The Heat is On
Step back for a moment. Ignore Tim Buron’s Batman. Let the shenanigans of Batman & Robin live on their own. Batman crashes through the roof of a museum and Fred Flinstones a dinosaur statue. There’s a hockey game, where Batman and Robin use their skate boots (?!) to battle Mr. Freeze’s goons for a diamond. Freeze jumps into a rocket ship, Robin hanging on the side as it nears space. That explodes, forcing the heroes to sky surf (!?) down to Gotham.
That’s the first action scene. Someone signed off on that. Someone spent money to make that happen.
Batman & Robin is so special. It’s a weird, gaudy, excessively ‘90s dose of bonkers kitsch. Even the audaciousness of Superman IV doesn’t compare to the camp dissonance of a Bat Credit Card, used to bid on a night with Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman). George Clooney – that megastar George Clooney – plays Batman. He’s cast against Arnold Schwarzenegger. In totality, never will another Batman & Robin happen. It’s a true one-off, completely dissonant to its predecessors, utterly offensive to the series, but absorbed in how wrong it is.
… never will another Batman & Robin happen
… never will another Batman & Robin happen
Schwarzenegger is seen wearing polar bear slippers and a polar bear robe, conducting his minions to sing along to Year Without a Santa Claus. To watch that is to imagine how producers pitched this big budget mania to a star of Schwarzenegger’s caliber, how they got him to do, and then how such a performance didn’t derail the man’s political chances.
The only miss is not having Clooney and co-star Chris O’Donnell dance during a fight. Batman & Robin exists in the embrace of Adam West, paying homage to the wanton wackiness and surreal humor. The ‘60s breathe again in this script, just running up millions in dollars for a single set; the TV Batman hardly spent that much in its entire run combined.
In that, Batman & Robin is obnoxious but not reprehensible. There’s simply too much color, too much asinine joy for this to fall into boredom. A sub-plot concerns the illness of Alfred (Michael Gough), giving his final life lessons to Bruce Wayne, played straight. If anything, that’s Batman & Robin’s grievous mistake, assuming any of this deserves emotion or drama after sliding down a dinosaur.
Hollywood’s blockbuster history is filled with mistakes by money men. This one though, removed from any sense, openly complicit in the movie toy marketing chain, doesn’t deserve derision. It deserves praise for exposing how blindly shrewd movie studios can (and will) be, willing to destroy all goodwill for a chunk of Wal-Mart’s action figure section. Batman & Robin is a surrealist dream.
Mr. Freeze makes for a great HDR centerpiece. His shimmering, chrome armor looks awesome with the added contrast. He glows too, with internal lights intensely bright. Batman & Robin still loves darkness so black levels counter-act and add balance. It’s dense and rich.
In terms of fidelity, this is the weakest of the four. Some of that falls on the lower res digital effects. Precision wanes. That doesn’t discredit moments of superlative definition. In close, facial detail stands out and with the right light, rubbery texture jumps forward on the Batsuit. Some Gotham wide shots done in miniature still look wonderful too. This is just an uncooperative source.
By way of color, Batman & Robin shows no fear. Mr. Freeze fills everything with blues, Poison Ivy green, and Robin red. At times, those dense, thick hues merge in one place, beaming out with their variety, elevated by deep color. It’s a true comic book palette.
To a point, Batman & Robin becomes irritating because it hardly ever stops. Action scenes bump into more action scenes. Tiring, if never dull. The massive score booms from the speakers, highs and lows both grandiose. Destruction adds bass, exhibiting aggressive range of a rare breed. When sunlight beams into Gotham from a satellite, the subwoofer begins shaking the room with no fear of how far it’s going. Bane punches stuff and creates mini-earthquakes each time.
Surrounds miss nothing, from the opening hockey game that features slashed ice in each channel as skaters pass. A wild motorcycle race jumps between front and back with little effort; it’s natural motion. Bombast is a Batman & Robin specialty, transferred here to help this oddball movie hold up 22 years on.
The best things about these extras is how open the interviewees are about what happened. That starts with the director Joel Schumacher commentary, paired with the UHD and Blu-ray. The rest resides on the 1080p disc.
Shadows of the Bat runs 27-minutes, digging into the why and how this movie came to be. Fantastic stuff. Skip the brief heroes and villains sub-sections. Those short featurettes discuss character histories, but run too short for anything of value to shine. Beyond Batman splits into five sections, delving into visual effects, production design, and other such elements. At 50-minutes combined, there’s plenty to see. One deleted scene, a music video, and trailers match the previous Blu-ray release.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.
Batman & Robin
One of the most asinine superhero movies ever made, Batman & Robin celebrates the absurdity of Hollywood and nothing like it will exist again.
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 49 full 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: