Joel Schumacher has passed away at the age of 80, succumbing to his battle with cancer. His legacy no doubt remembered for a wide variety of films ranging from horror, teen romps, sci-fi, war, comics, crime, and musicals. If there is one thing about Schumacher, he always tried his hand at new things and never fully stuck to one particular genre. I know some fans may have hated a select pair of films done by him (we’ll get to that in due time).
For me, the one film out of his vast filmography that I loved was his underrated stand-out film is 1993’s Falling Down with Michael Douglas, and 1994’s the Client with Susan Sarandon. Both are amazing films in which they twist the expectation for the former in who you start out rooting for him on given how crazy society is, but by the end you realize quite poetically, “he’s the bad guy”, yet still your rooting for him. For the later, the sort of legal flick where the client is put into the most random yet crazy situation and the crazy ass legal system that’s willing to use him to net bigger fish.
Still, there’s a third film of his I do enjoy and that’s Batman Forever. Yes, I enjoyed a Joel Schumacher Batman film. I really don’t fully hate any of them. I know others have made their online careers out of the “Bat credit card”. Eh, I shrug it off and think of these films more of a love letter to the crazy Batman comics of the late 50s to 60s and a homage to 60s series. But come on to say the series didn’t have its glorious moments you’d be lying if Batman emerging from a fire and looking like a spawn from hell looking to wreck unholy vengeance upon those devious.
I mean yes, there are OTHER moments, but dammit do they just work. Heck I was having fun watching it. That and Nicole Kidman being absolutely stunning a young impressionable teen that I was back then I could overlook the bad. Plus even if the two HATED each other I loved Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carey trying to out ham/overact past the other. Now for THE OTHER film well, I think there are very ice things about it, and all we have to do is chill about the rage.
Probably kind of why while I’m heartbroken at a certain adaptation of one of my favorite character’s that isn’t to say it hasn’t happened before or will happen again. ARNOLD’s Mr. Freeze taught me even the craziest far from south interpretation of the character there can be something cool about it:
Alright no more FREEZE puns, I promise.
The other thing that I loved about the film was (even if it was a bit predictable) I dug the subplot with Alfred (Michael Gough). It finally gave him a subplot. Yes, it was a cheap, but come on more Michael Gough doing something like the ’89 original than just being a participant is always a good thing. Plus it felt like the only scenes George Clooney actually tried to act in the film.
Then there’s the rest of the films he did. I confess the only musical that ever got my fancy was 2004’s Phantom of the Opera, so yes I had to see the version of the film. Though I did find lacking compared to other adaptations (I mean come on when you find a DVD copy of the 1989 horror version) other versions are just on that level.
2002’s Phone Booth was an interesting and fascinating movie given (for the most part) it took place entirely in a phone booth (how dated that is now) and the two people who carried the film was Colin Farrell and Kiefer Sutherland (probably the actor who recurred the most in Schumacher’s films) just using his chilling voice carried that darn film. For horror, okay I saw the Lost Boys, but I felt eh it ain’t Fright Night, but enjoyable.
For me, the superior film that touched on more original subject was 1990’s Flatliners. Again, Sutherland is there now at the forefront and this one dealt with the subject of death in an interesting fascinating way and to this day is a unique stand-out film in the wide variety of horror films from that era that just went for the simple slasher (or how the “remake” went down the stupid jump scare route instead of remembering what made this film so damn memorable).
That is probably the best thing you can say about Schumacher. The man did it all by trying out various genres, while he did make a few stinkers here and there. There’s a lot of damn good films he’s did throughout his entire career. I know I barely covered a simple sized chunk of his vast filmography. But that’s the wonder of this man. It is so vast that you can easily pick and choose which one of his is a favorite.
While some can only look at him as “the man who ruined Batman on film”. I’d say, all he did was showcase another half of the character for audiences. Plus I’d rather sit thru either of his Batman films than watch a single of those DC animated Batman movies. Not only that, but when the man was on his mark, damn did he hit something that would make you think and remember.
And in the end, that is the greatness of film. To either turn your mind off for a few hours, or present a message to question things. Schumacher did that perfectly. To that I say thank you good sir, and thank you for the many glorious films you gave us.