Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joel Schumacher|
|Produced by||Tim Burton
|Screenplay by||Lee Batchler
|Story by||Lee Batchler
by Bob Kane
Tommy Lee Jones
|Music by||Elliot Goldenthal|
|Editing by||Dennis Virkler
|Studio||PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Tim Burton Productions
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||122 minutes|
Batman Forever is a 1995 American superhero film directed by Joel Schumacher and produced by Tim Burton, based on the DC Comics character Batman. It is the third installment of Warner Bros.' initial Batman film series, with Val Kilmer replacing Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman and Chris O'Donnell. The plot focuses on Batman trying to stop Two-Face and the Riddler in their villainous scheme to drain information from all the brains in Gotham City. He gains allegiance from a love interest—psychiatrist Dr. Chase Meridian—and a young, orphaned circus acrobat named Dick Grayson, who becomes his sidekick Robin.
The film's tone was different from the previous installments, becoming more family-friendly since Warner Bros. considered that the previous film, Batman Returns (1992), underperformed at the box office due to its violence and dark overtones. Schumacher eschewed the dark, dystopian atmosphere of Burton's films, and drew inspiration directly from the Batman comic book seen in the 1940s/early 1950s, and the 1960s television series. The budget of the film was an estimated $100,000,000. Production was troubled, with many actors considered for the main roles. Filming locations include Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, CA and the Manhattan Bridge in New York City, NY.
The film was released on June 16, 1995. Batman Forever received favorable reviews upon release, with critics praising the cinematography, visuals and art direction. But over the years the opinion has gone from favorable to mixed, criticising that it was campier and more bombastic than previous installments. The film had success with audiences, out-grossing Batman Returns with over $336 million worldwide and becoming the sixth-highest grossing film worldwide of 1995. It made $52,784,433 in the United States for its opening weekend (June 22, 1995) on 2842 screens.
In Gotham City, Batman (Val Kilmer) stops a hostage situation in a bank caused by Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones), the alter ego of the disfigured former district attorney, Harvey Dent. However, Two-Face escapes. Edward Nygma (Jim Carrey), a researcher at Wayne Enterprises, develops a device to beam television directly to a person's brain; Bruce Wayne (with whom Nygma is obsessed) rejects the invention, noting that it "raises too many questions", and Nygma angrily resigns from his position after killing his supervisor and forging his suicide note. After meeting Batman-obessesed psychiatrist Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman), Bruce invites her to a charity circus event. There, Two-Face and his henchmen storm the event in an attempt to discover Batman's secret identity, and in the process murder The Flying Graysons, a family of acrobats who attempt to stop him. The youngest member, Dick (Chris O'Donnell), survives and throws Two-Face's bomb into the river.
Bruce assumes responsibility for Dick and allows him to stay at Wayne Manor. Dick then declares his intention to kill Two-Face and avenge his family's murder, and when he discovers Bruce's secret identity as Batman, he insists on becoming his partner, "Robin". Meanwhile, Nygma becomes a criminal known as the "Riddler", the master of puzzles and quizzes and forms an alliance with Two-Face. The two work together to steal capital for the mass production and promotion of Nygma's television device. Using his device, Nygma can read and control people's minds, and steal their intelligence quotient. At a business party, Nygma discovers Bruce's secret identity. Two-Face then attacks the party and nearly kills Batman, but Robin arrives just in time to save his life. Meanwhile, Chase realizes her love for Bruce surpasses her obsession with Batman, but soon discovers that they are one and the same. However, Two-Face and the Riddler later converge into Wayne Manor. The Riddler enters the Batcave and destroys most of the equipment, and he and Two-Face kidnap Chase, who the Riddler is romantic to, while leaving Bruce another riddle.
