Warner Home Video presents
Batman Forever: Special Edition (1995)
"Then it will happen this way. You make the kill, but your pain doesn't die with Harvey, it grows. So you run out into the night to find another face, and another, and another, until one terrible morning you wake up and realize that revenge has become your whole life. And you won't know why.- Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer)
Stars: Val Kilmer, Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones, Nicole Kidman
Other Stars: Chris O'Donnell, Michael Gough, Drew Barrymore, Pat Hingle, Debi Mazar, Rene Auberjonois
Director: Joel Schumacher
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for strong stylized action
Run Time: 02h:01m:12s
Release Date: 2005-10-18
DVD ReviewThe general line on Tim Burton's Batman Returns is that it darkened the series to a point where some audiences just didn't get it. While Burton's films maintained what I had always envisioned the Batman universe to be, a new director was brought in for the third film, Batman Forever, to liven things up a tad. Sadly, that director was Joel Schumacher. This is not to say that Schumacher's effort is lackluster, as it manages to retain the gothic feel of Burton's films while making things brighter and adding more pathos to the duality of Batman and Bruce Wayne. But brighter isn't always better, as the film begins to feel like an extravaganza.
Schumacher isn't the only new piece this time around; Val Kilmer has stepped into the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne, replacing Michael Keaton. Since Gotham can never be without its adversaries for Batman, this third installment again has two villains to battle Batman. Two Face (Jones) was formerly Harvey Dent until one side of his face was marred by acid and he blames Batman for it. At the start of the film, Harvey is holding a bank vault hostage knowing that Batman is coming. Soon, Harvey conspires with The Riddler (Carrey)—formerly Edward Nygma, a Wayne Enterprises employee whose inventions were too dark for Bruce to agree to fund.
The Riddler has plans to hijack the brainwaves of the citizens of Gotham by installing a box on their televisions that will transmit all of their information directly back into his own mind. The box, which looks strangely like a blender, is sold under the guise that it takes the owner to their perfect place and can make television be truly interactive. The problem for The Riddler is that he needs muscle and that is where Two Face comes in, with the promise that they can get rid of Batman in the process.
While Batman is busy with the villains, Bruce Wayne deals with a new romantic interest in Chase Meridian (Kidman), who could be a credit card company but is instead a psychiatrist. An expert in split personalities, she has a lot to say about Two Face, and also has an interest in Batman. Also new to Bruce/Batman's world is Dick Grayson (O'Donnell), a trapeze artist who lost his family after Two Face set a trap to catch Batman, and ultimately Grayson takes on the identity of Robin to help Batman catch Two Face.
In all, Batman Forever may be the one film from the original set that actually takes the time to explore the identity of the Batman. While Burton's films captured the tone of the Batman that I had always envisioned in my mind, they never examined the psyche of Batman/Wayne in a manner that the subject deserves. Here, we get glimpses into Bruce's clockworks as well as a clunking metaphor of a father-son relationship between Bruce and Dick. Outside of the more dramatic tones, the film maintains a steady level of excitement. The action film feels more open and bombastic than anything in Burton's, but this goes along with the film's over-the-top style.
The largest and most detrimental flaw concerning Batman Forever is that it continues the trend started in Batman Returns in which the villains are the featured attraction. The film generates most of its entertainment from its adversaries, so it is no surprise that this becomes "The Riddler and Two Face show" rather than treating them simply as lesser characters to which the audience feels no sympathy. With every one-liner or elaborate set piece the villains become less human, which makes the finale between the pair and our heroes feel less important because there is no real sense of conflict.
In his first and only turn as Batman, Kilmer does a fine job of bringing the suffering of both Bruce Wayne and Batman to the forefront while offering a sly comic touch that makes Batman feel real rather than the steeped in depression and isolation slant that was taken in the Burton films. Kidman does her best to portray Chase as an independent thinker rather than the damsel in distress and her performance seems to hit the mark. For Jones, the performance feels like an extension of his warden character in Natural Born Killers with a bit more flair, and while it is entertaining, by the end of the film his routine grows tiresome. Carrey, on the other hand, manages to bring just enough humor and darkness to the role of The Riddler that gives the film the spark it needs. The only flaw is that, as previously mentioned, this brings Carrey's performance to the center of the film, yet there is no denying that it is an inspired piece of work.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The original release of Batman Forever featured a serviceable 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, this time the same transfer has been cleaned up to look fantastic for the two-disc special edition release. Colors are much more vibrant with added depth and no bleeding. With the vibrant palette the transfer does at times threaten with over saturation but throughout the disc the colors remain strong and eye popping. Black levels are also doe well with no bleeding while sharpness and detail are fantastic giving the transfer a very filmlike look.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: Improving upon the original release the audio transfer boasts excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS mixes for Batman Forever. Each track has exceptional range throughout the separate channels with dialogue sounded clean and crisp while the left and right speakers provide ambient effects and perfectly recreate the weeping musical score. Rear speakers are used almost constantly with music cues and ambient sounds as well as numerous directional effects. The .1 LFE channel did sound tighter in the DTS version but each provide deep and rich bass.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 27 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
7 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Joel Schumacher
- Kiss From a Rose music video
The first extra on the second disc is Riddle Me This: Why Is Batman Forever? a 23-minute look at the making of the film hosted by Chris O'Donnell. This is purely promotional, with clips and discussions of how "great the material is" and "what an honor it is" to be involved in the film. More involving is Shadows of the Bat, which, in 30 minutes, covers the history of Batman as it relates to the events and characters that take place in Batman Forever.
The main feature on the second disc is Beyond Batman, a collection of featurettes that focus on the look of the film, the action pieces, the music, and the effects that went into its making. Much of this is entertaining, especially the look at the production design and visual effects that brought Gotham City together. Heroes and Villains are brief looks at the history of the characters of Batman Forever in comics and other materials.
Sure to further fuel speculation on the release of a director's cut are seven deleted scenes that help to flesh out characters as well as Bruce Wayne's sadness and regret over his parents death. Some are simply throwaway, but this is one of the better excised material collections I have seen. Each is presented in nonanamorphic widescreen with marginal quality. Finally the theatrical trailer as well as the music video to Seal's Kiss From a Rose are offered.
Extras Grade: B
Final CommentsFor its eye candy and often poor dialogue, Batman Forever manages to deliver a lot of excitement and entertainment for a steady two hours. The new two-disc special edition is fantastic, as the audio and video portions have finally been given the representation they deserve. Though the rumor of a director's cut still lingers, we at least get several deleted scenes as well as other entertaining and informative special features. Highly recommended.
Kevin Clemons 2005-10-17