Batman Forever (1995) (part 8 of 14)

Dick does his party trick, which is called the “death drop”, to rapturous applause. He even performs this feat without a safety net. That’s either a real testament to his family’s faith in his acrobat skills, or they already know how irritating Dick will become later in the film, and they’re trying to spare the audience.

Dick performs his “death drop” (unhappily, sans death or dropping) while the crowd sits agog (they’re morons; remember that). Dick then joins the rest of the Doomed Graysons as they all strike a pose.

But the fun, fun, fun times are cut short when Two Face announces his presence. God knows what he’s doing here, because the only thing about this circus that’s related to the number two is the production design. Buuuurn!

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The ludicrously buff drummer men are knocked out by Two Face’s equally homoerotic goons, who seal off the exits. Two Face, now wearing a ringmaster outfit that’s not quite as dreadful as his usual duds, introduces the audience to his new friends: the Giant Spherical Bomb, and its radio detonator. In his typically Vaudevillian manner, he threatens to turn everyone into human gazpacho unless his demands are met.

A guy in the crowd stands up, and asks Two Face what he wants, and it turns out this is the mayor of Gotham City (strangely played by standup comedian George Wallace). Two Face replies that he’d like a dead Batman, please, with a side of “well, duh!”

Oh, and did I mention Jim Gordon is also in the audience, sitting right next to the mayor? And what is this stalwart officer of the law doing about the current hostage crisis? I’ll give you a hint: it starts with an “F” and rhymes with Bacall!

Two Face, with logic truly becoming of the insane, says that since this is a charity event attended by rich and influential people, Batman, or someone who knows Batman, simply must be here. He gives the guilty party two minutes to own up, or the entire crowd becomes viscera confetti.

Bruce selflessly stands up and shouts, “Harvey… I’m Batman!” Alas, he’s drowned out by the roar of the crowd, and Two Face doesn’t hear him. Though, I’m pretty sure the people standing immediately around him heard him just fine. So Bruce has just given away his secret identity to his date, the mayor, the police commissioner, and the town’s most notorious gossip columnist!

Strangely, this never comes up again. Maybe Bruce gets Superman to come to town and “memory loss kiss” everybody.

Two Face stands around cackling, while his muscular, greased up, heavily pierced thugs wave their guns around. Oooh, matron! For some reason, the bomb is attached to a winch, and pulled up to the roof, where surely it can do the least possible amount of damage.

Daddy Grayson decides that the Flying Graysons can and should thwart Two Face’s evil scheme. Now, if I were Daddy Grayson, I might have a little more concern for my unarmed wife and sons. Instead, the man is actively encouraging them to piss off an unhinged, murderous lunatic.

Hmmm. This may be an indication that everything isn’t totally groovy in the Grayson household. Methinks Daddy’s in the middle of a midlife crisis, and is trying to manufacture ways to move into the young Siamese twin contortionists’ trailer.

Momma Grayson also seems to have no qualms about sending her family to go irritate an armed madman. However, she does advise them to “be careful”. Look, lady, you just allowed your son to perform an acrobatic stunt with the words “death”, “drop”, and nothing else in the name. It’s a bit late to be ladling on the matriarchal concern.

Nonetheless, the Moronic Graysons get on their trapezes and attempt to grab the bomb. And like any self-respecting movie bomb, it’s approximately 8 feet in diameter, and adorned with a convenient digital countdown.

Caption contributed by Dan

It’s true, some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!

By the way, the Graysons aren’t the only ones in this scene with no concern for their own wellbeing. Bruce is slugging away at Two Face’s goons here, there, and everywhere. Then he actually grabs a rope and swings Errol Flynn-style into the middle of the arena, and starts going mano-a-mano with more armed thugs.

And Two Face sees all this, and basically does nothing. What gives, Two Face? Some rich douchebag starts messing up your evil schemes, and you don’t think it’s the right time to shoot anybody?

Two Face then sends two of his thugs off to intercept the Graysons, but it’s possible they go out for a pizza instead, because they’re never seen again.

