|Just a design of of Birdy Cephon Altera from Birdy the Mighty/Tetsuwan Birdy that combines various aspects of her OVA and Decode incarnation.|
WARNING: The review contains spoilers. You've been warned.
On the second anniversary of his capture, former district attorney Harvey Dent, now a criminal called Two-Face, escapes from Arkham Asylum and hits the Second National Bank of Gotham, intending to kill Batman. While there, Batman meets a psychiatrist named Chase Meridian, who Commissioner Gordon called to consult on the case, who's taken an interest in Batman. At the same time, Bruce Wayne, Batman's alter ego, has to deal with problems as an employee, Edward Nygma has come up with a questionable invention called "the Box" that beams TV shows directly into people's brain. When Bruce reject the device, Nygma test it out on his boss, Fred Stickley, and finds out that the device has a side effect: it can send brain waves into Nygma's brain, allowing him to learn what the person using the Box knows. When Stickley tells him he'll call the report him, Nymga kills Stickley and forges evidence to make it look like a suicide, then leaves Wayne Enterprises and starts sending riddles to Batman.
While Bruce and Chase at a charity event at a circus, Two-Face takes the place hostage, threatening to blow it up believing that one of the people in the audience either funds Batman or is Batman himself. While Bruce and one of the star acts on the circus, the Flying Graysons, thwart the plan, Two-Face flips his coin and ends up gunning down most of the Graysons, leaving their youngest son, Dick, the sole survivor. Being reminded of the tragedy that caused him to become Batman, Bruce takes Dick in. Soon, it becomes clear that Dick is being consumed by the same drive for revenge that made Bruce Batman and Bruce, tried of what the life has done to him, starts trying to steer Dick away from that path.
Shortly afterward, Edward decides to become a supervillain called the Riddler and heads to Two-Face's hideout with a proposal: Two-Face helps him steal capital so he can start his own company and Riddler will help Two-Face find out who Batman is and kill the Dark Knight. Can Batman stop two threats and help Dick come to terms with what happened?
I'm going to be honest: on some level, Batman Forever is my favorite movie of the original Batman film series. However, I will also concede it's a flawed movie. But I will say have that the legacy of Batman & Robin also tainted this movie's legacy.
One of these flaws is, of course, Two-Face. We should feel bad that Batman is forced to fight a former ally of his, that Harvey Dent turned to crime—but we can't. Part of this isn't this movie's fault as we haven't seen much of Harvey Dent in the prior films: He was a background character in the first Batman and he didn't appear in Batman Returns. That said, some of the impact is still taken away by this movie as the movie opens with Harvey Dent having already been Two-Face for at least two years as the movie's first action scene takes place on the second anniversary of his capture. Now, if we'd gotten more of his background, or if this Two-Face had acted in any way sympathetic or had more redeeming qualities, then maybe only seeing his origin in flashback and otherwise having Harvey Dent as a villain already could've worked. Hell, some of this could've even been mitigated just by having Billy Dee William come back since he was who played Harvey in the first place. But alas, that's not what we got—what we got as Tommy Lee Jones hamming it up, playing a stereotypical cartoon villain more fitting to the old Adam West show. Two-Face has to have some moments where he does good for us to feel bad for him and that Batman is fighting him—but this Two-Face proceeded to use a still-living guard as bait for a death trap anyway, killed the Flying Graysons who weren't Dick, and kept flipping his coin to shoot Bruce when he and the Riddler raid Wayne Manor to kidnap Chase. The closest we get to what Two-Face should is the rant about the coin in the opening.
Seriously, I wonder if it wouldn't be better if the villains were reverse: have the Riddler be the already-existing villain and Two-Face be the one that's created over the course of the movie. Have something happen to Harvey that caused him to be Two-Face? Maybe even do something similar to what The Dark Knight ultimately did and have the Riddler somehow be tied to the reason Harvey becomes Two-Face. That way, maybe we could've still gotten a Two-Face that was somewhat sympathetic However, part of the problem is, outside of Bruce calling him "Harvey" and trying to talk Harvey down in a scene that was deleted, he doesn't seem bothered by the fact that he's fighting someone who was supposed to be an ally. Maybe because it's because Harvey had been Two-Face for two years before the events of the movie, he'd come to terms with it, but I'd liked to have seen Bruce more torn up about it.
