Batman and Robin: Deep Freeze

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(Updated: November 15, 2022)
Overall rating
 
9.7
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9.0
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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9.0
This is absolutely a fantastic fanedit, even without rating it on a curve for level-of-difficulty. Does it turn Batman & Robin into a good movie? Oh god no.

Does it make Batman & Robin watchable? Surprisingly: yes!

My thoughts on this film and exactly what the hell Joel Schumacher was doing with it are here: https://boxd.it/3qY4bl but suffice to say that it's one of the worst comic book movies of all time. When you wonder why people aren't raging in the streets at the sloppy efforts DC comes out with all the time now, it's probably in large part because we all know just how much worse it can get. This.

But we also know how much better it can be, like Batman: The Animated Series. Seeing that MusicEd's goal was to make this film more like that show was very intriguing to me...and he mostly pulls it off! I honestly NEVER would have drawn the comparison, but changing the movie to black and white showcases the intense lighting that Schumacher used, and actually gives this a rather appropriate, almost Gothic/expressionist look like often used in the animated series. The bizarre building architecture suddenly looks less like studio excess and more fitting to a weird, heightened 1940s aesthetic. Poison Ivy's entrance hearkens back to Fritz Lang's Metropolis and Mr. Freeze's tech looks like something from Lost In Space. The massive rescoring of the film places it more in tone with the series as well, as do the opening credits which I actually found really impressive... God help me, it almost all works!

That said, this is one of the worst scripts ever written, and a lot of the dialogue is still cringey. Despite all the cuts, Arnold speaks almost exclusively in bad puns, so many are still included, like “The iceman cometh!”, “Freeze in Hell, Batman!”, and “Adam and Eve-il…” <eyeroll> Clooney is still as horribly-miscast as him, Silverstone and O'Donnell's storylines are still underbaked and annoying more than fun, and there's honestly just a lot of really inconsistent acting here. The whole affair still has jarring tones at war with each other and plot pieces strung together on the thinnest of margins. It's written down to kids far more than the worst Batman cartoon.

My favorite exchange made me actually *guffaw* at the end, where Batman says-
"The satellites COULD be reconfigured but it would take a computer genius to --"
Robin: "I'm on it!"
Batgirl: "No, I'M on it!"

Ah, this movie is just full of geniuses. ;) However, as dumb as it is, it's a vast improvement over the theatrical version, something which was almost physically painful for me to watch even 5 minutes of at a time. Cutting Bane out of this film works amazingly well, as do most of the other plot alterations. The cuts do leave some slight logic gaps in the narrative, where it really feels like people (especially Batman) just suddenly know things or have decided things and we've missed that whole process off-screen. That said, I'm sure the original film wouldn't feel much different... more material would just raise more questions. It's a silly movie with very little logic to it, so what's here is actually a big improvement. Can't fault it for not being perfect.

If you're going to watch Batman & Robin, this is unequivocally the way to watch it. I still don't know that I'd recommend watching it at ALL, (a better choice would be to spend time with Kevin Conroy's work, the best Batman of all time...) but if you do, this is the way to do it.

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Overall rating
 
10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
Batman & Robin had.... a decent movie hidden inside????

Yes indeed, and I'm as surprised as you are! It was just a matter of removing layer upon layer of outrageous garbage, and what remains is a nice little Batman story, which is very hard to notice in the official version because the terrible stuff is so prominent. But lose the neon aesthetic and make it a beautiful black and white, remove the truckload of ice puns and all that other random nonsense, and cover it with the amazing music from the Arkham games, and the result plays surprisingly close to a Batman the Animated Series episode in tone. And one with a lot of heart: Mr. Freeze was arguably the most tragic villain of the show, and the basics of the character remain here, even if Arnold is still a less than ideal casting choice (where was Patrick Stewart when we needed him?), and the Alfred subplot displays a lot of warmth inside the Bat-Family. For all of the movie's interminable list of faults, this warmth is an aspect that is rarely present in other, better ones, despite memorable comic book stories having been built around it (anyone remember the Legends of the Dark Knight story "Family"?). These people deeply love each other, which is sadly kinda lost in the current grim-and-gritty cinematic approach to the characters.

