Tusk

Tusk

Today, I’m going to take a look at Kevin Smith’s 2014 creature feature, Tusk.

The plot of Tusk is summarized on IMDb as follows:

When podcaster Wallace Bryton goes missing in the backwoods of Manitoba while interviewing a mysterious seafarer named Howard Howe, his best friend Teddy and girlfriend Allison team with an ex-cop to look for him.

Tusk was written, directed, and edited by Kevin Smith, who is known for films like Chasing Amy, Clerks, Clerks 2, Mallrats, Jersey Girl, Red State, and Dogma, as well as his numerous successful podcasts, television shows, comic books, and live Q+A events.

The primary cast of Tusk is made up of Michael Parks (Red State, From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill), Justin Long (Dodgeball, Drag Me To Hell, Accepted, Galaxy Quest), Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense, A.I., The Spoils Before Dying, Secondhand Lions, Pay It Forward), Genesis Rodriguez (Big Hero 6, Run All Night), and Johnny Depp (Yoga Hosers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ed Wood, Donnie Brasco, Black Mass, Sweeney Todd, Edward Scissorhands).

The cinematographer on Tusk was James Laxton, whose other credits include Moonlight (which netted him an Academy Award nomination), Yoga Hosers, Bad Milo, and Holidays.

The musical score for the film was composed by Christopher Drake, who also provided music for Yoga Hosers and Holidays, as well as a number of animated DC movies like Batman: Under The Red Hood and Batman: Year One.

Tusk was distributed theatrically by A24, which was at the time an eccentric independent distributor that was building a positive reputation. Today, it is a renowned brand in independent cinema: it boasted the Best Picture winner Moonlight, as well as acclaimed films like The Witch, Swiss Army Man, 20th Century Woman, Room, Green Room, The Lobster, Ex Machina, The Rover, Under the Skin, and Enemy.

The bizarre creature effects for Tusk were provided by Robert Kurtzman, whose other credits include It Follows, John Dies At The End, Bubba Ho-Tep, Vampires, Ghosts of Mars, Spawn, Scream, In The Mouth of Madness, Intruder, The People Under The Stairs, and From Dusk Till Dawn, among many others. He was recommended to Kevin Smith for the project by special effects guru Gregory Nicotero, who turned down the job due to schedule conflicts with other projects.

The idea for Tusk came to Kevin Smith after discussing a prank Gumtree advertisement on his flagship podcast, SModcast. The bizarre advertisement offered free board to a housemate in exchange for wearing a walrus suit for 2 hours a day, and fully performing the part during that time.

Tusk was the first entry in Kevin Smith’s proposed True North trilogy: three movies with similar horror themes and common characters set in Western Canada. The second of these was Yoga Hosers, which featured a number of returning elements from Tusk. The third film in the series, a Jaws parody called Moose Jaws, has still not begun filming as of May 2017, likely due to the overwhelmingly negative reception to Yoga Hosers.

In order to gauge his fanbase as to whether there was enough interest for him to make Tusk, Kevin Smith launched a hashtag campaign. Anyone could respond on Twitter with either #WalrusYes or #WalrusNo to indicate whether they thought he should take on the outlandish concept.

Tusk was made on an estimated production budget of $3 million, on which it managed to gross only $1.8 million in a limited theatrical run. Critically, the movie didn’t fare any better: it currently holds an IMDb user rating of 5.4/10, alongside Rotten Tomatoes scores of 41% from critics and 36% from audiences.

As you would certainly expect, Tusk is weird by design, on the virtue of its concept. Accordingly, it features some of the strangest makeup and creature effects in recent years, which is fortunately compellingly strange and unnerving. Designer Robert Kurtzman definitely outdid himself with this body horror execution of a humanoid walrus, and its presence is arguably the highlight of the film.

