‘BATMAN & ROBIN’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Batman, Robin and Batgirl with Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy
‘Batman & Robin’ is the fourth of the original ‘Batman’ movie series! Joel Schumacher returns to direct this film and it stars George Clooney as Batman and Chris O’Donnell as Robin, Batman’s sidekick.
The film also features two villains in Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. It also introduces Alicia Silverstone as Barbara Wilson/Batgirl (I’ll talk more on this later).
Oh dear, oh deary me! ‘Batman & Robin’ is considered to be the worst ‘Batman’ film ever made. In fact, many fans hate this movie to the degree that it’s considered the worst superhero movie ever!
I don’t think that this is the best film of the original ‘Batman’ series. But after seeing the movie twice, I don’t consider it the worst superhero movie ever. For me, that claim goes to the 2003 ‘Hulk’ movie!
Unlike the first three films’ efforts, this movie went into more comedic territory. This was due to the creative choices that director Joel Schumacher went for, but it was terribly misguided in this movie.
I’ve read and seen plenty of reviews by fans and critics on why ‘Batman & Robin’ is considered the worst movie ever. I’ve taken these arguments aboard and I have found them intriguing to discover.
Some say that this movie is essentially an adaptation of the Adam West ‘Batman’ TV series from the 60s. But for me, having seen the Adam West ‘Batman’ TV series already, I would argue against that.
The film doesn’t look anything like the Adam West ‘Batman’ TV series with its dark lighting and atmosphere and not being bright and colourful. I also found the Adam West series funnier than this!
George Clooney stars as Bruce Wayne/Batman in the movie. I must admit I found George Cloony an odd choice to play Batman and didn’t consider him to be very convincing as Batman when I saw this.
When I see him, I don’t think of George Clooney as Batman. I think of George Clooney as George Clooney. I also don’t think he put enough effort into his performance as Batman (no gravelly voice!)
This leads me onto talking about a theory I have with the original ‘Batman’ movie series. I believe that Batman/Bruce Wayne is a Time Lord in these ‘Batman’ movies. This is the reason why I think like that.
Batman seems to change from Michael Keaton into Val Kilmer into George Clooney without anyone commenting on it. Alfred, Robin and Commissioner Gordon don’t comment it and they’ve stayed the same.
I know there were behind-the-scenes issues with actors not getting on well with the directors and such. But to put these four ‘Batman’ films in a relative state of continuity, the theory’s plausible, right? 😀
Chris O’Donnell returns as Robin in this movie. I must say, I found Robin rather annoying in the film. He complains and whines a lot about Batman not trusting him and considering him a team member.
This contrasts differently to ‘Batman Forever’, as I thought the two would have progressed beyond that stage. If this was an adaptation of the Adam West series, Batman and Robin would be buddies.
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Mr. Freeze, the movie’s main villain. Schwarzenegger is famous for many action films such as the ‘Terminator’ series. For me, he starred in the film ‘Jingle All The Way’.
However, this is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s downfalls as an actor in the movies. Although the story for Mr. Freeze’s origins was interesting, Schwarzenegger’s performance was way over the top.
Speaking of which…the ice puns! Oh dear me! The ice puns! This is supposed to be a movie where it’s dark and serious and where many characters need to shut up! Mr. Freeze has too many ice puns in this!
Mr. Freeze needed to be intimidating and he didn’t need to have ‘ice’ puns in order to do that. The ones that spring to mind are “What killed the dinosaurs?! The Ice Age!” and “The Iceman Cometh!!!”
Uma Thurman stars as Poison Ivy, the second villainess of the movie. I have to say, I found Mr. Freeze more interesting than Poison Ivy. It was intriguing how Poison Ivy came to be born in her origins.
But I found Poison Ivy rather hard-going, even though her seductive powers of blowing love gas into Batman and Robin to split them up was disturbing. She seemed to be an annoyance when I saw her.
There is a third villain in the movie called Bane played by ‘Jeep’ Swenson. Bane is a major ‘Batman’ villain from the comics, but I found his role in the movie functionary since he just worked for Posion Ivy.
