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Batman And Robin Is The Best Batman Movie Of All

Lewis Budden

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We Defend the Indefensible

George Clooney as Batman image
Warner Bros.

Everyone one is familiar with Gotham’s leather-clad crime fighter, and Batman & Robin (1997) is a standout in the franchises 70+ year history. Yet, this is usually for all the wrong reasons. Director Joel Schumacher’s mid-nineties effort remains an unpopular adventure with the caped crusader. It’s universally panned by both the fandom and critics. This is unfair. Batman and Robin is the best Batman movie made.

With the new ‘The Batman’ Robert Pattinson film coming soon, has enough time passed to reassess this offering, maybe we can all come to our senses? Admittedly, this was the first film I saw in the cinema as a child, so forgive my soft spot for what is often regarded as a dumpster fire of a superhero movie. But is it actually that bad? Is it actually better than every other? Join me as explain why Batman and Robin is the best Batman movie of all time.

Cursed from the start

The year is 1997, the world is rapidly changing and Warner Brothers are fresh off the success of Batman Forever (1995). Eager to capitalise on this momentum, Warner set the release date of summer 1997 in stone, to ensure they had prime box office real estate.

Composer Elliot Goldenthal recalled to the Hollywood Reporter: “Suddenly you’re carrying what’s called the tentpole movie of the year. Which means that’s going to carry all the other movies, so you are going to open whether you have something or not. Those spots in the summer are so sought-after, it’s like, “Oh my God, I’m opening. But now I have to make something to open with… “It seems like you never have enough time, and seeing the posters all over Ventura Boulevard or Sunset Boulevard or the subways in New York, you are reminded how few days you have left to complete the project.”

Under these conditions, it becomes a bit clearer why the Batman and Robin movie currently has a score of 3.8/10 on IMDB and a dismal 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. With that caveat in place, it’s a miracle a film was even completed in this time, never mind one as iconic as this.

A return to the camp origins

Given the waters were muddy from the start, this bombastic version of Batman was a bold adaptation. Gone was Val Kilmer’s angsty Bruce Wayne and in was 90s TV Heartthrob George Colony. This immediately changed the tone of the character and introduces a softer Master Wayne. A Wayne more akin to the 1960s adaptation played by Adam West.

Whilst unaware as a child, obsessed with this movie, the flamboyant and homoerotic expects of this film are obvious now. Joel Schumacher, as an openly gay director, unapologetically rebuilt Batman with a queer gaze. From the infamous leather nipples on the bat suit and the chiselled leather muscles of the male protagonists to the nod to androgyny and drag culture. Both men and women are transformed into fantastical characters. Featuring sequined bodysuits, extreme hair dye and makeup.

Joel Schumacher had a budget of $125 million and people act like he turned Gotham into a fetish bar. What he actually did was proudly reimagine Gotham and its characters in an image that he sore fit.

Flamboyance is at the heart of the Batman and Robin movie. Even the frantic soundtrack of strings and trumpets used during the fight scenes almost resemble du nu nu nu nu BATMAN’… Ask yourself, is Mr freeze cascading over Gotham with huge icy butterfly wings, really that much different than the 1960s BATUSI’ dance numbers? I think not.

New villains

Joel Schumacher also introduced some iconic villains to the cinematic universe. There is no reliance on the Joker or Two-Face here, instead, we have some of the biggest stars of a generation reborn into pure comic book evil. This rogues gallery goes a long way to making Batman and Robin the best movie for the Dark Knight so far.

Fresh from the fame of Pulp Fiction, Uma Thurman becomes the toxic environmentalist, Poison Ivy. Whilst only a few years after being the lead in the most expensive film of all time, James Cameron’s Terminator 2, Arnold Schwarzenegger became the frozen pun-lover, Mr Freeze.

For context, Schwarzenegger was so in vogue that celebrities would come to the set just to give him gifts. Stogie Kenyatta, who played one of Mr. Freeze’s henchmen recalled, “Jon Bon Jovi came by and he brought Cuban cigars for Arnold. So Arnold had them colour it white so he could smoke it in the scenes.”