As far as other positives of the film go, I would be remiss not to mention the late Michael Parks. Parks, who previously starred in Smith’s religious thriller Red State, is firing on all cylinders for his unhinged role in Tusk. Not an ounce of scenery goes unchewed by Parks, who nearly makes the movie on his own. Particularly in the first act of the film, he manages to act circles around Justin Long, and builds an immense amount of tension through his storytelling and body language. However, a lot of the tension dissipates as the movie goes on, and changes focus to other characters. Unfortunately, by the film’s supposed climax, the movie has already peaked, and is significantly hindered by weaker elements that whittle on its effectiveness throughout.

Mark Jenkins, in his review of Tusk for NPR, had the following choice words for the film:

Tusk is an overextended, tonally incoherent joke that would make viewers squirm even if it didn’t involve a bloody and demented medical experiment.

While Parks is impressively suave as the absurd obsessive, the other performances range from unpersuasive to distracting. Long is off-pitch throughout, and a slumming, uncredited superstar functions only as a half-comprehensible in-joke.

That review hits on what are, by far, my two biggest issues with Tusk. The first of them is the “uncredited superstar,” Johnny Depp, who puts in what might be the worst performance of his career. In a word, his portrayal of a French Canadian detective is unbearable. His facial prosthesis look ridiculous, his accent is all over the place, and his presence and performance grind the movie to an unnecessary stop. Honestly, Tusk would have been a better overall feature if his point-of-view section had been excised altogether. For the life of me, I can’t fathom why it wasn’t left on the cutting room floor, outside of Depp’s supposed marketability.

The second issue that Jenkins brings up that I emphatically agree with is his assessment that the film is “overextended.” On top of the pacing troubles brought on by the aforementioned Johnny Depp segment, everything after the intriguing first act setup feels bloated and stretched, like Smith was having trouble making a full feature out of the concept. Progress happens slowly once the second act begins, and the shifts in perspective make it feel even slower. I honestly think, however, that there was enough promise and material for this idea to make a pretty kick-ass short film, but the necessary run time to hit feature-length brought about a lot of the problems that hinder Tusk. With some of the extended gags omitted, Johnny Depp’s part reduced, and the rescue attempt shortened, I think the total run-time could have been brought down to about an hour, and been a pretty intriguing flick to plug into HBO or Netflix. As it stands, however, the pacing leaves it a bit on the dull side.

Overall, I do think that Tusk is a fair bit better than the mess of Yoga Hosers, and had some initial promise. The effects are pretty decent, Parks puts in a chillingly strange performance, and there is certainly an intriguing setup for the story. However, the screenplay has some serious pacing issues, which are exacerbated by a mind-numbingly terrible performance from Johnny Depp, and a generally very unlikable lead character. I do think that the movie was written off prematurely by some based on its concept alone, but ultimately, I think that the failure of this flick is 100% on Smith’s screenplay and dual director/editor role. If he had someone else take on any number of those roles, he might have had a mitigating force to keep things in check. Alas, that’s not how it went down.

As far as recommendations go, Tusk is complicated. Kevin Smith fans certainly should check it out, as this was basically made for their benefit. Beyond that, body horror fans might as well check it out for the effects, but the rest of the film will probably leave a lot to be desired. As for everyone else, I think this is a toss-up. I have talked to people who have loved this movie that I didn’t expect, and people who passionately hated it that I thought might go the other way. If the concept intrigues you, I say dive in at your own risk.

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I Know Who Killed Me

I Know Who Killed Me

Today, I’m going to take a look at the disastrous Lindsay Lohan vehicle, I Know Who Killed Me.

The plot of I Know Who Killed Me is summarized on IMDb as follows:

A young woman who was missing reappears, but she claims to be someone else entirely.

I Know Who Killed Me was directed by Chris Sivertson, whose handful of credits include All Cheerleaders Die, The Lost, and writing the screenplay for the movie Marauders. The sole screenwriter for this movie, Jeff Hammond, notably has no other listed credits on IMDb.

The central cast for the film is made up of Lindsay Lohan (Machete, Herbie Fully Loaded, The Parent Trap), Julia Ormond (Mad Men, Legends of the Fall), Neal McDonough (Minority Report, Timeline, Flags of our Fathers), and Brian Geraghty (The Hurt Locker, Flight, Jarhead).