Alicia Silverstone stars as Barbara Wilson/Batgirl, Alfred Pennyworth’s niece. Stop! Okay, if the moviemakers wanted to make authentic ‘Batman’, they should have got Barbara/Batgirl’s surname right!
Batgirl was never Alfred’s niece! In the Adam West TV series (and presumably in the comics), Batgirl was Barbara Gordon, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter. Why did they change that in the film?!
I found Alicia Silverstone lovely in the movie and her performance as Barbara/Batgirl okay. But she doesn’t do much in the movie, apart from motorcycle racing and being Batgirl at the movie’s climax.
The film also stars Michael Gough as Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s butler in the movie. I found Alfred’s story in the movie very interesting, especially when he becomes ill and there’s a fear he might die in this.
Pat Hingle also returns as Commissioner Gordon in the film. There’s also Elle Macpherson as Julie Madison, Bruce’s girlfriend. It would’ve been so nice to have seen more of that relationship in this film.
As for the action sequences, there are plenty of them in the movie. It’s more ‘flash, bang, wallop’ as my Dad would call it. I can’t see it echoing the Adam West ‘Batman’ TV series as it’s too fast-paced for me.
‘Batman & Robin’ has been an interesting movie from the original ‘Batman’ film series. I enjoyed watching it, even after a second time. I don’t consider it to be a great movie, but I did find it entertaining.
I can’t hold the same view as everyone else for considering this to be the worst movie ever and I can’t say that I ‘hate’ it. I find it silly, annoying and nonsensical in places, but I don’t hold a grudge against it.
‘Batman & Robin’ was released on a 2-disc special edition DVD in 2005. The DVD special features are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s an audio commentary by director Joel Schumacher and a theatrical trailer of the movie.
On Disc 2, there’s the ‘Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight, Part 6’ documentary and the ‘Beyond Batman’ documentary/gallery. There’s also ‘The Heroes’ profiles gallery; ‘The Villains’ profile gallery; four music videos and one deleted scene.
There was going to be a fifth ‘Batman’ movie made in the original film series called ‘Batman Unchained’. This would have had George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone reprise their roles as Batman, Robin and Batgirl. Sadly, the failure of ‘Batman & Robin’ prevented that from happening.
‘The Batman Motion Picture Anthology’ DVD box set has been a treat for me as I enjoyed all four movies in turn. My favourites from this collection have to be the first ‘Batman’ film and ‘Batman Forever’. I found them great, fun movies to watch and they made me become a ‘Batman’ fan in the end.
‘Batman & Robin’ rating – 5/10
‘BATMAN & ROBIN’ (NOVELIZATION)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Joel Schumacher Universe of ‘Batman’ Continues In Book
Does the Bat Credit Card feature in this movie novelization?
Novelizations are interesting. I mean that in the best sense of the word. In my mind, a novelization is a recreation of a story that’s a production in either TV, film or audio form. In some ways, a novelization can help to enhance a story in prose style. In some ways, it can’t. This can vary depending on the story.
I’ve read quite a number of novelizations over the years. This includes the various ‘Doctor Who’ Target novelizations by various writers. Most of the novelizations are by Terrance Dicks. I often find that Terrance Dicks did well to depict a story in prose form. Very often, he stuck to what was seen on TV.
But then you have writers who don’t often stick to what’s in the original story as shown on TV. Sometimes you have detailed and verbose novelizations by Ian Marter and Terrence Dudley and you have rushed and often incomplete novelizations by Malcolm Hulke and Peter Grimwade. This can vary.
I’ve enjoyed the ‘Doctor Who’ novelizations I’ve read so far and very often it’s with audiobooks. I’ve also read novelizations on certain movies I’ve seen. This includes the fabulously awesome movie novelizations of the original ‘Spider-Man’ film trilogy by Peter David! Seriously, those books are amazing!
For many novelizations, they help to enhance the story in detailed ways that were never discovered before. It’s often the case with movie novelizations as they help you to find the details you’ve never seen in a movie before. I like to read a novelization of a film/TV show/audio to enhance my enjoyment.