After watching his goons get their asses handed to them by a spoiled billionaire, Two Face decides the time has come to start popping caps in asses. Of course, he needs the coin toss to give him the go-ahead first. Once he gets it, he opens fire on the meddlesome Graysons above him. Jesus, Harv! Watch out for the highly volatile ball of high explosives. Remember? The one you hoisted up there a few seconds ago?

But Two Face is a staggeringly bad shot, and he misses all three of them. But he does manage to clip the wires that support their rigging, causing the Graysons to become very well acquainted with gravity.

Oh, and get this! While they’re falling in slow-motion, Two Face has enough time to escape through a trapdoor. Don’t ask me how he happened to know there was a trapdoor directly beneath him.

Poor Dick, oblivious to all of this, is up in the rafters grabbing the bomb. He lugs it up to the top and rolls it off the convex roof of the Hippodrome, and the bomb explodes harmlessly in the river below. Of course, for all Dick knows, there could have been a paddleboat full of nuns in that river, but since time was against him, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Besides which, the man—er, “boy”, is about to have a really bad day.

He returns inside the dome, expecting a hero’s welcome. Instead, he sees his family laid out on the ground below, all dead and everything. And as if that’s not traumatic enough, Bruce Wayne stares up at him creepily.

This is one of the few moments in the film that’s genuinely moving and dramatic, so I’ll just grudgingly admit it works, and move on (although Dick’s pirate-sized earring detracts somewhat from the scene’s credibility).

The next day, we’re outside Wayne Manor, where Jim Gordon is leaving poor, traumatized Dick in Bruce’s care. Why he needs to leave Dick in anyone’s care is beyond me, seeing as how Dick is clearly old enough to live independently. Maybe Bruce and the Commissioner have a secret arrangement, whereby Gordon provides Bruce with a stream of good looking, orphaned young men, and Bruce pays the authorities to look the other way.

Bruce shows Dick around, and introduces him to Alfred. But as soon as Jim Gordon’s car is out of sight, Dick declares that he is so out of here. Bruce asks where he’ll go, dropping a dopey allusion to Metropolis in the process. Dick explains that he’s going to find Two Face and then wreak bloody vengeance.

Bruce kicks into hypocrite mode, and starts talking about how killing Two Face won’t make his pain go away. This from the man who, in this continuity, let his parents’ killer drop 800 feet from the roof of a cathedral, then wrote a letter to the DA explaining how much better the world was for it.

Bruce appeals to Dick to at least stop to gas up, seeing as how his motorcycle is running on empty. Reluctantly, Dick follows Bruce into the garage.

Bruce, being a billionaire and all, has a lot of cars. Upon seeing Bruce’s massive collection, Dick asks if this is a garage or a car museum. It’s obviously a garage, Dick. You can tell by the lack of velvet rope, and the fact that you can actually take the cars out and drive them away.

Dick proceeds to gush over Bruce’s collection of rare vintage motorcycles. Bruce admits that some of them need a lot of work, and that maybe if a certain someone were to stick around and fix them up, that someone could keep a few of them as payment.

Just as Bruce is pretending to send Dick packing, Alfred strolls in with a silver platter bearing one tasty looking burger bedecked with a slice of beef tomato, onion rings, and on the side, a glass of milk. Isn’t that precious? I’m pretty sure that might be adequate temptation for a 12 year old, but it’s hardly enough to entice a newly bereaved twentysomething.

Oh, wait. It is! Sorry, Bruce, but you can stuff your Vincent Black Knight up your ass sideways—Dick’s been bought with a quarter pound of ground beef.

Cut to Wayne Manor proper, where Bruce is looking at pictures of his parents, and having flashbacks of their murder, and once again looking completely indifferent. The current flashback, by the way, is copied lock, stock and barrel from Burton’s original. But with more dutching! Then we see Bruce as a child (even then, sporting a look of complete disinterest) back in Wayne Manor, where a priest is standing in front of a blue fire [?] and mumbling gibberish.

Little Bruce walks between his parents’ coffins, and makes his way to a bureau, upon which rests a red book. This book becomes the center of an entire subplot which gets abandoned towards the end, presumably to make room for more slow pans across rippling, glistening muscular torsos (shot at a 35-degree angle!).

Caption contributed by Dan

“I see dead people!”

