Mar 12, 2018
Batman & Robin (1997) (part 10 of 13)
Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred is lying in bed suffering from his Movie Illness while a Movie Doctor with the prerequisite black leather bag looks him over. Movie Doctor finishes his examination and tells Dick and Barbara that it’s “Stage 1 of MacGregor’s Syndrome.” MacGregor’s Syndrome, huh? Where have I heard of that before? The doc says, “Bummer, dude”, or words to that effect, and jets out of there. Later on, Bruce comes home and creepily watches Alfred taking shallow breaths.
We cut to Bruce and Dick talking. Dick has apparently read a book or something, because he’s suddenly realized that both Alfred and Nora Fries have the same disease. Bruce knows this already, explaining that even though Freeze has the cure, they don’t know what it is. Ah, but enough of all that “my most trusted friend is dying” stuff, Bruce has got to go to a “dedication”, and after that he’s going to “go after Freeze and Ivy alone.”
Dick bristles at this, asking why Bruce doesn’t want him along. Then he pretty much answers his own question by saying, “You just want her for yourself, don’t you?” Bruce tries to talk sense into Dick, but Dick arrogantly says, “She loves me and not you! And it’s driving you crazy!” And don’t waste your time, because the doggone girl is mine!
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Bruce says Dick is “not thinking straight”, but Dick says he is. Oh, he’s definitely thinking “straight”, alright. As proof, he starts spouting off about how there’s going to be a “Robin signal in the sky!” and insists once again that he’s going solo. Well, stop talking about it and just do it, already. It’s not like you two are John and Paul and teenage girls all over the world are going to be crying if you break up.
We cut to Barbara at Alfred’s bedside, apologizing to him because she was “too late”, whatever that means. In response, Alfred makes a truly comical “suffering from Movie Illness” face like he just read the rest of the script.
Alfred then pulls out a metal case containing the CD he burned for Wilfred. He gives it to Barbara and asks her to track Wilfred down and give it to him. Alfred says that he has “duties” that he wants Wilfred to take over for him, obviously referring to whatever the hell he does for Batman and Robin when he’s not spouting off trite homilies.
Barbara wants to know what’s on the CD. Alfred says, “It is the sacred trust of two good men whom I have the honor of calling ‘son’. Take it to Wilfred, and I implore you, never open it!” Then, having finished with all that deathbed wish stuff, he casually changes the subject and tells her she looks like her mother. For the record, she doesn’t.
We return to the Gotham Observatory, and I’m reminded of how much I’d really love to know how people get up there. We again hear the annoying voice of Gossip Gertie as she welcomes people to the dedication ceremony of the dues ex machina, I mean, the telescope that Bruce is donating.
She introduces Bruce, who enters with Julie on his arm as he makes some idle chatter with Commissioner Gordon. Meanwhile, a huge group of reporters is gathered around and hanging on every word. Another slow news day in Gotham, I presume? There’s two superpowered killers on the loose, you say?
Off in the corner, Ivy appears in her Plain Chick disguise, and she eventually works her way over to ask Commissioner Gordon where the Bat Signal is. Then, she makes a huge gesture out of flipping open her compact and using it to blow dust in his face, and Gordon just stands there and inhales it all. Commissioner, did you know that there’s a killer out there who uses pheromone dust to subdue her victims? Did you get that memo?
Gordon takes in a lungful and happily tells Ivy that it’s on top of police headquarters. Did she really need to mesmerize him to figure that out? Seriously, where else would the Bat Signal be? Gordon pulls out a big ring of keys and asks if she wants to see it. Then, in gratuitous slow-mo, we see Ivy again unfold her compact and blow. Dust, I mean. Right into the camera. Pardon the dumb question, but why did she have to do this again?
Oh, I see. It’s so that this time, the dust can waft over in Bruce’s direction and make him aware of Ivy’s presence. Yeah, silly me. Bruce glances around, looking for her. Meanwhile, Ivy takes the keys from Gordon and goes to kiss him, but then stops herself. “On second thought, you’re way too old for me!”
Gordon suddenly turns into a pathetic, feeble old man who’s about ten seconds away from crapping his pants. He moans, “No, I’m not… Please… Come back…” I can’t even put into words how completely unnecessary this part was. Can you imagine what they said to Pat Hingle before filming this? “Yeah, sorry, Mr. Hingle, but right now we can only afford to give a non-humiliating role to one veteran actor who’s endured all four of these movies. But don’t worry, because in the next movie you get to have a really dramatic scene with King Tut!”
Anyway, Ivy makes her way out of the observatory as Bruce spots her. Idiotically, he can’t make the Pamela Isley-Poison Ivy connection and just walks off to show Julie “how the satellites work”.
We next find Freeze’s hockey henchmen filing into Ivy’s hideout with the Ice Cannon. Freeze tells them he’s going to turn Gotham into “an icy graveyard” and then, “I will pull Batman’s heart from his body…” And show it to him? “And feel it freeze in my hands!” He then lets out a Boisterous Evil Laugh and yells, “Revenge!” Oh, is that what this is all about? I wouldn’t have gotten that.
