May 262019
 

Batman Forever certainly was a change-up for the franchise after the very dark turn in Batman Returns and to say it’s a 180 is putting it lightly. Although I acknowledge it’s not good, I do have an affinity for the movie due to nostalgia.

 

 

Batman Forever
(1995)

Genre(s): Action, Adventure
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 121 min. – $41.99 | June 4, 2019

Date Published: 05/26/2019 | Author: The Movieman


MOVIE INFO:
Directed by: Joel Schumacher

Writer(s): Lee Batchler & Janet Scott Batchler (story), Lee Batchler & Janet Scott Batchler and Akiva Goldsman (screenplay)
Cast: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle
DISC INFO:
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Galleries, Theatrical Trailer

Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: 4K, Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (Dolby Atmos), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 2160p/Widescreen 1.85
Dynamic Range: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codecs: HEVC / H.265
Region(s): A, B, C

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.


THE MOVIE — 4.0/5


With parents and kids leaving Batman Returns stunned with they had just seen, Warner Brothers decided to take their Batman franchise in a lighter direction. Doing so marked the departure of both Tim Burton (who apparently offered to direct a third one) and Michael Keaton and Joel Schumacher and Val Kilmer came aboard for a new approach. Schumacher wanted to make a comic book movie, which apparently meant an anything goes style, logic be damned. Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey were brought to continue the Nicholson-tradition of colorful villains while Chris O’Donnell was signed to play Dick Grayson, Batman’s sidekick, Robin. Nicole Kidman plays the latest Batman-babe, Dr. Chase Meridian, a psychologist who takes a fascination with Batman.

Although I have a certain hatred for Batman Returns since it makes Batman not only a third wheel to Penguin and Catwoman, but he’s also some sadistic monster purposely frying one villain and blowing up another with a bomb (to be fair, he did get this bomb from another villain…). But admittedly, Batman Forever has its share of things that are just insane, though this time it’s more silly insanity than anything. For instance, sitting on Chase’s desk is her research material on Batman with his face on Time Magazine and others. Most of these pictures looked like Batman came in for some photo shoot and did some heroic pose rather than a spy camera that you normally see in tabloids. The other items such as a neon-lit Gotham City, a ribbed cage Batmobile or an oversized Bat Cave just reiterates my feelings for Batman Forever: excess.

Schumacher was brought on to make a Batman movie that the kids and marketing partners will enjoy, and so it was. Rather than a psychological thriller/horror, instead it’s the (now) typical summer extravaganza with loud explosions, illogical scenes (after Batman scales the wall in the Batmobile, where the hell does he go from there?) and character development issues. However, despite all of the negatives, I still found myself to be entertained. What Batman and Batman Returns failed to do was provide any in-depth look into who Bruce is. Burton and company merely pass it off that his parents died and now he’s Batman, end of story. But the character of Bruce Wayne is deeper than just that. Of course, I’m not going to sit here and say Forever covered all those bases either since Schumacher’s number one goal was to create a comic book movie rather than a coherent story, but at least they tried.

No, Batman Forever is not a fine piece of cinema and as a Batman movie its way short of being anything but summer blockbuster entertainment, but, the positives the film has (such as portraying Batman in a heroic light) slightly outweighs the negatives. Much like Returns, Forever is a 50/50 with the fans and no matter how great the new franchise gets, I doubt that will ever change.

2019 Update: Nostalgia certainly carried me through this latest viewing but it’s actually tough to sit through at times. I did kind of like Val Kilmer in the role though this being his only outing, never had a chance to make it his own (though given how bad Batman & Robin is, he’s a genius for passing) and Nicole Kidman looked absolutely stunning and was a serviceable love interest. The villains were vastly over-the-top for sure, however. With Aaron Eckhart giving some respect to the Two-Face character, hopefully The Riddler gets his due at some point.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.5/5


This release comes with a semi-glossy and reflective slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy along with a remastered Blu-ray disc.

Feature Commentary – For the most part, Joel Schumacher is somewhat interesting to listen to though, unlike Burton, he tended to telestrate a little telling the viewer what we can already see. However, he does give some tid-bits on the casting of some of the parts (like Drew Barrymore who’s a friend), filming locations and the like. He does, oh so briefly, address the nipples on the Batsuit, amazed that it had become some kind of international controversy to which he responds that people need to get out more… (nice Joel, very nice).

Next is a featurette called Riddle Me This: Why Is Batman Forever (23:24), which, like “The Bat, the Cat and the Penguin”, is only there to convince those watching to go out and see the movie in theaters. But, the extra layer is that this was also to say to folks that this is not going to be another dark and twisted Batman movie. Instead, it’s a movie you can take your kids to. This is only good for nostalgia value and on that level; it is fun to watch.

The Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight – Part 5: Reinventing a Hero (28:28) – This is a broad range behind-the-scenes featurette with interviews with director Joel Schumacher, the producers and writer Akiva Goldsman as they explain why this movie was different from the last. There’s also a mixture of new and archive footage/interviews with cast members Val Kilmer (new), Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Chris O’Donnell (new) and Nicole Kidman. I would’ve hoped for more participation, but it’s certainly nice to see at least one of the men who played Batman to contribute to this set (Keaton and Clooney did not, the latter I believe for obvious reasons).

Batman: The Heroes and Villains Galleries (16:19) are the mini-featurettes like on the other three DVDs. This time, Batman, Robin, Dr. Chase Meridian, The Riddler and Two-Face are covered. Like the others, these are basic character profiles put on video. Nothing overly fascinating, but still fun for some fans I suppose.

Beyond Batman (45:41):

  • Out of the Shadows: The Production Design of Batman Forever (12:30) shows the new direction the ‘Batman’ franchise was taking with Schumacher instead of Burton. The Gothic look of Gotham is replaced with giant statues and the style itself was more comic-booky.
  • The Many Faces of Gotham City (12:34) goes over the costume designs for the main characters as well as the extras (circus, street gang, etc). Val Kilmer talks about his part in the Batman costume (and the difficulties). Although this isn’t the most fascinating featurette, it’s still nice to hear from those involved in their ideas to make this movie different from the first two.
  • Knight Moves: The Stunts of Batman Forever (5:34) contains behind-the-scenes footage of stunt rehearsals, particularly the scene when Batman crashes Nygma’s party after Two-Face shows up. He comes down from the ceiling, onto a water fountain, does a back flip and takes out a couple of Face’s goons.
  • Imaging Forever: The Visual Effects of Batman Forever (6:58) is interesting since this is probably the first ‘Batman’ movie to feature so much CGI (integrated with miniatures). Since this is 1994, the art of CGI was still new, but it worked well in Forever. They use the opening sequence as an example of this where some of the helicopter shots were a combo of miniatures and CGI.
  • Scoring Forever: The Music of Batman Forever (6:17) continues what was started on the first two discs, this time composer Elliot Goldenthal replaces the great Danny Elfman in order to match up with the lighter tone.

Deleted Scenes (13:57) – In total, there are 7 scenes and for what’s there, a couple were actually good. “Escape from Arkham” is an alternate opening in which Dr. Burton rushes to Two-Face’s cell and finds that he has escaped; “Dick’s Pain” is more character coverage in which Grayson sulks some more but it’s a nice exchange between Kilmer and O’Donnell; The best scene, and perhaps the strangest, has Bruce returning to the place where he fell and finds his father’s diary, in which the last entry reads like it was Bruce’s fault his parents are dead (it goes something like “Martha and I wanted to stay home, but Bruce insisted on going to the movies”). It is after this that he comes face to face with a giant, red-eyed bat.

Last is the Music Video (3:56) to Seal’s Grammy-winning song, “Kiss from a Rose” and the Theatrical Trailer.

 


VIDEO – 4.75/5


Batman Forever comes to 4K Ultra HD where its shown in its original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 2160p high-definition transfer (HEVC / H.265 codec). Joel Schumacher’s vivid filmmaking style for this entry and it really shines through thanks to the HDR, which shows off bright colors throughout such as the greens on The Riddler’s costume. Detail also is quite sharp, particularly on the close-ups meaning you get a good glimpse at some of the laughable make-up on Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face.

AUDIO – 5.0/5


The 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs come with an upgraded Dolby Atmos track. There is a slight improvement compared with the first two movies, showing off a little more depth almost from the get-go with the flying credits which whooshes by the screen and the LFE channel kicks into high gear. Besides that, the action scenes do display good depth as well making usage of every available channel while dialogue come through the center channel with nice clarity.

 


OVERALL – 4.0/5


Overall, Batman Forever certainly was a change-up for the franchise after the very dark turn in Batman Returns and to say it’s a 180 is putting it lightly. Although I acknowledge it’s not good, I do have an affinity for the movie due to nostalgia, although I did kind of like Kilmer in the role and Kidman looks as fine as ever… The 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo pack has some great features ported over from the previous DVD and Blu-ray releases and the video/audio transfers are both well done.

 

 

 

 

The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copy and are here to add visuals to the review and do not represent the 4K video.

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