Alfred shakes Bruce from his reverie, and it appears night has fallen while he’s been feeling sorry for himself. Bruce reels off a load of pretentious drivel about the parallels between Dick’s situation and the death of his own parents. It culminates in this little exchange.

Bruce: I killed them.
Alfred: What did you say, sir?
Bruce: Two Face. He slaughtered that boy’s parents.
Alfred: No. No, you said “I”. “I” killed them!

I think Akiva Goldsman, in his ham-fisted way, is trying to tell us that Bruce subconsciously feels responsible for the deaths of the Falling Graysons. I mean, we all know by now how much Akiva Goldsman understands psychology. But this is no time for introspection. Through his stained glass window, Bruce sees the magic omni-directional Bat-signal, and it’s time once again to go to work.

Meanwhile, Alfred checks in on Dick, who’s currently studying at the Michael Keaton school of looking intensely into the distance. Alfred offers to help him unpack, but Dick insists he won’t be staying long.

Alfred, undeterred, starts rooting around in Dick’s stuff, and stoops down to investigate Dick’s helmet (I know, I’m terrible). The helmet is airbrushed with the image of some sort of phoenix, and Alfred asks if it’s a robin. A robin? It turns out that it is a robin, but it bears as much resemblance to that breed of bird as 50 Cent does to Mary Poppins.

Caption contributed by Dan

Anyone for a helmet gag?

Dick tells a story about how he once rescued his brother when his wire broke, and his father said he flew in like a robin. The interactions between Dick and Alfred are well composed and well acted, and it’s clear that Chris O’Donnell is doing his best to give the character a little substance. And that’s no small feat when all you’ve got to work with is dialogue written by Akiva Goldsman.

But Joel Schumacher knows we don’t want to be bothered with trifles like character development, so he takes us back to the neon!-bathed streets of Gotham. Batman’s driving around with two of Two Face’s thugs behind him. What, so the criminals are now chasing Batman? When did that happen?

Batman slows down to allow a bag lady to cross the street, bless his heart, but the bag lady throws off her shawl to reveal that “she” is in fact Two Face in disguise. Does Batman publicly broadcast his patrol routes or something? Two Face would’ve had to know Batman would be driving through here well in advance, in order to acquire the disguise and a shopping cart.

Two Face reaches into said cart and pulls out a rocket launcher. No shit! A rocket launcher! He aims it straight at the Batmobile, so thankfully he seems to have realized that the simplest and most direct methods are usually the best. But he’s in for a thwarting when Batman flicks a switch, and the Batmobile’s wheels turn on their axes, and send the car travelling sideways. Without even a token nod to the basic principles of physics. The car doesn’t even come to a stop first.

The rocket whizzes past the Batmobile and hits the goons’ car behind it. Two Face pulls a sulky face, either because he wasted a perfectly good missile, or because he was especially attached to those newly crispy-roasted henchmen. We may never know for sure.

Exasperated, he tosses the rocket launcher onto the road. For Christ’s sake, Harv, be careful with that thing. You’ll put somebody’s eye out!

Several more of Two Face’s thugmobiles converge on Batman, and did I mention these cars also have cute little yin-yangs stenciled on them? Two Face commandeers one of the vehicles, and the entire fleet chases after the Batmobile, side mounted mini-guns blazing. It’s a fast paced pursuit, which means good old Joel has time to linger on a particularly sexy statue.

Caption contributed by Dan

Well, at least it’s not filmed at a preposterous angle. Oh, wait.

After a few minutes of getting shot at, Batman decides that he’s had enough of this chase. Not to mention adhering to the laws of probability.

The Batmobile fires out a grappling hook which loops around the neck of a handy nearby gargoyle. It would, of course, be impossible for the grappling hook to catch something that high up in the air at the trajectory shown here, but this is a minor violation of basic science compared to what’s coming next.

You see, the gargoyle is made of the same enchanted masonry as the walls of the Second Bank of Gotham, and it manages to support the entire weight of the Batmobile without any problems.

Two Face’s fleet, unequipped with such magic paraphernalia, slams into a wall, leaving the Head Drama Queen to roar in anger after the Batmobile. Triumphantly, the Batmobile zooms up the wall, although where it can go from here at that velocity and that angle is anyone’s guess.

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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