To this Two-Face's credit, though, at least he's smart enough to realize that Batman's tech doesn't come cheap and that one of the rich people present at the charity fundraiser would likely either be funding Batman or is Batman himself. Also, to address another thing some people here, having Two-Face refer to himself in plural terms is not something this movie invented: Doug Moench's done it as one of the issues of Knightfall had Two-Face use it and from what I've read, Andrew Helfer, who wrote the Batman Annual that detailed Two-Face post-Crisis backstory did it, too.
At least there's some basis for the Riddler and I can kind-of see where they were going and what they intended with him: the Frank Gorshin Riddler for the '90s. Does it work? Well... that depends on your taste. Personally, I prefer the calmer Riddlers that the DCAU, The Batman, and the Arkham games gave us (the TNBA outfit and The Batman's Riddler looking like Marilyn Manson aisde), but I do see the appeal of the more hyperactive Riddler and this version of Edward Nygma does have his creepy moments, like when his dejection after Bruce refuses to fund his Box question and when he storms the security camera after Stickley's death. That said, the Box does feel more like a device the Mad Hatter would come up with. Also, I know Nygma doctored the footage to make Stickley's death look like a suicide, but how is he not a suspect, anyway? He co-workers had to have known that he and Stickley didn't like each other, his pretending to cry couldn't have been any more convincing in-universe than it was out and his saying that writing the " suicide" note matches Stickley's handwriting exactly should've been a tip-off to the psychiatrist who was supposed to treat Nygma over the "trauma" that he killed Stickley and forged evidence to make it look otherwise.
I know some people have issues with Bruce immediately making the connection between "Mr. E" and Nygma, but I agree with something on the TV Tropes page for this movie: between that, the fact Nygma started up a company just as Two-Face and Riddler had committed a series of crimes (and the flagship product being something Bruce rejected), the fact Bruce was already questioning Stickley's "suicide", knew Nygma was resentful of him (he really do much to hide it at the party), and that Riddler and Two-Face laid siege to Wayne Manor, it's probable Bruce was just connecting the dots.
This movie does have its campy moments—but unlike its sequel and despite what some people like to think, it has some resistant, the villain plot and the story still have some serious stuff and aside of a few sarcastic remarks, Batman himself is still a serious person. There is also some psychological material in delving more into why Bruce became Batman and what this life has done to him. While I said in my review of Returns that any such arc wasn't intentional by that movie and I know I'm not the only one to suggest this theory (but I do subscribe to it), it's possible seeing Selina ready to kill Shreck gave Bruce a wake-up call and also explains why he advises Dick against this when he wants revenge against Two-Face. The Batman of the first two movie would've let that one thug in the opening fight fall down the elevator shaft, but this Batman saved him and shows resistant throughout the movie. Of course, this is undermined by Two-Face falling to his death due to Batman's stunt with tossing multiple conics into the air just as Two-Face flipped his coin, but while it still undermines the idea, one can argue that either Bruce hadn't intended to kill him or like what people (myself included) who defend Superman killing General Zod say about that situations and there wasn't a lot of time to think about other options.
But, yeah, there's also some absurd elements, too. Yes, the Batmobile going up the side of a building likes it does is stupid. Yes, the main Batsuit and the Robin suit do have nipples. Yes, that inkblot clearly does look like a bat. Yes, Dick doing kun-fu moves while getting his laundry out of the washer was stupid. Yes, the dream warden does look like Two-Face. Yes, the Riddler in the final battle does dress like the late David Bowie. Yes, Batman leaping from the balcony of the Ritz Gotham into the subway station without the use of a grappling hook or doing something else to slow his fall should've killed him. Also, the Batcave stuff turning on when Dick breaks into the Batcave was stupid. Yes, the capstone of a lot of this insanity was Two-Face and Riddler taking out the Batboat by playing a life-size game of Battleship, Riddler somehow firing laser beams from the rotating panels of his building, and the Batwing turning into a sub. The last movie had Penguin drive around in a duck car and Selina Kyle revived by cats and the first one had the Joker pull out a pistol with a rather long barrel and two scenes of him dancing to Prince.
