Batman Forever (1995) (part 3 of 14)

Out on the street, the Morons of Gotham are still standing around and pointing. Among them is Commissioner Gordon, once again played by Pat Hingle.

Hingle, along with Michael Gough, are the only remaining cast members from the previous Bat-films. And it’s quite sad to see Gordon’s downward spiral across the franchise, from a grizzled good cop in a bad precinct to a babbling, incompetent moron. It’s a waste of a classic character, not to mention a decent actor.

Gordon is talking to a tall, stunning blonde. This is Dr. Chase Meridian, a criminal psychologist who’s been brought to Gotham as a consultant. Yes. You read that right.

Nicole Kidman has been selected, from presumably hundreds of candidates, to provide insights into Two Face’s complex psychology. Don’t get me wrong, I like Nicole Kidman, but even the most fervent Kidman admirer must admit that she’s about as convincing as a criminal psychologist as John Goodman is as Miss Black America.

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Kilmer’s Batman (or a CGI rendition of same) swoops down impressively, hanging on a Batrope that appears to be suspended on nothing whatsoever. Dr. Chase’s response?

Chase: Hot entrance!

Oh, yes, we’re dealing with the very model of professionalism here, people.

Sensibly ignoring her, Batman turns to Commissioner Gordon and asks if this hostage situation is the work of Two Face. Gordon explains that Mr. Face has killed two guards, and is holding a third hostage. He also lamely confesses that the Gotham City Police Department didn’t see this one coming. Dr. Chase says that they should have: this is the Second Bank of Gotham, and today is the second anniversary of the day Batman captured him.

Actually, yes, if I were going to place a bet on when and where a villain fixated with the number two (grow up!) would strike, it might will be then and there. Too bad I’m not the Commissioner of the Gotham City PD. In fact, this leads me to a tangent, so please indulge me.

In the ’70s and ’80s, when comic books and their readers “grew up”, readers began to question why Gotham’s police force were so damn ineffectual in dealing with the master criminals who murder people, and blow up buildings, and shrink things with ray guns on a monthly basis.

Some writers, most notably Frank Miller, asserted that the GCPD was a corrupt institution, with only a few honest, decent cops swimming against the tide to keep order in the city. This was incorporated into the original Batman movie, as well as Batman Returns, and later into Batman Begins. In the Schumacher-verse, however, it’s entirely possible that Commissioner Gordon and his whole staff are shit-thick, incompetent, useless pencil-pushers who couldn’t find their dicks with two hands and a map.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest. Let’s press on.

Gordon introduces Batman to Dr. Chase Meridian, and it turns out Batman is already familiar with her work, because he cites it as naïve, but insightful. Some dreadful banter ensues between Batman and Chase that’s too insipid to recount. The highlight, however, is when she calls Batman’s own sanity into question by referring to him as “a grown man who dresses like a flying rodent.”

BatVal gets a bit irritated by this. He responds by doing his very best scary eyes, and invading Chase’s personal space, and offering the following reply.

Batman: Bats aren’t rodents, Dr. Meridian!

Chase says she didn’t know that. Honestly? Where did she get her PhD? I’m no zoologist, but even I could have told you that. Then Chase delivers the verbal coup de grace, and the most ridiculous line in the whole film.

Chase: By the way, do you have a first name, or do I just call you “Bats”?

What? Exactly what kind of response was she expecting there? “Oh, yeah, sure. I’m Melvyn. Melvyn Batman.”

Understandably, Batman slinks off unnoticed, leaving her conversing with thin air. Don’t worry, though. Her unique brand of ill-informed psychobabble will return to baffle us again soon enough.

Caption contributed by Dan

Once again, a man sneaks off as soon as Nicole Kidman’s back is turned, to have a frenzied encounter with a group of men in masks and leather.

Mercifully, we’re back within the (comparatively neon free) confines of the bank. Two Face stands in front of a window, looking very pleased with himself. He announces, “Let’s start this party with a bang!”

Just then, a giant wrecking ball smashes through the window.

Now, hang on a second! Where did that come from? I didn’t see any industrial demolition equipment in that exterior shot, did you? Surely, if Gordon and his team of strategically shaved primates had seen a large crane or something outside, knocking holes into a bank, they’d do something about it, right? Or were they just staring in wonderment at two cockroaches mating on the sidewalk, or gathered around a dictionary looking up swear words?

There’s barely a second to ponder the conundrum of the phantom wrecking ball, when Two Face notices an elevator car rising up to his level. He assumes it must be Batman, and with a melodramatic flourish of his arm, he summons his goons.

Ah yes. Two Face’s goons. They’re uniformly tall, muscular men with uniformly bronzed, newly oiled, rippling torsos. They’re wearing leather parkas and fetishistic gimp masks. They all have multiple piercings, and their Tommy guns all bear an adorable yin yang motif in red neon. Where Two Face does his henchman recruitment, I’ll never know, but presumably the place has a name like the “Tool Box”, and is full of burly men in hot pants grinding away to “Oops, I Did It Again”.

