Batman Forever (1995) - Two-Disc Special Edition

Genre(s): Action / Adventure
Warner Brothers || PG13 - 121 minutes - $26.99 || October 18, 2005
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-10-25


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer(s): Bob Kane (characters), Lee Batchler (story) & Janet Scott Batchler (story), Lee Batchler (screenplay) & Janet Scott Batchler (screenplay) and Akiva Goldsman (screenplay)
Cast: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O'Donnell, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, Drew Barrymore, Debi Mazar


Theatrical Release Date: June 16, 1995


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:

    Disc 1:
  • Director Commentary
  • Theatrical Trailer


  • Disc 2:
  • Riddle Me This: Why is Batman Forever
  • Shadows of the Bat, Part 5
  • The Heroes and the Villains Profile Galleries
  • Beyond Batman Documentary Gallery
  • Additional Scenes
  • Music Video


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

With parents and kids leaving Batman Returns stunned with they had just seen, Warner Brothers decided to take their Batman franchise in a lighter direction. Doing so marked the departure of both Tim Burton (who apparently offered to direct a third one) and Michael Keaton and Joel Schumacher and Val Kilmer came aboard for a new approach. Schumacher wanted to make a comic book movie, which apparently meant an anything goes style, logic be damned. Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey were brought to continue the Nicholson-tradition of colorful villains while Chris O'Donnell was signed to play Dick Grayson, Batman's sidekick, Robin. Nicole Kidman plays the latest Batman-babe, Dr. Chase Meridian, a psychologist who takes a fascination with Batman.

Although I have a certain hatred for Batman Returns since it makes Batman not only a third wheel to Penguin and Catwoman, but he's also some sadistic monster purposely frying one villain and blowing up another with a bomb (to be fair, he did get this bomb from another villain...). But admittedly, Batman Forever has it's share of things that are just insane, though this time it's more silly insanity than anything. For instance, sitting on Chase's desk is her research material on Batman with his face on Time Magazine and others. Most of these pictures looked like Batman came in for some photo shoot and did some heroic pose rather than a spy camera that you normally see in tabloids. The other items such as a neon-lit Gotham City, a ribbed cage Batmobile or an oversized Bat Cave just reiterates my feelings for Batman Forever: excess.

Schumacher was brought on to make a Batman movie that the kids and marketing partners will enjoy, and so it was. Rather than a psychological thriller/horror, instead it's the (now) typical summer extravaganza with loud explosions, illogical scenes (after Batman scales the wall in the Batmobile, where the hell does he go from there?) and character development issues. However, despite all of the negatives, I still found myself to be entertained. See, what Batman and Batman Returns failed to do was provide any in-depth look into who Bruce is. Burton and company merely pass it off that his parents died and now he's Batman, end of story. But the character of Bruce Wayne is deeper than just that. Of course, I'm not going to sit here and say Forever covered all those bases either since Schumacher's number one goal was to create a comic book movie rather than a coherent story, but at least they tried.

No, Batman Forever is not a fine piece of cinema and as a Batman movie it's way short of being anything but summer blockbuster entertainment, but, the positives the film has (such as portraying Batman in a heroic light) slightly outweighs the negatives. Much like Returns, Forever is a 50/50 with the fans and no matter how great the new franchise gets, I doubt that will ever change.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Batman Forever two-disc set, when it comes to special features, is weaker than either Batman or Batman Returns (though since those two are great, this one still is very nice).

On the first disc is a theatrical trailer (which is definitely a trip down memory lane) and a commentary track with director Joel Schumacher. For the most part, he's somewhat interesting to listen to though, unlike Burton, he tended to telestrate a little telling the viewer what we can already see. However, he does give some tid-bits on the casting of some of the parts (like Drew Barrymore who's a friend), filming locations and the like. He does, oh so briefly, address the nipples on the Batsuit, amazed that it had become some kind of international controversy to which he responds that people need to get out more... (nice Joel, very nice). Aside from that and the telestrations, I didn't mind this track at all, although Burton's might've been better overall.

Going onto Disc 2 is a made-for-TV promotional featurette called Riddle Me This: Why Is Batman Forever, which, like "The Bat, the Cat and the Penguin, is only there to convince those watching to go out and see the movie in theaters. But, the extra layer is that this was also to say to folks that this is not going to be another dark and twisted Batman movie. Instead, it's a movie you can take your kids to. This is only good for nostalgia value and on that level; it is fun to watch (I remember seeing this back in 1995).

The Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight continues with Part 5, "Reinventing A Hero" (27:20). This is a broad range behind-the-scenes featurette with interviews with director Joel Schumacher, the producers and writer Akiva Goldsman as they explain why this movie was different from the last. There's also a mixture of new and archive footage/interviews with cast members Val Kilmer (new), Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Chris O'Donnell (new) and Nicole Kidman. I would've hoped for more participation, but it's certainly nice to see at least one of the men who played Batman to contribute to this set (Keaton and Clooney did not, the latter I believe for obvious reasons). Outside of the sound bites, are some behind-the-scenes footage and photos that are fun to watch. Interestingly, Schumacher explains his desire to make a movie based on Frank Miller's Year One, which, of course, he never got to do.

