Mr_Moore’s review published on Letterboxd:
So it’s the 25th anniversary of “Batman Forever”?
Have you ever had that film where deep down you can admit that it is not the greatest thing in the world, but you can’t help but enjoy or appreciate it because it impacted you in some way or another?
Well “Batman Forever” is certainly one of those films for me, mainly because it is what I would call one of those “catalyst” along with “Batman: TAS” in making me a huge fan of the Batman character overall as I was growing up in the same way “The Man with the Golden Gun” and “Tomorrow Never Dies” made me into a fan of Batman. While it certainly isn’t perfect, I do think some of the merits behind the film are certainly somewhat overlooked due to its associations with “Batman & Robin” which I think is a bit unfair. It is certainly a film that could have been better and is a way is immediately dated by “Batman Begins” 10 years later which took the idea of making the cinematic version of Batman into an actual character rather than some shallow force of nature (which he was in the Burton films) and does pretty much every right as far as the ideas of grief that this film attempts to explore with it with its more consistent tone, most consistent characters and the lack of embarrassing moments.
It’s certainly one of those films with a lot of good ideas such as giving the Riddler a somewhat stalker like angle to him (which I am a little surprised very few writers afterwards in the comics or cartons have yet to try and replicate in the comics or cartoons as I think it is natural for a character with a very obsessive personality. I even don’t mind the dynamic and character development between Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson and how the two handle grief (even if like most 90s blockbusters the idea ultimately goes into somewhat safe and uninspired territory). It has a nice sense of pacing as hardly a scene drags. The film is certainly a lot of fun stylistically (and yeah I personally don’t mind the neon lighting all that much), as you rarely see a superhero film nowadays with a unique sense of style. And honestly I think Val Kilmer is somewhat underrated in this role at least for when it comes to Bruce Wayne as you there is a lot going on behind the eyes in Kilmer’s performance and while I don’t think he was godawful as Batman per say, one-liners are certainly not Kilmer’s strong suit. I would certainly love to live in a parallel world where Kilmer got to play the role of Batman in a film that is universally beloved or at least of the same quality as “Batman Begins”.
But Two-Face was a letdown because like a lot of villains from this particular series of Batman films, rather than being creative with the tools and ideas that are nature parts of the villain they are adapting, Two-Face was reduced to yet another Joker-clone that uses stunt casting as a cheap way to trick audiences into thinking they are not Jack Nicholson (who I personally never cared as the Joker). Although I will admit that I do kind of have a soft spot for this Two-Face performance, mainly because it is like the only time you ever get see Tommy Lee Jones actually act this way as oppose to his usual stoic or straight forward performances. A lot of the sub-plots don’t quite pay-off in the way we should as you can kind of tell that while there is certainly some stuff that Schumacher wanted to tackle like the idea of grief, people forget that Schumacher was given a lot of studio mandates (which eventually got worse with “Batman & Robin”) that prevented the film in some places from feeling less like a film and more like checklist that ultimately lead to the sort of Batman film that the studios ultimately wanted: a film that is safe and marketable. Even if you look up some of the deleted scenes (or the “Red Book” Edition) that further fleshes out Bruce's dilemma on becoming Batman and the guilt he expresses over his parents' death that gives this version of the character some further dimension (and there really is no excuse in cutting that scene out of the final product especially since most of the deleted scenes actually blend in perfectly from what I remember) and you can tell that the film has a lot of rough editing problems which become more apparent once you have seen the deleted scenes or “Red Book Edition” of the film.
I certainly would love for the “Red Book Edition” or any directors cut for the film to be released, but due to the film's drop in popularity, it seems unlikely that we may ever get to see his vision come full circle. I am certainly confident in saying that I think a Schumacher Cut of “Batman Forever” has a better chance of being better than the Snyder Cut for “Justice League”…..oh yeah I went there. ;)