Batman Forever (1995) (part 12 of 14)
Time to see how the villains are getting along. Back at the Riddler’s base, he’s showing Two Face a newspaper headline: “Batman Survives Subway Sabotage”. Also in this newspaper, there’s a headline that states, “Roguish Riddler Robs a Roaming Romany”. Okay, now try and guess which one of those I made up!
Two Face (once again) bursts into tears, and I’d really like to know whose idea it was to make this character a petulant crybaby, as well as a bumbling incompetent. Riddler’s got just the ticket to cheer him up, though. He pulls out a vial of the glowing green liquid that powers his Box, and asks if Two Face wants to see “what our old friend Bruce Wayne has in his head”. So… as well as powering the machine, this stuff is also a recording device?
He pops the vial into a statue’s ear [?] and a nearby monitor shows the results of Bruce’s brain scan. Apparently, they’re looking at the contents of Bruce Wayne’s mind, and I won’t reiterate how ludicrous this whole concept is.
And, lo! A big scary bat swoops around on the monitor. This, obviously, is conclusive proof that Bruce Wayne is Batman, and not that he just happened to be thinking about bats at that particular moment. The two villains find this evidence so convincing that they actually embrace.
There’s a colossal jump cut here, and next thing we know, we’re back in the Batcave. Bruce is walking around deactivating everything.
Excuse me, I have to repeat that with more exclamation marks…
At no point in the narrative, thus far, has Bruce even mentioned the possibility of throwing in the crime fighting towel. What makes things worse is that the scene begins halfway through the line. So I’ll have to assume the first half of the line explained Bruce’s motivations. Perhaps it went something like this.
Whatever the reason, we’ll never know. Chalk this up to terrible scripting, editing, and direction: A veritable triple whammy.
Dick points out that by hanging up his cape, Bruce is kind of being a selfish douchebag. But Bruce is having none of it. Dick says he needs Bruce, to help him find Two Face and give him that murdering he mentioned earlier. But Bruce thinks Dick should come upstairs and grab some chocolate milk instead.
I have to say, none of this is endearing Chase to me very much. It’s like she’s some sort of evil succubus. And speak of the devil, a cab pulls up at Wayne Manor, and out steps Chase. Lazy bitch couldn’t even be bothered to drive here. Alfred greets her and wishes her a happy Halloween, and lets her inside the manor.
Oh, right. It’s Halloween, on this night in Gotham. Remember that plot point, because it’s about to facilitate the most improbable break-in in film history.
Below ground, Dick is wandering alone in the Batcave, looking utterly distraught. He decides that enough is enough, so he packs up his circus costume and leaves.
Upstairs, Bruce and Chase are having more dialogue that should be cute, but is instead utterly tedious. Meanwhile, Alfred gives out candy to trick-or-treaters.
Chase tries to explain that Bruce has caused her to re-evaluate her taste in men, while Bruce drops tiny, subtle hints about creatures in the night, destiny, striking fear into the hearts of evildoers, etc. Chase, who must be the stupidest person ever to earn a PhD, asks exactly what it is he’s getting at. This whole scene really is fearsomely bad.
The red book subplot resurfaces, but again, its resolution has been edited out of the finished film, so I still see no reason to get into it. Bruce talks about the night of his parents’ wake, and how he fell into a hole, and saw a big scary bat, and decided to dress as a bat to scare the shit out of bad guys. So what’s supposed to be a psychological reckoning for Bruce ends up just being a rehash of what anyone even remotely acquainted with Batman already knows.
And yet, despite all these less than subtle clues, Chase still doesn’t get that Bruce is Batman. Instead, she decides to launch another tongue assault on Bruce. This leads to that most loathsome of superhero movie clichés, where the female love interest kisses both alter egos, and realizes they’re the same person. You know, like kisses are fingerprints.
I’m no Casanova or anything. I’ve been with my fiancée for seven years. But I don’t think any two kisses we’ve shared have ever been identical. Moreover, I very much doubt that, as familiar with her as I am, I’d be able to identify her purely by kiss. But hey, what do I know of love and all its wiles?
Oh, and you remember that colossal jump cut I mentioned a while back? Well, in the gap that preceded it, there must have been a whole scene where Alfred gets a full frontal lobotomy, because that’s the only way to explain what happens next. Basically, Alfred opens the door for two trick-or-treaters who are obviously Two Face and the Riddler. Honestly!
Alfred is knocked out, and the Riddler uses a device embedded in his cane to find the Batcave. Don’t ask me to speculate as to how it works, because I don’t know, nor do I care. Not when I’m so tantalizingly close to the third act. I’m on the home stretch, and I want to get this damned recap finished before it kills me.
