"Batman Forever (1995): Special Edition"
by Zach Demeter "Bird Boy"
After what some consider a “disappointing” sequel in Batman
Returns, the movie business was wary of another
Batman film so
soon. Toy companies and merchandisers weren’t easily persuaded to
get on board with Batman Forever after the lukewarm sales of
Batman Returns merchandise. After the movie premiered in
theaters however, it became obvious that “Bat-Mania” hadn’t left the
public. Batman Forever was insanely popular during the summer
of 1995 and made Warner Bros. and its licensees millions in revenue.
The film came with a new director, new cast, new crew and of course,
a new look. Not quite so dark and gothic as Tim Burton’s past films,
Batman Forever sported a zany trickster in Jim Carrey, a
deadly adversary in Tommy Lee Jones, a new partner in Chris
O’Donnell and a slightly more brooding and sometimes confused
looking Batman in Val Kilmer. It is a well-rounded cast, which is
finished off by Nicole Kidman as the love interest, and Michael
Gough and Pat Hingle returning as Alfred and Gordon, respectively.
Like any kid, I loved this film. It was Batman, after all, and what
could I not like about it? There was humor and plenty of action and
we got a pretty decent story out of it all as well.
Looking back on the film, I’m not quite as forgiving on it. The cast
was brilliant, as I stated before, but there was something that just
bothered me about the movie. Perhaps watching it so close after Batman
Returns set me up for a movie that I was remembering
differently. In the end, I was entertained, but there was something
that just bothered me about it.
Kilmer’s Batman bothered me a bit. He never really seemed all that
expressive, either as Bruce or Batman, yet he
still was one of the
better men to put on the bat-suit. It’s a shame he wasn’t able to
reprise his role in Batman & Robin, as I’m pretty sure it
wouldn’t have come out like it did with a different man behind the
In the end, out of the four films from 1989 through 1997, this movie
fits into the same number in which it was produced: third place.
It’s enjoyable, but there’s just nothing all that memorable, past
the ridiculous Jim Carrey and the flashback scenes of Bruce as a
Oddly enough, Batman Forever actually looked a bit grainier
in the video department than any of Burton’s films. Only in certain
areas, however; overall it’s another gorgeous transfer with superb
5.1 and DTS audio tracks. You won’t be disappointed in this release
if you’re a fan of clear video and audio.
Continuing what we saw on the Burton films, the Schumacher films
start out the first disc with a trailer and commentary. Nothing too
memorable about the trailer, but I do wish they included some of the
TV spots, as I remember a few of them being pretty cool. But, as I
said before in the Batman (1989) review…they’re just
condensed footage of a movie you own the DVD of.
What can I say about the commentary, aside from the fact that it
offered very little to the movie experience and Schumacher came off
as a pompous jerk throughout most of it, dismissing any of the silly
elements of the film simply because it was a “comic book” movie and
a “Batman” movie. I’m sure he meant no harm by it, but considering
what his two films were known for, you’d think he’d take a little
more care in shielding his complete lack of knowledge of comic books
and Batman in general (he called Robin’s older self “Nighthawk” at
one point, though he got it right in the Batman & Robin
I don’t really recommend the commentary. Schumacher seems to enjoy
pointing out story elements as or after they happen (“This is Dick
Grayson leaving the batcave,” he says, as we see…uh, Dick Grayson
leaving the batcave.) and he doesn’t really say anything all that
interesting. A few funny behind-the-scenes tidbits, but other than
that there wasn’t a whole lot to enjoy; it’s not me being biased
because of what Schumacher did with the franchise—this commentary
just flat out stunk.
“Riddle Me This: Why is Batman Forever?” is a TV special from 1995
hosted by Chris O’ Donnell. Like the one for Batman Returns,
it interviews cast and crew from the sets and gives a neat look into
the movie’s production. I actually remembered some of this from when
I watched it as a kid—surprising, considering it’s been ten years
since I’ve seen it.
“Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Part 5”
continues the series progression and describes how they went about
re-imaging this character from Tim Burton’s designs. As with the
other four parts, it’s interesting and gives you a nice look at what
went into the movie.
“Beyond Batman” delves deeper into the movie, interviewing cast and
crew and taking you along each step of the films progression. From
initial talks to the actual production, we get a nice and deep look
into how the movie got made. New interviews with Schumacher, Kilmer,
O’Donnell and crew accompany the documentaries, with interviews with
other cast and crew being archived interviews from 1995. It’s
informative and interesting, everything you want in a documentary.
“Heroes and Villains” profiles details the characters in the movies.
As with the other Anthology entries, this featurettes has cast, crew
and Bat-aficionados explain and detail how each character has
progressed through the movies or how new characters transition. It’s
all very interesting and I recommend watching it, especially if you
thought they’d be those silly character bios that are often
assembled for children to watch and read.
The first big difference from Batman Forever and the Burton
films is there are actual deleted scenes. Whether extended or
completely deleted, the scenes show a few sides of characters we
hadn’t seen or things we’re probably glad we were cut in the first
One particular scene with Bruce Wayne is brilliant though. Fans will
remember the much-talked about scene with Bruce and the giant
puppet-bat, as he “faces his fears” and reads his father’s journal
and realizes that his death was “not my fault.” It’s a really
powerful scene with some excellent acting by Val Kilmer and it’s a
real shame it was cut from the movie. The only negative point in the
scene was the end, where Bruce comes out of the area of the cave and
Alfred asks if he is all right. Bruce replies “I’m Batman,” smiles
and walks off; Alfred then smiles and turns around, walking after
Bruce. It’s a very awkward ending, but I’m sure they could’ve
re-worked it a bit if it was to be left in.
The “Kiss from a Rose” music video rounds out the special features.
It’s disappointing there is no “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill
Me” music video to be found on the disc, but with how big “U2” is
now, it really isn’t that surprising.
Overall, you couldn’t ask for better treatment for the film. While
it has the dullest director’s commentary I’ve ever listened to, the
other special features on the disc still hold up. Hearing from
Kilmer and O’Donnell again was a treat and the deleted scenes were a
welcome addition, especially since I doubt we’ll ever see
Schumacher’s much heard about three-hour cut of the film.
Batman Forever (1995): Special Edition will be in
stores on Tuesday, October 18th, 2005.