Very often as is the case with novelizations of films, TV shows and audios, they can also help to disguise something that is considered to be bad by critics and audiences alike. If you see a film or TV show that is considered awful in your mind, a novelization can tell you otherwise and say its not really the case.
I’ve found the ‘Black Orchid’ novelization to be better than the TV episodes because of Terrence Dudley’s wonderful enriched detail to the story. I enjoyed ‘The Horns of Nimon’ novelization a lot since Terrance Dicks kept to what Anthony Read envisaged in the tale and removed a lot of the silliness in it.
Despite people saying the ‘Fantastic Four’ movies from 2005 and 2007 are awful, I enjoyed them both in film form and especially novelization form. The novelizations allow you to appreciate the characters and to understand them more compared than what an actual movie or TV production can do.
It’s often a vain hope that a novelization can save a movie or TV product that is considered bad by the viewing public and critics. I’ve come across situations where novelizations don’t work for me such as the ones for ‘The Romans’ and ‘Time-Flight’ in ‘Doctor Who’. But I try very hard to keep an open mind.
I know many people can disregard a film or TV production very harshly because of its visual representation and direction in the output. But I’d like to find the positive and negative of any product. Very often a novelization can help me to appreciate a story in terms of its good and its bad throughout.
And this is what I’m trying to get at in terms of this review here. It’s now time to complete a journey I’ve been having by exploring the movie novelizations of the original ‘Batman’ movie series from 1989 to 1997. This has been an enjoyable, invigorating experience for me to read these movie novelizations.
In March 2018, I read and reviewed the movie novelization of ‘Batman Forever’ by Peter David. This was out of curiosity on my part as I wanted to find out whether the movie was really considered awful by some people’s standpoints and whether the novelization could save the film in some form or other.
I eventually decided to read and review the rest of the ‘Batman’ movie series, starting with the novelization of the 1989 ‘Batman’ film by Tim Burton in March 2019 and then with ‘Batman Returns’ in August/September of that year. And here we are on the final book of this series – ‘Batman & Robin’!
‘Batman & Robin’ is notoriously considered by many to be the worst ‘Batman’ movie ever made in the history of cinema. It was criticised for its direction; the script; overuse of humour and puns and ultimately being a mess. It was the film that ultimately killed off the original movie series back in 1997.
From my point of view…I have a soft spot for ‘Batman & Robin’. Okay, I’m not insane here. I know this movie doesn’t work altogether well and I admit it’s the weakest of the four movies made in that period. But honestly, I can tolerate this movie for what it’s trying to do. I’ve seen a lot worse than this.
The direction by Joel Schumacher in placing too much humour and making the film more kid-friendly was rather misplaced. After all, this was following on from the efforts of Tim Burton who made a darker, gritty version of the Dark Knight superhero. The film was heading back into more Adam West territory.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the Adam West TV show of ‘Batman’. On the contrary, I love that series despite its campy humour. But it’s the wrong tone for an already established darker superhero movie series. So yeah, I do understand and appreciate why a lot of people despise this film.
But can a movie novelization save this despised film? Is there something of value to be found in ‘Batman & Robin’ in book form rather than film form? Well, that’s what I endeavoured to find out as I read the book in October 2019. And I must admit, it was a pretty enjoyable and intriguing experience.
The movie novelization of ‘Batman & Robin’ is by Michael Jan Friedman, based on the screenplay by Akiva Goldsman. Michael Jan Friedman is considered a New York Times bestselling author for many ‘Star Trek’ novels. Not I’ve read his ‘Star Trek’ novels, but from what I have read here, I can believe that.
It was interesting to read this novelization by Michael Jan Friedman based on a movie script for what would become a despised film. I’m not sure how much of what Friedman novelized was in the original movie script or not. But it was intriguing how he tackled the process of novelizing the script into book.
The book begins with an acknowledgements page by Michael Jan Friedman himself. It’s ironic that Friedman praised the writing of the movie script whilst audiences and critics would say otherwise upon the movie’s release. Maybe the movie would’ve been praised very differently if it was better directed.