The door to the Mysterious Room of Mysteries opens, because the Riddler’s device somehow has power over manual locks. Simultaneously, Two Face’s thugs stream into Bruce’s living room, interrupting the tender moment he’s having with Chase. Bruce and Chase retreat up the stairs, even though I’m pretty sure there are no exits up there.
Ed descends into the Batcave, and it’s obvious Bruce has learned nothing from the whole Dick Grayson Intrusion Incident, because all the computers spring to life, and the Batmobile rises on its turntable once again. The obnoxious “intruder alert” alarm is still blaring away too, and remarkably, the Riddler is undeterred by it.
While Bruce and Chase continue to be pursued by goons, the Riddler is downstairs bombing the living crap out of everything with… with… promise not to laugh?
Little green bombs shaped like ducks.
Hey, you promised!
The Batcave gets blown up real good, and then Riddler races back to the entrance to look over his handiwork. He then detonates a load of duck-bombs inside the Batmobile. In celebration, he (and I’m sorry, but if I have to be subjected to this, I’m taking you all with me) twirls his cane and thrusts his crotch around while screaming:
I’m sorry, I really am. But I see no point in suffering alone.
Back upstairs, Bruce and Chase beat off some thugs (oh, come on!), while Two Face tosses the coin several times. It keeps landing good side up, implying that he should let Bruce live. And so he keeps tossing the coin again and again, until he gets the outcome he wants. That’s right: He’s rendering the existence of the coin completely pointless.
Having gotten his wish on the fiftieth flip, Two Face fishes for his gun so that he can plug Brucie in the head. Ah, but Two Face isn’t the best shot in the world, is he? He actually does hit Bruce, but the wound is merely a graze that knocks him out and sends him tumbling down the stairs.
Two Face stands over Bruce’s body, prepared to finish the job. Suddenly, the Riddler emerges and screams, “No!” He places another riddle down by Bruce and says that if Two Face kills him, “he won’t learn nothing!” You mean, he won’t learn anything, Edward. For shame, a double negative? How many neurons have you absorbed, again?
Two Face seems perfectly happy with this, even though earlier he was dead set on killing Batman ASAP. I suppose even supervillains are prone to flights of fancy.
They make good their escape, and soon Bruce is in bed being awakened by Alfred. Bruce looks remarkably blasé about being shot in the head, but then “blasé” is Val Kilmer’s whole thing, so I really shouldn’t be surprised. Alfred proceeds to demonstrate his remarkable knack for breaking bad news delicately.
If I were Bruce, I’d see this as an ideal time to stay in bed, and see if there’s anything good on TV.
Over in Ed’s inner sanctum, Chase is on a chaise. Seriously. She’s all tied up on a chaise longue, presumably to keep her from sexually imposing herself on anybody for a while. The Riddler hops on over to her, wearing a jacket studded with green LEDs that give the illusion of question marks dancing all over his body. Yes, it really is that ludicrous.
Chase, who’s clearly been reading up on superhero movie female protagonist clichés, informs the Riddler that Batman will rescue her. Riddler’s all like, well, duh, seeing as how that’s the whole reason he took her hostage.
Oh, and is anyone wondering what the Gotham police are doing about this?
Well, a quick cut to police headquarters reveals Jim Gordon and a uniformed cop standing on a roof, looking confused. You see, the Bat-signal is on, but some kind of green skywriting laser has turned it into the dot of a giant question mark.
Hilariously, the uniformed officer asks, “Who the hell’s doing that?” Gee, I have no idea. It must be one of the many question mark-themed supervillains operating out of Gotham. Surprisingly, Gordon doesn’t tell the officer to go clean out his locker.
Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce and Alfred are solving the final riddle.
The answer, of course, is “vowels”. I knew that. And I’m sure you did, too.
He and Alfred proceed to determine the Riddler’s identity by (I swear) converting the numbers in the riddles to their corresponding letters in the alphabet. They come up with M-R-E: “Mr. E”, which sounds a bit like “mystery”. And another word for “mystery” is “enigma”. So the Riddler must be Mr. E. Nygma.
It’s so contrived, it almost ruptures the very fabric of space-time. I think it’s actually even worse than “Banana… Russian… Someone rushin’ is going to slip on a banana peel and break their neck!“
Having successfully guessed the Riddler’s identity, Bruce still has no idea where he is, but he’s hardly going to let an insignificant detail like that slow him down.