The cinematographer for I Know Who Killed Me was John R. Leonetti, whose credits include The Conjuring, Insidious, The Scorpion King, Joe Dirt, Mortal Kombat, Child’s Play 3, and The Mask.

I Know Who Killed Me‘s editor was Lawrence Jordan, who also cut the movies Jack Frost, Fallen, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Are We There Yet?, Fifty Shades of Black, and Furry Vengeance.

The musical score for the film was composed by Joel McNeely, who also provided music for the films Holes, Vegas Vacation, Virus, Soldier, A Million Ways To Die In The West, and The Avengers.

Reportedly, Linday Lohan often no-showed or arrived late to set during the filming of I Know Who Killed Me, to the point that body doubles were used for a number of sequences. Her substance abuse issues also eventually impacted the film’s promotion, as she had a DUI arrest just before a scheduled appearance to plug the movie on The Tonight Show.

I Know Who Killed Me wound up setting a record for the most Golden Raspberry Awards for a single movie, winning 8 of its total of 9 nominations. However, the record was toppled only a few years later by Adam Sandler’s Jack & Jill.

The original ending of I Know Who Killed Me revealed that the entire story was the content of a college student’s paper. However, the ending was so reviled by test audiences that it was re-cut, and now only exists as a deleted scene on the movie’s DVD release.

I Know Who Killed Me was featured on one of the earliest episodes of the lauded bad movie podcast, The Flop House, which is now one of the most beloved podcasts on the subject of bad movies.

The production budget for I Know Who Killed Me was reported to be $12 million, on which it took in a lifetime theatrical gross of $9.6 million, which made it a significant financial failure. However, the film’s critical failure was even more dramatic: it currently holds an IMDb user rating of 3.6/10, alongside unenviable Rotten Tomatoes scores of 7% from critics and 25% from audiences. In her brutal review for the New York Daily News, Elizabeth Weitzman wrote that:

No review could really do justice to the monumental trashiness of this mess; it really has to be seen to be believed. Although if Lohan is lucky, no one will bother.

One of the most prominent elements in I Know Who Killed Me is its vivid and repetitive use of two colors: red and blue. While colors can be used artfully in films to accentuate the story’s tone, a character’s traits and emotions, or a setting’s general atmosphere, the way color is used in I Know Who Killed Me is far beyond over the top. Not only is there no subtlety in the application of the colors, but the colors are used so universally that they lose their meaning, and just blend into the background palette of the movie.

For instance, the blue roses that appear in the film should have always stood out due to their uniqueness: however, they blend easily into the background of a movie that is constantly punctuated by blue objects and backdrops. If the backdrops had even been more subtle blues, or colors that would compliment and accentuate the blue of the flowers, the effect might have worked. Unfortunately, the over-saturation of colors in this film serves to drain them of their stylistic meaning, which is ultimately a disservice to the film as a whole. Movies like Hero, The Neon Demon, and La La Land have all managed to balance vivid, saturated color palettes in a way that the colors still carry some meaning, while still being visibly prominent. I think that the director here understood that color can be powerful, and wanted to emulate the visual style of Blue Velvet, but lacked the restraint or understanding of how to use colors effectively in the film. The result is an overstimulating mess of blues and reds.

There is one detail about the plot of the film that still particularly bothers me. Once it is revealed that (spoilers) there are, in fact, two sisters, the concept of “twin stigmata” is presented to explain the injuries to both girls, despite only one of them being abducted. Despite “stigmatic twins” being an unproven, supernatural idea, it is taken at face value as fact by more than one character. There is never any attempt to elaborate on why these twins have this condition, or quite how it works: it is basically just a plot device that isn’t dug into any deeper. They could have mentioned offhand that the mother was experimented on or something, but there isn’t any indication to that effect.

Related to that same twist, the supposed baby-switching done by Aubrey’s father doesn’t make much sense when put under a microscope. How was he able to hide the news of his child’s death from his wife? How did the hospital let him walk away with another woman’s child? How did a woman who had given birth to two children walk out with one, with no question from the doctors and nurses? Did the hospital not report the death of the real Aubrey, allowing the replacement to use her social security number and identity? There are a lot of leaps in logic involved in the story, that can only be explained with mass incompetence or mass bribery, neither of which seem terribly realistic.

