Renzo’s Rant: I Am The Batman Reviewer
As I’m sure most of you know, we like to stay on the cutting edge here at RR. If there’s a new trend, you can be sure that Renzo and his staff are on top of it (Renzo even uses Friendster, all you web-savvy hipsters in the AOL chatrooms!) That’s why we’ve decided to write a review of one of this summer’s hottest, most anticipated releases: Batman! That’s right, dear reader, Renzo has pulled the appropriate strings (he does work in the movie industry, you’ll recall) and has been able to secure a viewing of Batman, and there’s no NDAs preventing him from chronicling it in great detail here at Renzo’s Rant! So strap yourselves in (we’re assuming you’re sitting in one of those cool new desk chairs with seatbelts that Renzo’s seen on ThinkGeek) and prepare for an in-depth review of Batman & Robin!
What’s that? You thought this was going to be a review of The Dark Knight? Whatever would have given you that highly inaccurate idea? Renzo is just a lowly projectionist, you know. You’re lucky he was able to afford a VHS copy of Batman & Robin from the discount bin at Herbie’s. But rest assured, the week after The Dark Knight opens, he’ll post a review, just in time for it to be of no use anymore. Anyway, here are his thoughts, a full decade after the movie opened.
We open with a montage shot of Batman getting dressed. In a series of quick cuts, we see Bruce strapping on his bracers, his boots, and his chestpiece with the disturbingly erect Bat-Nipples. We then see his Bat-Nipples from a different angle. This is followed by a tight shot of his PVC-clad Bat-Ass. Then his Bat-Codpiece. Then the Bat-Ass again. Then the Bat-Codpiece again. After this confusingly revealing (and even more confusingly arousing) sequence, the camera pulls back to reveal Batman and Robin as they watch the Batmobile rise from the depths of the Batcave on some sort of cool elevator.
“I want a car,” whines Robin in a nasally insufferable voice reminiscent of Luke Skywalker complaining about power convertors, “Chicks dig the car.” Batman gives him an exasperated look and replies, “This is why Superman works alone.” This breaking of the fourth wall was the most catastrophic comic cross-over moment until five years later when Superman was mentioned in Spider-Man, thus shattering the continuity barrier between the Marvel and DC universes and ultimately causing the Earth to explode.
After bidding Bruce a fond farewell, Alfred has enough time to complete a lame exchange with the motorcycle-riding Dick (involving the cancelling of an ordered pizza) before he is overtaken with a grimace of pain: Alfred is sick! Forgoing the fact that Michael Gough was about 120 when the movie was made and looks like he’s about to keel over and disintegrate before our very eyes at any moment, that tantalizing one-second shot is all we have to go on for now, because Commissioner Gordon calls up and fills Batman in on his mission: “A new villain has commandeered the Gotham Museum. He has frozen the Antiquities Wing. He has frozen the security guards into blocks of ice. He is calling himself Mr. Freeze. See Mr. Freeze freeze. Freeze, Mr. Freeze, freeze. Bruce sees Mr. Freeze freeze.”
Before we go any further, let’s stop and take a moment to dissect the film’s cinematography. The entire movie seems to have been shot on location in a laser tag facility or glow-in-the-dark mini putt. There is nary a daytime scene (no, literally, there are zero daytime scenes) and every building interior in Gotham is lit with neon and strobe lights. There are smoke machines in every household and on every street corner. If you watch and listen carefully you’ll note that the extras in the background are often tossing glow sticks and listening to bad house music. If Jefferson Starship built a city on rock-n-roll, then this is the city that techno would have built if rave had won the war on drugs. If you want a challenging but ultimately unfulfilling drinking game, try taking a drink every time you see an incandescent lightbulb (there aren’t any). If, on the other hand, you’re hoping to come down with acute alcohol poisoning by the end of the first reel, just count the number of times Arnold makes an ice-related pun or we get another close-up of George’s Bat-Junk.
We arrive at the museum and are greeted with a horrific sight: in their quest to steal a single, unguarded diamond, Freeze and his goons have not only frozen the Antiquities wing as promised, but also unscrewed all of the museum’s lightbulbs and replaced them with electric blue neon ones. They’ve also brought their own smoke machine, or else the “ice” on the floor is actually dry ice or liquid nitrogen. Either way, it’s enough to shroud the room in knee-deep fog, which is presumably required to give the blue neon lights that extra pop.
