Wednesday, June 26, 2013

# 73. Batman Forever (1995)

Code-name: Riddler

Director: Joel Schumacher
Type: Superhero, Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Notable Nominations:
OSCAR- Best Sound Editing
OSCAR- Best Sound
OSCAR- Best Cinematography
Golden Globe- Best Original Song- "Hold me, thrill me, kiss me, kill me" by U2
Grammy- Best Instrumental Composition written for Movie/TV- Elliot Goldenthal

Bruce Wayne/Batman- Val Kilmer
Dick Grayson/Robin- Chris O'Donnell
Alfred Pennyworth- Michael Gough
Dr. Chase Meridian- Nicole Kidman
Harvey Dent/Two-Face- Tommy Lee Jones
Edward Nigma/The Riddler- Jim Carrey
Sugar- Drew Barrymore
Spice- Debi Mazar
Commissioner Gordon- Pat Hingle


Once upon a time, in the mid-90's, Jim Carrey was my favorite actor. Probably the first I singled out by name as a person whose films I gravitated towards. 
Apparently WB had the same idea because after the success of "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," they tapped him to play the part of The Riddler.
Seriously, Jim Carrey was never funnier than he was in this point in time, between Ace Ventura and "The Mask." And since then, he hadn't captured that essence. Whenever he went into dramatic territory, I haven't been quite as impressed (with the exception of "The Truman Show," which we saw in 10th grade in reference to Plato's "The Cave"... interesting movie).

And it was for this reason I didn't warm up to the original Batman (ala Tim Burton) right away. I enjoyed this movie because it was insanely funny with a lot of great quotes (Jim Carrey won that department hands down).

I also liked it because how they portrayed Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer). He was seeing a therapist (Nicole Kidman), with whom he delved into his past in an attempt to accept the tragedy of it. At the tender age of 10-11-12, I don't know why this intrigued me so much, but I ate it up.

A red rose served as a "trigger," a reminder of that event, ultimately leading to his decision to become Batman. It also resulted in the theme "Kiss From a Rose" by Seal, which plays in the ending credits.
Why that wasn't the song nominated for those awards, I have no idea. I don't remember the one by U2 at all. It resonates with me for the same reasons the psychological aspect of Bruce Wayne did... what reason is, I'm not quite sure. It just does.

Supposing you were to analyze the movie from a psychological standpoint, it's rather interesting when you think about the comparisons that could be drawn between Bruce Wayne and Edward Nigma. One is tortured by his past, but because of it, made a decision to raise above and serve mankind to prevent the repetition. The other eventually dissolves in the face of psychosis.

Aside from that, my favorite part of the movie were the riddles and how they were eventually solved... almost like my daily word puzzle where you unscramble words and using circled letters from those words, you answer the main question- often times a REALLY bad pun, but it's fun...

if u look at the numbers on my face, u won't find 13 any place
rip 1 off and scratch my head, what once was red is black instead
[had to look up the rest I don't remember as well]
we're 5 little items of an everyday sort, you'll find us all at a tennis court

...and the other one is something to effect of...
8 go forward, never back, to defend the king from foe's attack

even more interesting is that the solution is about what the answers to the riddles are, it's about the numbers in each riddle...
eventually they figure out to the identity of The Riddler...

His backstory was that he worked for Wayne Industries, came up with the idea for "The Box," and was told that it "raised too many questions"... and a result, he wants revenge on Bruce Wayne for denying his invention.
After seeing Two-Face make quick work of the Flying Graysons at the circus, he offers his services to become his partner as well as his ingenius idea. 

To my recollection, "The Box" is an hourglass-shaped device that goes on all the TV's, projects 3D images, but also ensnares the brainwaves of the people watching... oh, the evils of television, lol
The grand scheme of it is to find out Batman's secret identity, which they eventually do. 

Meanwhile, we have Robin's storyline. Dick Grayson wants nothing more than to get revenge on Two-Face. Bruce Wayne tries to talk him out of it, but to no avail. His childhood continues to haunt him, but in the process, he gets close with Dr. Meridian.
In essence, all the actors give great performances- the first time I saw all of them and every now and then, I catch some of their other work. If there are any shortcomings, it's that Dick Grayson is very two-dimensional and gets a little repetitive in his desire for revenge (although nowhere near as bad as he is in the sequel).

Let's Talk: The Batman Franchise

This also happens to be my first ever superhero film.
It would be ages before I went from fan to fangirl, but I always look at this film beaming with nostalgia because it sticks with me, no matter how much time elapses between viewing. 
Such is my age of innocence.

As for the rest of the movies and the brand itself:

  • When it comes to the way I perceive Batman and the adjoining cast, I go to the little I'd seen of the animated series. Bruce Wayne isn't explained quite as much as in the films, but primarily, my impression of the character of The Joker draws from there.

  • Batman (1989) is the best conceived version of the brand in live-action form. In recent years, I've come to revel in Tim Burton's imagining of it... and the fact Prince wrote the soundtrack helped immensely in convincing me to give it another chance- leading me to feel as I do about the film.
  • I really did not like "Batman Returns"... I only saw it once and it was before I had that change of heart about the original... just didn't do it for me.
  • You'd think George Clooney would be a great Bruce Wayne, but "Batman & Robin" suffered for more than simply that. At first glance, I thought it was so-so.  Bane's origin sequence kinda freaked me out, something I never looked forward to rewatching. But after seeing Nostalgia Critic rip it apart, I kinda came to realize just what a collosal disaster it was.
  • I had not seen "Batman Begins" since seeing "The Dark Knight"... it's been years, so I don't remember much about it. At the time, I think I accepted it better as a reimagining of a franchise
  • just as often as I have movies I applaud that others hate, there are universally-loved movies I believe to be SEVERELY overrated... that describes my opinon of "The Dark Knight" in a nutshell. 
  • The short version: I found it LONG and drawn out; I hate Christian Bale's phony Batman voice; Katie Holmes> Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel; Two-Face was introduced in the last 20 minutes, only to get killed off; The Joker (Heath Ledger), while not my personal view of the character, was the only thing I found good about the movie...
  • ...don't get me started on the Oscars cuz that's an entry onto itself...
  • saw "The Dark Knight Rises" a week ago... while it was LONG (Christopher Nolan, would editing it down by 10-20 minutes kill you? seriously?), I liked it more than "The Dark Knight" by quite a bit. The story was well-done, it felt like it had nice resonance, given the state the world is in right now... but it would probably could have been done as a movie without the Batman franchise attached... 
  • considering my previous discussion, I think I pinpointed what I liked about it... it explored the character of Bruce Wayne without the suit for a good part of the movie... and it's a nice bonus that it eliminates screentime with the phony Batman voice... I gotta ask: what is the point of keeping the phony pretense when you're talking to people who KNOW who you are? :-P

No comments: