Warner Bros., 1995
The point in which the Bat falters
There comes a time in every Batman fan’s life where they must do the expected: rank the original quadrilogy of films. And, sure, everyone knows that any Batman fan worth their salt is going to put the first film in the No. 1 slot, Batman Returns second and Batman and Robin dead last. But where does that leave the third film if you’re not going by that requirement? In our estimation, squarely in the middle. A middling film deserves nothing more than that.
Batman Forever doesn’t have as many problems as its successor does, but it doesn’t exactly inspire the warmest feelings toward the franchise. Its main problem is the fact that Val Kilmer — as good as an actor as he might be — isn’t exactly our idea of Batman/Bruce Wayne. We were in no way convinced that he should have taken up the cowl and tights, well after he did. It was a colossal miscast that rather plunged the franchise into the downward spiral that it remained in until Batman Begins.
The second problem is the casting of Jim Carrey as the Riddler. He wasn’t terrible, but if he can steal every scene in a movie, he will, and it will not always be pleasant. We get the appeal of Carrey because he was the only person at the time that could have possibly carried off the campiness of the Riddler, but his presence actually hurt the film more than it helped.
While we’re on the subject of the villains present in the film, we have to give something to Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent/Two Face. Jones managed to make Two Face interesting and bring some much-needed levity to the proceedings, but we’re still upset at the way Two Face went out. Why mess up the established train of common sense that Two Face provided with a weak conclusion? It was unnecessary, and it made the conclusion a little underwhelming.
We appreciated the inclusion of Robin/Dick Grayson, which was needed after two previous films with the Boy Wonder missing. Grayson, as played by Chris O’Donnell, provided some of the films brightest spots, which is much better than the contributions of Nicole Kidman. Kidman, a fine actress in her own right, was a throwaway character and dragged the film down quite a bit. There is no chemistry between her character, Chase Meridian, and Val Kilmer’s Wayne, and it’s obvious pretty early on.
So, with uninteresting leads with no chemistry, a scene-hogging main villain and a decent plot, there’s nothing that really draws the Batman fan into watching it multiple times. A middling experience within a middle movie.
Like the comics: 3
Total: 12 out of 30 or 4
How we grade
We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in the case of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of a maximum of 10 per category, and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.