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Batman Forever is a 1995 superhero film directed by Joel Schumacher and produced by Tim Burton. It is the third installment of the Batman film series and stars Val Kilmer as Batman. The plot focuses on Batman trying to stop Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and the Riddler (Jim Carrey) in their villainous scheme to drain information from all the brains in Gotham City. He gains alliance from psychiatrist Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) and adopted sidekick Dick Grayson (Chris O'Donnell).

The film had a change in tone compared to the previous installments, more family-friendly, since Warner Bros. considered that the previous film, Batman Returns, underperformed at the box office due to its violence. Production was troubled, with many actors considered for the main roles, and Kilmer entering in conflicts with the rest of the crew. Batman Forever was released to mixed reviews, but outgrossed Returns with over $336 million worldwide.

Plot

The movie opens with Batman stopping a hostage situation in a bank caused by Two-Face, who had once been Gotham City District Attorney Harvey Dent until a mobster threw acid in his face, scarring him and creating a split personality. Two-Face escapes after defacing Gotham's Statue of Libertymarker. Later on, Edward Nigma, a researcher at Wayne Enterprises, develops a device to beam television directly to a person's brain; Bruce Wayne rejects the invention, noting that it "raises too many questions". In response, Edward kills his supervisor, makes it look like a suicide, and resigns from his post.

After meeting psychiatrist Dr. Chase Meridian, Bruce invites her to a charity circus event. While there, Two-Face and his henchmen storm the event in an attempt to discover Batman's secret identity, in the process killing a family of acrobats, The Flying Graysons. The youngest member, Dick, survives and throws Two-Face's bomb into the river. Bruce assumes responsibility for Dick and allows him to stay at Wayne Manor. Dick declares his intention to kill Two-Face and avenge his family's murder, and when he discovers Bruce's secret identity as Batman, he insists on becoming his sidekick, "Robin".

Meanwhile, Edward has become obsessed with Bruce, and he begins to leave riddles for him. He decides to become a criminal known as "The Riddler" and become allies with Two-Face. Using his invention that Bruce had rejected earlier, Edward could read and control people's minds, and steal their intelligence quotient. At a business party, Edward discovers Bruce's secret identity. Two-Face then attacks the party and nearly kills Batman, but Robin comes just in time to save his life. However, Two-Face and The Riddler later converge into Wayne Manor. The Riddler enters The Batcave and destroys most of the equipment, and he and Two-Face then kidnap Chase. They also leave Bruce another riddle. Alfred and Bruce together solve the separate clues-they are a number/alphabet riddle which spell "Mr. E" a pun on "Mystery" which is translated into "Enigma" {i.e. Edward Nigma}

After solving the last riddle, Batman and Robin survive Riddler's sea mines; evil frogmen and anti-aircraft beam and locate The Riddler's Lair, where both are separated upon reaching the island. Robin then encounters Two-Face and manages to beat him to the ground; Two-Face clings on for life, and realizing that he cannot kill him, Robin helps the villain back up. Two-Face gets the upper hand, and captures Robin. Meanwhile, Batman makes his way into the Riddler's lair and meets The Riddler himself; he reveals Robin and Chase as hostages, and gives Batman a choice of saving one hostage, but not the other. Batman finds a way to save both hostages and destroy the brainwave-collecting device, driving The Riddler insane in the process. During the battle, Two-Face falls to his death after Batman throws a handful of coins at Two-Face's coin in mid-flip. The Riddler is finally sent to Arkham Asylum, and Chase is asked to consult on his case. The Riddler offers to reveal Batman's true identity to her — raving nonsensically that he is Batman. Chase then meets Bruce Wayne outside and tells him his secret is safe.

Cast



Production

Development

Even though Batman Returns was a financial success, Warner Bros. felt the film should have made more money and decided to make the film series more mainstream. Tim Burton, who had directed the two previous installments, decided to restrict himself to the role of producer and approved of Joel Schumacher as director. Schumacher originally had in mind an adaptation of Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. The studio rejected the idea as they wanted a sequel, not a prequel, though Schumacher was able to include very brief events in Batman's past. Burton and Schumacher together hired Lee and Janet Scott-Batchler to write the script which introduced a psychotic Riddler with a pet rat accompanying him. The story elements and much of the dialogue still remained in the finished film, though Schumacher felt it could be "lighted down." He hired Akiva Goldsman, whom he previously had worked for on The Client to write the second draft.

