A two hour dose of computerized images is intolerably insulting to an audience waiting to be invited into the fun.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

If circumstances force you to see "Batman Forever," buy some malted milk balls, slip into your seat, and prepare to plan your taxes or your summer vacation. This is a movie that will leave you there, uninvolved, while it screams forth an explosion of noise and image that has nothing much to do with anything.

It would be charitable to dwell on the special effects, like the surreal rendering of Gotham as a city of glossy stainless steel cylinders and shafts. It could also be said that the grotesque makeup on Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and the Riddler (Jim Carrey) is a technical achievement and that the cast makes merry with its parts. But any of that would be an excessive stretch.

The truth is that this movie is interminably dull and inexcusably bad. Just as television news gives viewers mere snippets of events shown behind the blow-dried hair and taut faces of its anchors, so "Batman" assaults the audience with empty images. The invitation, implicit in the purchase of a movie ticket, to step out of your world and into someone else's has escaped producer Tim Burton and his staff completely. Theirs is a lifeless party.

See that ball rolling? See the plunging cylinder? Where are they going? Where did they come from? You will never know, because the movie is filmed in such extreme closeup that you can't tell what is happening. It's enough, the filmmakers think, to give us a jazzy montage of fireballs, helicopters, and geometric shapes. They didn't waste a minute on building the suspense essential to an action film.

A two-hour dose of computerized images is intolerably insulting to an audience waiting to be invited into the fun. Even if the determination of the Riddler and Two-Face to unmask Batman is enough of a premise, we want to be captured. Scare us, surprise us, make us laugh! We want to be horrified at the plunging elevator, intimidated by a height, frightened by the sea. Instead we sit, bored and annoyed, until we, the offended audience, finally shuffle out into the lobby, angry at a lost night.

Of the actors, only Michael Gough as Alfred brings a bit of polish to the mess. Val Kilmer is adequate as Batman, with metal nipples, but the poor guy is given not one line or situation that he might infuse with panache. A comic strip without a sophisticated light touch is a dead fish.

Tommy Lee Jones is game as the psychotic Two-Face, but his part, without lines or style, is merely a wheel-spinner. Chris O'Donnell brings a little dash to Robin, the all-American sidekick, and Jim Carrey continues to build a career on looking ridiculous in variations of hair styles and hats.

Nicole Kidman looks her best, if that helps. And she delivers the movie's best line: "I could write a hell of a paper on a grown man who dresses like a rodent." Precisely. But no one did.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 499
Studio : Warner Bros.
Rating : PG-13
Running Time: 2h1m

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