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Batman and Robin (1997)
Batman and Robin try to keep their relationship together even as they must stop Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy from freezing Gotham City.
Batman & Robin is a 1997 American superhero film based on the DC Comics characters Batman and Robin by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. It is the fourth and final installment of Warner Bros.’s initial Batman film series, a sequel to Batman Forever and the only film in the series made without the involvement of Tim Burton in any capacity.
Directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Akiva Goldsman, it stars George Clooney as Bruce Wayne / Batman, replacing Val Kilmer, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze, and Chris O’Donnell reprising his role as Dick Grayson / Robin, alongside Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, and Elle Macpherson. The film follows the titular characters as they attempt to prevent Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy from taking over the world, while at the same time struggling to keep their partnership together.
Warner Bros. fast-tracked development for Batman & Robin following the box office success of Batman Forever. Schumacher and Goldsman conceived the storyline during pre-production on A Time to Kill; Schumacher was given a mandate to make the film more toyetic than its predecessor, while basing its style on the 1960s television series and Batman comic book artist Dick Sprang’s illustrations.
After Val Kilmer decided not to reprise the role over scheduling conflicts with The Saint, Schumacher initially intended to cast William Baldwin in his place before George Clooney won the role. Principal photography began in September 1996 and wrapped in January 1997, two weeks ahead of the shooting schedule.
Batman & Robin premiered in Los Angeles on June 12, 1997, and went into general release on June 20. Making $238.2 million worldwide against a production budget of $125–160 million, the film was a box office disappointment and received largely negative reviews from critics, often considered to be one of the worst films ever made. It is also the lowest-grossing live-action Batman film to date.
One of the songs recorded for the film, “The End Is the Beginning Is the End” by The Smashing Pumpkins, won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards. Due to the film’s poor reception, Warner Bros. cancelled future Batman films, including Schumacher’s planned Batman Unchained.
Batman and Robin (1997) Trailer
Batman and Robin (1997) Reviews
I’ve always suspected they cast movie Batmans by their chins, which is all you see when the Bat costume is being worn, and Clooney has the best chin yet. But like Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer, he brings nothing much to the role because there’s nothing much there. Most of the time he seems stuck for conversation. I think the way to get him started would be to ask about his technological gimmicks. This is a guy who would rather read the Sharper Image catalog than Playboy.
The series has been driven by its villains. They make some good memories: Jack Nicholson as the Joker, Danny DeVito as the Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, Jim Carrey as the Riddler. In “Batman & Robin” we get Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, a man who can survive only by keeping his body at zero degrees (Celsius? Fahrenheit? absolute?), and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, a botanist who turns into an evil plant and wages war against animals.
They earn their places in the pantheon of Batman’s enemies, but the screenplay doesn’t do them justice: It meanders, and some of the big action sequences are so elaborate, they’re hard to follow (examples: the one where Freeze’s men play hockey with a diamond, and a completely pointless motorcycle chase).
Listening to Schwarzenegger’s one-liners (“The iceman cometh!”), I realized that a funny thing is happening to the series: It’s creeping irresistibly toward the tone of the 1960s TV show. The earlier Batman movies, especially the dark “Batman Returns” (1992), made a break with the camp TV classic and went for moodier tones. But now the puns and punchlines come so fast the action has to stop and wait for them. Although we don’t get the POW! and WHAM! cartoon graphics, this fourth movie seems inspired more by the TV series than the Bob Kane comic character.
Another interesting character is a bionic muscleman named Bane (Jeep Swenson), who is Poison Ivy’s pet monster. Chemicals pump his muscles to six times life-size, and there are opportunities here for satire on Schwarzenegger’s movie roles, but all of them are studiously avoided.
What I’ll remember from the film are some of the images, such as the Gotham Observatory, which is inside a giant globe held aloft far above the city streets by a towering statue in the Grecian style. And I will remember Mr. Freeze sadly looking at a little music-box figure of his wife. And Alfred poignantly searching his family tree on his computer. And Ivy’s leafy eyebrows.
