Unlike Batman Returns, I have a lot more memories about the lead-up to seeing Batman Forever. I went with a couple of friends to see it on opening night, and we even got our picture in the paper with our T-shirts and pez dispensers (I have never denied being a nerd, so don't think that you're some genius by pointing it out). I remember being pleased to hear that Val Kilmer was going to be Batman, as I dug him as Doc Holliday in Tombstone and I figured that he'd be able to do another great performance (not so much, it turns out).
I'm embarassed to say that I liked this movie a lot more than it deserved. I even saw it several times in the theater. I mean, I think that I always recognized its flaws, but anybody who knows me is aware that I have a soft spot for comic book characters, and I was willing to make a lot more excuses for this movie than I would now. (And keep in mind that this is long before X-Men, Spider-Man, and of course, Batman Begins - I had to get my superhero fix any way I could get.)
Watching it again, I realized that I was going to have a hard time listing off the good qualities of it. Bad qualities? That'd be easy. I should also probably address a question that some folks might wonder - why do I even own this movie? I bought the box set of double-disc editions when it came out. I had read up on what the special features were, and I figured that it was worth getting - especially considering my fondness for the character. I'll say now that the extras are pretty interesting, and I'm pretty jaded about most special features nowadays. Perhaps I'll elaborate on that when I finish this series of blogs.
What is good about it? I have to say that it is pretty entertaining. In fact, for the first 30-45 minutes, I was leaning towards giving it a B-. The opening sequence is fast-paced and action-packed. In fact, that is the one thing that this movie does pretty well - the action scenes, and there are a lot of them. There are also some dramatic moments that work pretty well (like when Dick Grayson/Robin first comes to live with Bruce Wayne/Batman). The look of the film is pretty good as well, but not as good as Tim Burton's films.
So, what's bad about it?
Jim Carey as The Riddler. Look at my complaint about Jack Nicholson as The Joker. It's the same thing, but without the conflict. I know that Carey is a talented guy, but he's just mugging for the camera in this film. Also, why does he leave riddles? There's absolutely no reason for him to be doing it. In the comics, he leaves riddles because although he's really smart, he has an obsessive compulsion to make sure that everybody knows just how smart he is. In this film? No reason, aside from the fact that he's The Riddler.
Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face. Two Face is arguably Batman's best villain, and everything that I've read about the next film makes it seem like they're finally going to get it right. This movie completely blows it though. Never mind the fact that Billy Dee Williams got ripped off and didn't get to play him (Harvey Dent becomes Two Face), this villain is completely indistinguishable from The Riddler. Not only that, but Jones (who also can be a damn good actor) is trying to out-Jim Carey Jim Carey - and what Jim Carey is doing in this movie sucks. So it's a lesser version of a sucky thing, but yet it manages to suck more.
The mixed tone. As I mentioned before, some of the more dramatic moments actually work pretty well. However, all of the jokey, silly moments completely undercut any weight that they may have had. (Like the shot of Batman's ass - come on.)
Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian. You could completely cut her and lose nothing in this film. She's like a cardboard cutout with a sign on her that reads "Love Interest".
Nipples on the batsuit. Didn't anybody point out how weird this was when they were filming it?
My grade? C-
(Turns out that there are a lot of deleted scenes, and there's a chance that we might see a darker version of the film some day. Maybe that'll bring its grade up a bit.)