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8.2 27 10
FanFix September 17, 2007 9966
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I hadn't watched this since the 90s, so mostly I was coming at the film with fresh eyes. I had actually liked it more than Batman Returns, due to hating most everything about the Penguin, preferring Val Kilmer as Bruce Wayne and Batman, and generally liking Jim Carrey. Actually, neither of the films have aged very well, though. But The Red Book Edition attempts to change that.

First, it has to be said that the deleted scenes are 99% amazing (except for one lame line reading by Kilmer: "I'm Batman") and they form a subplot that actually gives a REASON for the main plot of the film. It deepens Bruce's reason for survivor's guilt, justifies having Chase the psychiatrist being a potential lifelong love interest instead of just an old-timey harlot, and gives a more believable reason for Batman to retire than was presented in The Dark Knight Rises. As a serious film that holds up, these scenes MAKE the movie.

Unfortunately, they also highlight how different everything else in the film is. Well, mostly the villains. Schumacher was clearly raised on the old TV show, and the film frequently hearkens back to the improbable inventions and campy over-the-top antics presented there. He doesn't lean into it full bore like he did later in Batman & Robin, though occasional shots and sound effects emphasize the cartoonish aspect of scenes. Mostly it comes in the villains though, and sadly (even with the cuts) Tommy Lee Jones clearly has no idea what he's doing in this film. This Two-Face is a travesty compared to his portrayal in TAS, or even The Dark Knight. And while I was on board with Jim Carrey at the time, he's just horrible now. His hair changes back and forth every other scene, his crotch bulge is distractingly bad, and he's mostly channeling previous wacky characters rather than actually giving us The Riddler. Again, it's a travesty when you know what can be done with the character.

This is undoubtedly a better film than the theatrical release, and the new tone is created with great expertise and attention. Elliot Goldenthal's underappreciated work is the real star of this edit (besides the killer end credit songs), and the visual differences in the deleted scenes worked for me, for the most part. Also, Val Kilmer is given more to work with in this edit, enhancing the best part of the original film. I'd say this is now probably tied with The Dark Knight Rises for my third-favorite live action Batman film.

However, it's still not a great movie. Like TDKR, there are significant problems in this film that cannot be fixed by editing. If you're going to watch it though, this is the version to watch.

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