You could call the casting daring, but daring was nipples on the bat suit… this was revolutionary. Let’s not forget the fresh-faced Alicia Silverstone, plucked straight from the set of Clueless and into the Batgirl costume. Along with the introduction to Bane, yes BANE to this cinematic universe.

Ok, Bane is played as a meat-headed Frankenstein goon, that practically unrecognisable to Tom Hardy’s’ smooth-talking, dynamite enthusiast. But, in this cartoonish world, it actually makes sense. Bane is set up to be Ivys’ loyal monster as they are both unholy, accidental creations. Whilst accomplished Cryogenicist Dr Victor Fries and his band of outcasts, are simply searching for a cure for his wife’s fatal degenerative disease.

These are silly characters, but they are played by icons of a generation and given half-decent backstories as to why they are in the film. If nothing else, dastardly villains accompanied by goons are classic Batman tropes. The Batman and Robin movie does ‘comic book’ better than any of the other outings. This is the finest recreation of the outlandish energy that made this franchise famous.

This is why we CAN have nice things

Whilst my love for this film is true, I can’t deny that Nolan’s trilogy isn’t fantastic in their own right. But, if we didn’t get this fever dream of a Batman film, then the franchise wouldn’t have served an 8-year sentence in film jail’ before experiencing a full-on reboot and origin story. You have to thank this movie for The Dark Knight Trilogy.

This was the last hurrah for the world’s best detective. Eating itself alive as the cinematic capitalist machine washes it down with another happy meal toy. Since Tim Burtons two flicks, to Batman Forever and finally Batman & Robin, every incarnation was individual, inconsistent, yet an enjoyable outing. Each revelling in pure comic book fancy before the era of gritty, horror-inspired realism sunk its claws into every hero of the 2000s.

In a lot of ways, the Batman and Robin movie walked so The Dark Knight could run. It’s unfair to call it the worst of the Batman movies.

Pun-ishing Dialogue

Who knew there were so many ice-related puns to be shoehorned into a comic film? Was it ridiculous? Yes. Was it memorable? Yes. If your still angry about this silly film doing silly things, then I’m afraid that might be a you problem.

Batman & Robin is a bazaar ride, but don’t mistake silly for stupid. The film is self-aware to the point of parody. It’s an old fashioned comic book tale. From the bat card’ to Robins rubber lips, but the dialogue throughout indicated that the tongue is firmly in the cheek.

The film manages to poke fun at itself for the older audiences whilst remaining an action-packed adventure for the younger. The film isn’t oblivious to its ridiculousness, it’s offering it up on the surface level. It’s laughing with you, not at you, something that has been forgotten when it comes to Batman.

Without humour and pomp, we will be left with continuous bland interpretations of this character. I fear for the upcoming ‘The Batman’ film.

Whether it’s the MCU or Deadpool, every modern comic book film has an element of humour woven into it. Yet people turn their nose up at the Batman and Robin movie because they have a preconceived idea that Batman must be the same endless gloomy cliches.

Why can’t we laugh with Batman? He’s a wealthy aristocrat detective’ that dresses like a bat to fight crime… so, why so serious?

A psychedelic Gotham

Before every superhero was based in New York, LA or sometimes a ranch, there was Gotham. A spooky, fantastical city that resembled a corrupt American setting, yet reflected the zestiest in a nightmarish underworld.

“Toyetic” was a term often used by Schumacher to describe his Gotham. A term that takes his situation of Warner Brothers demanding an easy to consume, merchandisable product. He uses it to create an empowered, glamorous setting.

The whole film is brimming with generously coloured set designs, miniatures, costumes and more. Batman & Robin is a film that deserves more recondition as a major box office comic book film. It created its fantasy set, without the reliance on digital technology.

From the camera choices to the extreme, saturated effects, the whole film is a vibrant experience. It’s oozing with colour and a fitting adaptation from a comic book. Compared to the bland colour pallets of the MCU and that the Dark Knight Trilogy and the DCEU rendered Gotham to any old U.S city. Schumacher’s Gotham was the last one loyal to the comic book fantasyland it should be.

