Friday, July 31, 2020

Magazine Article: Cinefex Issue 63 (Part 1)

Here's a fantastic article on the effects work and miniatures used in Batman Forever. It gets a little technical but I think you'll find it really interesting regardless. Due to the tiny text size, landscape format and small images I've edited this so that it's easily readable and the images are nice and big.

I'm going to split this up over three posts.

In Batman Forever – Warner Brothers' third instalment in its comic book franchise – the directorial reins were transferred from Tim Burton to Joel Schumacher, who brought a lighter touch to the proceedings . Significant changes included the casting of Val Kilmer – replacing Michael Keaton as the mysterious Caped Crusader – and the introduction of Robin to the series. Also introduced were a new batmobile and a redesigned batcave, erected in a giant Long Beach dome hangar that formerly housed the Spruce Goose.

Adding campy villainy to the production were Jim Carrey as the diabolical Riddler, a techno-nerd turned criminal mastermind, whose chief pleasure is derived from taunting his victims with obscure riddles; and Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, former district attorney turned deranged crook whose facial features are hideously acid-scarred on one side while perfectly normal on the other. Appliance for the character was designed by Rick Baker.

Expansive miniature sets, filmed motion control under the supervision of Boyd Shermis and Eric Dust, were combined with computer generated imagery, matte paintings, full-scale set pieces and location footage to create a complex, cosmopolitan Gotham City. Modelmakers working under supervisor Michael Joyce constructed several large set pieces from scratch, as well as pressing into service a number of miniature skyscrapers original built by Stetson Visual Services for The Hudsucker Proxy. The existing miniatures required extensive restoration and detailing to accommodate the retrofit design motif of the film.

A motion control camera moves through the Gotham city set, smoked to create aerial density and lit with splashes of comic book colour.

A nocturnal beauty shot reveals a sampling of the ubiquitous giant statuary incorporated into the cityscape.

A habour statue of Lady Gotham was sculpted, photographed by itself and matted into the cityscape as needed. Modelmaker Pete Gerard installs a rotating searchlight in the statue's torch.

Modelmaker Kento Gebo wires miniature fluorescent lights for the translight surface of a Gotham City sign, one of many incorporated into the miniature environment.

Giant statues carved out of foam were among the surreal elements embellishing the urban landscape of the miniature Gotham set. A sculpting team, headed by Yarek Alfer created most of the massive figures.

Having foiled a bank heist staged by Two-Face primarily to entrap him. Batman finds himself clinging periously to a chain attached to a careening helicopter. As darkness approaches, effects crew members prepare for a night shot in which the helicopter – a model tail-mounted on a rod extending from a linear track – smashes through an eye-shaped billboard.

The billboard miniature made from tempered glass rigged with pyrotechnic charges – shatters moments before impact.

In post-production, Pacific Data Images replaced rotors on the model helicopter with digital alternates that produced a superior motion blur. PDI also incorporated digital neon into the sign and added a computer generated Batman dangling from the chopper and motion-traced to the shot.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Batman Forever Merchandise Review – Batman Statue from Applause

Right, let's look at the 12 inch Batman statue from Applause that was released back in 1995. This is a really cool figure. Not as great as the Robin figure (already reviewed on my youtube channel) but still pretty great.

Until I can save up for the new Hot Toys Batman and Robin, this is my de facto large scale Batman and Robin. The black paintwork isn't movie accurate but I never was huge fan of the dark blue anyway. If only the face was a little better this would be perfect.

Anyway, it took me a while to track this down for a good price. There's always ones going on eBay but they tend to be £50-100 which I feel is too much. If you can find this for more like £20-30 it's worth your money.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

External link: Listen to me on episode 101 of Batminute

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of chatting with Jon and Niall for the Batminute podcast about minute 101 of Batman Forever.

For reference that's the bit of the movie where Robin drives the Batboat out of the batcave and Batman flies the Batwing. It culminates with Gordon almost shutting the bat signal down only to have Batman fly through and give him a 'thumbs up'.

It was tons of fun to record (*note: this was recorded prior to Joel's death). We covered the vehicles, the merchandise, the toys, the deleted red book scenes, the pros and cons of the Synder Cut (which was announced the day we recorded - for reference I'm pro), Gordon's lazy approach to policing and whether Michael Keaton would ever do a thumbs up. 

I hope you'll have a listen and support this podcast. Jon and Niall are doing a fantastic job and have a Patron for bonus content. 

