978’s “Superman”, the definitive superhero film of all time.
See review of Batman Begins (2005).
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.