I watched this as part of a weeklong HD re-watching of all the more recent Batman movies, from Burton to Nolan (no new reviews of those, alas, I have too many others to catch up on: I’ll do it again maybe when I get the blu-rays, maybe before the next one hits cinemas). I was kind of excited to see this old one, having watched the TV series quite a bit as a teenager, and having kind of missed a little (just a little, mind) of Joel Schumacher’s inclination to the old school camp in Nolan’s darker masterpieces.
The fun gets started early here, right in the credits, in a note from “The Producers” flatly stating where the movie is coming from, which pretty much anticipates the bulk of any criticism the movie will ever get, as follows:
“We wish to express our gratitude to the enemies of crime and crusaders against crime throughout the world for their inspirational example. To them, and to lovers of adventure, lovers of pure escapism, lovers of unadulterated entertainment, lovers of the ridiculous and the bizarre — to funlovers everywhere — this picture is respectfully dedicated. If we have overlooked any sizable groups of lovers, we apologize.”
Thereafter we are plunged quickly into the end of a typical Batman and Robin scenario, a structural technique we’d become used to in the likes of the Bond and Indiana Jones movies, which here involves Batman literally punching a shark (which is clearly made of rubber) in the face. If you’re still hoping to take the movie seriously at this point, then it’s really not the movie’s fault lol. If you’re still having issues later when exchanges like “Holy hallucination!” “I wish it were, but it’s not! It’s 3 dehydrated pirates… rehydrated!” are being thrown around, then you should probably stick to picture books.
I’ll be honest. This isn’t as much of a riot as I’d hoped for. It’s been over a decade since I saw the TV series with Adam West and Burt Ward, but I have vague memories of scenarios even wilder than this movie has. I remember the crazy fight scenes (all the Biff! Baff! titles etc) bizarrely turning into dance sequences in some episodes, for example, and there’s none of that here (do comment if I have merely dreamt this lol). Lee Merriweather’s Catwoman has nothing on the Eartha Kitt or Julie Newmar version I remember, too. But it’s still seriously worth checking out for a wildly different approach to Batman than we’re used to today. I’d love to write more on this but it’s better perhaps to simply link to this page which says all I want to say and more on the subject. The new movies are near perfection as cinema, it’s true, but this one has a place that urgently needs defending.