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Batman & Robin

Year: 1997
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Akiva Goldsman
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell, Alicia Silverstone, Uma Thurman, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, John Glover, Elle Macpherson, Vivica A Fox
I was obsessed with the first Batman film (the Tim Burton 1989 effort, not the 1966 telemovie), to the point where I had scrapbooks of every picture, article, newspaper ad, stickers etc. I knew everything about the preparations that had gone into production and the execution of the film.

More than any other film, it affected me, and was - now I look back on it - probably the movie that started me on the current path of being a movie buff.

By the time this sequel had rolled around, all that spirit had drained out of the Batman franchise. Everything seemed rushed, crammed in, an overblown music video. Not really known for being a flash trash big studio hack, Schumacher must have taken a few acid trips before he sat in the director's chair. It was a fairy floss parody of crap miniatures trying to display the kind of coked-up camerawork Moulin Rouge and the films of terry Gilliam would try to varying levels of success.

The culmination of it comes with the batmobile and batbike careening down the arm of a gigantic statue in Gotham City in pursuit of a villain, and that one scene stands out in memory as the one that lost me. The rest of the time, it's nothing but corny catchphrases and the sort of minimal plotting Hollywood is famous for (a world away from the lyrical tale Burton bought to the screen).

Clooney looks uncomfortable and embarrassed and in hindsight, this was the nail in the coffin of Schwarzenegger's status as the action movie alpha male. After this travesty all he managed was the woeful 6th Day, the dour and uninteresting End of Days and the unluckily sidelined (after September 11) but quite good Collateral Damage.

Schumacher's career could have crashed and burned permanently if not for opting to do small, neat little films afterwards like Flawless, Phone Booth and Tigerland.

In an interesting aside, it's also the first time since the original that a villain (being bigger than the actor playing the hero in the Hollywood hierarchy) enjoyed first billing.

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