Arnold is still taking care of the last guards, and after freezing them in place he opens his efficient Austrian maw and bellows what one would sadly and incorrectly hope to be his first and last ice pun: “The Ice Man cometh!” He follows this opening hook with a one-two roundhouse: “I’m afraid my condition has left me...cold to your pleas of mercy.” As if that weren’t enough, he seizes the opportunity while we’re still reeling and hits us with this little pearl of wisdom: “In this universe, there is only one absolute - everything freezes!” I think Confucius said that. He’s a philosopher AND a jewel thief!
But before Freeze can make off with his ill-gotten diamond, Bruce comes crashing through the skylight and kicks away his loot. “You will not send me away to the coolah!” Freeze intones, as Dick, living up to his name, flies his motorcycle right through the goddamn door instead of opening it or using the already broken skylight, purely for the purpose of causing collateral damage. Enter Freeze’s henchmen, a bunch of goons on skates equipped with hockey sticks. Now, far be it for me to question the thinking of someone who is clearly an evil genius, but I can see two glaring weaknesses in arming your thugs with skates and hockey sticks: they’re wearing skates, and they have to fight with hockey sticks. I’m sure that back at Freeze headquarters the whole place might be covered in ice, but unless Gotham is currently undergoing some sort of Day After Tomorrow-esque deep freeze, that’s really going to limit their mobility once they leave the Antiquities wing. But at least while they’re stumbling across the pavement outside they can fight off pursuing cops with their...oh. Never mind.
While the Dynamic Duo is thus occupied, Arnold retrieves his ice gun, then turns and grunts out what is simultaneously the awesomest and dumbest line in the whole picture: “What killed the dinosaurs? The Ice Age!” Uh oh. Looks like someone’s been taking history lessons from Roland Emmerich again. I guess Mr. Freeze was too busy inventing his ice gun down in his lab to pick up a textbook. He spends a good ten seconds completely freezing an entire life-sized brachiosaurus statue while Batman and Robin watch with mild interest but make no attempt to stop him. Then, as the statue comes toppling down, it gives a sad, mournful wail. And I don’t mean that the twisting metal makes a sound vaguely similar to that which the dinosaur would have made in real life. I mean the goddamn statue cries out as it’s falling.
Click to hear the magical live dinosaur statue!
Freeze makes good his escape in a cold fusion-powered rocket, with Batman inside and Robin clinging to the exterior. After trapping Batman in icy handcuffs, he fires off another combo of zingers: “Can you feel it coming? The ice cold of space. At thirty-thousand feet, your heart will freeze and beat no more. Once you’re frozen, your icy tomb will plummet back to Gotham.” He tops off the speech with a confusing bid of “Freeze well!”, which isn’t even a pun. It’s just stupid.
Mr. Freeze bails and flies off with some sort of robotic butterfly wings, while Robin climbs inside the rocket and saves Batman. They plant a bomb and blow the rocket to smithereens. But wait, you might say, how do they plan on falling thirty thousand feet without a parachute? Why, they’ll surf down on surfboard-shaped pieces of shrapnel! That’s physically possible, right? Right? Well, they do it anyway, and after a brief scuffle, Freeze escapes with the diamond. Rats.
Meanwhile, Uma Thurman is hanging out in the middle of a primordial jungle. Uma is one of those people whose acting skill seems to come to them in some sort of Rain Man-like moment of clarity and leave as quickly as lime Jell-O on Wednesday night. Well, her idiot savant setting appears to be firmly turned to the idiot end of the dial in this one, because she delivers her lines like an over-reaching high schooler performing an anti-drug skit for kids at the local community centre. Seriously, she makes Shatner look about as hammy as the sandwiches his rabbi eats at the kosher deli.
When we first meet Dr. Isley, she’s dictating her thoughts into a recorder while walking around her laboratory, which is swampier and more overgrown than the jungle outside. In the grand Hollywood tradition of taking a hot actress and casting them as an ugly duckling that gets made over into a beautiful swan, she’s been given glasses and frizzy hair. This trick sometimes works if the actress isn’t very hot to begin with (like Emma Thompson in Prisoner of Azkaban) but here it’s just silly.
But Isley is not a happy botanist. Her latest experiment, infusing plants with animal characteristics, isn’t proceeding as quickly as it could be. If only she could access her partner’s half of the laboratory! Unfortunately, Dr. Woodrue’s room is barred by a massive steel door with dire warnings about entering. For apparently the first time ever, Isley considering entering and finding out what he’s doing in there.