After solving the last riddle, Batman and Robin locate the Riddler's lair, Claw Island, where both are separated upon reaching the island. Robin then encounters Two-Face and manages to beat him to the ground; realizing that he does not have it in him to commit murder, Robin helps the villain back up. Two-Face gets the upper hand and captures Robin. Meanwhile, Batman manages to make his way into the Riddler's lair, where Robin and Chase are revealed as hostages, bound, gagged with duct tape and held over a watery chasm, giving Batman a choice of saving just one hostage. Batman finds a way to save both hostages, and manages to destroy the brainwave-collecting device, driving the Riddler into a mental breakdown in the process. During the battle, Two-Face falls to his death. The Riddler is finally sent to Arkham Asylum, and Chase is asked to consult on his case. Nygma offers to reveal the identity of Batman to her, but he thinks himself Batman. Chase then meets Bruce Wayne outside and tells him his secret is safe. Batman and Robin then continue to protect Gotham City from crime.
- Val Kilmer as Bruce Wayne/Batman: After coming across the journal of his father, he starts questioning his act of vengeance. Bruce struggles with his dual identity as a crime fighter, becoming romantically involved with Dr. Chase Meridian.
- Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent/Two-Face: Formerly the good district attorney of Gotham City, half of Harvey's face is scarred with acid during the conviction of a crime boss. Driven insane, he becomes the criminal Harvey Two-Face. He flips a coin to determine if he kills (tails) or not (heads).
- Jim Carrey as Edward Nygma/The Riddler: A former Wayne Enterprises employee, Edward resigns after his newest invention is personally rejected by Bruce Wayne, with whom he is obsessed. He becomes the villainous Riddler, leaving riddles and puzzles at crime scenes.
- Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian: A psychologist and love interest of Bruce Wayne. Chase is fascinated by the dual nature of Batman. She is held as a damsel in distress in the climax.
- Chris O'Donnell as Dick Grayson/Robin: Once a circus acrobat, Dick is taken in by Bruce after Two-Face murders his parents and brother at a circus event. Bruce is reminded of when his parents were murdered when he sees the same vengeance in Dick, and decides to take him in as his ward. He eventually discovers the Batcave and learns Bruce's secret identity. In his wake, he becomes the crime fighting partner, Robin.
- Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth: The Wayne family's faithful butler and Bruce's confidant. Alfred also befriends the young Dick Grayson.
- Drew Barrymore as Sugar: Two-Face's "good" assistant.
- Debi Mazar as Spice: Two-Face's "bad" assistant.
- Elizabeth Sanders as Gossip Gerty: Gotham's top gossip columnist.
- Joe Grifasi as Hawkins, the Bank Guard: Two-Face's hostage during the opening scene.
- Ofer Samra as Two-Face's thug
- Ed Begley, Jr. as Fred Stickley: Edward Nygma's ill-tempered supervisor at Wayne Enterprises. After Stickley discovers the side effect of Edward's invention, Edward kills him and makes it look like suicide. Begley was uncredited for this role.
Even though Batman Returns was a financial success, Warner Bros. felt the film should have made more money and decided to make the film series more mainstream. Tim Burton, who had directed the two previous installments, was asked to restrict himself to the role of producer and signed Joel Schumacher as director. After approving Schumacher as director, Burton met with Lee and Janet Scott-Batchler, who agreed with him that "the key element to Batman is his duality. And it's not just that Batman is Bruce Wayne". Burton along with Schumacher hired the Batchers to write the script which introduced a psychotic Riddler with a pet rat accompanying him. The story elements and much of the dialogue still remained in the finished film, though Schumacher felt it could be "lighte[ne]d down". Schumacher claims he originally had in mind an adaptation of Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. The studio rejected the idea as they wanted a sequel, not a prequel, though Schumacher was able to include very brief events in Bruce Wayne's past. He hired Akiva Goldsman - with whom he previously had worked with on The Client - to write the second draft of script.
