Batman & Robin

Directed By: Joel Schumacher

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone, Pat Hingle, and Michael Gough

The on-screen role of Batman was cursed back in the 90s.  Batman was like the Defense against the Dark Arts post at Hogwarts.  Each live action Batman film was headlined by a different guy, and this became increasingly to the detriment of the series.  Michael Keaton reprised his role as the Caped Crusader in the spectacular Batman Returns.  Val Kilmer took over the role of the Dark Knight in the relatively mediocre Batman Forever.  Finally, George Clooney took over the role of the ever-popular superhero in the craptastic Batman & Robin.  This was arguably the worst casting decision ever in a superhero movie. 

There's a new villain in town who goes by the name of Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger).  The mad scientist formerly known as Victor Fries is determined to find a cure to the disease that has nearly taken his wife Nora (Vendela Kirsebom) from him—MacGregor’s Syndrome.  To do so, he needs to steal lots of diamonds from the people of Gotham to power his inventions.  Naturally, Batman (Clooney) and Robin (Chris O'Donnell) try to thwart him at every turn.  The only problem is that the dynamic duo is not so dynamic at the moment.  Robin has issues with being the Dark Knight's junior partner, and tensions grow between the two.  On the home front, Bruce and Dick fail to notice that Alfred is suffering from the same disease that has nearly killed Freeze's wife.  Alfred's niece Barbara Wilson (Alicia Silverstone) has arrived to tend to his needs.

Meanwhile, Dr. Pamela Isley (Uma Thurman) and Dr. Jason Woodrue (John Glover) work at a former Wayne Enterprises laboratory in South America.  Unbeknownst to Isley, she's helped Woodrue develop a formula to turn people into super soldiers.  She gets a front row seat for Antonio Diego's transformation into Bane (Jeep Swenson), a mindless freak with super strength.  When Isley objects to Woodrue's monstrous super soldier formula, he tries to kill her by throwing her in a bath of toxins.  Instead, she survives and becomes the sensual criminal mastermind known as Poison Ivy.  After killing Woodrue, she goes to Gotham City along with Bane to cause more trouble for Batman and Robin.

Batman & Robin is cheesy.  It's schmaltzy.  It's everything a Batman film should never be.  It reflects the culmination of Warner Bros.' poor management of this franchise.  They have director Joel Schumacher making a completely campy Batman film, and the Dark Knight should never be campy.  Terrible one-liners are thrown all over the place.  Bad writing and directing pervade every scene.  Actors are poorly cast in their roles and consequently deliver unbearably bad performances.  In a nutshell, Batman & Robin sucks.  It just completely sucks. 

The decision to cast George Clooney as Batman is a failure of epic proportions.  He's too "George Clooney" to be Batman.  Even back then, he brought a certain undeniable charm and charisma to the big screen.  Sure, he can play billionaire bachelor Bruce Wayne to perfection with his larger-than-life persona.  However, he turns the Dark Knight into the Debonair Knight.  Clooney just does not have the dark side to play a guy who brutally beats the criminals of Gotham at night.  He's just not that guy.  I'm not even going to address his sidekicks Robin or Batgirl played by Chris O'Donnell and Alicia Silverstone respectively.  They're just as bad.

Don't worry.  George Clooney is not the only cast member who gives an atrocious performance in Batman & Robin.  My next target is Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Apparently, Mr. Freeze's condition left him cold to our pleas of mercy for good acting throughout the film.  The Terminator star does anything but portray the evil genius that Victor Fries truly is.  He doesn't come across as a smart criminal on screen.  He's not even a badass!  Schwarzenegger is completely in tune with Schumacher's family-friendly Batman film.  His cheesy performance as Mr. Freeze helps turn Batman & Robin into something more akin to a family-oriented theatrical production rather than a live action film.  It's Batman on Ice thanks to the Governator.

As Poison Ivy, Uma Thurman is a sensual villain with no real dark side or depth.  Thurman gives us a pretty hollow character.  She's just as bad as Schwarzenegger.  As the second female villain in the franchise after Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman, I can honestly say that she's got nothing on Pfeiffer.  As Bane, Jeep Swenson is absolutely worthless.  He's a complete joke.  There is nothing imposing or menacing about this mindless freak.  He's just another henchman.  Tom Hardy does not have much to outdo in his upcoming flick The Dark Knight Rises.

The Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman series went from the mountaintop of blockbuster filmmaking straight to hell.  What made the first two films great was that they were dark, mature, and adult-oriented.  The decision to make the films more family-friendly was unbelievably stupid and certainly not as profitable as the studio thought.  I would never waste my time on a crappy flick like Batman & Robin nowadays.  It's truly a mystery as to how a series so great can fall so far.  Batman & Robin gets a wasted rating.  Order some mystery shots from the bartender for this one.