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Batman Forever

Batman Forever is a 1995 superhero film based on the DC Comics character Batman. Joel Schumacher directed the film, which stars Val Kilmer as Batman, as well as Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman and Chris O'Donnell. Batman Forever tells the story of Batman (Kilmer) trying to stop Two-Face (Jones) and the Riddler's (Carrey) villainous scheme of draining information from all the brains in Gotham City. Batman gains alliance from psychiatrist Dr. Chase Meridian (Kidman) and adopted sidekick Robin (O'Donnell).

Plot

The film opens with Batman stopping a hostage situation caused by Two-Face, alter ego of physically/emotionally scarred former district attorney Harvey Dent. Two-Face escapes. Edward Nygma, a researcher at Wayne Enterprises develops a device to beam television directly to a person's brain. Bruce Wayne rejects the invention and Edward resigns from his position.

After having met psychiatrist Dr. Chase Meridian, Bruce invites her to a charity circus event. Two-Face and his henchman storm the event, while acrobat family The Flying Graysons are murdered. The youngest member, Dick, survives and stops a bomb from exploding caused by Two-Face. Upon his return, he discovers Two-Face killed his family and escaped. Bruce assumes responsibility for Dick and allows him to stay at Wayne Manor. Dick declares his intention to kill Two-Face in revenge for his family's murder, and when he discovers Bruce's secret identity as Batman, he insists on becoming his sidekick, "Robin".

Meanwhile, Edward has become psychologically obsessed with Bruce, leaving riddles for him. He decided to become a criminal known as "The Riddler" and allies with Two-Face. With his invention, Edward can read and control people's minds, and steal their intelligence quotient. Edward discovers Bruce's secret identity, while Robin saves Wayne's life. However, Two-Face and Riddler converge into the Batcave, destroying most of the equipment, and leaving a riddle.

Solving the riddle, Batman and Robin locate the Riddler's lair. This leads to holding both Robin and Chase Meridian as hostages. Giving Batman the choice of only being able to save one of them, he finds a way to save both. Batman destroys the brainwave-collecting device, warping Riddler in the process. In the battle, Two-Face falls to his death. The Riddler is committed to Arkham Asylum, and Chase is asked to consult on his case. Riddler offers to reveal the identity of Batman to her, but he thinks himself Batman. Chase then meets Bruce Wayne outside and tells him his secret is safe.

Cast

  • Val Kilmer as Bruce Wayne / Batman: After coming across the journal of his father, he starts questioning his act of vengeance. Bruce struggles with his dual identity as a crime fighter, becoming romantically involved with Chase Meridian. Bruce decides to return as a crime fighter upon "The Flying Graysons Massacre".
  • Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent / Two-Face: Formerly the good district attorney of Gotham City, half of Harvey's face is scarred with acid during the conviction of a crime boss. This leads to events that showcase him as Batman's newest enemy "Two-Face".
  • Jim Carrey as Dr. Edward Nygma / Riddler: A former employee at Wayne Enterprises, Edward is fired by because of the dangers of his newest invention. He becomes psychologically obsessed with Bruce Wayne. In a secret identity he becomes the villainous Riddler, leaving riddles and puzzles at scenes of crime.
  • Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian: A psychologist and love interest of Bruce Wayne. Chase is fascinated by the dual nature of Batman. She's held as a damsel in distress in the climax.
  • Chris O'Donnell as Dick Grayson / Robin: Once a circus acrobat, Dick is adopted by Bruce after Two-Face murders his parents and brother at a circus event. Bruce is reminded when his parents were murdered when he sees the same vengeance in Dick. He eventually discovers the batcave and learns Bruce's secret identity. In his wake, he becomes the crime fighting sidekick, Robin.
  • Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth: The faithful butler of Bruce and Dick.
  • Pat Hingle as James Gordon: The Police Commissioner of Gotham City
  • Drew Barrymore as Sugar: The "good" henchwoman of Two-Face.
  • Debi Mazar as Spice: The "bad" henchwoman of Two-Face.
  • Ed Begley, Jr. as Fred Stickley: Edward Nygma's cruel supervisor at Wayne Enterprises. Begley was uncredited for this role.

Elizabeth Sanders, wife of Bob Kane, cameos as "Gossip Gerty". Jon Favreau and Don "The Dragon" Wilson also have cameos. Joe Grifasi portrays a bank guard at the films opening and Rene Auberjonois plays Dr. Burton at Arkham Asylum.