As it turns out, he’s holding an underground auction for the rights to a new system he’s developed: one that takes a normal, sociopathic murderer and turns them into a beefed-up, mindlessly obedient sociopathic murderer. Gentlemen of the Ununited Nations (an international council consisting of half a dozen ethnic stereotypes from around the world), let the bidding begin! Isley gives him a tongue-lashing, and in return he throws a metal rack on top of her. Problem solved.
Back in the Bat Cave, Bruce is using his computer, which seems to be running Mac OS7 (the Apple equivalent of the ass rape that was Windows ME), to review footage of the science lab accident that transformed the good Dr. Freeze into the evil Mr. Freeze. Far from adopting a pseudonym to protect his identity, Freeze seems to have just dropped his Ph.D-bestowed title, which we all know is just the badge of douchebaggery on anyone other than a medical doctor anyway. Oh, you have a Ph.D. in Woman’s Studies? Tell me, “Doctor”, can you prescribe me a shit to give? Anyway, Freeze needs a complex mechanical suit, which can only be powered by diamonds, to keep his body at the necessary zero degrees. Woah, woah, wait a minute. Are we talking zero degrees celsius, fahrenheit, or kelvin? If it’s the latter, that’s physically impossible because all molecular motion would cease, making Freeze as dead as Michael Keaton’s career. If it’s either of the former, I have a bar fridge that can reach those temperatures, is smaller than Freeze’s suit, and sure as hell doesn’t need diamonds to work. Has this man never heard of electricity?
As Dr. Woodrue resumes his auction, Isley rises from the grave like some sexy but stiffly wooden Phoenix. Her plant-induced resurrection has turned her hair red, removed most of her clothing and her glasses, and imbued her with several plant powers, such as deadly poison lips. After using them to kill her murderous colleague, she notes that his monster-creating chemicals were apparently made by Wayne Enterprises. She claims Bain, the murderous psychopath, as her servant and heads off to Gotham.
Speaking of Gotham, back at the Wayne mansion there’s a knock on the front door. Alfred is apparently too busy coughing up his lungs to get off his lazy ass and answer it, so Dick has to walk over open the door himself. However, his mood immediately improves, because there’s a smokin’ hot babe (individual results may vary) named Barbara on the doorstep. Schwing! Wait, what’s that? She wants to see Alfred? Totally bogus! Wait, what’s that? She’s just his niece? Schwing! She’s also apparently just returned from a dental appointment, because she speaks like her mouth is still mostly paralysed with anaesthesia, greeting her “unca Affred” and inquiring as to his health. Alfred tries to play it cool, but he’s gone so far as to record a message to his brother about replacing him in the event of his death. One can surmise that this subplot was inserted as an insurance policy against Gough being unavailable/dead by the next movie, much as John Cleese was shuttled into Die Another Day as a replacement for Q, only to be given a hilarious Fuck You by being written out of the reboot sequels. This is actually pretty much what happened, as Gough’s interpretation of Alfred as a posh, Oxford-educated dandy was replaced with Michael Caine’s unwashed, Cockney-spewing chimney sweep in the Nolan reboot.
Sometime later, Bruce is holding a press conference to announce the construction of a new giant telescope that Wayne Enterprises has built for no apparent reason. I guess when you’re a massive multinational conglomerate with billions in annual revenue, you’ve got to eventually just start making random things to avoid nonproliferation lawsuits from your shareholders. Once he’s done with his speech, he opens the floor to questions from the press. Yes, you in the back. The visibly insane botanist with flaming red hair and a barely contained sociopathic bent threatening to erupt to the surface. I believe you have a question? What’s that? You think we should use the telescope to execute some hare-brained scheme to help the plants of the world, while killing millions of humans in the process? Huh. Let me get back to you on that one.
Now that he’s got that pesky press conference out of the way, Bruce gets down to what’s really important: party time! It’s a charity auction sponsored by Wayne Enterprises, and you have to be la crème de la crème of Gotham City’s elite to even think about dreaming about getting in. Paris Hilton did not get in. Perez Hilton did not get in. Kanye West did not get in, and whined about it on his blog. The wild-eyed, unkempt botanist got in. But don’t worry, it was only because she sexed up her image by combing her hair and donning a form-fitting green catsuit. Oh, and she snuck in by donning a gorilla suit, in the most hilarious disguise since Nick Cage’s bear suit in The Wicker Man.