Production went on fast track with Rene Russo cast as Dr. Chase Meridian. Michael Keaton decided not to reprise Batman because he did not like the new direction the film series was heading in. Keaton also wanted to pursue "more interesting roles", turning down $35 million to appear in Batman Forever. Val Kilmer was cast days later, and the filmmakers decided that Russo was too old for Kilmer, replacing her with a different actress. Schumacher got interested in Kilmer for Batman after seeing him in Tombstone, and the actor accepted the role without even reading the script or knowing who the new director was.

Robin Wright Penn, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Linda Hamilton were in competition for Dr. Chase Meridian, with Penn appearing as the favorable choice. Nicole Kidman was eventually cast. Even though Billy Dee Williams took the role of Harvey Dent in Batman because he was looking forward to portray Two-Face in a sequel, the producers cast Tommy Lee Jones in the role. Jones was always Schumacher's first choice for the role after working with him on The Client. Jones claims he was sent the script and was very cautious to accept, but accepted the part because Two-Face was his son's favorite character. Robin Williams turned down the Riddler, Jim Carrey was eventually cast. Robin appeared in the shooting script of Batman Returns but was deleted due to too many characters. Marlon Wayans was cast in the role, and signed for Batman Forever. It was decided to replace Wayans with a different actor, Leonardo DiCaprio and Chris O'Donnell became the top two choices, with O'Donnell winning the part. Mitchell Gaylord served as O'Donnell's stunt double.

Filming

Filming started in September 1994. Schumacher hired Barbara Ling for production design, claiming that the film needed a "force" and felt Ling could "advance on it." Schumacher wanted a design that was not to be any way connected to the previous films, and instead was to be inspired by the images from the Batman comic books seen in the 1940s/early 1950s and taken from that of New York Citymarker architecture in the 1930s, with a combination of modern Tokyomarker. He also wanted a "city with personality," with more statues, as well as various amounts of neon. The Batmobile was also given a makeover, with two cars being constructed, one for stunt purposes and one for close ups with both showcasing a V8 engine.

Schumacher had problems filming with Kilmer, whom he described as "childish and impossible", reporting that he fought with various crewman, and refused to speak to Schumacher during two weeks after the director told him to stop behaving in a rude way. Schumacher also mentioned Tommy Lee Jones as source of trouble: "Jim Carrey was a gentleman, and Tommy Lee was threatened by him. I'm tired of defending overpaid, overprivileged actors. I pray I don't work with them again."

Design and effects

Rick Baker designed the prosthetic makeup. John Dykstra, Andrew Adamson and Jim Rygiel served as visual effects supervisors, with Pacific Data Images also contributing with visual effects work. PDI provided a computer-generated Batman for complicated stunts. For the costume design, producer Peter MacGregor-Scott claimed that 146 workers were at one point working together. Batman's costume was redesigned along the lines of a more "MTV organic, and edgier feel" to the suit, as were the Batcave and Batmobile(which had been destroyed in Batman Returns). Various suits were designed for specific purposes, such as one where as Val Kilmer sits in the Batmobile and various others for stunts and close ups.

Music

Elliot Goldenthal was hired to compose the film score even before the first draft of the script was written. He stated he was told by Schumacher as not to listen to Danny Elfman's previous score, and instead compose a different orchestral piece. Also, Seal's "Kiss From a Rose" was famously included in the film's soundtrack.

Release

Batman Forever went through a few major edits before its release. Originally darker than the final product, the movie's original length was closer to 2 hours and 40 minutes according to director Joel Schumacher. There was talk of an extended cut being released to DVD for the film's 10th anniversary in 2005. While all four previous Batman films were given Special Edition DVD releases on the same day as Batman Begins's DVD release, the version of Batman Forever released was the original, although some of the following scenes were in a deleted scenes section in the special features.

Many scenes were filmed but deleted from the film. These included:

  • The escape of Two-Face from Arkham Asylum. Rene Auberjonois had more scenes filmed here, playing Doctor Burton but his role was reduced to a cameo in the final film. He encounters the escape with the psychologist killed and hanged in Two-Face's cell with his blood smeared on the wall, written as "The Bat Must Die." This was supposed to begin the picture but producers decided this was far too dark for a family audience. As this was cut, it made the editing of the final film somewhat muddled to the fans of the original script as later scenes were re-arranged. This scene appears in a rough edit on the Special Edition DVD. Segments of the scene also appears on the U2 music video "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me."
  • The construction of NigmaTech was more in-depth. There were scenes shot, that appear in publicity stills of Edward Nygma with a hard hat helping with the construction of his headquarters on Claw Island. This scene does not appear on the new Special Edition release but is shown in the sticker album published by Merlin Collections.
  • Sugar and Spice, played by Drew Barrymore and Debi Mazar, try out the Riddler's device during the montage when it goes on sale. They are seated with The Riddler and Two-Face on the couch where Chase is handcuffed later in the film. This scene appears in the comic adaptation but not in the final film.
  • The most known deleted scene involved further backstory to the film which many people, including screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, believed would have improved the quality of the film considerably. It involved Bruce waking up after being shot in the head by Two-Face, temporarily wiping a part of his memory; he has forgotten his origin and life as the Dark Knight. Alfred takes him to the Batcave, which has been destroyed by The Riddler. They stand on the platform where the Batmobile was and Alfred says "Funny they did not know about the cave beneath the cave." The platform then rotates downward to another level where the sonar-modification equipment is kept, from the special batsuit to the hi-tech weaponry. Bruce then discovers the cavern where he first saw the image that would make him become Batman — a giant bat. The bat appears and Bruce raises his arms and the shot shows that they are one. Bruce now remembers who he is and goes with Alfred to solve the riddles left throughout the film. Akiva admitted the scene was very theatrical on the Special Edition DVD and felt the scene would have made a difference to the final cut. The bat was designed and created by Rick Baker, who was in charge of the make-up of Two-Face, played by Tommy Lee Jones. This scene appears in a rough form on the Special Edition DVD and is briefly mentioned in the comic adaptation.
  • The original ending was an homage to the first film. When Alfred drives Doctor Chase Meridian back to Gotham she asks him "Does it ever end?" Alfred replies, "No, Doctor Meridian, not in this lifetime..." The Bat-signal shines on the night sky and Batman is standing on a pillar looking ahead. Robin then comes into shot and joins his new partner. They both leap off the pillar, towards the camera. A rough edit of the first half of the scene appears on the Special Edition DVD, but not in its entirety. The sequence with Batman and Robin at the end of this scene appears on a teaser trailer for the video game, which is on the VHS release of this film, released in the UK on December 3, 1995.


Batman Forever opened in 2,842 theaters in the United Statesmarker on June 16, 1995, making $52.78 million in its opening weekend. This was the highest opening weekend of 1995. The film went on to gross $184.03 million in North America, and $152.5 million in foreign countries, totaling $336.53 million. Batman Forever was declared a financial success. The film earned more money than its predecessor Batman Returns, and was the second-highest (behind Toy Story) grossing film in North America in 1995, as well as the sixth highest grossing film worldwide that year.

Critical reception

Based on 49 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 45% of reviewers enjoyed the film, with the consensus of "Loud, excessively busy, and often boring, Batman Forever nonetheless has the charisma of Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones to offer mild relief." The film was more balanced with 13 critics in Rotten Tomatoes's "Top Critics" poll, receiving a 69% approval rating. By comparison Metacritic collected an average score of 51, based on 23 reviews.

Jonathan Rosenbaum called Batman Forever "suitable for boys of five and under. Nicole Kidman is here to validate the rampant repressed homoeroticism." Peter Travers criticized the movie's blatant commercialism, but commented that "Batman Forever still gets in its licks. There's no fun machine this summer that packs more surprises. The script misses the pain Tim Burton caught in a man tormented by the long-ago murder of his parents." Brian Lowry of Variety believed "One does have to question the logic behind adding nipples to the hard-rubber batsuit. Whose idea was that supposed to be anyway, Alfred's? Some of the computer-generated Gotham cityscapes appear too obviously fake. Elliot Goldenthal's score, while serviceable, also isn't as stirring as Danny Elfman's work in the first two films."

Scott Beatty felt "Tommy Lee Jones played Harvey Dent as a Joker knock-off rather than a multi-layered rogue." Lee Bermejo called Batman Forever "unbearable". Roger Ebert gave a mixed review, "Is the movie better entertainment? Well, it's great bubblegum for the eyes. Younger children will be able to process it more easily, some kids were led bawling from Batman Returns where the PG-13 rating was a joke." Mick LaSalle had a mixed reaction, concluding "a shot of Kilmer's rubber buns at one point is guaranteed to bring squeals from the audience." James Berardinelli enjoyed the film. "It's lighter, brighter, funnier, faster-paced, and a whole lot more colorful than before."

Awards

At the 68th Academy Awards, Batman Forever was nominated with Cinematography, Sound and Sound Editing. "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" by U2 was nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, but was also nominated for the Worst Song Golden Raspberry Award. At the Saturn Awards, the film was nominated for Best Fantasy Film, Make-up, Special Effects and Costume Design. Composer Elliot Goldenthal was given a Grammy Award nomination. Batman Forever received six nominations at the 1996 MTV Movie Awards.

Merchandising

Peter David and Alan Grant wrote separate novelizations of the film. Dennis O'Neil authored a comic book adaption, with art by Michal Dutkiewicz.

See also



References



External links




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