Batman & Robin

[Several early reviews were written for my college newspaper with Kimber Kay, in the format seen here.]

KIMBER: Everything freezes over in Warner Bros.’ fourth installment of the Batman series, “Batman & Robin.”

The film lets the villains have the most fun. I loved the way Poison Ivy, played by Uma Thurman, seduces everyone from Boy Wonder to Commissioner Gordon, and how Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s Mr. Freeze speaks in one-liners.

The supporting villain cast is background, but the ice hockey goons are fun. Why they hang out with Mr. Freeze is beyond me. Maybe Gotham hasn’t got a hockey franchise yet.

“So many people to kill, so little time,” moans Poison Ivy. I am proud of her. She is the only character to actually kill anyone. Her beefy sidekick, Bane, helps strangle people and grunts a lot. Great acting.

The botanical vamp and iceman are as campy as they wanna be. They might be cheesy, but if you were looking for great acting in a Batman movie, come here so I can beat you upside the head.

ERIC: I’m not going to beat around the bush here. This is a bad movie. The screenplay, with its absurd dialogue, outrageous plot developments and one-dimensional characters, would have worked great for the intentionally cheesy ’60s TV show. Throw in a few “Holy Ice Follies, Batman!” lines, and maybe a “What’s this? Our caped crusader and trusty teen-ager stuck on a spaceship set straight for the sun?” and you’d have had a great little campy show.

The problem is that while the screenplay reads like that, the movie was directed, designed and scored to look like an exciting action/adventure movie. In other words, the movie looks and sounds like it wants us to take it seriously, but the characters talk and act otherwise.

KIMBER: This is the campiest film so far, but I like how they keep it dark and semi-serious. This takes me back to the good old days of sneaking off with a stack of my brother’s comic books, instead of reading some Judy Blume fluff. You don’t expect the heroes to die, and you never know what crazy special device they have stashed away. The more impossible, the better.

ERIC: But there’s SO MUCH of this impossible stuff that it’s not exciting, or even very interesting. No matter what predicament George Clooney’s Batman and Chris O’Donnell’s Robin get themselves into, you know that they’ll reveal some new gadget, or perform some impossible stunt, or defy the laws of physics (gravity is particularly ignored in this film), and get out of it.

Within the first 10 minutes, they’ve had ice skates pop out of the bottom of their boots, and they’ve been skydiving without parachutes while surfing on the detached doors from a rocketship. And none of it gets your blood pumping or has you excited. You just kind of watch it, comprehending what’s going on (usually), but not caring.

Again, all this ridiculousness would have been fine if it were played for laughs. But rather than being a silly movie with a few bits of action, “Batman & Robin” tries to be an action movie with a few bits of silliness. And it just doesn’t work that way.

KIMBER: I disagree with Eric, because I think he hates everything I love about movies. I expect to see more cheese on the screen than on my nachos. Most people going to “Batman and Robin” are looking for exactly what they get: lots of action, snappy comebacks, and expensive stunts. What is wrong with that?

ERIC: My problem with it is that it is SO over-the-top, and SO silly, that it’s not even fun to watch. The previous movies managed to have a decent balance of goofiness and reality, with some legitimate humor — “The iceman cometh” and the approximately 75,000 lines just like it do not qualify as legitimate humor, I’m sorry to say.

D- (; PG-13, strong stylized action and some innuendos.)