Production

Even though Batman Returns was a financial success, Warner Bros. felt the film should have made more money. The studio decided to make the film series more mainstream. Joel Schumacher replaced Tim Burton as director, while Burton decided to stay on as producer. Burton approved of Schumacher. Lee and Janet Scott Batchler were then hired to write the script. Akiva Goldsman was brought to perform a rewrite. He delivered a "production draft" in June 1994. Production went on fast track with Rene Russo cast as Dr. Chase Meridian. Michael Keaton decided not to reprise Batman because he didn't like the new direction the film series was heading in. Keaton also wanted to pursue "more interesting roles", turning down $15 million to appear in Batman Forever. Val Kilmer was cast days later, and the filmmakers decided that Russo was too old for Kilmer, replacing her with a different actress.

Robin Wright Penn, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Linda Hamilton were in competition for Dr. Chase Meridian, with Penn appearing as the favorable choice. Nicole Kidman was eventually cast. Robin Williams turned down the Riddler, while Michael Jackson was attached to the role, but the filmmakers ignored him. Jim Carrey was eventually cast. Robin appeared in the shooting script of Batman Returns but was deleted out of too many characters. Marlon Wayans was cast in the role, and signed for Batman Forever. It was decided to replace with Wayans with a different actor. Leonardo DiCaprio and Chris O'Donnell became the top two choices, with O'Donnell winning the part. Mitchell Gaylord served as O'Donnell's stunt double.

Filming started in September 1994. Rick Baker designed the prosthetic makeup. John Dykstra, Andrew Adamson and Jim Rygiel served as visual effects supervisors, with Boss Film Studios and Pacific Data Images also contributing with visual effects work. Schumacher had problems filming with Kilmer, while "Jim Carrey was a gentleman, and Tommy Lee was threatened by him. I'm tired of defending overpaid, overprivileged actors. I pray I don't work with them again.

Reaction

Peter David and Alan Grant wrote separate novelizations of the film. Dennis O'Neil authored a comic book adaption, with art by Michal Dutkiewicz. Batman Forever was released in America on June 16, 1995 in 2,842 theaters, making $52,784,433 in its opening weekend. This was the highest opening weekend of 1995. The film went on to gross $184.03 million in North America, and $152.5 million in foreign countries, totaling $336.53 million. Batman Forever was declared a financial success. The film earned more money than its predecessor Batman Returns, and was the second-highest (behind Toy Story) grossing film in North America in 1995. In worldwide totals Batman Forever was number six.

Based on 49 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 43% of reviewers enjoyed the film, with the consensus of "Loud, excessively busy, and often boring, Batman Forever nonetheless has the charisma of Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones to offer mild relief. The film was more balanced with 13 critics in Rotten Tomatoes's "Top Critics" poll, receiving a 69% approval rating. By comparison Metacritic collected an average score of 51, based on 23 reviews.

Jonathan Rosenbaum called Batman Forever "suitable for boys of five and under. Nicole Kidman is here to validate the rampant repressed homoeroticism. Peter Travers criticized the movie's blatant commercialism, but commented that "Batman Forever still gets in its licks. There's no fun machine this summer that packs more surprises. The script misses the pain Tim Burton caught in a man tormented by the long-ago murder of his parents. Brian Lowry of Variety believed "One does have to question the logic behind adding nipples to the hard-rubber batsuit. Whose idea was that supposed to be anyway, Alfred's? Some of the computer-generated Gotham cityscapes appear too obviously fake. Elliot Goldenthal's score, while serviceable, also isn't as stirring as Danny Elfman's work in the first two films.

Scott Beatty felt "Tommy Lee Jones played Harvey Dent as a Joker knock-off rather than a multi-layered rogue. Lee Bermejo called Batman Forever "unbearable". Roger Ebert gave a positive review, "Is the movie better entertainment? Well, it's great bubblegum for the eyes. Younger children will be able to process it more easily, some kids were led bawling from Batman Returns where the PG-13 rating was a joke. Mick LaSalle had a mixed reaction, concluding "a shot of Kilmer's rubber buns at one point is guaranteed to bring squeals from the audience. This film mostly carries itself decently good, but the climax is simply too predictable. James Berardinelli, who gave a highly positive review of Batman Returns felt Batman Forever was the best out of the film series. "It's lighter, brighter, funnier, faster-paced, and a whole lot more colorful than before.

At the 68th Academy Awards, Batman Forever was nominated with Cinematography, Sound and Sound Editing. "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" was given a Golden Globe Award nomination. At the Saturn Awards, the film was nominated for Best Fantasy Film, Make-up, Special Effects and Costume Design. Composer Elliot Goldenthal was given a Grammy Award nomination. Batman Forever received six nominations at the 1996 MTV Movie Awards. "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" was given a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Song.

References

External links

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