I will say, however, I wish that some of the deleted scenes on the DVD and Blu-Ray were kept in the film as they helped flesh the story out, including Two-Face calling Batman a killer (which also was intended to fuel the subplot about Bruce's issues and telling Dick not to kill), Bruce hearing a news report condemning Batman after what happened at the subway station and talking to Alfred, and especially Bruce finally confronting the repressed memory about what he read in his father's journal and that helped made him Batman as the subplot of the repressed memories and Bruce's issues about what being Batman had been building up—yet the scene where that was resolved is ultimately cut and we have no real climax to it. That said, I also understand why other scenes were omitted—we didn't need to see the Arkham stuff realize Two-Face escaped, we didn't need to see Batman end up at a hair salon and end up being mocked by the staff because of the Riddler, we got plenty of scenes of Bruce trying to talk Dick down, and we didn't need to see Chase in the limo with Alfred and talking about Bruce. Hell, we really didn't need the scene of Two-Face chasing Batman that was kept. They could've cut that out without too many problems.
This is also in many ways much truer to the source material than the Burton movies: not only Batman much more reluctant to kill, Bruce Wayne is a socialite who's active in Gotham and more comfortable in his own skin as opposed to the awkward recluse of the earlier films (I actually agree with some people that him being a recluse might make people more suspicious of him being Batman), Wayne Enterprises and the various other Wayne operations exist, Arkham Asylum exists, and Batman comes off as more of the skilled fighter and one-man army he's supposed to be. Batman also has more screen time than he did in the last movie.
I also liked the stuff with Dick. It was a nice parallel to the subplot about Bruce and his issues, considering Dick loses his family in this movie and obsesses about getting revenge on Two-Face while Bruce is dealing with what he's become and the fact that killing the Joker did nothing for him. Having said that, as much as I liked Chris O'Donnell in the role, I do wish they'd cast him someone who was a bit younger for the part, as between this and the "Dick Grayson, college student" line, this Dick does come off as someone who's already around 18 and thus wouldn't be subject to Social Service interviews. I don't want little kid Dick, but I'm okay with Dick being a teenager and I get the feeling they were intending Dick to be around 16-17, but O'Donnell was clearly much older than that. While it was nice to see Dick ultimately decide to spare Two-Face, even if he does end up with him being captured and used as part of a death trap, again, having Two-Face ultimately die after all does undermine the intent of this subplot.
Also, I have to call bullshit on something CinemaSins counted as a sin: how Chase knew about Two-Face's coin. Even ignoring the real life reason, which I'll discuss shortly, it's within the realm of possibility she saw security footage of Two-Face flipping his coin. As for the real life reason? If the young novel is anything to go by, some scenes were rearranged as the stuff with Two-Face robbing the Second National Bank was originally going to happen after Bruce meeting Nygma and the scene of Chase using the Batsignal in an attempt to come onto Batman was originally supposed to be after Two-Face's attack on the circus (which is where she was originally intended to notice the coin-flipping: the Graysons' deaths), hence the reason he was called away the day Dick moved in, the chase scene with Two-Face and his men. As for why he's called away in the movie as is? I don't know. I wish we were given a reason, though.
Getting to Chase herself, I have mixed feelings. On some level, given that this movie does delve more into Bruce's psychology than the last movies, I do agree with some people, including the crew that it's fitting that a psychiatrist is a love interest. On the other, I do agree with some people that she does act very unprofessional at times, as she really doesn't do her job. That said, she and Bruce do have good chemistry and at least she has the good sense to keep her Batman shrine one: restrained and two: in her apartment and not her office. That said, why does Bruce say "I've never been in love before" when talking about Chase? This is set in the same universe as Batman and Returns. so what, was he not really in love with Vicki Vale or Selina Kyle?
