THIS BAT­MAN’S FOR­EVER

Film stands up, David Be­tan­court writes. You just need to know where to look.

Calgary Herald - - MOVIES -

A quar­ter-cen­tury later, one bat­truth re­mains: There will never be a Bat­man movie quite like Bat­man For­ever.

Di­rec­tor Joel Schumacher’s name has be­come syn­ony­mous with two ’90s Bat­man movies, es­pe­cially 1997’s ab­so­lutely dread­ful Bat­man & Robin, which ar­rived eight years be­fore Christo­pher Nolan res­ur­rected the bat-movie brand with his iconic Dark Knight tril­ogy.

Did Schumacher bring about bat-doom at the big screen in part be­cause he thought Ge­orge Clooney pulling a credit card out of his util­ity belt would look great in Bat­man & Robin? Yes.

But don’t for­get, there would be no Bat­man & Robin if Bat­man For­ever didn’t some­how man­age to not de­stroy the comic-book movie space-time con­tin­uum. And while no one is ask­ing for the Schumacher cut of ei­ther of his bat-movies, 1995’s For­ever was good enough for Warner

Bros. to give him one more trip to Gotham City.

For­ever, which turns 25 this month and streams on HBO

Max through July 1, wasn’t the end of that first run of Bat­man flicks. It was the be­gin­ning of the end. And there is still light at the dawn of the bat-poca­lypse that is Bat­man movie nu­mero tres. I know this be­cause de­spite wor­ship­ping at the al­tar of Tim Bur­ton’s 1989 Bat­man film, I can sit through a view­ing of Bat­man For­ever and still man­age to smile just as many times as I did when I saw it as a teen.

There are count­less rea­sons not to like this movie. A blond Dark Knight (Val Kilmer)? Blas­phemy. The geek radar goes off al­most im­me­di­ately. Kilmer’s Bat­man was fine, his Bruce Wayne bet­ter, but un­less it’s Jean-paul Val­ley un­der the cowl, Bat­man shouldn’t be blond. You’d have to re­ally be into the Bat­man comics of the ’90s to even know who that is.

It’s the lit­tle things that bring you back to For­ever. Like the bat-boat. Blown to smithereen­s be­fore the paint got scratched. Gone too soon.

A Bat­man movie that feels like the Adam West ver­sion with a per­for­mance en­hancer? For­ever is that movie.

The awk­ward ele­phant in the room is For­ever tak­ing place in a remixed Bur­ton/bat­man uni­verse. There’s the late Pat Hin­gle (Com­mis­sioner Gor­don) and the late Michael Gough (Al­fred Pen­ny­worth) repris­ing their roles from Bur­ton’s first two Bat­man movies. Ni­cole Kid­man’s Chase Merid­ian even men­tions

“skin-tight vinyl and a whip” in ref­er­ence to Michelle Pfeif­fer’s Cat­woman, who ap­peared in Bat­man Re­turns.

A hint of the DC Ex­tended Uni­verse? It hap­pened in Bat­man For­ever when Kilmer’s Wayne tells a newly or­phaned Dick Grayson (Chris O’don­nell) that the cir­cus he grew up in must be halfway to Metropo­lis. Su­per­man’s Metropo­lis? In a Bat­man movie? One could only dream back then. Although that con­nect­ing DC su­per­hero movie thing is still very much a work in progress.

The Wash­ing­ton Post

Joel Schumacher

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