[box cover]

Batman & Robin: Special Edition

Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997

  • Batman
  • Batman Returns
  • Batman Forever
  • Batman & Robin
  • One of the presumptions about Tim Burton's 1989 Batman was that it would take the caped crusader away from the camp enclave of the 1960s television show, which it did successfully. But the further the 1989-1997 went along, the closer and closer it got to resembling a lesser "Batman" episode starring Adam West. The final entry, 1997's Batman & Robin, marks the franchise's nadir — and one of the worst films to earn nine digits at the box office — because it turns the Dark Knight's universe into candy-covered nonsense that lacks only the "Pows" and Blams" of its boob-tube predecessor. Thankfully, even the fiscal reward was a small respite in the face of the critical and public backlash, which buried the character on celluloid until Christopher Nolan revived it with 2005's Batman Begins (2005). Since the film's release (and on this DVD), director Joel Schumacher has apologized for it, saying he was sucked into making a toy advert, although his apologies only go so far with a film this inadequate. This time, George Clooney is in the Bat-suit, and he's joined by a returning Chris O'Donnell as Robin to face against Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Freeze is actually not a bad chap — besides all his terrible jokes and puns centered around lowered temperatures — but has become an arch-villain because he needs diamonds to stay alive; he also hates the world because his wife is sick. He's joined in villainy by Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), an eco-terrorist out to make over the world in plant life. But because men usually can't beat the crap out of women in PG-13 movies, Ivy must face against the newly minted Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone), of whom the less is said about the better. With a fey script and incoherent, gravity- and logic-defying action set pieces, Batman & Robin is an indelible cinematic raspberry that manages to be a near across-the-board career low point for everyone involved (the exceptions being Chris O'Donnell and Alicia Silverstone). With too many characters, too many bad zingers, and no one or thing to care about, the only way for the film to be better is if Joel Schumacher was intentionally being transgressive. For completists and masochists only. Warner Home Video's two-disc Batman & Robin: Special Edition presents the film in a good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Disc One include an apology-ridden commentary by Schumacher, as well as the theatrical trailer. Disc Two offers "Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Part 6: Batman Unbound" (27 min.), as well as "Heroes" (9 min.), "Villains" (8 min.), and a production-centric "Beyond Batman" (50 min.), which are found on all four titles in this series. Also on board is a deleted scene (1 min.) and four music videos by The Smashing Pumpkins, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, R. Kelly, and Jewel. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case.
    —DSH



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