The most common criticisms I have heard about I Know Who Killed Me all relate to the gratuitous stripping sequences, which were heavily featured in the film’s trailer. Compared to their relevance to the film’s plot, these two sequences take up way too much of the run-time of the film, which makes it clear what the motivation behind this feature was. On top of the stripping sequences, there is also an unnecessary and unnerving sex sequence, in which Aubrey’s mother creepily listens in while Dakota and Aubrey’s boyfriend have sex in the room above her. Again, this sequence goes on for far too long, and makes it clear that the production team was trying to eek out every ounce of potential erotica they could from this movie, with the limitation of not being able to show Lindsay Lohan nude. Not only is the exploitative nature transparent, but it is also done in such a way that watching it is actively annoying, thanks to one of the most terrible film soundtracks that I can recall.

Something that I genuinely didn’t expect from this movie was the sheer quantity of explicit gore. I anticipated that the violence would mostly be implied and off-screen, not unlike the sexual content in your average PG-13 feature. However, this movie features explicit, brutal violence, including the detailed removal of fingers. The most grisly sequence features a block of dry ice, which is used to destroy limbs with a clamping mechanism. This leaves behind a nasty, frostbitten wound, which is shown in nauseating detail. If there is anything positive to say about the film, it is that the makeup artists nailed that particular effect.

Perhaps the strangest and most unexpected part of the film, however, is the introduction of the quasi-magical prosthetic limbs that replace Lindsay Lohan’s various mangled and amputated body parts.  There is an entire leg replacement which is fully automated, and functions exactly like a human leg as long as it is charged overnight. It didn’t even require a significant amount of physical therapy, because the timeline of the film between when the prosthetics are attached and when Dakota functions normally is very short. Likewise, Dakota is gifted with a superpowered robot hand, which is more advanced than most hand replacements found in science fiction films. Not only is is fully articulated, but it is somehow connected to her nerves, and thus functions exactly like a normal hand, but with significantly more strength.

As you might expect, one of the biggest issues with I Know Who Killed Me is its star. Lindsay Lohan may not be the worst actress ever to show up on screen, but she certainly can’t carry a movie on her own. The only way that this film was going to work was with a dynamic, standout lead performance, and even then it would be a long-shot. Lohan simply wasn’t the right choice to prop this flick up. Ultimately, she didn’t even help with the box office, and was a hindrance to the production if anything. I’m curious what the team for the movie thinks now: should they have gone with a talented up and comer, rather than a celebrity? Do they blame the film’s failure entirely on her, despite the movie’s other issues? I think there could be an interesting tale behind this flick, but I’m not sure if the world will ever hear it.

Honestly, I believe that there is the potential for an interesting identity mistaken identity / serial killer movie beneath the mess of I Know Who Killed Me, but it is buried deep beneath the sexualized focus on Lohan, Lohan’s general lack of acting chops, and the overall shoddy directing decisions and screenplay issues that make up the film. I don’t think the movie is quite enough fun to recommend even to bad movie fans, so I would say it is a hard pass from me for anyone who is considering giving this one a watch.

 

Johnny Mnemonic

Johnny Mnemonic

Today, I’m going to take a look at William Gibson’s 1997 cyberpunk flick, Johnny Mnemonic.

The plot of Johnny Mnemonic is summarized on IMDb as follows:

A data courier, literally carrying a data package inside his head, must deliver it before he dies from the burden or is killed by the Yakuza.

Johnny Mnemonic is based on a 1981 short story of the same name by influential science fiction writer William Gibson, who is regarded as the father of cyberpunk. Gibson also penned the screenplay for this loose screen adaptation of the work, and it remains his only screenplay credit to date. However, he now disowns the film, and claims what made it to the screen wasn’t his work.

Johnny Mnemonic was directed by Robert Longo, who is best known as an acclaimed painter and sculptor. However, he directed a handful of music videos throughout the 1980s, including R.E.M.’s “The One I Love” and New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle,” as well as an episode of Tales From The Crypt. On the experience of directing the film, he has stated that “it was f—ing horrible. Johnny Mnemonic is about 65 percent of what I hoped it would be.”

