If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Batman comes back for a quadrilogy, this time played by George Clooney as he battles Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman). But as these new threats arise, so does one at home as Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred (Michael Gough) becomes ill. It's up to the Caped Crusader, Robin (Chris O'Donnell) and Alfred's niece Barbara (Alicia Silverstone) to stop the villains and try to find a cure for their friend.
Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: This is not a good movie. This is one of those rare reviews that reminds you to always be aware of the fact that I do not review movies based on their quality but on my own person enjoyment. And I really enjoy watching this movie. It takes itself much less seriously than Batman Forever and it actually helps to make it more entertaining. Nobody involved in this project seems to care at all. They all look like they're just having a fun time making a Batman movie and they don't care if it turns out to be crap. Clooney especially keeps a grin on his face through the entire thing as if they're holding his paycheck right of screen. He never acts for a single moment as if he took the job for any other reason than the fact that he couldn't turn down playing Batman. That being said, I for one thing he should have been playing Batman from the start, but that's beside the point.
The point is that this movie has a very bad script made incredibly entertaining by bad direction, bad production and very bad acting. Schwarzenegger tries way too hard and yet doesn't seem to be trying at all, which is both confusing and hilarious. Thurman really hams it up and has fun with her role, but she's the worst thing about the film for those very reasons. All of her dialogue is over the top, clichéd lines that feel like they're more out of a really bad stage show than a movie where subtlety is key. But nothing about this movie is subtle and that's one of the reasons it's so fun to watch.
But as awful as most of the movie is, I honestly have to say that this is the only Batman movie of its series that actually has some really emotional moments with Bruce Wayne. He and Alfred have a couple of scenes together that build on their relationship in a way that none of the other films ever touched upon and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it works really well. It's the only of the films to actually give Bruce more than just a vague brooding past. It allows him to be human and more than just the other half of Batman.
Batman & Robin is a prime example of a movie that is "so bad it's good." The fight scenes are bland, the acting is atrocious, but I had a smile on my face from beginning to end and I never got bored. If it doesn't sound like something you would enjoy then that's your choice, but I sure have a lot of fun watching it.