Summary

Batman & Robin is not a perfect film and was never trying to be. It’s a cartoonish anomaly that successfully got a new generation of children into Batman. A play on the franchises past whilst blossoming in the midst of a box office cash grab.

This film took its genre to the limits and saw consumerism eat itself alive; paving the way for the golden era of comic book movies that were to follow. For that reason it’s the best Batman film there is and something that for better or worse, can never be replicated.


And that’s why Batman and Robin is the best Batman movie ever. Is there anything we missed out that you think could’ve been on this list? Or are we way out of our depth with this argument? If so, leave us a comment below.


We defend more of the indefensible HERE.

Read IMDB information about Batman and Robin HERE.

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Movie News

The 9 Greatest Spoof Movies Ever

Aaron Phillips

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This is Spinal Tap image
Embassy Pictures

There have been so many great spoof movies over the past four decades. So, sit back and buckle up as we countdown the nine greatest spoof movies of all time. And “don’t call me Shirley”.

9. Team America: World Police

Ok, so it’s all-puppet action as opposed to real-life actors, but it’s still up there. Written by the guys behind South Park, it parodies an American counter-terrorism force as they take on global terrorists. As you would expect, there are some cracking scenes throughout the movie. Kim Jong-il singing about being “so roney, so roney” is a highlight that isn’t easily forgotten. You also have to feel sorry for poor old Matt Damon. Although he’s had a glittering film career it’s still hard not to say “Matt Damon” in that monotone way every time you see him on screen. According to writers Matt Stone and Trey Parker, Damon’s puppet looked so vacant that they decided to make his character only able to say his name. Poor Matt. Add in some fantastic one-liners, over-the-top violence and sex scenes with puppets, you have a great film that will make you laugh, and cringe.

8. Blazing Saddles

Mel Brooks is the king of spoof and parody. He’s directed and written many a great spoof over the years, but Blazing Saddles was only his third movie in the director’s chair. This 1974 offering takes the proverbial from all the great western movies from the 40s and 50s. The film throws joke after joke at you, along with anachronisms aplenty. Lead actors Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little also deliver comedic gold performances that help make this film great. Brooks also does a clever job of dealing with racism throughout the movie; something that hadn’t really been done before. One of those moments is where Wilder and Little confront two Klan characters, before stealing their white gowns. Clever, and poignant. It’s also interesting to note that execs wanted to pull the plug before release, but soon realised they got it wrong. It was a financial success and has firmly sealed its place in history as an iconic piece of filmmaking. Not only that, but it’s also still rated very highly on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb today. Just goes to show that a classic stands the test of time.

7. Spaceballs

Yep, our old friend Mel Brooks features again in the director’s chair. This time he delves into the world of sci-fi; more specifically, Star Wars. Although it only made a small profit at the time, it’s gone on to become a cult classic and holds a fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The key to its success is it’s genuinely funny. The jokes are good enough to make you belly laugh. And the characters are so close to those on Star Wars, it’s amazing George Lucas gave his blessing for it to be made at all. He even went a step further and sent Mel Brooks a note to say he almost fell apart laughing through it. Praise indeed. Brooks’ other golden touch was casting Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet. I think you’ll struggle to find a funnier bad guy. There are also rumours of a sequel, predicted in the film itself as ‘The search for more Money’, although nothing has been greenlit at the moment. We live in hope.

6. Scary Movie

Ok, so there have been five films in the Scary Movie franchise but the first one from 2000 makes our list of spoof movies. Written by Shawn and Marlon Wayans and directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans, it’s definitely a family affair. Although later films parody a wide range of films, this one heavily relies on Scream, and I Know What You Did Last Summer. This works in the film’s favour as you don’t spend the entire movie wondering what film they’re parodying for each joke. You know that Ghostface from Scream is going to feature a lot. And he does. The scene where he gets stoned with a bunch of guys and prank calls people is still funny today. The later films just feel like a collection of forced jokes as they ran out of horror movies to parody. Although it received mixed reviews, it made a monumental profit at the box office.

5. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad

No spoof movies list would be complete without at least one that features the brilliant Leslie Nielson. The Naked Gun, released in 1988, was based on the short-lived TV series from 1982. Created by the legend of deadpan comedy David Zucker, it follows Lt Frank Drebin on his escapades. The original Police Squad series was a spoof of 60s police dramas; particularly M Squad, and The Naked Gun follows the same theme. Plus, it ends with one of the best death scenes in film history with Nielson waving his arms and calmly addressing the crowd with “nothing to see here”. With superb writing and acting, The Naked Gun was released to critical acclaim. It also made a healthy profit at the box office and is often listed as one the greatest comedy films ever made.

4. Hot Shots!

Released in 1991 and directed by Jim Abrahams, Hot Shots! keeps things simple by purely being a spoof of Top Gun. And a very good one it is too. Not only is the writing funny and sharp, but it also has a fantastic cast. Playing the lead roles are Charlie Sheen and Cary Elwes as the two feuding pilots. Both actors are masters of comedic timing and they deliver their lines with razorlike sharpness. The plot revolves around a mission to Iraq, with the added love triangle involving Sheen and Elwes’ characters and a female therapist. This sub-plot lends itself to some genuinely hilarious scenes between the two actors. Credit also has to go to the fantastic Lloyd Bridges. He plays a commander who seems to have had every part of his body replaced due to it being blown off in various battles. His lines in the movie are comedy gold. A great film that hits all its spoof targets with absolute aplomb.

3. Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Written and performed by legendary British comedy troupe Monty Python, Life of Brian had a controversial start. Being a satire of Jesus’ life was always going to cause some angst among some religious communities. In fact, some countries including Ireland and Norway banned it from being shown on release. In some cases that ban the latest decades. Life of Brian is often quoted as one of the greatest comedy films ever made. The writing is as good as you would expect from the Monty Python crew, and the jokes keep coming all the way through. Who can forget the immortal line, “he’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy”. It made a modest box office profit at release but has gone on to earn iconic status. Rotten Tomatoes have it as a 95% certified fresh rating and it’s still raved about today.

2. This is Spinal Tap

This is the film that kicked off a new genre of filmmaking – the mockumentary. Parodying band biopics from the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, it follows fictional band Spinal Tap on their debut American tour. If you’ve ever played in a band – as I do – so much of what’s in this film is true. I can personally attest to getting lost in venues and playing shows where no one turns up. Director Rob Reiner was sending up the pretensions of rock and roll bands and he nailed it. What’s also interesting is the majority of the dialogue throughout the film is improvised. Credit to the actors for pulling off some truly iconic lines. Whether it’s the Stonehenge scene or the legendary amp up to eleven scene, this film has embedded itself in our culture forever. It was only a modest success when it was first released, but its impact has left a lasting impression.

1. Airplane!

Well, we’ve flown; shot and rode our way to number one on our list of spoof movies. Once again, we arrive at a film directed by the dream team of the Zucker brothers and Jim Abrahams. Loosely based on air disaster movies of the 50s and 60s, it follows a plane whose crew are taken out with a sickness bug. Cue disgraced former pilot Ted Striker to save the day. Released in 1980, this was the film that set Leslie Nielson on the path of spoof comedy. He only has a fairly minor role as the doctor, but he delivers some of the best lines in the movie. ‘I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley’, is iconic. Lloyd Bridges also features as the man on the ground at air traffic control and turns in a chaotic but brilliant performance. Upon release, it made a whopping $168 million dollars at the box office and received critical acclaim. It’s also certified fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, along with ranking as one of the best on IMDb. It’s one of those films that make you cry with laughter thanks to clever writing and some fantastic performances. A timeless classic.


That’s our list of the nine greatest spoof movies. Did we miss any? Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.


Read about movie remakes that should never have happened HERE.

Read IMDb information about Airplane! HERE.

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