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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Batman Forever (1995)

#2 - 1995 Box Office: Gross $184,031,112

Courage now, truth always....
Joel Schumacher directs this second sequel to the original Batman, where Bruce Wayne (now played by Val Kilmer) has to deal with disfigured D.A Harvey Dent & super-villain Two Face (now played by Tommy Lee Jones).  Meanwhile, Wayne Enterprises employee & genius Edward Nygma (Jim Carrey) invents a way to connect people's brains with their television sets.  Realizing he can steal people's intelligence with his device, he becomes The Riddler.  Two Face crashes a circus charity event attended by Bruce & love interest Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman), demanding Batman reveal himself or else a bomb will explode.  Bruce fails to catch his attention under the din of the crowd, but The Flying Graysons, a family of acrobats, attempt to get rid of the bomb.  The youngest, Dick Grayson (Chris O'Donnell) succeeds in destroying the bomb, but only after Two Face kills the rest of his family. After teaming up, Two Face & The Riddler find out Batman's secret identity and destroy the Batcave.  Dick also finds out Bruce's secret and Bruce himself admits his identity to Chase.  With his secret identity not much of a secret anymore, will Batman be able to save Gotham from The Riddler's brain drain?

Trivia (mostly courtesy of the IMDb)
  • Batman Forever opened in 2,842 theaters in the US on June 16, 1995, making $52.78 million in its opening weekend—holding the highest opening weekend of all time up to that point
  • While learning to twirl a cane, Jim Carrey reportedly broke around a dozen prop canes and some of his trailer furniture
  • Rene Russo was originally cast to play Dr. Chase Meridian when Michael Keaton was still attached to the project as Batman. However, when Keaton dropped out of the project and was replaced by Val Kilmer, Russo was deemed too old to play his love interest and was replaced by Nicole Kidman
  • In the original Batman, Harvey Dent was played by Billy Dee Williams. Williams accepted the role with the knowledge and expectation that Dent would eventually become Two-Face.  He reportedly had a clause put into his contract reserving the role for him in any sequels, which Warner Bros. had to buy out so they could cast Tommy Lee Jones
  • Val Kilmer learned he was the new Batman while he was literally in a bat cave in Africa, doing research for The Ghost and the Darkness
  • Will Shortz, Puzzle Master on NPR and editor of the NY Times crossword puzzle, created the Riddler's riddles
  • The Batmobile was usually driven by stunt drivers, but Chris O'Donnell insisted on driving it himself in the joyride scene - but he crashed it into a curb and dented a fender
  • Jim Carrey's original idea—to shave a question mark into his scalp—had to be scratched as he was due in court to finalize his divorce
  • R&B group En Vogue cameo as street walkers who appear after Dick steals the Batmobile and takes it for a joyride
Riddle me this. Riddle me that. Who's afraid of the big black bat.
Schumacher receives a lot of crap for ruining the Batman series, but on my rewatch of the original Batman, I couldn't help but find Burton's vision mediocre (especially after comparing it to The Dark Knight).  That film had the redeeming performance of Nicholson, and this film basically has the redeeming performance of Carrey.  I've always been a huge fan of The Riddler—from the original "Batman" TV series, through the 1966 film Batman: The Movie and even in the various cartoon series I watched when I was younger, I always enjoyed the (usually clever) riddles left behind.  It was long enough between viewings of this film that most of the riddles seemed new to me and I enjoyed trying to figure them out.  Plus, Carrey really seemed to enjoy playing the manic E. Nygma, but the rest of the cast—scenery-chewing Tommy Lee Jones, coma-inducing Val Kilmer, horribly whiny Chris O'Donnell, and somehow unattractive Nicole Kidman—were painful to watch.

Ponch's Rating:

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