The central cast of Johnny Mnemonic includes the likes of Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, John Wick, The Neon Demon, Speed, Point Break), Ice-T (Leprechaun In The Hood, Surviving The Game, Law & Order: SVU, Tank Girl), Dolph Lundren (Showdown In Little Tokyo, Rocky IV, The Punisher, I Come In Peace, Red Scorpion), Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers, Saw, DragonHeart), Henry Rollins (Heat, He Never Died), and Takeshi Kitano (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi, Kikujiro, Brother).

The cinematographer for the film was Francois Protat, whose other credits include the virtual reality horror flick Brainscan and the infamous death-centric comedy Weekend at Bernie’s.

Johnny Mnemonic‘s editor was Ronald Sanders, who also cut the films A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, The Fly, Coraline, Firestarter, The Dead Zone, Scanners, and Videodrome, among others.

The musical score for the film was composed by Brad Fiedel, whose other credits include True Lies, True Believer, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Fright Night, The Terminator, The Serpent and The Rainbow, and Fright Night Part 2.

Due to a miscue on set, Dolph Lundgren at one point actually punched co-star Henry Rollins in the face during a take. Rollins has since described the experience:

[He hit] like a UPS delivery truck. My DNA uncoiled. I found a new religion. He hit me so hard and it just stopped. My head took the entirety of the weight. I was like, ‘Wow, my thinking is 20 percent slower. I’m running for office!”

Dolph Lundgren’s casting in the film was allegedly in opposition to director Robert Longo’s wishes, and was an order from the producers to try to sell the movie to more demographics and markets. Longo has since claimed that he would like to cut a “45-minute version of [Johnny Mnemonic] without Dolph.”

Keanu Reeves wound up nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor for his lead performance in Johnny Mnemonic, though he didn’t wind up winning it.

Both William Gibson and Robert Longo initially wanted to make a low-budget independent movie out of the story of Johnny Mnemonic, but were ultimately only able to garner interest in a wide release, high-budget potential blockbuster. Ultimately, both men were unhappy with the result that hit theaters.

As a tie-in to the movie, a Johnny Mnemonic full motion video game was produced and released for DOS, Mac, and Windows 3.x. The era of FMV games is now looked back on with widespread scorn, and Johnny Mnemonic is regarded as one of the most prominently terrible games of the lot.

Johnny Mnemonic is partially remembered today because of its distinct, bright orange VHS tape, which made it visibly stand out from the typical black tapes.

Johnny Mnemonic was made on a production budget of $26 million, on which it brought in a lifetime domestic gross of just over $19 million. International reports have it grossing as much as $50 million, but I couldn’t find a consistent source to verify the foreign market numbers.

Critically, the film did not fare well: it currently holds a 5.6/10 user rating on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 13% from critics and 31% from audiences.

First off, it has to be said that if Johnny Mnemonic is anything, it is imaginative. The concept behind the film is punctuated with some interesting technological futurism, though a lot of it is undercut with some less than ideal effects. Also, as with most attempts in fiction to envision the future, going back years later makes the film look a bit goofy, and it is impossible not to compare the technological predictions with our actual progresses.

All of that said, the biggest issues with Johnny Mnemonic go far beyond the goofy-looking technologies: if anything, the cyborg dolphins and immersive VR internet helmets are the entertainment high water mark of the flick.

The first and biggest issue with Johnny Mnemonic is its abysmally slow pacing, which is nothing short of agonizing. However, I think there are some interesting reasons for why the film’s plot moves as slow as it does. First off, the production was dealing with both a first-time screenwriter and a first-time director, which can make for a bad recipe out of the gate. On top of that, it is worth noting that the initial vision for Johnny Mnemonic was to make an independent short film. I assume that the screenplay wasn’t totally re-written to make it longer once that plan changed, but that more content was plugged in wherever it could fit. This, as you can imagine, can lead to a slower, more bloated pacing once put to film.  Beyond even that, it sounds like the studio and producers implemented additional pressure at the last minute to add even more into the movie, like the prominent role for Dolph Lundgren. Frankly, it would be impressive if the movie didn’t feel sluggish and overstuffed at that point.

However, surprisingly, that last-minute addition of Dolph Lundgren is almost a savior for the entire film: he brings energy to the screen whenever he shows up, and got me (at least somewhat) re-invested in the story. His performance primarily exists to let him chew scenery and spit one-liners, which is exactly what you would want from a zany villain character. It is also worth mentioning that Ice-T is his usual self here, which is a breath of fresh air for such an un-charismatic movie. Unfortunately, neither Ice-T or Dolph get any significant screen time, which is a huge shortcoming for the flick.

Johnny Mnemonic contains some cool futuristic ideas, has a pretty sleek, grounded science-fiction design, and boasts an amazingly cheesy performance from Dolph Lundgren, but the pacing is so brutally slow that any positive qualities of the flick are thoroughly blotted out. I can recommend looking up some clips of the movie, or maybe an abridged supercut summary, but sitting through the entire run-time is pretty damn brutal. Unless you are a die-hard fan of William Gibson, Keanu Reeves, or one of the other players involved, this is a pretty skippable feature.

Batman And Robin

Batman & Robin

Today, I’m going to dive into the infamously terrible 1997 superhero movie, Batman & Robin.

The plot of Batman & Robin is summarized on IMDb as follows:

Batman and Robin try to keep their relationship together even as they must stop Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy from freezing Gotham City.

Batman & Robin is, of course, based on the DC comics characters of Batman and Robin. Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in March of 1939, created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Robin came along the following year, in Detective Comics #38, and is credited to the same duo. The two have appeared in numerous television shows, video games, movies, and other mediums over the years, and are almost certainly the most iconic superhero duo.

The writer for the screenplay of Batman & Robin was Akiva Goldsman, who also penned screenplays for Winter’s Tale, I Am Legend, I Robot, A Beautiful Mind, Lost In Space, and Batman Forever.

Batman & Robin was directed by Joel Schumacher, whose other credits include Phone Booth, The Number 23, 8MM, Batman Forever, Falling Down, Flatliners, and The Lost Boys, among others.

The cast for the film is headlined by the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger (Predator, Last Action Hero, The Terminator, Commando, Hercules In New York), George Clooney (Michael Clayton, Solaris, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Burn After Reading, Intolerable Cruelty, Syriana, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind), Chris O’Donnell (Batman Forever, NCIS: Los Angeles, Scent of a Woman), Uma Thurman (Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, The Producers, Gattaca), Alicia Silverstone (Clueless), Michael Gough (Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever), and John Glover (Gremlins 2, Smallville, In The Mouth of Madness).

The cinematographer for Batman & Robin was Stephen Goldblatt, who shot The Help, The Hunger, Charlie Wilson’s War, Striptease, Batman Forever, The Pelican Brief, Lethal Weapon, Lethal Weapon 2, and The Cotton Club, among others.

Batman & Robin had two credited editors: Dennis Virkler (Daredevil, Under Siege, Xanadu, Freejack, Collateral Damage, Independence Day, Only The Strong, The Chronicles of Riddick, The Hunt For Red October) and Mark Stevens (Phone Booth, The Number 23, Freddy vs. Jason, Batman Forever, The Final Destination).

The musical score for the film was composed by Elliot Goldenthal, who is known for providing music for movies like Heat, Public Enemies, Sphere, Alien 3, Batman Forever, Pet Sematary, Titus, Frida, and Across The Universe.

Among the team of effects workers for Batman & Robin was John Dykstra, a legendary, award-winning effects guru is is known for being an original founder of Industrial Light and Magic, coming up with the visuals used for the space battles and light sabers in Star Wars, and working on films like The Hateful Eight, Spider-Man, Lifeforce, and Django: Unchained.

Batman & Robin was the fourth and final installment in the initial Warner Brothers Batman film franchise, which began with Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman.

