I went in to “Batman Forever" with much lower expectations. I felt it would be a flop given that they'd changed the lead actor to Val Kilmer and the director to Joel Schumacher. I just couldn't imagine how they could continue the franchise without the main talent. That said, the film turned out to be a pleasant surprise, although not without a few problems. There is a fun energy in this film that was sadly lacking in “Batman Returns" - this film is geared more towards summer entertainment, but it still manages to retain those darker elements which were the strongest parts of the previous films. Overall, this is a fun film and manages to return the franchise to “Batman" territory after it slightly veered off course with “Batman Returns".
Batman is now played by Val Kilmer and is arguably the best Batman of the lot (in the 90's films). He just looks and feels like Bruce Wayne and it's a shame he only played him once! He manages to instil a sense of pathos in to Bruce Wayne that is quite different to what Keaton achieved, and at the same time he manages to be very tough and likeable as Batman. A good choice and despite any initial concerns, I thought he was excellent in the role.
Casting is this film's strong suit. Batman is now up against Two-Face (played with delight by Tommy Lee Jones) and the Riddler (played by the manic Jim Carrey). I didn't know of Two-Face before this film but I had certainly been waiting on a big screen intro for the Riddler. He's played very well by Jim Carrey and you can see the filmmakers wanted to return to the maniac lunacy of the Joker with the Riddler to make up for it being absent from “Batman Returns". Two-Face is also well defined although I would have liked to have seen him left out of this film and perhaps put in to the next film. His origin story is skimmed over and they could have set him up as the next film's villain. Alas, the instructions seemed to be “more is more" and as a result, the film does have too many big characters. Granted, the screenplay manages to balance them all out quite well, but there's more a reliance on seeing your celebrity play the character rather than have the character fleshed out by an actor. Don't get me wrong, what they did works well but perhaps they could have cut back a bit in favor of stronger story development.
This film is visually stunning; I remember seeing it in the cinema and being blown away and it still looks spectacular on DVD. It was one of the first films to really utilise a lot of CGI to create a number of astonishing images and on this alone the film is worth watching. The film is also quite loud; the previous two films were atmospheric pieces but this entry is like “Saturday-night Fever on acid", as quoted by the Producer in the documentary. It's a very different take and would have worked extremely well if not for the casual references to the television show. With the introduction of Robin in this film, the filmmakers finally decided to tip their hat towards the television show and as a result produce a couple of cringeworthy scenes that you'd wished they had excised during the editing process. As it turned out, this was an ominous example of what was to come in the next instalment of the Batman franchise.
This is a fun, entertaining entry in the Batman franchise, only let down by a couple of silly scenes.
For the original DVD review, click this link: http://www.allaboutmovies.net/dvdreviewbatmanforever.htm
Alex DeMattia is the lead DVD reviewer at the film/DVD review web site All About Movies.net - He is also an administrator of the web site http://www.approachingsexywomen.com