My prescription for the series remains unchanged: scale down. We don’t need to see $2 million on the screen every single minute. Give the foreground to the characters, not the special effects. And ask the hard questions about Bruce Wayne. There is a moment in the film where we learn that the new telescope in the Gotham Observatory can look at any place on Earth. “Just don’t point it at my bedroom,” Bruce Wayne chuckles. What is he chuckling about?
Batman and Robin (1997) Credits
Batman and Robin (1997)
George Clooney as Batman/Bruce Wayne
Chris O’Donnell as Robin/Dick
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze
Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy
Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl
Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth
Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon
- Joel Schumacher
- Akiva Goldsman
Batman and Robin (1997) Plot
Batman and his partner, Robin, encounter a new foe, Mr. Freeze, who has left a string of diamond robberies in his wake. During a confrontation in the natural history museum, Freeze steals a bigger diamond and flees, freezing Robin and leaving Batman unable to pursue him.
Later, Batman and Robin learn that Freeze was originally Dr. Victor Fries, a scientist working to develop a cure for MacGregor’s Syndrome, hoping to heal his terminally ill wife, Nora. After a lab accident, Fries was rendered unable to live at average temperatures and forced to wear a cryogenic suit powered by diamonds for survival.
At a Wayne Enterprises lab in Brazil, botanist Dr. Pamela Isley is working under the deranged Dr. Jason Woodrue, who has turned her research on plants into the supersoldier drug Venom. After witnessing Woodrue use the formula to turn serial killer Antonio Diego into the hulking Bane, she threatens to expose Woodrue’s experiments.
Woodrue attempts to kill her by overturning a shelf of various toxins; instead, Isley is mutated by the toxins into Poison Ivy. Ivy kills Woodrue, destroys the lab, and escapes to Gotham City with Bane, concocting a plan to use Wayne’s money to support her research. Meanwhile, Alfred Pennyworth’s niece, Barbara Wilson, makes a surprise visit and is invited by Bruce to stay at Wayne Manor until she goes back to school.
Wayne Enterprises presents a new telescope for Gotham Observatory at a press conference interrupted by Isley. She proposes a project that could help the environment, but Bruce declines her offer, which would kill millions of people. Batman and Robin decide to lure Freeze out using the Wayne Family diamonds and present them at a Wayne Enterprises charity event.
Ivy attends the event and decides to use her abilities to seduce Batman and Robin. Freeze crashes the party but is defeated and detained in Arkham Asylum. Ivy takes an interest in Freeze and frees him from Arkham. Dick discovers that Barbara has been participating in drag races to raise money for Alfred, who is dying of MacGregor’s Syndrome; a fact he kept from Bruce and Dick.
Batman, Robin, and the police arrive at Freeze’s lair in response to his escape, discovering Nora preserved in a cryogenic chamber and that Freeze has developed a cure for the early stages of MacGregor’s Syndrome. Freeze, Ivy, and Bane secretly arrive to recover Freeze’s diamonds and Nora.
Wanting Freeze for herself, Ivy unplugs Nora’s chamber, steals the diamonds, and seduces Robin; escalating tensions between him and Batman. At Ivy’s hideout, Ivy convinces Freeze that Batman has killed Nora. Freeze swears to freeze all of humanity in revenge, with Ivy planning to repopulate the earth using her mutant plants afterward.
Freeze and Bane commandeer Gotham Observatory and convert the new telescope into a giant freeze ray, while Ivy uses the Bat-Signal to contact Robin. Robin attempts to go after Ivy alone, but Batman convinces him not to fall for Ivy’s seduction. Barbara discovers the Batcave, where an AI version of Alfred reveals he has made Barbara her own suit. Barbara dons the suit and becomes Batgirl, arriving at Ivy’s lair in time to help Batman and Robin subdue her.
Freeze begins to encase Gotham in ice, and Batman, Robin, and Batgirl head to Gotham Observatory together to stop him. Batman defeats Freeze in combat, while Batgirl and Robin incapacitate Bane and thaw the city. Freeze accuses Batman of killing Nora, only to be shown a recording of Ivy admitting to the crime.
