Unlike a certain other Joel Schumacher directed Batman film that shall go unnamed, this one almost works. It is certainly a flawed film, but thanks to some strong performance and a brisk pace, it never really overstays its welcome and up until the ending (which we’ll get to later), it succeeds in being a loud, bright big budget action film.
Schumacher wastes no time making the franchise his own – injecting bright colors and whimsical music into what Tim Burton had designed as a Gothic-inspired, moody franchise. Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) is decked out in neons, with his scarred face a bright pink. The Riddler (Jim Carrey) wears a variety of bright green outfits. There is an entire gang sporting black light reactive neon face paint. Robin (Chris O’Donnell), the antithesis of Batman’s brooding, dark persona, is introduced. And so are those infamous nipples on the Batsuit.
The film centers around The Riddler’s plan to take over the minds of all Gothamites. As a lowly inventor for Wayne Enterprises, Edward Nigma creates a device that can beam TV signals into your head. The unintended consequence of this is that it also allows Nigma to read people’s thoughts and to grow smarter by stealing their brainwaves. When Bruce Wayne shuts down his project because of the ethical questions it raises (without even knowing about the whole mind control bit), he devotes himself to a life of crime as The Riddler. Two-Face, a sociopath running around robbing banks with no real endgame, decides to team up with him.
In addition to Dick Grayson/Robin coming into his life, Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer) is also introduced to Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman), a criminal psychologist who has a crush on Batman. The film has a bizarre love triangle in that Chase is in love with Batman and initially not interested in Bruce Wayne, who would like to date her as himself and not his cape and cowled alterego.