Production went on fast track with Rene Russo cast as Dr. Chase Meridian. Michael Keaton decided not to reprise Batman because he did not like the new direction the film series was heading in. Keaton also wanted to pursue "more interesting roles", turning down $15 million to appear in Batman Forever. Val Kilmer was cast days later, and the filmmakers decided that Russo was too old for Kilmer, replacing her with a different actress. Schumacher got interested in Kilmer for Batman after seeing him in Tombstone, and the actor accepted the role without even reading the script or knowing who the new director was. Before Val Kilmer was cast, Daniel Day-Lewis, Ralph Fiennes, William Baldwin and Johnny Depp were all under consideration to replace Michael Keaton. Ethan Hawke turned down the role over fear of typecasting, but later regretted the decision.
Robin Wright, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Linda Hamilton were in competition for Dr. Chase Meridian, with Wright appearing as the favorable choice. Nicole Kidman was eventually cast. Kidman had been previously considered for the role of Catwoman in Batman Returns but turned it down and the role eventually went to Michelle Pfeiffer. Even though Billy Dee Williams took the role of Harvey Dent in Batman because he was looking forward to portraying Two-Face in a sequel, Schumacher cast Tommy Lee Jones in the role. Jones was always Schumacher's first choice for the role after working with him on The Client. Jones claims he was sent the script and was very cautious to accept, but accepted the part because Two-Face was his son's favorite character. Robin Williams expressed interest in the role of The Riddler, while Micky Dolenz was considered early in pre-production by Tim Burton. Michael Jackson was attached to the role, but was turned down. Jim Carrey was eventually cast. Robin appeared in the shooting script of Batman Returns but was deleted due to too many characters. Marlon Wayans was cast in the role, and signed for Batman Forever. It was decided to replace Wayans with a white actor, Leonardo DiCaprio and Chris O'Donnell became the top two choices, with O'Donnell winning the part. Mitchell Gaylord served as O'Donnell's stunt double.
Filming started in September 1994. Schumacher hired Barbara Ling for production design, claiming that the film needed a "force" and felt Ling could "advance on it". Schumacher wanted a design that was not to be in any way connected to the previous films, and instead was to be inspired by the images from the Batman comic books seen in the 1940s/early 1950s and taken from that of New York City architecture in the 1930s, with a combination of modern Tokyo. He also wanted a "city with personality", with more statues, as well as various amounts of neon.
Schumacher had problems filming with Kilmer, whom he described as "childish and impossible", reporting that he fought with various crewmen, and refused to speak to Schumacher during two weeks after the director told him to stop behaving in a rude way. Schumacher also mentioned Tommy Lee Jones as a source of trouble: "Jim Carrey was a gentleman, and Tommy Lee was threatened by him. I'm tired of defending overpaid, overprivileged actors. I pray I don't work with them again."
Design and effects
Rick Baker designed the prosthetic makeup. John Dykstra, Andrew Adamson and Jim Rygiel served as visual effects supervisors, with Pacific Data Images also contributing to visual effects work. PDI provided a computer-generated Batman for complicated stunts. For the costume design, producer Peter MacGregor-Scott claimed that 146 workers were at one point working together. Batman's costume was redesigned along the lines of a more "MTV organic, and edgier feel" to the suit. Sound editing and mixing was co-supervised by Bruce Stambler and John Levesque, which included trips to caves to record bat sounds. A new Batmobile was designed for Batman Forever, with two cars being constructed, one for stunt purposes and one for close-ups with both showcasing a V8 engine.
Elliot Goldenthal was hired by Schumacher to compose the film score before the screenplay was written, whereas most composers are hired during production. In discussions with Schumacher, the director wanted Goldenthal to avoid taking inspiration from Danny Elfman, and requested an original composition.
