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    Batman & Robin
    Stars:Arnold, George Clooney, Chris O'Donnel, Alicia Silverstone, Uma Thurman
    Ahh, the bizarre city of Gotham. The hatching site for the most screwed-up of criminals: a city in perpetual night, where flagrant overuse of neon fills the streets, and where guys running around in anatomically-correct rubber suits are normal. Batman & Robin is the fourth movie in the Batman series, a series which started out strong but went down the crapper the second Danny DeVito sent his army of missile-armed penguins into the streets. I mean, a stretch of reality here and there can be a good thing, but when reality is yanked out of a pseudo-realistic setting, you get some weird stuff. Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and now Batman & Robin have this paradox down to a science.

    The movie starts out quickly. I could have done without the butt close-ups of Our Heroes, but some people might be into that. Batman got himself a new car. You would think that after the first three blew up, he might want to find something in a nice solid German luxury sedan, but not this time. Something I find really hurts the Batman movies is what Jack Nicholson from the first film described as "wonderful toys." In the first one they were almost believable, but after that, you get stuff that's very limited in practical application yet always seems to come in handy. The unlimited supply of little grappling hooks (Bathooks is the technical term, I think) is certainly useful, but a half-dozen palm-sized heaters? Ice skate blades that pop out of the boots? Sorry, I would rather carry a couple guns on my Utility Belt than some of that other junk. And how about the vehicles? It sure is a good thing they had not one, not two, but three vehicles designed to skate around on ice-covered streets. That's not something I would have thought of while shopping at the Superhero Supply Store.

    George Clooney plays Batman du jour, but I could tell he really wanted to scream out, "Give me five cc's of adrenaline stat!" I suppose he did an adequate job, but the Batman Shuffle gets a little tiresome. Our old Austrian friend, "Diasthema Man" Arnold, plays Mr. Freeze, a bald guy who takes care of dirt and grease and grime in just a minute... wait, that's Mr. Clean. Mr. Freeze is a guy who was frozen in a lab accident, and now goes around freezing people. How's this for cosmic irony: the guy's last name really is "Freeze!" Quele coincidence! It's like Lou Gechrig contracting Lou Gehrig's disease. How could he not see that coming?

    Anyway (my apologies to Denis Leary), Arnie's character is a psychotic-looking bald guy with a pretty cool (no pun intended) costume and Tin Man-esque silver makeup. Schwarzeneggar plays the roll well, although it's too bad every other line is a pun relating to ice. Uma Thurman plays the Treehugger from Hell named Poison Ivy, who wants to wipe out mankind so that Mother Nature can start anew. Well, I guess we've all got to have a hobby. She used concentrated pheromones to coerce men into doing her bidding. It was also the only way to get men to ignore those horrible hairstyles she wore. She also must have a huge wardrobe of environmentally-oriented clothes. Chris O'Donnel reprises his role as Robin (how about that: a starring role played by the same guy in two consecutive Batman movies! Who would have thought?) and Alicia Silverstone plays the unnecessary (yet undeniably attractive) Batgirl.

    The movie keeps you interested, and while it doesn't suck, it does have some major problems. I already mentioned Arnold's lame lines and the flagrant overuse of neon, but B&R also suffers from, you guessed it, Freakin' Macintosh Syndrome. Come on, Apple, you've lost $1.4 billion in the past five quarters. It's time to stop polluting the movies! The computers themselves looked kind of cool, but then you see the outdated System 7.x operating system. How pathetic. One more thing movie producers should know about computers: the monitors do not project images! Come on, we've seen it so many times, but it doesn't actually happen! Ugh.

    You also get a slew of logic errors with the price of admission. Now, it's obvious Gotham Architects were high on some botanical derivative when they built the city, but why in the world would someone place an observatory in the middle of downtown? Those same architects also placed an exorbitant number of statues of scantily-clad men around town, yet there are no scantily-clad women statues (which also makes you wonder about those architects' social lives). What about equal rights here? In the entire movie, we get two scenes that take place outside during the day (you know, when the sun's up), which is one more than either of the last two movies.

    I'm not saying Batman & Robin is a bad movie. Really, I'm not. It's not painful to watch, I suppose, but when you get all these pathetic cartoony sound effects, you start to wonder. This type of stuff might have worked back in the 60's television series, but we're on the tail-end of the 90's now. We aren't impressed by the obvious computer-generated stuff laced throughout the movie. We don't fall for the army of hockey players thing.

    Batman movies have become routine and uninspired, I'm sorry to say. I'll probably go and see the next one (if there is a next one: do they have any bad guys left?) but it'll probably be the same old stuff.

    Comments? E-mail movies@aldebaran.net