Big week highlighting one of the few changes the BMT Board of Directors (BMTBD) proposed for the year. That was to try to bring in some of the many major bad movies that we had watched prior to BMT and as a result never gave the full BMT treatment. Originally such films were totally excluded from consideration. No more! So for the SciFi/Fantasy/Other category of the adaptation cycle we went straight for the crown jewel. That’s right! We’re bringing the single highest scoring BMeTric film of all time, the critically reviled superhero film Batman & Robin. We obviously watched this as kids and probably didn’t even think it was all that bad (we were like 11, so I’m not sure I had ever watched a film and thought it was bad). Let’s see if it holds up (holds down?) on a rewatch. Also have to note that Batman Forever qualifies (RT 39%) so it will be included as a bonus. Let’s go!
Batman & Robin (1997) – BMeTric: 94.5
(That, boys and girls, is the highest BMeTric in existence. Nearly 200K IMDb votes and a sub-4 rating, it is incredibly, almost impossibly, poorly rated. Let it sink in.)
Leonard Maltin – 2.5 stars – Batman #4 spotlights two colorful villains, Schwarzenegger’s lusty Mr. Freeze and Thurman’s deliciously nasty Poison Ivy, who (for different reasons) want to destroy Gotham City, but even their antics can’t sustain an overlong, episodic film in which the “story” often makes no sense. Clooney is OK but unremarkable as Bruce Wayne/Batman, ditto for Silverstone as the new Batgirl. The action and effects are loud, gargantuan, and ultimately numbing.
(He gave a better review to this one compared to Batman Returns! Incredible. Maltin doesn’t like “dark” things, at least that is what he complains about with the early Burton films. Hell, he gave The Dark Knight two stars! He thought Batman & Robin was better than The Dark Knight. Because of “colorful” villains basically.)
(How did Uma Thurman end up doing this and The Avengers? The trailer is actually pretty cool. It looks like a cartoon, sure, but there isn’t really a good reason that that is a bad thing. Gotham looks cool. Arnold seems like he could work as an intimidating villain. I don’t know. I kind of expected the trailer to be garbage, but it isn’t really garbage, it is surprisingly compelling I think.)
Directors – Joel Schumacher – (Known For: Flatliners; The Lost Boys; A Time to Kill; St. Elmo’s Fire; Falling Down; Phone Booth; The Client; Flawless; Tigerland; Town Creek; Veronica Guerin; Cousins; Future BMT: Bad Company; Dying Young; The Incredible Shrinking Woman; 8MM; BMT: Batman & Robin; Batman Forever; Trespass; The Number 23; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Director for Batman & Robin in 1998; Notes: In a recent Vice article, Schumacher said “Look, I apologize,” Schumacher told me in a phone interview last week. “I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that.” Good times.)
Writers – Bob Kane (Batman characters) – (Known For: Justice League; The Dark Knight; The Dark Knight Rises; Batman Begins; The LEGO Batman Movie; Batman; Batman Returns; The LEGO Movie; Batman: The Killing Joke; Batman: The Movie; Batman: Mask of the Phantasm; Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders; Future BMT: Suicide Squad; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; BMT: Catwoman; Batman & Robin; Batman Forever; Notes: The creator the Batman Character. There are a ton of articles about Bob Kane and his relationship with Bill Finger, the co-creator of Batman. Let’s just say it isn’t a super happy tale, although Finger is getting more credit now than he did in his time.)
Akiva Goldsman (written by) – (Known For: A Beautiful Mind; I Am Legend; I, Robot; A Time to Kill; Cinderella Man; The Client; Future BMT: Lost in Space; The Dark Tower; Practical Magic; Insurgent; Silent Fall; The Da Vinci Code; Angels & Demons; BMT: Batman & Robin; Rings; Transformers: The Last Knight; The 5th Wave; Batman Forever; A New York Winter’s Tale; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Screenplay for Batman & Robin in 1998; and Nominated for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for A Time to Kill in 1997; Notes: There is only so much to say right? He is currently overseeing the Ology book series adaptation with other heavy hitters like Michael Chabon on his staff.)
Actors – Arnold Schwarzenegger – (Known For: True Lies; Kindergarten Cop; Total Recall; Terminator 2: Judgment Day; Killing Gunther; Predator; The Terminator; Escape Plan; The Expendables; Aftermath; Conan the Barbarian; The Expendables 2; Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines; The Running Man; Commando; Welcome to the Jungle; The Last Stand; Maggie; The 6th Day; Red Heat; Future BMT: Hercules in New York; Junior; Red Sonja; Jingle All the Way; Collateral Damage; End of Days; Twins; Cactus Jack; Eraser; Last Action Hero; Terminator Genisys; The Kid & I; BMT: Batman & Robin; Raw Deal; Sabotage; Around the World in 80 Days; Conan the Destroyer; The Expendables 3; Notes: Former governor of California his marriage to Maria Shriver famously fell apart when it was reported he had fathered a child with their former housekeeper. I didn’t realize it, but the child is 20-years-old and goes to Pepperdine.)
