You know, in 1989 when the first film was released, I couldn't have been more excited. Finally, a true representation of creator Bob Kane's vision of a man, scarred from childhood, who feels a need to dress up as a bat and try to prevent crimes before they happen. The film was dark, Batman was enigmatic, and the villians were not campy, they were psychotic.
Joel Schumacher, who directed the third installment of the film as well, seems to have missed the whole point. Batman is not about wise cracking villians and their campy plans to steal really big diamonds, nor is it about fun-loving heroes and shots of their butts in rubber. It is about one man's psychosis, and it poses the question as to whether or not insanity can be good if it benifits society.
That's the problem with "Batman and Robin." It skips over the whole reality issue completely, and reduces the characters to one-dimentional pictures of men and women in odd costumes. The film is a huge departure from the comics, and while that is to be expected (after all, it is a major undertaking to try and fit over 50 years of storyline into a two hour movie), the liberties are not justified. Mr. Freeze is a brilliant scientist, who seeks revenge against the men who killed his wife and warped his body. While that is touched on in the movie, his primary motivation seems to be to amuse himself, both by freezing the city, and by craking a bunch of one-liners. Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been so bad on film, and his lack of acting talent shows through. He is annoying as Mr. Freeze, and plays him like a reject from the campy 60's TV show.
Uma Thurman, who is the best part of the film, makes a noble effort with what she's been given. Her Poision Ivy is seductive, calculating, and she gives the role charm that the rest of the film lacks. Her Ivy is fun both to look at, and to watch. While the character still lacks the bitterness of the comic Ivy, who vows revenge on all humanity for it's lack of consideration toward vegitation.
The character Bane is the biggest disappointment of the whole film. The comic Bane was very strong, yes, but he is also brilliant in his planning. He is the one villian who actually defeated Batman and put him out of comission for almost 2 years. Here, the only thing we get is a grunting shadow of that cunning.
Similiarly, Batgirl is reduced to a dumb valley girl, as opposed to the feminist of the comic books. Alicia Silverstone is a good enough actress to adaquately pull off the role, but she is given nothing to do. Her character is undeveloped, shallow, and appears only when the plot needs a diversion. It's sad really. She, like the Bane character, is a total waste.
I may come off like an overzealous comic reader at first, but I have a feeling that if you watch this film, you will agree with me, even if you have never seen a Batman comic book. "Batman and Robin" is nothing more than an overbudget, overstuffed, and poorly done piece of celluloid. The visual style is garish, the script is incohearent, the performances are unengaging, and the whole thing is about as deep as a butter dish. Watch it, and you will agree.