According to Joel Schumacher, previous Batman actor Val Kilmer left to do The Saint, so the role was recast to George Clooney. However, rumors have swirled that Val Kilmer was growing increasingly difficult to work with, such as was the case with The Island of Doctor Moreau, and wasn’t asked to return.

Joel Schumacher claims that the production of Batman & Robin was under immense pressure from the studio and producers to be “toyetic”: essentially, they were mandated to come up with devices that could be sold as merchandise and toys, because of how much money they add to the overhead profits.

Likewise, Schumacher says that they were under similar pressure to “make as kid-friendly a Batman as possible,” because parents complained that Burton’s Batman films were too scary for kids. So, they made it “lighter, brighter, [and] more family-friendly.” However, Schumacher claims that he wanted to do a darker film based on the comic story Batman: Year One, which he attempted to pitch after the failure of Batman & Robin. Likewise, Darren Aronofsky and Frank Miller joined forces to try to make an iteration Batman: Year One as well, but were unsuccessful.

Robin’s costume and logo used in the movie were modeled after the character of Nightwing, which is a later alias of Dick Grayson in the comics after he retires the moniker of Robin.

Even before the film was released, plans were in motion for a sequel to Batman & Robin, to be titled Batman Unchained. However, the overwhelmingly negative reception to the film tanked the plans, and the Batman property sat dormant until Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins in 2005.

The Smashing Pumpkins’s song  The End is The Beginning is The End was created specifically for the film, and ultimately won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Jeep Swenson, who portrayed Bane, unexpectedly died two months after the film’s release at the age of 40, due to heart failure. He was a known professional wrestler for WCW, who also appeared in the Hulk Hogan movie No Holds Barred.

Batman & Robin was made on a production budget of $125 million, on which it took in a lifetime box office total of $238.2 million between international and domestic markets.

Despite the profits, the movie was a huge critical failure, and is often cited as one of the worst movies ever made. It currently holds a 3.7/10 IMDb user rating, alongside scores of 11% from critics and 16% from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.

Batman & Robin is a rare case where a movie was a failure, in spite of succeeding in what it sought to do. Technically, Batman & Robin is a successful execution of a vision: a heavily-stylized, cartoony family movie. However, that successfully-executed vision was roundly rejected by audiences and critics. It wasn’t short on talent, or money, or anything else: the product just wasn’t what people wanted.

Personally, I kind of enjoy the movie. Yeah, the terrible cartoon sound effects and horrendous dialogue are painful to sit through, but I can definitely appreciate some over-the-top acting. Likewise, this is one of the most uniquely designed movies I can think of. It doesn’t really look like anything else, and it contributes a lot to the hyper-reality of the content of the story and the characters. The vision here was to create a live-action cartoon, and the designs go a long way towards making that possible. I also kind of appreciate the extremely vivid color palette, and would generally take that over the sepia-drenched Batman Begins any day.

Looking back now, in a word inflicted with Zack Snyder’s melodramatic DCEU, which avoids fun and vibrancy like the plague, you can sort of see the weird charm hidden inside of Batman & Robin. Likewise, the humor, style, and even dialogue on display here are far superior to that displayed in Suicide Squad, which is strung together with string and bubble gum. Say what you will about the product, but Batman & Robin is a complete movie: an executed vision with a coherent story behind. It may be a soulless capitalistic endeavor seeking to leech off of children, but it is at least a structured narrative. It may also be a goofy, anachronistic cartoon that is edited like a panic attack, but it has some tangible vitality to it.

People know what this movie is by now. If you haven’t seen it, you’ve heard about it, or seen clips. You know what you are getting into if you are sitting down with it. Personally, I go back to this movie more often than most of the Batman flicks. It is genuinely, entertainingly terrible, but is also more visually interesting than a lot of similar bad movies. Not only that, but Joel Schumacher’s commentary track, which is available on some DVD releases of the movie, is both insightful and hilarious, and adds a lot to a rewatch. For bad movie fans, this is mandatory viewing. For casual movie fans or folks looking for a laugh, this is a good option to take out. For all of the screenplay’s issues, pacing is not one, and that is the most painful aspect of most bad movies.