Batman Forever (1995) (part 9 of 14)

Back in Ed’s apartment, our bespectacled friend is spending some quality time using (I presume) Microsoft Supervillain Costume Designer™. He goes through several potential themes, which he runs by his friend, the inanimate fiberglass mannequin sitting in a fortune telling machine.

All the potential costumes suck, until he comes up with a design in which his modesty is protected only by a green sandwich board adorned with a question mark. The fortune telling mannequin shows its approval by pointing to a green light bulb also adorned with a question mark, which is pretty much the mannequin’s answer to everything. Ed seems happy about this, and starts typing excitedly.

And now we’re in Two Face’s HQ, and this guy is nothing if not thematic. His entire living quarters is split into two halves, each of which is supposed to represent one of his split personalities. Although, I can’t see any building blocks, Barbie dolls, or Cabbage Patch dolls on either side, which is strange, since the predominant aspect of both of his personalities is that he’s a great big, whiny, temper-tantrum-throwing girl.

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And the custodians of these two halves of the room are two hot supervillain groupies. There’s Sugar, played by Drew Barrymore at her pre-Charlie’s Angels finest. She’s clad in an “innocent” looking lace corset, suspenders, and a feather boa. And then there’s Spice, played by the equally delectable Debi Mazar, who’s wearing a leather corset, fishnets, and stiletto heels.

You know, I always loved how in the ’60s Batman TV series, supervillainy was like the new rock and roll. Every supervillain had at least one hottie in their lair, as well as generic goons with their nicknames tagged on their sweaters. Where do supervillains go to get groupie chicks? Is there a bar somewhere?

The two girls try to console Two Face, who’s a little peeved at the fact that he sucks at being a supervillain. It must be said, if I were in Two Face’s position and had two ludicrously hot slave girls, I’d probably never leave the house, much less worry about robbing banks and doing evil.

The two girls boast about the meals they made for him, which are actually contrasting meals to appease the different facets of his split psyche. Holy fuck, they cook for him, too? Bizarrely, one of the meals includes the charred heart of a black boar (good luck eating that!) and a side of raw donkey meat. Uh, I think I’ll pass.

Two Face admits that he’s of two minds (yeah, that never gets old) about which meal to eat first. Split personality aside, Two Face must be one gluttonous motherhumper if he’s prepared to eat two consecutive three course meals.

Caption contributed by Dan

Oh yes. Crime does pay!

A voice behind Two Face says that he hopes he “made extra”. More than two three-course meals, he means? Of course, the voice belongs to Ed, and he appears for the first time in his new duds.

Flee, denizens of Gotham’s underworld, for a new terror walks amongst you! The Riddler strikes a pose in all his androgynous glory. He’s wearing a bright green jacket (stolen from his fiberglass friend) and a spandex body suit, which really does give him the most excruciating case of male camel toe I’ve ever seen.

This ensemble is topped off with a delightful green bowler hat, domino mask, and… no, it can’t be! It must be a trick of the light…. Nope! He’s actually wearing rouge. Rouge! And here I was thinking that the doors had closed at the Ziggy Stardust School of Comic Book Villainy. To make matters worse, his stance clearly says “Buffalo Bill”, with his junk tightly clamped between his legs.

Caption contributed by Dan

This is Major Tom to Ground Control. I’m feeling very scaaaared! And I’m standing in a most peculiar waaay!

The Riddler introduces himself to Two Face, who returns the courtesy by asking him how he found his secret hideout, and then offering to perforate his cranium. Some supposedly “hilarious” dialogue follows that’s too painful to recount, with the sole exception of when the Riddler motions towards Two Face’s scars and tells him, “That’s never going to heal if you don’t stop picking!”

The Riddler whips out his invention, which he calls “The Box”. It’s had a bit of a cosmetic reworking, but it still looks, basically, like a styrofoam-filled blender.

He happens to have two of them on him, and he puts them on top of Harv’s two televisions. He switches them on with a remote control that looks a bit like a lightsaber, and Sugar and Spice are suddenly mesmerized by 3-D cartoons. Actually, they’re not even true 3-D; the screen is just projected slightly outward. But then again, these girls spend all their days pandering to a hideously deformed and inept criminal, so I’m sure they’re not that hard to entertain.

The Riddler holds the remote against Two Face’s forehead, and Two Face starts giggling like the victim of a weird laboratory experiment. I think the film is implying that this remote is a conduit for sucking brainwaves, since two streams of green light are now travelling from the girl’s heads to their master’s.