But the real treat in store for the party’s patrons is a public appearance by none other than Batman and Robin. This coincidentally coincides with a not at all suspicious absence of the host Bruce Wayne, who clearly had to stay home and program his VCR or something. The dynamic duo is taking a significant risk here, as surrounding oneself with a crowd of drunk and potentially handsy individuals when the only thing protecting your secret identity is an easy-to-grab mask is rarely recommended. After Ivy makes her entrance, she blows her magical seducing dust into their faces, causing the crime fighters to become madly infatuated with her. Of course, this means that moments later when she puts a date with herself up for auction - (“Some lucky boy's about to hit the jackpot. The winner will receive an evening of my company. I'll bring everything you see here...plus everything you don't”) - they enter a bickering bidding war and hilarity ensues (individual results may vary).
Before either crime fighter can dip his proverbial beak (although I suppose in the case of Robin, it’d be less proverbial and more literal), the evening’s festivities are interrupted by - you guessed it - Mr. Freeze. Much like a bear drawn to a careless camper’s improperly stored foodstuffs, Freeze has caught a whiff of the sweet, sweet diamond on the auction block and come to claim it, along with anything else the Coleman’s cooler may contain. One can only assume he was too busy at the library, sharpening his woeful knowledge of the Mesozoic era, to bothering checking out the flyers around town and see that mother fucking Batman and Robin were the headlining guests. Unlike their last matchup, this fight takes place on solid ground, so Freeze, with an arsenal almost fully dependent on being on ice, is at a bit of a disadvantage. You know the guy’s committed to his themed supervillain identity when he eschews more powerful weapons like guns and RPGs in favour of hockey sticks and ice skates. Poison Ivy also has her eye on the diamond, and throws a proverbial monkey wrench into his plans. When the dust settles, Ivy has escaped and Freeze has been arrested.
It’s not long, though, before Ivy has a change of heart. She decides to spring Freeze from the cooler (to which he was sent after all), and after telling him a series of lies regarding the deadness of his wife at the hands of Batman, he agrees to join her. His wife, you see, was suffering from the same ailment as Alfred, MacGregor’s Syndrome, which one contracts from wearing thick wool socks. The lab accident that gave him his pun-making superpowers occurred during his attempt to create a cure to save her, and his subsequent criminal activity has funded further attempts. Now that he believes her dead, however, he’s decided to steal the new Wayne telescope and use it to amplify his freezing machine, thus turning the entire world as cold as his broken heart (which, as you’ll recall, is zero degrees).
Now that Ivy, Bane and Freeze are working together, things really start cooking. Another encounter goes poorly, with Robin almost falling under Ivy’s seductive spell. Fortunately, he had the foresight to equip himself with rubber lips, also known as nature’s mouth condom. He’s not out of the fire yet, however, and Batman has to come to his rescue. Meanwhile, Barbara has stumbled across the Batcave, a discovery that was anticipated by her uncle. He’s used his last remaining days to not only construct a crime-fighting outfit for her, but create an entire holographic AI version of himself, able to hold two-way conversations and answer questions. What the fuck is this guy doing working as a butler?! His so-called genius employer spends months and millions of dollars building a goddamn telescope, and this dying, elderly, bedridden man makes the most advanced computer ever known, and it would only be used if his niece happened to stumble across it? Talk about working below your pay grade.
Anyway, Barbara (now Batgirl) arrives on the scene, helps to fight Ivy, yadda yadda yadda. Ivy gets swallowed, but not killed, by one of her giant carnivorous plants. Bane escapes and goes to hook up with Freeze, who had already stolen the telescope and is busy freezing the entire city. The Dynamic Trio rush to stop him, kill Bane by simply unplugging the hose running from his back to his head, yadda yadda yadda. Freeze finds out that it was Ivy, not Batman, who killed his wife, and Batman ups the ante by revealing that she’s not actually dead, just cryogenically frozen. And so it came to pass that, much like your average episode of Three’s Company, everything turned out to be based around a huge misunderstanding. Mr. Freeze repents, and reveals that he has developed an early-stage treatment for MacGregor’s that can conveniently cure Alfred. Queue the sappy ending, the only redeeming part of which is the Smashing Pumpkins song that plays over the end titles.
So that’s about it. I’d like to see Mr. Nolan top that!
No, seriously, please top it. It can’t be very hard. It’s basically the worst fucking movie ever.