Here's the link to the episode:-

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Promotional Photos: Wardrobe Tests for Chase, Sugar, Spice and Two-Face

Here's some interesting pics I've been sitting on. Wardrobe tests for Chase and Two-Face. I think these are Wardrobe Tests rather than Promo Shots because of the plain background and the fact that the make-up seems different from the final movie - Two-Face in particular seems slightly darker purple and a little creepier looking.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Batman Forever Merchandise Review – Night Hunter Batman figure from Kenner

I think everyone remembers this figure right? The Night Hunter Batman had this very distinctive yellow goggles that you can flick over his eyes to make him see (in the dark I guess). I really dig this figure, it's got a very versatile set of wings that you can use as either a glider or a shield. But the icing on the cake is the big claws that can be taken off and put in Batman's hands as deadly weapons. This is Kenner at is best - innovative, fun, and the right kind of silly.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Deleted Scenes: Sign the petition for WB to release the Schumacher Cut

A few months ago I would have said there was no way we'd see see the fabled "Snyder Cut" of Justice League.

Almost as soon as that film was released fans were asking to see Zack Snyder's original cut which was screened for Warner Bros executives and was the point where it was decided to go back and reshoot big chunks of the film. Fans started a long and loud campaign to #releasethesnydercut - which simultaneously raised awareness and raise money for suicide prevention. I assumed it was going to go nowhere.

But then the director posted several screenshots, then a photo of the film canister, and then (possibly due to the stalled movie industry and the need for streaming exclusives) it was announced the film would be released as a HBO MAX exclusive.

Following that fans - DC fans in particular - have been looking for other unreleased cuts to champion in the hopes they too can be released - starting with David Ayer's original cut of Suicide Squad.

This week saw a rumour that a 170 minute cut of Batman Forever is sitting in Warner Brothers vaults.

Marc Bernardin was chatting to Kevin Smith on his Fatman Beyond podcast when he announced:-

“I have it on pretty good authority that there exists in the Warner Bros. vault a 170-minute cut of Batman Forever,” Bernardin told his co-host Kevin Smith. “I think that it went much deeper into his childhood psychosis and his mental blocks and that it was a more serious, darker version of that movie that was one of the first assemblies that Joel filed with the studio and they eventually cut it down because they were like ‘it’s too dark for kids. We gotta sell these Happy Meals, so maybe let’s not invest ourselves in the trauma of childhood murder. We’ve got Jim Carrey, let him do some s–t.”

Having looked into the deleted scenes myself I'm a little skeptical that so much was cut from the movie. The current cut is 129 minutes with credits. There are 15 minutes worth of deleted scenes on the DVD/Blu Ray.

There's a sprinkling of little scenes that were definitely shot and cut like Nygma at his Claw Island factory overseeing production of the box, Bruce and Alfred trying to deconstruct a box, and Sugar and Spice trying to exit Nygma's party.

The rest is surely just longer versions of existing scenes. A few extra lines here and there. I imagine lots more ad libbing from Jim Carrey.

Back in 2005 Joel Schumacher did say he'd prepared a longer cut of Batman Forever for the DVD special edition so I do believe that WB have got a longer cut (maybe 170 minutes maybe less) in their vault somewhere). The Richard Donner Cut of Superman II did get released in 2006 so this wouldn't be unprecedented.

Anyway, I was initally a little reluctant to start any petition for Batman Forever so soon after the Justice League one.

Justice League was a movie that was mangled and reshoot and retooled to the point that it was clearly obvious it had been tampered with. Batman Forever was a movie that had a little restructuring at the start (we start with a bank heist rather than merting Nygma) and a subplot about a diary removed. I don't think the changes here did too much damage. The movie plays well as it is. I don't believe the director's cut would be darker. Batman Forever isn't a dark movie. But it might be more complete and a fun alternative viewing experience.

So anyway if you want to see this longer cut of Batman Forever there's a petition you can sign here (not started by me).

Even if you're slightly curious to see it please sign it because Warner Brothers won't do anything without some sort of demand. With HBO MAX looking for exclusive content to entice prospective subscribers NOW IS THE TIME to let them know what content we'd like. The fact that Kevin Smith and Marc Bernardin are talking about this cut raises it's profile and we should capitalise on this before it fades away.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Magazine Article: Batman Forever The Official Magazine Part 6 (end)

And here are the final pages of the Official Magazine.

Most excitingly the final page has the blue screen shot of Batman and Robin standing on a gargoyle on the Gotham rooftops. This was supposed to be the final shot of the film - a call back to the end of the 1989 movie - but they changed it to Batman and Robin running in front of the bat signal in the finished film.

I hope you've enjoyed these magazine scans. Still lots more to post on this website and my youtube channel. I'm not going anywhere!