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.
Batman Forever: The Red Book Edition is a fanedit I've been pursuing since late 2016, mainly due to its popularity with fans of Batman lore and especially the Burton/Schumacher films. Now, thanks to Masirimso17, I was finally able to watch it in January of last year, and I can certainly say — this cut lives up to its promise for me.
First off, the A/V quality isn't perfect, of course. It's ripped from a DVD source, so that makes sense. Everything else, on the other hand, makes this worthy of repeat viewings.
The editing, in terms of visuals and audio, is damn near seamless. There are certain bits that can come off as slightly jarring, but overall, Scaperat really has outdone himself with this cut. Most of Two-Face's laughs and jokes have been cut in order to bring him in line with his characterization from the comics, and it works beautifully.
The Riddler, however, remains almost completely untouched, and this is due to Scaperat being a huge Jim Carrey fan. I honestly can't blame him, since I really like Carrey's performance myself. As he said himself, "Jim Carrey is a comedic god."
The colour correction, while imperfect, brings a unique look to the film with its muted and noir-esque nature. It helps to highlight significant plot points in the film, such as the criminally underappreciated 'red book' subplot.
The deleted scenes have been restored to their rightful places, obviously, and they blend in perfectly. They contribute to darkening the tone of the film and character development, particularly Bruce's dilemma on becoming Batman and the guilt he expresses over his parents' death.
Unlike many other Batman Forever fan edits which tend to replace Elliot Goldenthal's score with Danny Elfman's epic soundtrack from the Burton films, this cut actually adds more of his work, specifically from Alien 3 and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. And their inclusion actually succeeds in emphasizing intensity and reflecting the mood of certain scenes.
One thing to keep in mind, this cut sticks with the altered timeline as presented in the theatrical cut, but the changes and additions made are a major contributing factor to making it work. Plus, Chase's clearly-redubbed line "Last night at the bank..." fits pretty well here.
On a personal note, I consider Batman Forever to be an underrated gem hidden beneath the earth, and one that has recently been overlooked by Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment. Director Joel Schumacher has expressed his interest in piecing together a director's cut in the near future, but due to the film's drop in popularity, it seems unlikely that we may ever get to see his vision come full circle.
But we can always keep on trying to convince Warner Bros. to let him shine in the spotlight. In the meantime, this cut has succeeded in being a darker version of a 19-year-old movie that was affected by the underwhelming performance of Batman Returns. A highly recommendable fan edit, and well-enough worthy of completing your Batman movie marathon!
Recently I decided that I wanted to watch the original Batman trilogy, and seeing as the edits of Batman and Batman Returns weren't particularly strong I decided to watch the Tim Burton originals followed by this version of Batman Forever. I think Joel Schumacher in his first attempt to take over the reins of Tim Burton's franchise did an adequate job, though this edit definitely brings out the strengths in this movie that were not necessarily present in the DVD version. I wouldn't say this is still Tim Burton's Batman Forever but it's definitely closer to what I imagined it would have been.
Overall I thought this edit was really smart. I liked Jim Carrey's role and the cartoonisness in this was toned down for both the Riddler and Two-face (Tommy Lee Jones wasn't a bad casting choice, but imagine Nic Cage doing two-face? :D). While it's been almost 10 years since I have seen this movie, I thought the depth of Bruce Wayne's madness was explored much better and that Nicole Kidman's role was largely more believable and that she made a pretty foxy psychiatrist.
The edits weren't really really noticeable in my opinion, though I thought the black-and-white scenes were kind of odd and somewhat out of place (it's hard to win with color correction, it always seems to be either too much or not enough, very rarely just right). I think these black and white scenes worked well when we want to highlight specific objects in the room such as the red book, but in general I thought it was a little bit too much. Overall a lot of the stupidness is taken out and I enjoyed the majority of the edits to make the movie more serious. Overall a very good effort and my preferred version of Batman Forever.
I love this edit. Seeing the deleted scenes with the film is a great addition to the movie. The TLJ cuts are welcome as well. Seeing the character of Two-Face being closer to the comic book as opposed to being more like the Joker is great. Jim’s portrayal of Riddler is still the same. The toned down colors is very welcome as the original kinda gave me a headache. Sooooo…. I give this edit a 10/10. Better than the original release and a great addition to the 1990s Batman movies.