The soundtrack was commercially successful, selling almost as many copies as Prince's soundtrack to the 1989 Batman film. Only five of the songs on the soundtrack are actually featured in the movie, the rest are allegedly 'inspired by' Batman Forever – a curious claim, since most, if not all, of the tracks were recorded before the film was even released. Hit singles from the soundtrack include "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" by U2 and "Kiss from a Rose" by Seal, both of which were nominated for MTV Movie Awards. "Kiss from a Rose" (whose video was also directed by Joel Schumacher) reached No. 1 in the U.S. charts as well. The soundtrack itself, featuring additional songs by The Flaming Lips, Brandy (both songs also included in the film), Method Man, Nick Cave, Michael Hutchence (of INXS), PJ Harvey, and Massive Attack, was an attempt to (in producer Peter MacGregor-Scott's words) make the film more "pop".
Batman Forever went through a few major edits before its release. Originally darker than the final product, the movie's original length was closer to two hours and 40 minutes according to director Joel Schumacher. There was talk of an extended cut being released to DVD for the film's 10th anniversary in 2005. While all four previous Batman films were given special edition DVD releases on the same day as the Batman Begins DVD release, none of them were given extended cuts, although some of the following scenes were in a deleted scenes section in the special features.
Many scenes were filmed but deleted from the film, others scenes had footage removed. These included:
- The escape of Two-Face from Arkham Asylum. René Auberjonois had another scene filmed here in the role of Doctor Burton, but his role was reduced to a cameo in the final film. He discovers Two-Face's escape, encountering his psychologist hanged in Two-Face's cell with "The Bat Must Die" written in blood on the wall. This was supposed to be the film's opening scene, but producers decided this was far too dark for a family audience. This caused a massive re-edit of the movie. Originally the opening in the final film was meant to be after the scene of Bruce Wayne at Wayne Enterprises. Then after the helicopter scene, would come the death of Stickley. The scene of batman going to the bat signal, only to find Chase, was supposed to be right before the chase sequence of Two-face trying to kill Batman. Chases line, "last night at the bank" was meant to be "last night at the circus". This scene appears in a rough edit on the special edition DVD.
- When Two-Face addresses the crowd from the helicopter in the opening action scene, the speech was truncated and several lines that appeared in the Theatrical Trailer were removed, including the line "If the Bat wants to play, we'll play!".
- There was a sequence that contained an extended fight scene between Two-Face and Batman, where they both struggle for control of the helicopter. In this scene, Two-Face accuses Batman of being "a killer too", a direct continuity reference to the first two Batman films in which Batman killed the Joker, the Penguin and several of their respective goons. Two-face then manages to escape by the parachute, after Batman realizes he has locked the steering wheel into position. This sequence is included in rough form on the special edition DVD.
- A scene right before Edward Nygma arrived at Wayne Manor. It featured Bruce Wayne watching a local Gotham talk show with Chase Meridian as a guest, talking about Batman.
- One scene right before Riddler and Two-face team up featured a little conversation with Dick and Bruce in the gym of the manor. This would explain why Dick suddenly has martial art training. This scene appears in a rough edit on the Special Edition DVD.
- The scene where the Riddler fails to punch a security guard out. The guard is then brutally beaten, presumably to death.
- One sequence came directly after the casino robbery, where Batman follows a robbery signal on a tracking device in the Batmobile. He shows up at the crime scene and finds he is at the wrong place (a beauty salon), in which a room full of girls laugh at him. The Riddler had been throwing Batman off the track by messing with the Batmobile's tracking device. This would explain why in the theatrical version Batman seems to give Riddler and Two-Face moments of free rein over the city. This scene appears in a rough edit on the Special Edition DVD.
- The construction of NygmaTech was after Batman solves the third riddle and was more in-depth. There were scenes shot that appear in publicity stills of Edward Nygma with a hard hat helping with the construction of his headquarters on Claw Island.
- Sugar and Spice, played by Drew Barrymore and Debi Mazar, try out the Riddler's device during the montage when it goes on sale. They are seated with the Riddler and Two-Face on the couch where Chase is handcuffed later in the film. This scene appears in the comic adaptation but not in the final film.