Batman reveals that Nora is still alive and offers Freeze the chance to continue his research on MacGregor’s Syndrome in exchange for his cure. Freeze accepts and returns to Arkham, where he is imprisoned in the same cell as Ivy, vowing to make her life miserable for her actions against Nora. Alfred receives the cure, and Bruce and Dick agree to let Barbara join them in fighting crime.
Batman and Robin (1997) Box office
Batman & Robin was released on June 20, 1997, in North America, earning $42,872,605 in its opening weekend, making it the third-highest opening weekend gross of 1997, behind Men in Black and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The film would hold the record for the highest opening weekend for an Arnold Schwarzenegger film until it was surpassed by Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003.
The film declined by 63% in its second week. Batman & Robin faced early competition with Face/Off, Hercules, and Men in Black. The film went on to gross $107.3 million in North America and $130.9 million internationally, coming to a worldwide total of $238.2 million, marking it the lowest-grossing live-action Batman film to date. Schumacher criticized “prejudicial prerelease buzz” online and false news reports as a cause for the film’s poor commercial performance. Warner Bros. acknowledged Batman & Robin‘s shortcomings in the domestic market but pointed out its success in other markets.
In his book Batman: the Complete History, Les Daniels analyzed the film’s relatively strong performance outside of the United States, speculating that “nuances of languages or personality were likely to be lost in translation and admittedly eye-popping spectacle seemed sufficient.”
Batman and Robin (1997) Critical Response
Batman & Robin is often considered to be one of the worst films ever made. On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, Batman & Robin has an approval rating of 12%, based on 93 reviews, with an average rating of 3.8/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Joel Schumacher’s tongue-in-cheek attitude hits an unbearable limit in Batman & Robin, resulting in a frantic and mindless movie that’s too jokey to care much for.”
On Metacritic, the film has an average score of 28 out of 100, based on reviews from 21 critics, indicating “generally unfavorable reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “C+” on an A+ to F scale.
Upon release, the film received near unanimous negative reviews. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times criticized the toyetic approach and Mr. Freeze’s one-line jokes in his “thumbs down” review of the film. Ebert’s partner Gene Siskel, who gave positive reviews to the previous Batman films, also gave Batman & Robin a “thumbs down” rating; it marked the last Batman movie he reviewed before his death in 1999.
Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times believed that the film “killed” the Batman film series. Desson Howe of The Washington Post disapproved of Schumacher’s direction and Akiva Goldsman’s script as well as the returning costume design from the first film. James Berardinelli questioned the “random amount of rubber nipples and camera angle close-ups of the Dynamic Duo’s butts and Bat-crotches”.
Mick LaSalle, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, said, “George Clooney is the big zero of the film, and should go down in history as the George Lazenby of the series.” Janet Maslin of The New York Times gave a more positive review and praised Uma Thurman’s performance.
Andrew Johnston, writing in Time Out New York, remarked, “It’s hard to tell who B&R is intended for. Anyone who knows the character from the comics or the superb animated show on Fox will be alienated. And though Schumacher treats the Adam West version as gospel, that show’s campy humor is completely incompatible with these production values.”
Batman and Robin (1997) Accolades
|Golden Raspberry Awards||Worst Picture||Batman & Robin||Nominated|
|Worst Remake or Sequel||Nominated|
|Worst Reckless Disregard for Human Life and Public Property||Nominated|
|Worst Director||Joel Schumacher||Nominated|
|Worst Screenplay||Akiva Goldsman||Nominated|
|Worst Supporting Actor||Chris O’Donnell||Nominated|
|Worst Supporting Actor||Arnold Schwarzenegger||Nominated|
|Worst Supporting Actress||Alicia Silverstone||Won|
|Worst Supporting Actress||Uma Thurman||Nominated|
|Worst Screen Couple||George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell||Nominated|
|Worst Song for “The End Is the Beginning Is the End”||Billy Corgan||Nominated|
|Stinkers Bad Movie Awards||Worst Picture||Batman & Robin||Won|
|Worst Screenplay for a Film Grossing More Than $100M Worldwide Using Hollywood Math||Won|
|Worst Director||Joel Schumacher||Won|
|Worst Supporting Actress||Alicia Silverstone||Won|
Batman and Robin (1997) Movie Info
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