The story is divided into 19 chapters with a prologue at the beginning. It was interesting to read the prologue as it features the scene with Bruce Wayne as a young boy with his parents before they killed by criminals. One of the puzzling things about that scene in book is it doesn’t feature Jack Napier in it.
I got puzzled because I would’ve thought having Jack Napier in that scene for the ‘Batman & Robin’ novelization would be essential, considering he was the one who killed Bruce’s parents before he became the Joker in the first ‘Batman’ movie. Why didn’t Friedman feature that detail in the prologue?
Peter David made it clear in the ‘Batman Forever’ novelization that Jack Napier killed Bruce’s parents, so why didn’t Friedman do it here? Anyway, we eventually have scenes where Alfred gets advised by a solicitor to look after Bruce during his time of turmoil over his parents’ death. This is so essential here.
The theme of ‘Batman & Robin’ in the book is when Alfred being a father figure to Bruce, especially when he’s on his way out to his death bed. Certain flashbacks are featured in the book as well as in the movie of Bruce recollecting the times he had as a boy with Alfred looking after him whilst he was growing up.
Also in the prologue, we have a teenage Bruce meeting Victor Fries with his wife Nora in the background before he became Mr. Freeze in the movie. This was intriguing to discover in the prologue. It would’ve been nice to have seen this in the movie in order to enhance Batman/Freeze’s relationship.
We then get into the actual movie from Chapter 1 onwards. It starts differently though with Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson in the Wayne Manor dining room about to have dinner before they see the Bat-signal in the sky. The heroes eventually make their way down into that Batcave in order to suit up.
The suiting up and heading out to stop Mr. Freeze is very different in the book compared to the movie. For one thing we don’t have the opening lines of Robin wanting a car as ‘chicks dig the car’ before Batman says, “This is why Superman works alone.” Yeah! That’s completely different in the book here.
Though saying that, I am curious by why Batman said that line in the movie. I know it’s a bad joke in bad taste, but I think it deserves better examination here. If we’re to take him seriously, does this mean Superman and Batman exist in the same universe? And was it the Christopher Reeve Superman?
It would make sense to me considering the original Batman and Superman movie series have been four movies long, with their last two movies being criticised heavily. And if it were the case, what did happen to Superman in this universe? Did he get killed off by this universe’s version of Doomsday? 😀
Still keeping on the theme of Batman and Superman existing the same universe, Alfred says something interesting about his relationship to Barbara Wilson compared to what the movie did. And yes, I know it was featured in a deleted scene found on the Blu-ray I have of the movie, but I’m going by the book here.
In the book, it’s established that Barbara Wilson isn’t actually Alfred’s niece. Barbara was the daughter of a woman Alfred fell in love with many years ago named Margaret Clark. Apparently, they met in Metropolis…WAIT A MINUTE!!! There’s a Metropolis featured in this universe as well as Gotham city!!!
Oh my goodness! How come they didn’t have it clearly established that Batman and Superman existed in the same universe? And how come they didn’t say it was the Christopher Reeve Superman? It would’ve helped to make that opening line of Batman’s less cringeworthy than it sounded in the actual movie.
And yes, Barbara Wilson is still named Barbara Wilson rather than Barbara Gordon to become Batgirl. I know that Friedman was novelizing the movie based on what was in the actual script, but surely it would’ve been better to have Barbara be Commissioner Gordon’s daughter to stay true to the comics.
Barbara’s character is also more interesting the book compared to the movie. From her point of view, she’s anxious about Alfred’s well-being and thinking he’s not treated well being a servant at Wayne Manor. I know it’s not well-explored in the film, but I was able to appreciate it more in the actual book.
And believe it or not, the villains Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy are more convincing in the book compared to the movie. I know that sounds hard to believe but hear me out. Despite the pun making still made in the story via book form, I was able to appreciate Freeze and Poison Ivy’s motivations as villains here.
I can emphasise with Freeze’s desire to save his wife from a terminal illness while keeping her in cold storage. Freeze is also less silly as a villain. I could hear his ice pun making and being intimidating at the same time. It helps not to hear Arnold Schwarzeneggerr’s OTT performance as Mr. Freeze sometimes.
I was also able to suspend Uma Thurman’s awful acting in reading the book regarding Poison Ivy’s character. I could appreciate Ivy’s motivations as a villain when wanting Mother Nature to win. Her lustful desires for Freeze and ‘killing’ his wife in the process were clearer in book compared to the film.
I also like how Pamela Isley’s origins as Poison Ivy get handled in the book once she’s killed by Dr. Jason Woodrue. I know the movie version was over-the-top and in campy style, but somehow it felt more menacing when I read it in the book. Again, the absence of awful acting from the actors did help.
We now come to something I deliberately omitted to mention in my review of the movie. This is because I didn’t want to mention it in my movie review as I considered it unimportant and not worth mentioning. But as I’m reviewing the movie novelization of this, I now feel it is worth mentioning here.
The thing I’m talking about is of course…the Bat Credit Card. People really hate this joke featured in the film. No matter how many times you play the movie over and over again; the Bat Credit Card does gets on people’s nerves. Some go into a rants and fits about how awful the Bat Credit Card is.
Me personally, I don’t get it. In the words of Linkara:
“What exactly is so ridiculous and anger-inducing…about a BAT CREDIT CARD?!” – ‘Batman & Robin: The Official Comic Adaptation’, Atop The Fourth Wall, August 2016
Seriously! Why are people so annoyed about this bad joke that’s featured in the movie. It’s not worth ranting about. NO SERIOUSLY! IT’S NOT!!! When I saw it in the movie for the first time, I didn’t go angry about it. In fact, I don’t think I gave it a second thought. I just ignored it as I watched the film.
Going back to Linkara’s point about the Bat Credit Card in his comic book review, it’s argued that the Bat Credit Card can work and be useable due to the fact that Batman is a wealthy person. Batman’s also a clever guy in protecting his identity whenever using the Bat Credit Card. I find that really feasible.
I know the Bat Credit Card is a bad joke in the movie and it probably wasn’t necessary to be featured. But if we’re to apply proper thinking into how these things work with the suspension of disbelief, I’m sure the joke could’ve worked if was used more frequently to prove a point. Sadly, it didn’t get used much.
And the reason why I’m sharing this with you…is because the Bat Credit Card doesn’t feature in the movie novelization of ‘Batman & Robin’. Not…at…all! It didn’t feature in the comic book adaptation either as well as the movie novelization. So, I can assume the joke wasn’t featured in the original script.
It must’ve been included at the suggestion of director Joel Schumacher or somebody like that. Which begs the question why they did include it if it wasn’t in the original script? If it wasn’t going to feature much and enhance the story, why would you put the joke in. It makes it pretty pointless in that regard.
It was also interesting to read the book and find Batman and Robin disguised as a gardeners at the Flower Ball party rather than attending the event as actual guests. Friedman made it clear in the book that Batman rarely made public appearances. So why was that changed when the movie got made?
Batman and Robin…are also better as a characters in the book compared to the movie. Yeah. I hesitated there, but I’ll explain why. In many ways, Bruce Wayne is going on an interesting journey in the book compared to the movie. This reflects the entire journey that he’s had in the entire film series.
In the book, Bruce struggles to trust Dick Grayson on looking after himself especially when he’s afraid of losing people that are close to him. This is especially the case when Bruce lost his parents as well as him about to lose Alfred on his death bed. I think it’s better handled in the book compared to the film.
In many ways, the journey Bruce goes on in the ‘Batman & Robin’ story would’ve been better in movie form had the role been cast better. George Clooney doesn’t seem to take it seriously when I watch him as Batman in the film. If Val Kilmer played Batman in ‘Batman & Robin’, it would have been better.
Robin as a character…is intriguing…both in book and film. I found Robin annoying in ‘Batman & Robin’ compared to ‘Batman Forever’ since he tended to whine a lot. The whining still occurs for Robin in ‘Batman & Robin’ via book form. It’s especially once Poison Ivy tries to split the two heroes apart here.
There are instances where the writing’s improved in book form compared to movie form as Robin gets fed up of Batman not trusting him enough. I read scenes between Batman and Robin where their working relationship gets tested. I think it sometimes works better in the book than it does in the film.
