If there was to be a case study in how to kill a movie franchise, this movie would probably be on the list. I mean, this could be used as a text book example of what not to do when making a super hero movie. I mean, as successful as Batman Forever was, you would think that they would have tried to keep the momentum going. Unfortunately, the moment the phrase “Bat-nipples” was first uttered, and all of the ice puns were heard in the trailers, I think everyone was groaning inside about how bad this movie was going to be. And let’s face it folks, when one of the lead actors was going around apologizing for killing the franchise, and actually refunding people’s money who had gone to see it, you know that you have a lousy movie on your hands. So why, you may ask, would I possibly even want to own such a movie? Well, maybe I did something horrible in a past life and this is my atonement by forever owning this movie. That, or I am a mildly OCD completionist when it comes to movies and just had to get it to round out the series. Either way, I have put off reviewing this movie long enough (yes, this is one of the reasons why I stopped doing the flashback reviews a few years ago because I really didn’t want to watch this movie at the time), so let’s get this over with and watch Batman & Robin.
The plot: Batman and Robin gear up for the nightly patrol and after saying goodbye to Alfred, they head off, not noticing his pained expression. Commissioner Gordon contacts Batman to alert him to a new villain, Mr. Freeze, who is robbing the museum so they head over there. At the museum, Freeze is using his ice gun to freeze the cops as he and his henchmen work on stealing a large diamond being held there. Batman and Robin show up to stop them and manage to get the diamond away from Freeze but when Freeze’s henchmen attack them, Freeze is able to reclaim the diamond. As he gets into his vehicle, which suddenly opens up to reveal a hidden rocket, Batman manages to jump inside to confront him, while Robin manages to cling to the outside as it blasts off. Freeze traps Batman with his cold gun, then bails out of the rocket, planning on sending him up into space to freeze to death. Robin enters the rocket and frees Batman, who places a bomb on the rocket so it explodes harmlessly in the upper atmosphere, then they bail out and follow after Freeze. Batman manages to grab onto Freeze, knocking the diamond out of his hand for Robin to grab, but Freeze is able to use his ice gun to slow his fall. As Batman and Robin chase after him, Freeze uses the ice gun on Robin to freeze him solid, then grabs the diamond and taunts Batman on how he can either chase him or save Robin, before quickly making his escape. Meanwhile, in a Wayne Enterprise lab in Brazil, Dr. Pamela Isley is working on a project to try and make plants capable of defending themselves from attack but comments on how she would be more successful if her boss, Dr. Jason Woodrue, would stop stealing her Venom samples for his “Gilgamesh” project. Sneaking into Woodrue’s private lab, she sees him talking to someone on the phone and watches as he transforms convicted serial killer Antonio Diego into a hulking monster which he calls Bane. When Woodrue discovers Isley in his lab, he attempts to explain things to her but when she says she plans on reporting him to the authorities, he attempts to kill her by knocking a table full of toxins on top of her, and the toxic mixture melts away at the ground and ends up causing her to be buried. Back at the Batcave, Batman shows Robin footage of Victor Fries, before the accident that changed him into Mr. Freeze. Batman explains that Fries wife contracted MacGregor’s Syndrome and he had been attempting to cryo-freeze her so he could find a cure before the accident occurred. Robin asks if they are going to set a trap for Freeze but Batman tells him he needs to train some more, causing the two to start arguing. Later, Bruce and Alfred are talking about Robin’s recklessness and Alfred comments he was the same way and says he should be more understanding. Back in Brazil, Isley emerges from the ground, having been reborn as Poison Ivy, and after using her toxins to kill Woodrue, she decides to take Bane with her and pay a visit to Gotham. In Mr. Freeze’s hideout, Freeze uses some small diamonds to refuel his suit, while placing the large diamond he stole in his “Freeze Engine”. He tells his henchman Frosty that they need one more large diamond for the engine, and then he will freeze Gotham and hold it for ransom in order to get the money needed to continue his research and find a cure for his wife. The next day, Bruce, Dick, and Alfred are surprised to find Alfred’s niece, Barbara Wilson, at the door, having decided to come visit while on a break from her academy, and Bruce invites her to stay at the house. They show her around the mansion and later that night, Barbara talks with Alfred, who is trying to find his brother to serve as Bruce’s new butler, but after saying goodnight to Alfred, Barbara sneaks out of the house and steals a motorcycle from the garage. The next day, Bruce, accompanied by his girlfriend Julie Madison, is donating a new telescope to the Gotham Observatory when he is approached by Pamela Isley, who offers him a plan to help repair the damage his company has done to the environment but he refuses as her plan would result in millions of people’s deaths. Later that night, Batman and Robin attend a charity auction at the botanical garden when Poison Ivy shows up and uses her pheromones to