New director, new composer and a new Batman, Batman Forever throws away the dark elements of the character and brings back the campiness and cringe of the Adam West era. Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever seemingly takes a large step backwards in the Batman franchise. Another film where the villains are the main focus and once again the man with the name in the title takes a back seat which sees these villains flounder in the limelight.
From the opening scene we can see where this film is heading, as we see so many close up shots of Batman putting on his gear to reveal the Bat nipples in all its glory. We are then reintroduced to Alfred who asks, “Can I persuade you to take a sandwich sir” to which Batman retorts “I’ll get drive-thru”…cringe and there is a lot more of that to come in this film. Val Kilmer dons the Bat suit in this film and he actually does a pretty good job. Kilmer manages to do what Michael Keaton couldn’t and that was to balance both Bruce Wayne and Batman. Like Keaton before him you could see that his performance as Batman was hindered by the lack of mobility in the Batsuit as each movement he made and each punch thrown seems sluggish. Now onto the villains, Batman Forever introduces us to two new villains, The Riddler and Two-Face. Ed Nygma, A.K.A The Riddler is portrayed by Jim Carrey, and we all know what performance we are getting from Jim Carrey. His over the top, overacting style somewhat suits this iteration of The Riddler as his banter during fight scenes is perfect Jim Carrey quips. However Two-Face on the other hand portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones is a different story. It seems as if we were getting a Joker lite character instead of Two-Face during this film. Tommy Lee Jones clearly didn’t know who Two-Face was or what his character stood for before taking this role. His overacting doesn’t quite reach the heights of Carrey’s Riddler and it often becomes tiresome.
Joel Schumacher retains the gothic aesthetic of Gotham city but he does away with the darkness and replaces it with large obscure buildings dressed in neon lighting. This version of Gotham fits nicely with Schumachers tone of silliness and camp. Elliot Goldenthal creates a new theme for Batman, while it doesn’t quite match the heights of Danny Elfman’s theme it still gets the job done. As for the rest of his score it’s very easily forgettable. It is interesting how Goldenthall does not create a theme for Robin (yes he is in this film also) who has a large part and screen time throughout this film.
Batman Forever may not be the worst film in the Batman franchise as it has solid performances to help keep the audience engaged, it does however fail to capture the essence of Batman by double downing on the campy version of this character. Jim Carrey’s performance is the only highlight of this film and decades after its release it has become a hard watch.