Release date: June 9, 1995 Director: Joel Schumacher
Keriane Kellogg revisits Joel Schumacher’s first entry into the Batman series.
This third installment of the original Batman saga shifts gears a bit as it continues to weave the story of Gotham’s dark hero, Batman. While its predecessors created a darker and more serious tone to story, Batman Forever presents these same elements – particularly in the case of the villains – in a more comedic light.
While the first two films focused more on defining the broad picture of who Batman was, Batman Forever concentrates more on psychology and the intricate details which define the character, particularly in the case of Batman (Val Kilmer). Batman’s newest love interest, Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) plays a vital role in helping Bruce come to terms with the psychological side of his secret life as Batman. While she is fascinated by Batman’s dark psyche and the residual, psychological pain of Bruce’s tragic past and his long-buried memories of his parents, this is only the professional side of their relationship. On a more personal level, while Batman’s first love, Vicky, could not handle his secretive life, and Selina Kyle was his soul mate who understood him completely but loved him enough to let him go, Chase seems more attracted to the romantic notion of loving both Bruce Wayne and Batman, although she does nothing to hide her attraction to the dark and mysterious Batman. She appreciates the psychology that is connected with both Batman and Bruce Wayne, and the chemistry is there, but the relationship is more of a romantic fairy tale or an infatuation rather than true love.
The marriage of psychology and comedic expression is represented in the dynamic duo of Harvey Dent, a.k.a. Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and the Riddler (Jim Carrey). While these villains are not as deeply sinister as the Joker or as psychologically scarred as the Penguin, these characters introduce a new element in the Batman saga: they share a common obsession, and they find an almost maniacal joy in achieving their ultimate goal: to destroy Batman. Two-Face represents an individual having something of a dual personality which is expressed by the human and animal sides of his character. His fractured personalities are represented in an extreme, literal sense with the opposing facets of his character being manifested simultaneously. This duality is symbolized by Two-Face’s obsession with his coin and his referring to himself as a plural rather than a singular entity.
Batman Forever utilizes humor to convey the story and to breathe life into the characters. While this is a marked change from the first movie, the humor is done in a way that makes the film enjoyable while still allowing the audience to appreciate the story of Batman. The cast is completely changed from the original movies, but the casting, particularly in the case of the villains, breathes life into the movie and strengthens the story arcs. The intellectual mind can appreciate the psychology behind Batman while the more relaxed viewer can enjoy the comedy and the explosive scenes between their favorite characters.
Batman Forever continues the story of the dark protector of Gotham as he battles the dynamic duo of the Riddler and Two-Face, while also trying to win the heart of the beautiful Chase Meridian. Although this rendition lacks the darker tone and brooding essence of Batman’s character that was defined in the preceding movies, it redeems itself in other areas, thus making it a worthy addition to the Batman saga.