Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey are true stars of ‘Batman Forever’
The other night my sister and I were debating what to watch. Having just finished the “Harley Quinn” series on HBO Max, I decided I wanted to continue my Batman-based watching. We bounced between 1989’s Batman — which my colleague has already written about — and the 90s sequels “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin.”
Instead of giving our brains more pain than necessary (no offense to anyone who enjoys “Batman & Robin, it’s just not my favorite) we ended up going with “Batman Forever” which stars Val Kilmer. Kilmer replaced Keaton in his role as the caped crusader after the Pittsburgh based actor said he didn’t like the direction the films were going in.
“Batman Forever”, like I mentioned, is a sequel of sorts from Keaton’s “Batman Returns” in 1992.
The film was released in 1995 and sees Kilmer’s Batman facing off against Two Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and The Riddler (Jim Carrey). All while Bruce Wayne is attempting to help recently orphaned Dick Grayson (Chris O’Donnell) and woo criminal psychologist Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman).
The film saw the return of film great Tim Burton, however his influence was toned down considerably after “Batman Returns.” Warner Bros. was disappointed with the 1992 film’s box office run which was deemed too dark and inappropriate for children. Heck, McDonald’s wouldn’t even put their toys in Happy Meals.
Instead they brought in director Joel Schumacher, chosen by Burton take up the mantle.
The difference between Burton’s heavily influenced films and “Batman Forever” aren’t nearly as noticeable as one might think. Gotham is still dark, grungy and freaky as ever (I’ve heard many big cities are like that… but I’m a simple rural gal myself so who am I to say) with a wild cityscape. My sister even made the comment that some of the scenes in the movies, like when Dick Grayson fights some gang members, reminds her more of “Mad Max” than anything. I couldn’t help but agree with her.
To me it feels like this movie took the 1960s TV show and just made it darker. The CGI also wasn’t the worst I’ve seen in a 90s movie, but it certainly wasn’t the best.
Believe it or not, the villains are really the saving grace of this movie. Kilmer’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman was ok, but not nearly as good as Keaton’s. In his defense he had big shoes to fill, so I understand it.
Jones and Carrey’s roles as Two Face and The Riddler were my favorite parts of the film.
Carrey easily brought his signature over-the-top comedy into the role of Edward Nygma/The Riddler. You see this brilliant, but slightly insane in the membrane, scientist go completely off the rails. At one point he even says “I’m having a breakthrough… or maybe a mental breakdown” which quite frankly is relatable sometimes. His follow up to the statement which is shoving his boss out a window to fall to his death… a lot less so.
And of course there’s Jones as Two Face. Jones took this character and really went to town with it, bordering a little close to Joker territory. From start to finish, Two Face is a campy, over the top and insane character. A role that Jones carried consistently throughout.
Jones and Carrey fed off of each other’s energies well, creating a chaotic criminal duo that was fun to watch.
I wouldn’t say “Batman Forever” is my favorite telling of the classic comic book character but it’s one I always enjoy. Even its sequel, which left a lot to be desired, is still fun to watch (and with a whole new Batman to boot).
The timeline of events wasn’t the best but, since it was aimed towards teenagers, it never bothered me much. Plus Gotham is notoriously always set in the dark so it’s still on brand.
If you’re in the mood to watch some Batman, but don’t want to go as dark as the 2000s reboot then give this one a watch. At the very least you can make fun of the weirdly anatomically correct bat suit.
“Batman Forever” is rated PG-13 and can be watched on HBO Max, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes and Apple TV+.
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Laura Jameson is a staff reporter for The Express.