George Clooney – (Known For: Tomorrowland: A World Beyond; Ocean’s Eleven; From Dusk Till Dawn; Gravity; Hail, Caesar!; The Men Who Stare at Goats; The Thin Red Line; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Burn After Reading; Ocean’s Thirteen; Up in the Air; Ocean’s Twelve; Fantastic Mr. Fox; Spy Kids; The Descendants; Money Monster; The American; Michael Clayton; Out of Sight; The Perfect Storm; Future BMT: Return of the Killer Tomatoes!; The Monuments Men; The Good German; BMT: Batman & Robin; Notes: Once the world’s most eligible bachelor, he’s found love with his wife Amal. And guess what? They had twins! A son and a daughter, so fraternal, but still, that’s pretty good.)
Chris O’Donnell – (Known For: Scent of a Woman; Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe; Kinsey; Vertical Limit; School Ties; Blue Sky; Circle of Friends; Kit Kittredge: An American Girl; A Little Help; Cookie’s Fortune; Men Don’t Leave; Future BMT: Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore; The Bachelor; Mad Love; 29 Palms; In Love and War; The Three Musketeers; BMT: Batman & Robin; Batman Forever; Max Payne; The Chamber; Notes: He’s one of the guys whose career was potentially derailed by this disaster. But he seems like he’s doing okay having starred in all 168 episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles. I saw the pilot and him and LL Cool J tear it up, so there we go.)
Budget/Gross – $125 million / Domestic: $107,325,195 (Worldwide: $238,207,122)
(An absolute disaster at the time. Movies like this are more common these days, but at the time the budget was mind-blowing, so not making it back at the domestic box-office was crazy. I’m sure they made a mint on toy sales though.)
#64 for the Comic Book Adaptation genre
(The same as above. The largest two we’ve seen for BMT are Fantastic Four and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies … did we watch those for BMT? I think we saw the first one for BMT, but not the second. Which is weird, because I’ve definitely actually seen the second. I must have watched it on a plane.)
#61 for the Superhero genre
(There really isn’t much to say that hasn’t been said about the genre in the Batman Forever preview. Let’s just say that we’ve had a few gems in our time watching the dregs of Superhero films. You remember Elektra? You remember that piece of garbage? We need to watch a few of these too, like Blankman. Blankman is crazy.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 10% (9/86): Joel Schumacher’s tongue-in-cheek attitude hits an unbearable limit in Batman & Robin resulting in a frantic and mindless movie that’s too jokey to care much for.
(Hmmm, kind of surprising it isn’t below 10%. I do like the consensus though, I think it very much rings true with what can go wrong with the jokey superhero paradigm. It works fine for Marvel, but this is the logical conclusion of the style and it can get ugly.)
Poster – Sklogman and Sklogin’ (D-)
(This is horrific. This is where you can take the Batman Forever poster (good) and make what seems to be mild changes and dive straight into F territory. Too many colors and too much going on. That being said still has the font… so maybe just narrowly missing that The Avengers F level… barely.)
Tagline(s) – Strength. Courage. Honor. And loyalty. On June 20, it ALL comes together… (D)
(It’s like a child wrote this. I really don’t like it… the more I look at it the more I hate it and I better just grade it before I give it an F.)
Keyword(s) – bat; Top Ten by BMeTric: 94.5 Batman & Robin (1997); 72.5 Are We Done Yet? (2007); 67.8 Vampire in Brooklyn (1995); 65.9 Bodyguard (2011); 64.5 Bats (1999); 63.6 Dracula 2000 (2000); 57.3 Little Nicky (2000); 55.4 Batman Forever (1995); 49.5 The Order (2003); 41.3 City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold (1994);
(I modified this one a bit, but I do like the ultimate list … I wonder is any of these guys are concerning like a baseball bat? Not an animal bat. City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold is the greatest title for a film of all time as well.)
