Batman & Robin is the fourth Batman film distributed by Warner Bros. Entertainment and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman, and Alicia Silverstone as Dr. Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze, Bruce Wayne / Batman, Dick Grayson / Robin, Dr. Pamela Isley / Poison Ivy, and Barbara Wilson / Batgirl respectively.
Batman & Robin is also the fourth and final film in the initial Batman film franchise that started with Batman (1989). These films have seen many cast, directorial, and thematic changes throughout the years. As seen with the recasting of Batman from Michael Keaton to Vil Kilmer in Batman Forever and now George Clooney in this film.
This review is the fifth in a series of articles that will examine every theatrically released Batman movie from Batman (1966) to The Dark Knight Rises in honor of The Batman’s release on March 4th.
George Clooney is the New New Batman
George Clooney’s Batman in Batman & Robin feels like what would happen if George Clooney himself decided to become Batman. There is little distinction between Batman and Bruce Wayne throughout the film. It doesn’t really feel like an alter-ego. More so, Bruce Wayne just decided to put on a bat costume for the night. He doesn’t even have an iconic voice like his last two predecessors.
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That being said I do think Geroge Clooney does a good job with what he is given. He does play a fairly solid Bruce Wayne, even when he is being surrounded by the absolutely wacky shenanigans that ensue throughout the film. It would have been interesting to have seen him in a more serious portrayal of the character.
Robin and Batgirl Are Here I Guess…
Chris O’Donnell returns as Robin in this film and is joined by Alicia Silverstone’s Batgirl. While Robin was one of the highlights of Batman Forever, in this film he just comes off as annoying and incompetent. Meanwhile, after the course of the film, I still wonder why Batgirl was even here.
I did like the subplot of Robin wanting to go his separate path. However, he was just absolutely obnoxious when he still was “under the clutches of Poison Ivy” even though it was established that the effects were supposed to wear off over time. Besides that, he serves no purpose in this movie besides to be a friend to Barbara.
Speaking of Barbara, what did she do exactly? I guess she helped during the fight with Poison Ivy, however, Batgirl and Robin were pretty much useless during the fight with Freeze. I did like how they made her Alfred’s relative as opposed to Commissioner Gordon as he had little to do with all four of these films. It also added a little more depth to Alfred’s illness. However, I feel if you just removed Barbara from this film it likely wouldn’t change much if anything.
Batman & Robin’s Villains Are Completly Ridiculous
Batman & Robin‘s villains rival Batman (1966) for some of the most ridiculous and absurd villains in comic-book movie history.
There is not much to say about Bane. I often forget that he was even in this film, to be honest. This character is another that could have just been cut from the film and nothing would have changed. When he does speak it only speaks in one-word phrases. It feels like if the Hulk and Groot had a child. It’s super weird…
As for Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Poison Icy and Mr. Freeze, they did a good job portraying the characters. However, I can’t help but scratch my head wondering why in the world they signed up for this film. They must have been paid a ridiculous amount of money because they are so out of this film’s league. While some of their dialogue was laughable I was more than likely laughing at absurdity than anything else.
Final Thoughts On Batman & Robin
Batman & Robin is probably the biggest mess of a comic-book movie that has ever been made. While the film can be fun at times, similar to Batman (1966), this film has much more plot issues than the 1966 film doesn’t.
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So many of the characters are underdeveloped or shouldn’t even be there at all. If you thought Batgirl and Bane served little to the plot, Bruce has a love interest in this film and I don’t think I could even tell you her name while I was watching the film. The character is so forgettable and unnecessary. I wish her small screen time was used to develop Batgirl at least a little more than she was in the film.
I did like the plotline of Alfred getting sick. Michael Gough has proven throughout these four films that he is the heart of the franchise. His illness was able to bring the three leads together in the end which I enjoyed. I have no idea why he would willingly make his niece a masked vigilante, however.
After Batman & Robin’s extremely negative reception from fans and critics, the Batman film franchise took an eight-year hiatus. In 2005, director, Christopher Nolan, rebooted the franchise by bringing it back to its darker roots with, Batman Begins, which we will be covering next time.
Batman & Robin stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze, George Clooney as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Chris O’Donnell as Dick Grayson / Robin, Uma Thurman as Dr. Pamela Isley / Poison Ivy, Alicia Silverstone as Barbara Wilson / Batgirl, Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth, Pat Hingle as Commissioner James Gordon, and Elle Macpherson as Julie Madison.
What are your thoughts on Batman & Robin? Do you think it holds up in 2022? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow The Illuminerdi on social media to be notified of more DC news and review like this in the future!
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