entrance Batman and Robin, as well as everyone else in the building. Grabbing the diamond, Poison Ivy starts a bidding war among the guests, with Batman and Robin even getting in on it, when Freeze and his men suddenly shows up for the diamond. As Batman and Robin begin fighting with Freeze’s henchmen, Freeze approaches the stage and Ivy tries using her pheromones on him but Freeze’s cold blood makes him immune to their effects and so she lets him have the diamond. Freeze and his henchmen leave and Batman and Robin follow after them but when Freeze and his men attempt to jump to a nearby rooftop in their vehicles, Batman tells Robin to pull back, then shuts down his engine remotely when he refuses. As the Batmobile makes the jump, Freeze uses his vehicle’s freeze gun to freeze it but Batman is able to bail out, then crashes into Freezes vehicle and capture him. Returning to the Batcave, Batman and Robin continue arguing, with Robin feeling like Batman is too controlling and doesn’t trust him. Later, Bruce goes to talk with Alfred and asks him if Dick is right and Alfred admits that he is, as Bruce’s tragic childhood has made it difficult for him to trust other people, Alfred being one of the few exceptions. Meanwhile, Dick catches Barbara sneaking the motorcycle back into the garage and when he questions her about it, she is evasive as to what she was doing. Freeze is taken to Arkham Asylum and placed in a special cell with a freeze light in it, confining him to the area around his bed in the room. Elsewhere, Ivy and Bane head to an abandoned Turkish bathhouse and, after kicking out the gang that was living there, she begins making her own alterations while preparing to bust Freeze out of Arkham. That night, Bruce is having dinner with Julie, who talks to him about marriage but Bruce is still thinking about Ivy, accidentally calling Julie Ivy when she kisses him. Meanwhile, Dick is also obsessing about finding out who Ivy is when he spots Barbara stealing a motorcycle again and he decides to follow her. He finds her competing in an underground bike race and joins in the race to follow her, helping save her when a gang decides to try and kill her. As they return to Wayne manor, Dick and Barbara talk about her racing and she reveals she had been kicked out of school for it but she doesn’t care as she has all the money she needs. She tells Dick she plans on taking Alfred away from there, feeling he is being taken advantage of. When Dick tells her he is family and happy there, she reveals that Alfred is sick. As she heads upstairs, Bruce, who was in the other room, tells Dick that Alfred isn’t sick, but dying and had chosen not to tell anyone about it. At Arkham, Ivy and Bane go to break Freeze out of his cell but his suit is out of power so he says he must return to his hideout to get the diamonds to power it, and asks Ivy to get his wife, who he has hidden in a secret part of his lair. After hearing that Freeze escaped, Batman and Robin join the police at Freeze’s hideout, where they see that Ivy and Bane had broken him out of prison. As they discuss what happened to them and why they were fighting over her, they discover Freeze’s hidden chamber and find Nora Fries body still in suspended animation, Freeze and Ivy see this and Ivy tells him she will deal with Batman and Robin and get Nora while he gets his diamonds for his suit and meet back at her hideout. As they examine Nora’s body, they discover that Freeze had managed to find a cure and treatment for the early stages of MacGregor’s Syndrome but not the latter stages. Suddenly, the smell Ivy’s pheromones and head down into the sewer to confront her but she has Bane attack them. Meanwhile, Freeze lowers the temperature in the hideout, disabling the police and allowing him to grab his diamonds as well as his freeze engine, then makes his escape. Back in the sewers, Bane knocks Batman and Robin around and as they are stunned, Ivy approaches them and uses her pheromones to distract them some more and attempt to kiss them. Batman is able to resist them but Robin finds himself more susceptible and as they argue, Batman is forced to dump Robin into the sludge. Ivy uses the distraction to head up to the room and instead of rescuing Nora, she disables the machine, then grabs her necklace to show as proof that Nora died. When she returns to her hideout, Freeze asks where Nora is and Ivy tells him that Batman and Robin disabled the machine, handing him the necklace as proof she is dead. Freeze wants revenge and plans on freezing Gotham and Ivy wants to help, saying after he freezes mankind, her mutant plants will take over and they will be the only two people left. Back at Wayne Manor, Barbara is checking in on Alfred, who hands her a disc he made for his brother and ask that she find him but she decides to look at the disc herself and learns about Bruce and Dick’s secret identity. Meanwhile, Bruce and Dick are still arguing over Ivy as Bruce leaves for a fundraiser, saying he will go after them alone as Dick isn’t thinking straight. At the fundraiser, Ivy, dressed as Pamela Isley, uses her pheromones on Gordon to learn where the Bat Signal is but Bruce smells the pheromones and realizes who she really is. Bane destroys the Bat signal and Ivy has a new one created just for Robin, luring him to her hideout. At the Batcave, Robin is getting ready to head out to meet Ivy when Batman stops him and says she is trying to kill him, asking Robin to trust him on this. After they leave, Barbara finds her way into the cave, and a computer