When Bruce Wayne pleads with Robin to trust him by needing his help after the ‘bird signal’ gets sent out by Poison Ivy, the pleas by Bruce sound more genuine in book compared to film. That might have to do with how the author Friedman wrote it in book compared to how it was performed by the actors.
There’s another difference in the book on what happened to Bruce’s girlfriend Julie Madison compared to the few scenes she had in the movie. In the book, she sees Bruce lusting for Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy and breaks up with him. He doesn’t care as his attention is very focused on Poison Ivy.
The Alfred hologram also gets introduced earlier in the book when Bruce and Dick are in the Batcave. It gets explained why Alfred created a hologram in the Batcave in order to fill in his absence when he was unwell. It helps to make it less of an out-of-nowhere moment for Barbara to discover the Batcave.
The book’s climax has made me realise why ‘Batman & Robin’ was rather underwhelming in movie form. The action scenes weren’t that exciting enough. There wasn’t a big showdown fight between Batman, Robin and Batgirl against Freeze and Poison Ivy. This was a different case in ‘Batman Forever’.
It’s like once Poison Ivy was dealt with by Batman, Robin and Batgirl, she was forgotten about and never came back to re-join Freeze and Bane in the final fight. Mind you, the tension of Robin being kissed by Poison Sky was handled better in the book as Batman came in earlier once Robin was kissed.
The action also seemed to be different compared to the book version of the climatic fight between Batman, Robin and Batgirl against Mr. Freeze. I noticed it when compared to the two versions in book and movie form on my tablet. I think the book version of the final fight is better than the movie version.
The book ends with Alfred alive after being cured with treatment provided to Batman by Mr. Freeze. There are lines featured in the book about Alfred noticing Barbara becoming Batgirl which weren’t in the movie. The agreement for Batman, Robin and Batgirl to be ‘partners’ is handled better in the book.
So yeah, ‘Batman & Robin’ is not the greatest ‘Batman’ movie ever made. I can appreciate and sympathise on that front. But I have to say it! The movie novelization is better! I know the book suffers from being adapted from one of the worse ‘Batman’ movies ever. It doesn’t help with dodgy dialogue.
But in many respects, ‘Batman & Robin’ as a story in book form is not that bad. It’s not anything spectacular and the film could’ve worked better if it was handled differently in terms of its direction. There’s the removal of certain cringeworthy moments from film to book – Bat Credit Card included. 😀
I suppose the reason why I don’t have a grudge against ‘Batman & Robin’ like everyone else does is because I haven’t been emotionally invested in these movies like I have with the ‘Spider-Man’ films. They’ve been very inconsistent in terms of the direction they’ve had and with the casting of Batman actors.
Would my thoughts change if I saw this movie at the cinema? Maybe. Probably not. I have seen far worse movies than ‘Batman & Robin’ and I can tolerate awful films by identifying some of the good intentions behind them. Even for ‘Batman & Robin’, I identified good intentions behind it in book form.
Michael Jan Friedman has done a pretty good job in novelizing the movie as best he can and making it believable by removing some dodgy moments. I can enjoy ‘Batman & Robin’ for the fact that it is campy, over-the-top and inconsistent compared to how many other ‘Batman’ movies have played out.
Even though I don’t like films such as ‘Hulk’, ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ and ‘Venom’ much, I can appreciate a few of the good points they try to make in terms of storytelling and the characters they featured. In a similar fashion, I appreciate a few of the good points ‘Batman & Robin’ tries to make.
I know that not everyone will agree with me on that front considering my way of thinking doesn’t match to others (and it shouldn’t). If you still don’t like ‘Batman & Robin’, then fair enough. But I’ve been able to enjoy the movie more by breaking down the story down with reading it via novelization form.
I’m glad I’ve read the ‘Batman & Robin’ movie novelization by Michael Jan Friedman at last and I’m pleased I’ve completed my journey in reading the ‘Batman’ movie novelizations from the original series. They’ve been very interesting in terms of how the films are depicted in their novelization forms.
‘Batman & Robin’ (Novelization) rating – 7/10
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