Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Give Us Your Worst, Part 8: Batman & Robin

It is commonly accepted as fact that, between Schumacher's two painfully awful Batman movies, this is the worst. We're not entirely sure this is fair, as the movies are, on some level, so different as to be incomparable. It is something like choosing between a rotten, worm-ridden apple and molding, maggot-infested orange. Precisely like that, as a matter of fact.

Objectively, as a work of anti-art, this is unquestionably worse. If badness is quantified mathematically, there can be little question that Batman Forever has far less of it than Batman & Robin; by a magnitude of 6.7 Ratners*, in fact, according to our calculations.

However, because of the concentration of badness, this was actually less boring. Make no mistake: there were still long, dull, mind-numbing sequences which had us eying our cyanide pills (in accordance with human rights requirements, we handed them out in The Middle Room prior to starting this series of articles), but it was actually slightly more engaging than its predecessor.

Upon watching Batman & Robin, there are questions that spring to mind. Questions like, why? How? And does this prove God's nonexistence and that we live in a cold, meaningless Universe devoid of care and compassion?

The Middle Room will seek to answer these questions, to the extent answers are possible.

First, "Why?" This is the most troubling of the three, by far. We have two possible explanations, though neither is particularly comforting. It is possible that Batman & Robin was actually the movie that Joel Schumacher wanted to make. In fact, in hindsight, it seems like Batman Forever may have reflected Schumacher being stifled by producers holding him back. Perhaps Batman & Robin is a window in its creator's psyche, unfiltered and unconstrained.

If this is indeed the case, Schumacher should be institutionalized to protect the public.

As impossible as it may seem, however, the alternative is even more distressing. What if Batman & Robin was the movie Joel Schumacher believed the world wanted? What if he made it for us?

The level of cynicism this hypothesizes lies far beyond the boundaries of mere nihilism. Indeed, there is neither word nor concept for this, nor should we wish there to be.

Our second question, "How?" is no less baffling. Movies have producers, editors, and readers. That no one stopped the movie from being made seems utterly impossible in hindsight. Even if the producers couldn't perceive what was happening, we find it surprising that none of the camera operators, cinematographers, or key grips sabotaged the picture to save the public and the iconic characters.

The only answer seems to be momentum. Somehow, the movie, fast-tracked into production, was finished before there was time to reflect. And once it was done, nothing less than madness must have compelled the company to release to the public.

The Middle Room's third and final inquiry concerns the non-existence of any benevolent power in the Universe. Having just finished watching Batman & Robin, our members are in full agreement: Cthulhu fhtagn.

* Or 5.5 Greenaways, for our European readers more familiar with the metric system.

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