Batman: The Heroes and Villains Galleries are the mini-featutettes like on the other three DVDs. This time, Batman, Robin, Dr. Chase Meridian, The Riddler and Two-Face are covered. Like the others, these are basic character profiles put on video (which I much prefer over a text one). Nothing overly fascinating, but still fun for some fans I suppose.

Beyond Batman contains 5 making-of documentaries (approx. 45:32):

"Out of the Shadows: The Production Design of Batman Forever" (12:30) shows the new direction the 'Batman' franchise was taking with Schumacher instead of Burton. The Gothic look of Gotham is replaced with giant statues and the style itself was more comic-booky. Everything from Wayne Manor to the Bat cave to the Batmobile was re-design to fit Schumacher's ideas.

"The Many Faces of Gotham City" (12:34) goes over the costume designs for the main characters as well as the extras (circus, street gang, etc). Val Kilmer talks about his part in the Batman costume (and the difficulties). Although this isn't the most fascinating featurette, it's still nice to hear from those involved in their ideas to make this movie different from the first two.

"Knight Moves: The Stunts of Batman Forever" (5:34) contains behind-the-scenes footage of stunt rehearsals, particularly the scene when Batman crashes Nygma's party after Two-Face shows up. He comes down from the ceiling, onto a water fountain, does a back flip and takes out a couple of Face's goons. Cool stunt, and looks like a good amount of work to get it done. There's comments from Kilmer's stunt double who talks about the suit and trying to get the stunt done (which took about 5 times). The martial arts Batman is done by another stunt double, while the back flips were from another person. While this is pretty good, I'd hope they would've gone over other stunts as well (how about the trap set by Two-Face?).

"Imaging Forever: The Visual Effects of Batman Forever" (6:58) is interesting since this is probably the first 'Batman' movie to feature so much CGI (integrated with miniatures). Since this is 1994, the art of CGI was still new, but it worked well in Forever (now it's even more seamless). They use the opening sequence as an example of this where some of the helicopter shots were a combo of miniatures and CGI. I did have one problem with this featurette, like the previous one, they actually show other CGI/mix shots, but didn't go into detail about how it was done (Batman saving Robin and Chase, Nygma's base).

"Scoring Forever: The Music of Batman Forever" (6:17) continues what was started on the first two discs, this time composer Elliot Goldenthal replaces the great Danny Elfman in order to match up with the lighter tone. Although nobody will ever match Elfman's memorable score, Goldenthal certainly presents an interesting one for Forever. For my taste, it's a bit too over-the-top and light-hearted at times but tolerable (much like the movie itself). Anyways, Goldenthal explains here how he came up with some of the cues and that he chose not to listen to Elfman's stuff.

It was rumored a few months ago that Warner had given Schumacher some money to restore and put back in old footage to make a 10th Anniversary, Extended Edition. Sadly, this never came to pass (as it would've made the film a little darker and more depth), but thankfully they included 7 deleted scenes (though based upon what I've read, they still didn't include everything):

For what's there, a couple scenes were actually good. "Escape from Arkham" is an alternate opening in which Dr. Burton rushes to Two-Face's cell and finds that he has escaped; "Dick's Pain" is more character coverage in which Grayson sulks some more but it's a nice exchange between Kilmer and O'Donnell; "Bruce's Dilemma" is a dumb scene (because of the reporter who sounds so stupid) in which Wayne watches a newscaster suggesting that Bruce should retire (leading into his "I've never been in love before" line). Outside of the reporter, Kilmer actually gives a fine performance where he decides his fate as Batman. The best scene, and perhaps the strangest, has Bruce returning to the place where he fell and finds his father's diary, in which the last entry reads like it was Bruce's fault his parents are dead (it goes something like "Martha and I wanted to stay home, but Bruce insisted on going to the movies"). It is after this that he comes face to face with a giant, red-eyed bat. Other scenes include "Two-Face's Hate", "Beauty and the Batman" (a prelude to what the Batman franchise will delude to) and "Does it Ever End" (which has Kidman asking Alfred about Bruce's commitment to being Batman).

The final special feature is the Grammy winning song, "Kiss from a Rose" music video by Seal. Personally, I really like the song and actually remember seeing the music video on MTV (mainly because of the footage shown from Forever). Much, much, much more of a mainstream video than the previous movies had shown.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Sound-wise, one again, the action-oriented scenes scream loud and clear over the speakers, particularly using the DTS mix. Through some of the movie I switched between DTS and Dolby Digital and it seems this one has more gap between the two as I had to raise the volume whenever using DD. The Dolby could've been better, but if you don't have a DTS decoder, you should be satisfied with it. Upon my first viewing, I didn't notice really anything wrong with the picture, but while listening to the commentary, I did see some grains in some spots (very minor), but still noticeable at times.



.::OVERALL::.

This Batman Forever Special Edition is actually good, but admittedly a step lower than either Batman or Batman Returns. For the most part the features are fun to watch and any fan of 'Batman' (and those who like behind-the-scenes footage/interviews) should enjoy it even if you hate the movie itself. However, if you are only a casual fan of DVDs and features, you might not find this one as fulfilling.