This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Matt Williamson’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
This will absolutely not be a very objective review going forward..
Batman Forever was the first new film I saw in the cinema. I was allowed to go on opening day, and by that point had already firmly decided my love for the two previous Keaton films. And being able to be there for the brand new one? I loved every minute of it.
Even now I can't escape that sheer charm and nostalgia this entry holds for me. There's definitely flaws and wasted potential, which I'll get into momentarily, but none of it ruins that sense of adventure and fun this film strives for. A blending of the Burton era and the West, this is a bridging of two sensibilities for better and worse.
So onto some of the negatives..
Dr Chase Meridian is one of the best ideas of the franchise; Bruce Wayne dating a psychologist. There is so much potential to mine there. And its entirely wasted on the film, instead leaving Nicole Kidman with nothing to do but look stunning and act horny. Even in an actual therapy session, about as deep as it gets is Bruce looking at what is very clearly a painting of a bat, and being told it's a Rorshach test so he must like bats. And then the subject changes. So the big insight having a psychologist thrown into the mix brings is that Bruce Wayne has a bit of a thing for bats. Cheers.
Two Face is another unfortunate waste here, after two films teasing Billy Dee Williams in the role, here he has been recast as Tommy Lee Jones. Now I don't blame Tommy for his performance here (although I do found it incredibly hypocritical that behind the scenes he was rude and belittling to Jim Carrey for overreacting) but it is a shame that one of the more complex Batman villains is reduced to standing at the sidelines giggling like a buffoon for half his appearance. There's certainly moments where he gets to do a little coin flip, notably in the fantastic opening kidnapping, but even then it isn't always in the spirit of the character; such as when he just keeps flipping the coin over and over until it gives him the right result for him to shoot someone.
And speaking of bizarre character moments, Batman gives his big lecture to Robin on how you should definitely never kill for revenge (bit hypocritical after Returns, but sure)... But then absolutely kills Two Face at the end, stealing that revenge from his trusty ward. It's also really obvious that Robin was written as a young teenage boy, but cast to be in his mid 20s which certainly makes for some hilarious moments - him having to be adopted by the Wayne family, Riddler teasing about him being a virgin to name a couple of standout examples.
But obviously with the rating I'm leaving this with, these are all minor quibbles in a film rich in positives. So let's touch on those! (If you're even still reading by this point!)
Although the brief glimpses of Gotham in daylight feel weird and lifeless, it does create a nice contrast as Schumacher really brings the streets alive at night, with the city rich in a neon glow. Hell even the gangs of the streets cover themselves in highlighters before they try and kidnap a woman.
The suit for Robin is also really fantastic and a great reimagining of those classic colours, but still in keeping with the darker rubber suit look that Burton had introduced. There's also some fantastic nuance to Carrey's portrayal here; being his bombastic self for sure, but there's a nice undercurrent of the darker sides, and his obsession with Bruce; right down to imitating Kilmer's mannerisms when they later meet. And Kilmer himself, although a little bland, is certainly charming as Mr Wayne.
So in short; this is a film of many small niggles scattered amidst a great spectacle. Lesser than its predecessors, but still great entertainment nevertheless.