- There was originally a scene after the montage of Alfred and Bruce examining the NygmaTech "Box".
- An extended scene established Bruce in the Batcave shortly after having discussed with Dick then that this would have saved his life after the battle with Two-Face in the subway system under construction. In this scene he is appreciated as the GNN news (Bruce watching in the Batcomputer) attacking Batman and Two-Face after the battle in the Subway and after that Bruce talking to Alfred turns into the dilemma of continuing to be Batman and try a normal life with Chase. Like the deleted Helicopter fight sequence, this scene also makes reference to Batman himself being "a killer", and in the original production screenplay, this scene was to contain footage from Batman Returns, specifically taken from the rooftop fight scene with Catwoman. This would explain why in the theatrical version Bruce turns off all the systems and else in the Batcave telling Dick he's gives up being Batman. This scene appears in a rough form on the Special Edition DVD.
- Another scene in the Wayne Manor raid sequence was longer, featuring Bruce and Chase fighting Two-Face and his thugs.
- The scene involving Chase Meridian on the couch originally included a longer ending where the Riddler injects her with a green sleeping agent so he can easily place her in the small tube with the trap door.
- The most well-known deleted scene involved further backstory to the film. It involved Bruce waking up after being shot in the head by Two-Face, temporarily wiping a part of his memory; he has forgotten his origin and life as the Dark Knight. Alfred takes him to the Batcave, which has been destroyed by the Riddler. They stand on the platform where the Batmobile was, and Alfred says, "Funny they did not know about the cave beneath the cave." The platform then rotates downward to another level where the sonar-modification equipment is kept, from the special Batsuit to the hi-tech weaponry. Bruce then discovers the cavern where he first saw the image that inspired him to become Batman – a giant bat. Inside he finds his father's Red Diary. It reminds him of the injustices committed against his family, and of how, in his small way, he felt responsible and helpless. The giant bat then appears and Bruce raises his arms and the shot shows that they are one. Bruce now remembers who he is and goes with Alfred to solve the riddles left throughout the film. Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman admitted the scene was very theatrical on the special edition DVD and felt it would have made a difference to the final cut. The bat was designed and created by Rick Baker, who was in charge of the make-up of Two-Face. This scene appears in a rough form on the special edition DVD and is briefly mentioned in the comic adaptation.
- The fight scene between Two-Face and Robin on Claw Island was originally longer.
- The original ending was similar in style to the previous Batman films, which had involved a scene with Alfred in the limousine, the camera tracking upward through the Gotham cityscape, followed by a rooftop shot involving a silhouetted hero (Batman in the original, Catwoman in Batman Returns) facing the Bat Signal. When Alfred drives Doctor Chase Meridian back to Gotham she asks him "Does it ever end, Alfred?. "Alfred replies, "No, Doctor Meridian, not in this lifetime..." The Bat-Signal shines on the night sky and Batman is standing on a pillar looking ahead. Robin then comes into shot and joins his new partner. They both leap off the pillar, towards the camera. A rough edit of the first half of the scene appears on the special edition DVD, but not in its entirety. The sequence with Batman and Robin at the end of this scene is not to be confused with a commercial for the video game, whose appears in a teaser trailer for the video game, which is on the VHS release of this film, released in the UK on December 3, 1995.
Batman Forever opened in 2,842 theaters in the United States on June 16, 1995, making $52.78 million in its opening weekend. This was the highest opening weekend of all time up to that point. The film went on to gross $184.03 million in North America, and $152.5 million in international countries, totaling $336.53 million. Batman Forever was declared a huge financial success. The film earned more money than its predecessor Batman Returns, and was the second-highest (behind Toy Story) grossing film of 1995, in the U.S.
Critical reaction 
Batman Forever was released to favorable reviews, with critics praising the cinematography, visuals and art direction. But over the years the opinion has gone from favorable to mixed, criticising that it was campier and more bombastic than previous installments. Based on 58 reviews collected by the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 41% of reviewers giving the film a positive review and the consensus: "Loud, excessively busy, and often boring, Batman Forever nonetheless has the charisma of Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones to offer mild relief." Metacritic collected an average score of 51, based on 23 reviews.