Riddler says this is how he found Two Face’s secret lair. Which makes no sense at all, given that Two Face has obviously had no contact whatsoever with this machine until now. So, uhhh… Sorry, science. Sorry, logic.

The Riddler proposes that Two Face help him steal enough capital to singlehandedly manufacture and distribute enough Boxes to absorb the brainwaves of all of Gotham. I know, I know, Gothamites aren’t known for their cerebral activity, but stick with me here. In return, Riddler will help Two Face solve “the greatest riddle of all”: the true identity of Batman.

This is a pretty sensible plan. It’s far less extreme than say, patenting the device, and getting a business loan, and selling the thing legitimately. And it’s far easier than just shooting Batman, and then taking off his mask. Still, the coin toss makes it a yes, and soon comes a montage of Two Face and Riddler’s maelstrom of crime.

Highlights include Two Face unsuccessfully teaching the Riddler how to punch a guy twice his size in the face, and the duo counting their spoils in their getaway car. While wearing pearl earrings, necklaces, and tiaras, too. Now that’s how you stage a reign of terror!

Oh, and this montage is interspersed with a scene in which Dick does extreme laundry. I’m not even kidding.

The next day, Bruce is watching a news report about how the Riddler (nobody gives a crap about Two Face anymore, I guess) has successfully perpetrated a series of crimes, and there’s been no sign of Batman. Yeah. God forbid the police try to catch this guy on their own.

Alfred presents Bruce with another riddle, which just arrived in the mail.

“The eight of us go forth, not back. To protect our king from a foe’s attack.”

Instantly, Bruce and Alfred are in the Batcave, because I guess they can’t solve riddles in any other place. Bruce deduces that the answer is chess pawns. Ah hah! The two of them try to discern a common link between the riddles. There’s some nice Alfred-Bruce interaction here, and you know, Michael Gough really is an excellent Alfred. I can’t overstate how much his performance prevents this film from being a complete disaster.

Lucky us! We get to have another scene with Alfred now. Dick is trying to open the only locked door in the house, and he demands that Alfred tell him what’s behind it. Alfred replies that there’s nothing behind the Forbidden Door of Untold Mysteries worth seeing, and that he should be on his merry way.

Hmmm. Can’t help thinking this is going to come back to bite Alfred in the ass.

Meanwhile, Ed’s giving a press conference at his newly opened Box Factory. Yes, he’s set himself up as a business heavyweight, and even constructed a factory, overnight.

In one of the film’s rare clever moments, he’s modeled his new image almost exactly on Bruce Wayne. Which is good because, Eddy, dahling, those dreadful ginger locks and that atrocious bright red flat top just had to go!

Caption contributed by Dan

“This one cuts styrofoam into really, really small pieces!”

Now we witness the ravages of Ed’s seemingly innocuous invention on the citizens of Gotham. And in true condescending-to-your-audience style, the perfectly self-explanatory images are voiced over by the irritating newsreader woman from earlier.

Desperate consumers clamor in electronic stores for the Box, and in a less stupid movie this might be making a clever point about consumerism. And now families (including their dogs) are staring, zombiefied, at their TVs, while trails of green mist seep from their heads, out of open windows, and into a collective stream of green mist that leads right to… Ed’s lair.

I have to say, I really do hope those green trails are there as visual aids for our benefit. Otherwise, I’d be very curious as to why nobody from the EPA is knocking on Edward’s door.

Inside his factory, the Riddler is sitting on a tarp-covered throne, getting all high on information and stuff.

The next day at Wayne Manor, Alfred’s just about to enter the Mystery Room of Infinite Secrecy. He checks that Dick is nowhere in sight, then opens the door. Dick, of course, is perched above on a balcony overlooking the foyer. As soon as Alfred is through the door, Dick springs into action.

He vaults onto the lip of the balcony, leaps onto a chandelier, back flips off a non-specific rail, slides down a tapestry, and swings off a big lamp stand. It’s all very impressive and exxxtreme!! but, really, he could have accomplished the same thing by just running down the stairs.

Dick falls through the door into a silver closet, which revolves around, and sends Dick tumbling down the stairs into the Batcave. An obnoxious alarm blares “Intruder alert” over and over again. All of the Bat-computer’s screens flick to life, and the Batmobile rises on its turntable. Bruce certainly isn’t one for damage mitigation, is he? Oh, I see you’ve broken into my secret base! Here, you might as well have unrestricted access to my car and all my most private computer files!

Alfred looks good and pissed by Dick’s presence, although it’s really his own fault. If he’d just shown Dick the silver closet, the purpose of which is to disguise the entrance to the Batcave, he wouldn’t be in this mess.

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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