Then we cut to Ivy and Bane on the roof of police headquarters. Ivy pushes Bane’s NBA Jam Turbo Button and he goes over and rips the Bat Signal off the roof. She quips, “Let there be light!” which makes no sense at all. Also, in this scene, the Bat Signal is clearly on. Why wouldn’t Batman have already shown up?
We then find Barbara honoring Alfred’s deathbed wishes by prying open the metallic CD case that was meant only for Wilfred. Apparently, the instructions “I implore you, never open it!” were too vague for her. Talking to herself, she rationalizes this ignoble act by saying, “I’m family.” Oh, okay. That makes it all better, then.
She plops the CD into the drive of an iBook and gets prompted for a password. The first one she tries is “Alfred”. (Yes, you laugh now, but the real password will turn out to be even dumber.) Of course, we only know this because we can plainly see the password as she types it. Wow, why don’t more password boxes work this way?
Meanwhile, Bruce has come back home and gone to Alfred’s room for another “heartwarming” scene. These little soul-baring sessions between the two men almost worked the first three or four times we saw them, but at this point they’re just beating a dead Alfred here.
Bruce says he’s spent his entire life trying to defeat death, but unfortunately, “I can’t save you.” Then he adds, “And with great power comes great responsibility. Oh, wait, wrong movie.” Alfred, probably feeling the effects of his Movie Illness, lets off a total stream of non sequiters about how there’s “no defeat in death” because “victory comes in defending what we know is right while we still live!” (Translation pending.)
Bruce turns away and has another pointless flashback, because the adjacent room is apparently where Alfred once read Little Bruce a bedtime story. Not only is this a completely unremarkable memory, but it’s also starting to appear that Bruce has no good memories of Alfred past the age of seven. I guess after this point, Alfred turned into a violent raging coke fiend or something.
The two say they love each other and embrace in a moment that appears to be taken from another, much better movie. Meanwhile, Barbara is still tending to her dying uncle’s last wishes by trying to hack into his CD. We see the next password she’s trying: “England”. One has to wonder how many other countries she tried before she got to that one. Also, for no reason, the iBook is talking to her, and every time she gets it wrong Majel Roddenberry says “Access Denied.” Okay, it’s not Majel, but it might as well be.
Barbara then spots her mom’s picture on the desk and says, “Margaret…” Then a light bulb comes on. “Margaret!” Wow, and the picture is only sitting on the desk right in front of you. How long did it take you to come up with that one? Unfortunately, that’s not the password, either.
Then, Margaret’s signature of “Love, Peg” suddenly materializes on the picture. Yes, I know this is actually Barbara flashing back to Alfred’s copy of the picture, because if you look closely, the frame is suddenly different. Unfortunately, the way this is filmed makes it look like it’s just a big honking continuity error. Hats off to you, Mr. Schumacher!
Anyway, she sees the signature, and it finally comes to her: “Peg!” She types that in, and yep, it’s the correct password. That’s right, Alfred’s CD, which holds sensitive information about Batman and Robin, including their secret identities and the location of the Batcave, all of that was protected by a three-letter word that can be found in any dictionary. Suddenly, Bruce seems a lot more sensible for not really trusting people.
Anyway, now that Barbara’s entered the right password, the computer’s voice says, “Access Allowed!”, and suddenly becomes really sultry and seductive. Why, Alfred, you salty dog, you. Then we get a shot of Barbara as everything on the computer screen is now being projected on her face [!!]. Honestly, I don’t think this could happen unless she removed the glass from the monitor. Regardless, you’d expect the projected images to be the reverse of whatever she sees on the screen, right? Yeah, that’s what you’d think, but then again, you’re not Joel Schumacher.
We then get a shot of the computer screen, and find wireframe CGI models of the Batmobile and Redbird bouncing and floating around the screen like a really gaudy screensaver. (This is even more obnoxious than those dancing chipmunks.) If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear Alfred was secretly trying to send his brother Wilfred into an epileptic seizure.
Then, we see nothing but red projected on Barbara’s face, until suddenly the Bat and Robin Logos fly into view and slam together just like in the opening credits [!]. This means they’re actually projecting this movie onto her face! Barbara gets a really giddy smile as she absorbs all of this information.
Cut to the Freezemobile rolling down the streets of Gotham, and in the background, it’s hard not to notice a bar and grill called “The Fireplace” that actually has flames shooting out of its windows [!]. You’d think this might be something of a safety hazard. Then the Freezemobile pulls up in front of a place called “The Head Room”, and this is actually a weird precursor to a very weird moment that will happen in just a few minutes.
Inside the Freezemobile, Mr. Freeze and Bane look up at the Gotham Observatory, and Freeze comments, “The combined power of the telescope’s reflecting crystals [?] will complete my freezing engine!” He then “humorously” says, “No matter what anyone says, Mr. Bane, it is the size of your gun that counts!” Yuk yuk. Bane growls, “Guunnn.” Shhoooot. Blowww uppp. Gooood. Thiiinkinng liiikke Joeeel Schuuumacccher noowww.