Batman Forever was the top grossing movie in 1995. I read that on Netflix’s description, so I believe it to be true. Unfortunately for Joel Shumacher, that is not its legacy. Its legacy is a song. It is a song that will get stuck in your head, burrow down deep, and not go away for days.
Of course, I am writing about “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal. I have a quick story about this particular song. Somehow, I ended up on a planning committee for prom junior year. Anybody who knows me, knows that I was not the extracurricular type in high school. I am still not sure how it happened but no matter. Basically, I did very little to help plan, but I was charged with helping select the song for prom. The theme was “Starry Nights, City Lights.” A mediocre theme at best. It does not really make sense. When has anyone enjoyed a starry night in the middle of a city? Anyway, I helped pick the song, and can you guess what was finally chosen? (notice I switch to passive voice, because I do not want to take full credit)
Seal was inflicted upon my junior class at prom (4-5 years after this song was even relevant).I can only imagine the audience gives him the “woos” at the beginning, because they had just sat through an hour or more of songs they had never heard.
Watching it now, Jim Carrey is either playing himself or another version of his characters (The Mask, Ace Ventura, etc.) As it turns out, he was using The Riddler from the Batman TV show from the 60’s as his inspiration. Does that make it better? Not really. Any moments of menace he had in the movie were immediately undercut by rubber faced shenanigans and over acting.
The other villain in this movie is Two Face, played by Tommy Lee Jones. Here is a character with a rich history (my second favorite in Batman’s rogues gallery), but all of that is completely wasted. In this, Two Face is basically a guy with a scarred face, has two personalities (sort of), and flips a coin. He is certainly a killer, but he is never scary, just silly. His one focus is trying to kill Batman. He throws childish tantrums when he fails, looking ridiculous.
So the villains are pretty weak in Batman Forever, but what about Batman? I believe Val Kilmer (Real Genius, Willow) did just fine as Bruce Wayne/Batman. It helped that the story actually delved into Bruce Wayne a little more. This was aided by the addition of Dick Grayson/Robin. I could nitpick about how the filmmakers treated the character, but they kept the core of him mostly intact. Witnessing the death of his whole family shined a light on the tragedy in Bruce’s life, forcing Bruce to revisit the driving force behind his own mission.
The story was okay. It was coherent at least, though not entirely engrossing. If not for the character arcs for Bruce and Dick, this movie would have been pretty much a waste, so as it stands, it is just kind of a waste of time.