Sure, this is still not as good as Batman 1989 or The Dark Knight or [insert about any other Batman movie here], but Music Ed has created a version of Batman & Robin that I can actually enjoy. And that's no small feat. Highly recommended!
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Overall rating
 
8.2
Audio/Video Quality
 
8.0
Audio Editing
 
8.0
Visual Editing
 
8.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
7.0
Disclaimer: I haven't seen this since I was a child, when the film was always experienced at the hands of the VHS player. I picked up the blu-ray pretty much exclusively to see the edit, so take my comparisons and opinion with a pinch of salt. I am far removed from the source.


QUALITY

Visual quality is variable, but decent overall. Some artifacts can be heard on the audio.


VISUAL

There are moments where it's apparent that the framerate has been dropped in order to slow down/extend a shot, which took me out of the film. The conversion to black and white is a mixed bag as some shots look a bit washed out, like they could maybe have done with having deeper blacks. Scenes with Mr Freeze seem to be the exception; his character was born to be portrayed in B&W!


AUDIO

This is an ambitious project and requires a lot of sound rebuilding to make the rescoring choices work, but it feels like the replacement of sound effects has been on the lighter side. Some scenes feel as though they are missing sounds, such as the absence of breath or grunting during a fight. Dialogue in unscored scenes is also noticeably louder than scenes where audio has been reworked. It works, and not all of the film has been rescored, so this isn't a regular issue. But it took me out of the edit and made parts feel incomplete. As mentioned, there is some artifacting, which may be from the choice of bitrate, but this is also a common side effect when removing music from sound effects; so I'm wondering if that's part of it. These typically fare worse than dialogue when trying to remove music.

On a purely subjective level, I found the music during the motorbike chase to be obnoxious, and think that could have been rescored.


NARRATIVE

I found the opening credits to be a bit lengthy and not ideal pacing, but the rest generally flows well. I didn't piece together where Bain even was meant to come into the plot, so that was obviously slickly done. Maybe the biggest criticism I could give is that Robin and Batman's rivalry over Ivy felt underdeveloped.

Unfortunately, even with all of MusicEd's changes, it felt apparent to me that Batman and Robin is a film that wants to be campy, and the edit feels at war with this. Personally, I didn't think the music was that fitting; I realise that Ed was going for more of an expressionist look, but I got much more of a noir vibe. For me, this notion jarred with the choice of a modern cinematic soundtrack. I could see the expressionist angle working maybe if this was made into a silent movie (anyone?), which would also allow for more freedom with the narrative.


ENJOYMENT

To be completely honest, while I enjoyed seeing MusicEd's unique take, the film itself came across pretty mediocre. It's been so long since I've seen the original that it's hard to determine whether this is an improvement or not. I can remember offensive elements that are now removed, but is it necessarily a gain to remove these or does it rob an inherently campy film of ironic enjoyment? Whether you're a fan of Schumacker's approach or no, it feels like a homage to the days of Adam West... and it may be that it's better embraced that way. I don't put that forward as a strong opinion, merely as food for thought.

Thank you again, MusicEd, for sharing your work. Sorry I haven't been super positive on this one! I'm always pleased to see ambitious projects like this come out though :)

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(Updated: June 26, 2022)
Overall rating
 
9.7
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
Holy Reconceptualization Batfans!!!!

I can not even believe this is the same movie!

Even though I am a long time fan and supporter of MusicEd, when he announced this project, I must be honest, that small part of me was skeptical that he could pull this off. But pull it off he has, and then some!

The Black & White conversion looks great! Never too dark that you can't make out important background details and never too bright that it looks washed out. But most importantly, it just immediately creates a new mood and tone that perfectly suits the world of our favourite dark knight detective.

This new tone is further solidified by the incredible new soundtrack from the Arkham games that Ed has added. Gone are the more over the top, bombastic music beats replaced by a darker, edgier, Gotham-esque sound.

But the real accomplishment is in the cut work! Over 30 minutes sliced away, Ed has significantly toned down the moronic badguy elements, making them feel now more like mustache twirling comic book villains. And by trimming back on Freeze and Ivy, it moves the Alfred subplot to the center stage, giving the overall movie significantly more dramatic and emotional weight. It is an incredible narrative accomplishment. Of course, with such dramatic trims, there is the occasional moment where the dialogue does not flow quite naturally enough or you can not hide every silly moment like our heroes on skates, but these a fleeting and minor issues, none of which deterred from my enjoyment.

As I watched, many times I remarked to myself how much this fan edit reminded me of the classic Animated Series... a fantastic blend of Noir, Spectacle and Character.