Nipples and ass shot aside, I do like the main Batsuit and the Robin suit from this movie. In fact, nipples on the suit aside again, the main Batsuit of this movie is probably my favorites of the ones in the Burton/Schumacher films. The Batsuit worn in the final movie is also pretty cool, though again I do prefer the one worn through most of the movie. The suits are more mobile, which led to better fight scenes than what we got in the first two movies. That said, yeah, I agree with some people that having Dick base his Robin costume so closely to his Flying Grayson outfit (mind you, the movie isn't the only one guilty of this) isn't really conductive to maintaining a secret identity. The two main Riddler suits were pretty cool. Personally, I lean more towards the three-piece suits, though. That said, the smoking jacket, and outfit the Riddler wore in the final battle, and the Two-Face suits were pretty ridiculous.
By the way, does anyone know what that device Batman pulls out and uses at one point in the opening fight scene supposed to be? Is that supposed to be a taser of some kind?
I don't normally talk about the scores for movies, but I am going to here. I normally watch just that just interests me. Maybe this is because I have Asperger Syndrome and a well-known trait is narrow-defied interests, but I really don't deviate too much from them: the most devastation I've had in recent years is going to see the 3-D rerelease of Titanic, and going to see Avatar, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, War Horse, and Fury with an uncle I also went out to see Pacific Rim and Prometheus, but given I like Godzilla and the Alien Franchise, maybe those don't count. But here's the thing: while I do enjoy film score, I don't really see enough movies to notice trends or people copying themselves in score.
Now I like Elliot Goldenthal and think he's a good composer—but I've also seen Alien³ and Demolition Man, and early on, I've noticed that a lot of the fight music in this movie sounds similar to what he did for Demolition Man. I've also noticed that the cue when Dick chases the gang into the alley ("Fun and Games") sounds very similar to the one in Alien, when Ripley is almost raped and Dillon beats the shit out of her would-be rapists after she digs Bishop out of the wreckage (hence the cue's name "Wreckage and Rape"). How sad is it when I, someone who doesn't normally see movies outside of their interests, notice someone copying themselves?! And he copies himself from this movie in the next as he recycles Chase's and Two-Face's respective themes for Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy. Say what you will about Han Zimmer, but at least in the Dark Knight Trilogy, between him and James Newton Howard in the first two movies, everyone had their own theme and didn't recycle one character's theme for another character.
I stand by what I said in my review for the first movie: I think Val Kilmer is a better Batman than Michael Keaton. He does well as many of the facets of Bruce Wayne: Bruce as Batman (though I do wish he'd disguised his voice a little more), Bruce Wayne when he's in public, and the tortured Bruce. He was also in much better shape than Keaton, so it also works on that level. While I do wish they'd cast someone younger, I thought Chris O'Donnell did work for Robin. I didn't mention him in my last reviews, but Michael Gough does do a good job as Alfred across all the movies, including here where he does try to help Bruce and Dick with their issues. Nicole Kidman was also good as Chase Meridian.
I like Tommy Lee Jones and think he could've made a good Two-Face, but one: he couldn't have this material (as CinemaSins pointed out, he's trying to outdo Jim Carrey at points), two: not even Billy Dee William returning could've saved this. At least Jim Carrey was hired on to do what he does best: being a large ham, which works for what this movie wanted which is Frank Gorshin for the '90s, but Carrey also does do well during Riddler's more creepier moment.
It's a flawed movie, but I enjoyed it, so I recommend it.
This pretty much tells a little about me.|
Current Residence: Georgia, USA. That's all you're getting.
Favourite genre of music: Rock, Film and Video Game scores
Favourite cartoon character: Batman, Spider-Man, Birdy Cephon Altera
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