image of Alfred shows up on the computer. Alfred says he knew she would find her way down there and had created a suit for her in case she wanted to help. Freeze and Bane head to Gotham Observatory, where Freeze plans on using the new telescope to freeze Gotham. Meanwhile, Robin shows up at the Turkish Bath and approaches Ivy, who asks him to kiss her. Robin asks her to tell him Freezes plan first and she does so, thinking it won’t matter since he will soon be dead, but Robin had heeded Batman’s warning and coated his lips with Rubber to prevent her toxin from infecting him. Ivy shoves him into the pool, where the vines start dragging him underwater and when Batman shows up, she has her vines trap him as well. Suddenly, Barbara, calling herself Batgirl, burst through the skylight and begins fighting Ivy, managing to trap her in her own plant. Batman and Robin manage to free themselves and when they ask Batgirl who she is, she reveals that she is Barbara and had found the Batcave. The three head to the observatory but are too late as Freeze has already begun to freeze the city. Realizing they don’t have much time to thaw the city, Batman, Robin, and Batgirl reach the observatory and realize they can use the telescope and linked satellite system to reflect sunlight onto the city and thaw it. While Batman reprograms the satellites, Robin and Batgirl head out to thaw the targeting mirrors but Freeze shows up and begins attacking Batman, moving the telescope which knocks Robin and Batgirl off of it. Robin attempts to save them but when his grapple fails, Batgirl ends up saving them. As they recover, Bane attacks them but Robin tells Batgirl to pull the tubes from his mask and when they do so, Bane reacts in pain and loses his strength before reverting back to Diego. Meanwhile, Batman and Freeze continue fighting and BAtman eventually gets the upper hand by placing a mini heater in Freezes suit and knocking him off the platform. Batman then starts using the telescope to start thawing the city but Freeze activates some bombs he had Bane place around the facility earlier, destroying the telescope. As Batman rescues the scientists that were falling with the telescope, He, Robin, and Batgirl head back to the observatory to try and figure out how to thaw the rest of the city. Batgirl and Robin use the satellites themselves to reflect the sun onto the city and continue thawing it, saving the city and everyone in it. Batman approaches Freeze, who is incapacitated due to his damaged suit, and Freeze tells him to go ahead and kill him like he killed his wife. Batman tells him that he didn’t kill Nora, showing him the video of Ivy bragging about killing her, and Freeze cries out in anger. Batman then tells him that Nora is still alive, as they restored the machine, then asks Freeze to help him save the life of someone suffering from early stages of MacGregor’s Syndrome. Freeze gives him the cure and Batman tells him he will have Nora’s body transferred to Arkham so that Freeze can continue his research. Batman, Robin, and Batgirl return to Wayne Manor, where Bruce begins administering the cure to Alfred. Meanwhile, Ivy is sitting in her cell in Arkham when Freeze shows up, revealing that he is her new cell mate, and as he approaches her, Ivy begins shaking in fear. The next morning, Alfred is shown to have made a full recovery and as they rejoice in the good news, Bruce decides what to do with Barbara and relents when she asks to be his partner and part of the family.
Batman & Robin was completely panned by the critics, holding a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “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.” Most of the scenes with Batgirl were cut as Alicia Silverstone had gained a few punds during production and the batgirl suit had to be refit. When the press found out, the criticized her for the weight gain but director Joel Schumacher defended her and attacked the press for their cruelty. The movie was a modest success at the box office, earning $238.2 million off of a $125 million budget but it effectively killed off any planned sequel or follow up movie until the franchise was rebooted in 2005 with Batman Begins.
It is too early in the day for me to have a drink and I really want to drink to the point I forget watching this movie. This movie is terrible on so many levels that it is almost painful. The acting was ok, and I say that in all seriousness because the actors were doing the best they could with an absolutely craptacular script. 27 ICE PUNS!!!! That is 28 ice puns too many, because you know there was another one that was written but didn’t make the cut. And let’s not forget the plant puns that were involved with Poison Ivy. As I mentioned earlier, the story was absolute crap and spent more time trying to come up with clever jokes then actually coming up with a decent story. The side plot about Alfred being sick was the best part of the story and they could have made a better movie if they had focused on that. One thing that was unforgivable was what they did to Bane, as he was one of the most interesting and methodical villains to be introduced to face Batman in recent years and they made him a total joke of a character in this movie. The set design was so cartoonish in it’s appearance that it was hard to take anything serious. As for the special effects, while they were decent, they didn’t help matters when it came to the total campiness of this movie. If you come across this movie, do yourself a favor and keep on going.
Rating: 1 out of 5