This is some delicious popcorn entertainment. Highly recommended.

Thumbs Up!!!!
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(Updated: June 30, 2022)
Overall rating
 
9.5
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
8.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
Who knew I would ever watch BATMAN AND ROBIN again, never mind enjoy it?

BATMAN AND ROBIN: DEEP FREEZE is a fantastic edit, full stop. Music Ed gives the film an entirely new feel by removing dozens and dozens of lame jokes, adding new score sourced from the Arkham video game series, and applying a black and white colour grade.

Only a select few one-liners remain - the ones that are important for communicating plot and character, and a few that are legitimately clever. The new music works great, too. The Arkham music is recognizably “Batman” without really feeling dated in any sense, so it fits the movie well, and it blends perfectly with the original score cues that are left in. The movie’s infamous neon toy commercial sheen is removed, and the stylish lighting and gothic set design is allowed to shine instead.

Initially, I thought perhaps the editor had brightened the picture too much, but it’s honestly better for the picture to be slightly too bright, rather than too dark. The brightness ensures that none of the picture’s detail gets obscured by the black and white colour grade, and it has a fun effect: the movie now feels old-fashioned in a way it never did before, as the artifice of the sets and costumes and special effects comes alive. It feels fake, but in the best way possible.

Combine that old-fashioned feeling with the cast’s broad, 1960s Batman style acting, and suddenly I’m watching a long-lost campy Batman adventure that lands somewhere between Tim Burton and Adam West, while also feeling like something new entirely.

The editor’s choices are savvy throughout. The opening sequence in the museum is streamlined, and the entire episode onboard Mr. Freeze’s rocket is removed. You don’t even notice that it’s gone. All of the terrible scenes in South America with the mad scientist character are cut, and so is the entire Bane character, who is irrelevant to the story. The character of Pamela Isley gets a perfect introduction, and we don’t miss the explanations regarding her superpowers. She’s Poison Ivy, she’s a supervillain, get used to it.

I could go on, but suffice to say, this is pretty much everything you would want in an edit of BATMAN AND ROBIN.

The middle part of the movie is restructured extensively. I tried to keep track of all the scene shuffling, but I couldn’t, and it all played smoothly anyway. Everything clicks neatly into place and all of the character and theme development continues naturally, which is impressive. (On this note, I would enjoy reading the editor’s full list of cuts and changes, just so I can appreciate the work done even more.)

There are only a few choices that didn’t work for me.

The first is the removal of Pamela Isley convincing Commissioner Gordon to hand over the keys to the police station so she can steal the Bat signal. This is an important scene because it would establish definitively for the viewer that Pam and Poison Ivy are the same person. (Of course, we’ve all seen the movie, so we know this, but otherwise I don’t think it’s obvious until now.) This scene is also where Bruce observes who Poison Ivy is and how her love dust works. It feels strange later when Bruce knows this info without any explanation. The scene would also help break up a string of several scenes that nearly turn the movie into something you might reasonably call BATMAN AND ROBIN: MACGREGOR'S SYNDROME. I understand that seeing how Poison Ivy acquires the Bat signal isn’t important, and perhaps it doesn’t make sense for Julie to still be dating Bruce at this point, but I think the movie misses the scene for the reasons given.

The second choice is the editor keeping Mr. Freeze shouting “It’s time to feast!” right before he activates the giant freeze gun, simply because it doesn’t make much sense without the previous line about revenge being a dish best served cold. This isn’t a big deal, though, especially considering all of the other well-judged trims to dialogue.

The third is maybe more of a personal preference, but I didn’t feel the final shot of Freeze landed emotionally. The shot is obviously transplanted from a previous scene. The situation is the same, with Freeze sitting on his prison bed and gazing forlornly at an ice sculpted miniature of his wife. Even the supposedly dead guards from before are standing in the room. It’s all too gloomy - the scene would work better if it showed Freeze continuing his research in Arkham, as Batman stated earlier, but sadly there’s no footage showing that.

I apologize for running so long in this review! This is an editor at the top of his game, and DEEP FREEZE is one of the best fan edits I’ve seen in a long time. I got a chill watching it. Is Music Ed a gardener? Because he’s very good at cutting and trimming. This movie used to leave me cold, now it doesn’t. Insert plant pun. Ice pun. Trees. Winter. Okay I'll stop now.
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