Two Face’s “boys” line up opposite the elevator, and point their weapons (no comment!) at the doors. At their master’s command, they blow the holy heck out of the doors. And I’m sorry, but if Batman’s stupid enough to close in on the bad guys by riding up in the elevator, he deserves a damn good perforating.

Caption contributed by Dan

“Don’t take another step, Batman. We’re armed and extremely fabulous!

The doors slide open, and the (presumably bulletproof) Caped Crusader bursts out of the car. He knocks down several of Two Face’s goons, who seem to have forgotten that they’re carrying automatic weapons. And despite being in a position to shoot his rubber-clad adversary at close range, Two Face instead comically runs off down the hall. Of course, he’s leading Batman into a trap, but still.

Meanwhile, Batman has a token martial arts brawl with Two Face’s manly, manly thugs. The highlight of this sequence is when Batman shoots a goon with some sort of tazer gun. Rather than immobilizing the goon, this special magic tazer makes him twitch spastically and say the following sentence repeatedly.

Goon: Wibble wibble, ragh ragh, wibble wibble ragh, wibble ragh ragh, wibble wibble ragh.

Another goon rushes at Batman with a pair of nasty forearm-mounted knives, so Batman takes a page from the Man-At-Arms Encyclopedia of Combat, and performs a crafty sidestep at the last minute. He then shoves the goon, who’s completely disoriented by this Montgomerian tactic, into his babbling friend.

The magical electrical charge then envelops the other goon, and they both lie twitching on the floor together in a highly questionable manner. Batman then reaches the (still inexplicably red and glowing) bank vault, with Joe Hostage still inside. Hey, Joe Hostage! Did you miss him? Me neither.

Joe looks to be having a whale of a time, all bound and gagged with electrical tape. Before anyone can tell BatVal that the guy’s not worth saving, he leaps selflessly into the vault and tears off the tape, just in time for Joe Hostage to yell that it’s a trap. Sure enough, the vault door slams shut.

Cut to outside, where the whole vault is being lifted out of the building by the Strongest Length of Chain in the Universe. As the vault is hauled clean out of the bank, Batman and Joe Hostage tumble around inside.

There are reaction shots from a few Gothamites. You’d be forgiven for thinking that they’re standing around gawping like morons, but they’re not. They are, in fact, gawping like fucking morons. It’s a small but important distinction.

The bank vault, which I’m guessing weighs a fair bit, is now being carried across the sky by a helicopter. A helicopter! With no adverse effects on the machine’s aerodynamics whatsoever!

All the while, Two Face is speaking through an extremely powerful public address system, detailing his plans for this little heist/Bat-murder caper, over.

And now the flimsy veil of subtlety that graced Tommy Lee Jones’ early moments of playing Two Face has been ripped clean off. For the rest of the film, he’s going to be little more than a cackling imitation of Jack Nicholson’s Joker. However, he’s about to be outdone back in the vault.

A few of the safety deposit boxes pop open, and a jet of clear liquid spurts out (grow up!). BatVal looks a bit confused about this development, so he’s quickly enlightened by this absolute gem of a line.

Joe Hostage: Oooh nooo. It’s boiling aaaaaacid!

This line is so awful, it has to be heard to be believed.

In fact, now that I think about it, can you boil acid? If so, what’s the point? It’s not like it would make it any more corrosive.

Outside, Two Face informs Batman that he’s rigged the vault with the same acid that made Two Face the villain he is today. One wonders how he was able to do this. Maybe Two Face opened an account with the bank beforehand, and had the acid deposited there. If that’s the case, I hope the acid wasn’t so corrosive that it leaked through the box and onto Jason Bourne’s passports.

The helicopter is still happily towing the bank vault, and inside, Batman’s trying to haul Joe Hostage’s fat ass to safety. Joe’s glasses fall into the acid, making a sound that’s a bit like Darth Vader’s lightsaber igniting. Seriously! That’s the only positive thing I can say about this whole sequence.

Thinking quickly, Batman yanks out Joe’s hearing aid (with a comical pop), and proceeds to use it to crack the lock on the safe. Meanwhile, Joe continues to whine about the fact that his shoes are melting. As if Batman’s greatest concern at the moment is with a security guard’s shoes.

Somehow, Batman manages to crack the safe. With a hearing aid. Well, that’s it. There’s no way I’m putting my money in the Second Bank of Gotham!

Caption contributed by Dan

“And I’m not leaving this sensory deprivation tank until 2005!”

Dan Laurikietis

Dan is an actor, playwright, theatre director and writer of dubious literature. In order to feed his many substance dependencies, he also teaches high school drama. He lives in Northwest England with his fiance Lauren and his dog Molly. In his spare time Dan likes to squander his cash on books with pictures in them, DVDs and video games. He wishes he was more bohemian.

Multi-Part Article: Batman Forever (1995)

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