Peter Travers said "Batman Forever still gets in its licks. There's no fun machine this summer that packs more surprises." However, he criticized the film's excessive commercialism and felt that "the script misses the pain Tim Burton caught in a man tormented by the long-ago murder of his parents." Brian Lowry of Variety believed "One does have to question the logic behind adding nipples to the hard-rubber batsuit. Whose idea was that supposed to be anyway, Alfred's? Some of the computer-generated Gotham cityscapes appear too obviously fake. Elliot Goldenthal's score, while serviceable, also isn't as stirring as Danny Elfman's work in the first two films."
James Berardinelli enjoyed the film. "It's lighter, brighter, funnier, faster-paced, and a whole lot more colorful than before." Scott Beatty felt "Tommy Lee Jones played Harvey Dent as a Joker knock-off rather than a multi-layered rogue." Lee Bermejo called Batman Forever "unbearable". Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert both gave the film mixed reviews, but with the former giving it a thumbs up and the latter a thumbs down.[dead link] In his written review, Ebert wrote: "Is the movie better entertainment? Well, it's great bubblegum for the eyes. Younger children will be able to process it more easily; some kids were led bawling from Batman Returns where the PG-13 rating was a joke." Mick LaSalle had a mixed reaction, concluding "a shot of Kilmer's rubber buns at one point is guaranteed to bring squeals from the audience."
UK video game magazine Amiga Power sabotaged an in-house advert for sister magazine SFX by inserting an assertion that Batman Forever was "the worst" (Batman movie) in response to the advert's own suggestive question, pithily pre-empting that magazine's own coverage.
At the 68th Academy Awards, Batman Forever was nominated for Cinematography (lost to Braveheart), Sound (Donald O. Mitchell, Frank A. Montaño, Michael Herbick and Petur Hliddal; lost to Apollo 13) and Sound Editing (John Leveque and Bruce Stambler) (also lost to Braveheart). "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" by U2 was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song (lost to "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas), but was also nominated for the Worst Original Song Golden Raspberry Award (lost to "Walk Into the Wind" from Showgirls). At the Saturn Awards, the film was nominated for Best Fantasy Film (lost to Babe), Make-up (lost to Seven), Special Effects (lost to Jumanji) and Costume Design (lost to 12 Monkeys). Composer Elliot Goldenthal was given a Grammy Award nomination. Batman Forever received six nominations at the 1996 MTV Movie Awards, four of which were divided between two categories (Carrey and Lee Jones for Best Villain; and Seal's "Kiss from a Rose" and U2's "Hold Me" in Best Song from a Movie). However, it won in just one category — Best Song from a Movie for Seal's "Kiss from a Rose".
In addition to a large line of toys and action figures from Kenner, the McDonald's food chain released several collectibles and mugs to coincide with the release of the film. Peter David and Alan Grant wrote separate novelizations of the film. Dennis O'Neil authored a comic book adaptation, with art by Michal Dutkiewicz.
Six Flags Great Adventure theme park re-themed their "Axis Chemical" arena, home of the Batman stunt show, to resemble "Batman Forever", and the new show featured props from the film. Because of the mostly negative critical reaction however, the stunt arena was changed back to its original version after the season. Six Flags Over Texas featured a one-time firework show to promote the movie, and replica busts of Batman, Robin, Two-Face, and the Riddler can still be found in the Justice League store in the Looney Tunes U.S.A. section.
In 1997, a sequel titled Batman & Robin was released. It starred George Clooney replacing Val Kilmer as Batman, Chris O'Donnell reprising his role as Robin and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. Batman Triumphant, a fifth film in the Batman film series, was planned, but after the critical failure of Batman & Robin, it was dismissed.
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