Notes – Most of the scenes with Batgirl, played by actress Alicia Silverstone, were cut out because Silverstone had gained a few pounds during production and the wardrobe team had to refit her costume. When the press discovered the news, they slammed Silverstone’s weight gain and mocked the actress for being “too fat” to fit into her costume. As a result, director Joel Schumacher publicly defended Silverstone during interviews and press meetings, joking “What is this girl’s big sin – that she ate some pizza?” When the press continued to taunt Silverstone’s weight gain, mostly from female journalists, Schumacher again intervened and lashed out at the reporters that taunted her. Schumacher went on record about the weight gain to one magazine by saying: “”It was horrible. I thought it was very cruel. She was a teenager who gained a few pounds – like all of us do at certain times. I would confront female journalists and I’d say, ‘With so many young people suffering from anorexia and bulimia, why are you crucifying this girl?'” Alicia Silverstone Batgirl in this movie is the only time Batgirl was ever shown on screen for a live action Batman movie. (Huh. Makes Schumacher sound like a decent dude. That story kind of sucks)
Due to the difficulty and large amount of time it took to remove the Batman suit, George Clooney reportedly urinated in his suit on at least one occasion. (Jesus Christ these notes)
George Clooney has been known to refund people who saw this film. (I would rather watch the film with him in his house. That would be an experience. I don’t need money back)
In later interviews, director Joel Schumacher would blame studio pressure to make the film more “toyetic” (i.e., a showcase for marketable toys and games), and in a “making-of” documentary on the DVD, apologized to disappointed fans.
Final film of wrestler Jeep Swenson (Bane), who died two months after the film’s release. (Oh no, that is awful. Died of heart failure at 40.).
Joel Schumacher had several meetings with Warner Bros. to get them to reconsider letting him do another Batman movie. Schumacher wanted to take the film back to its darker roots and make a “Batman: Year One” movie. Schumacher wanted to cast Kurt Russell as a young Commissioner Gordon and would have had Selina Kyle as a young, beautiful African-American woman living in the ghetto. However, Warner Bros. decided not to rehire Schumacher and the Batman film franchise remained in development limbo for years until Batman Begins (2005). (Probably a fine decision all things considered. Schumacher would have been poison regardless)
Last Batman film viewed by Batman creator Bob Kane. He would die one year after the release of this film. This is also the last film which Kane worked as project consultant.
Mr. Freeze says 27 “ice puns” throughout the movie. (This is why we watch bad movies)
Voted as the #1 in Empire magazine’s “50 Worst Movies Ever” (February 2010). (Streeeeeeeeet credit report dot coooooooom)
In the evidence room at the prison where Freeze is held and before Bane breaks in, both the Riddler’s and Two-Face’s outfits can be seen. (Noice)
In an interview the cast members were asked what item from filming they would like to take home with them. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that he would be taking Mr. Freeze’s armor home, Uma Thurman said that she wanted Ivy’s floral throne, and Elle Macpherson said that she just wanted a cap or something with the “Batman & Robin” logo before anyone else. When asked, George Clooney said he wanted Elle Macpherson. (ha … kind of creepy though)
After filming was completed, Arnold Schwarzenegger went in for heart surgery. Because studios were anxious about insuring Schwarzenegger in one of their action movies, he couldn’t get work again until End of Days (1999). (Huh, didn’t know that. Interesting story.)
The only film in the original series in which Tim Burton had no involvement during the development stages (he directed Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), and worked as producer in Batman Returns and Batman Forever (1995)).
After the poor reception of Batman & Robin, several Batman projects were considered to substitute for the next Batman movie. One was a direct sequel, Batman Unchained written by Mark Protosevich. The second was an adaptation of the graphic novel, Batman: Year One. The last was a live-action adaptation of Batman of the Future (1999). None of those projects came to fruition, instead the franchise was rebooted with Batman Begins (2005). (These notes are really good)
Arnold Schwarzenegger is reputed to have earned $25 million for playing Mr. Freeze.
Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to reprise the role of Conan for “Conan the Conqueror”, which was rewritten as Kull the Conqueror (1997), to star as Mr. Freeze in the film. (Too bad. That film would have probably been terrible)
The Oxbridge Academy, Barbara’s fictional university in England, is really a combination of the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. Oxbridge is used jokingly in American pop culture to refer to any British college graduate. (British people to refer to the two colleges as such. It is often a boon to hire an “Oxbridge” graduate)
Uma Thurman and Elle MacPherson both went on to have children by Arpad Busson who refused to marry either of them. (Wow, I’ll leave that as the last note. Keep it classy IMDb note makers)
Won the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Alicia Silverstone)
Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (Peter Macgregor-Scott)
Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell)
Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Chris O’Donnell)
Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Uma Thurman)
Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Reckless Disregard for Human Life and Public Property
Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Sequel
Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Joel Schumacher)
Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Akiva Goldsman)
Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Original Song (Billy Corgan)