That was a question posted by someone else on an Amazon forum I stumbled across once, and I myself provided an answer to that question. Anybody who has seen that forum will have likely seen my answer, but if you haven't I'll provide it for you right here. But first I'm gonna put on a surgeon's mask, grab a scalpel and dissect this 1997 movie release.
Batman and Robin (played by George Clooney and Chris O'Donnell respectively) team up to battle two more villains with sick, twisted, cartoonish plans to take over Gotham City; Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who hates any temperature above liquid nitrogen cold, and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) a seductive plant life lover who's always in a please-lay-me-down-on-the-bed-and-rip-my-knickers-off kind of mood. Rounding off the cast is Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) and Alfred (Michael Gough). Having watched the movie from start to finish a few times it's clear to see why so many critics and movie-goers hated this Dark Knight offering so much.
Firstly there's not much of a plot, and what is there is super cheesy. The acting is super melodramatic, even by comic book super hero standards; it has very little in the way of emotional impact (apart from Mr.Freeze's back story); and there's a high level of "campness" in both the character costumes (with some unnecessary butt shots) and the set structures. I'd say the camp levels were about 10,000 times worse than in Batman Forever. I heard that the director, Joel Schumacher, went down that avenue because he wanted to pay tribute to the Batman 60's TV series. That's all good and well, but not everyone grew up in 60's and is familiar with that kind of thing.
George Clooney was a poor choice to play Batman. He just doesn't provide the same emotions to the character that Val Kilmer did in Batman Forever. As Bruce Wayne he just looks gormless, no emotions at all, and you usually have to go on his lines as to how he's feeling at any given time. Meanwhile Chris O'Donnell's Robin/Dick Grayson character is still young and reckless, but with the parents-murdered angle done and dusted in Forever you can't help but wonder what his purpose in this movie is. Is he just there to give Batman someone to talk to? Surely not.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is not so bad in his role as Mr. Freeze. Even though he's a villain you do feel a little bit sorry for him regarding the circumstances of how he became what he is, and why he's doing what he does; and considering that it took SIX HOURS to apply the appropriate make up each day, high respect is due for Mr.Schwarzenegger for showing so much patience with the character. Most of the one-liners in Batman & Robin lack punch, but Freeze arguably has the best ones. The best of the bunch is when he says to Bane "No matter what they tell you, Mr.Bane. It IS the size of your gun that matters."
Poison Ivy -played by Uma Thurman- is initially intriguing. But after a few lines she does start to annoy with her over seductive personality. So much so you'll be desperate to kiss the woman just to shut her up, even if it means you popping your clogs in the process. Worse still there's absolutely no chemistry between Ivy and Freeze when they team up, not like Riddler and Two Face in Forever. Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones were like brothers who really understood one another. Arnie and Thurman are more like strangers on a bus who can't wait to get away from each other.
Then we have poor Alicia Silverstone. Young, attractive, still riding somewhat high on the success of 1995's Clueless...and then she walks into B&R as Alfred's niece, Barbara. She looks good in her Batgirl costume, and the fight scene with Ivy suggests that she might make a good super heroine. Unfortunately Batgirl shows up far too late to make a big positive impact on the movie.
There's so much wrong with Batman & Robin, and yet...the movie's camp nature is still amusing at times...maybe even entertaining, and that brings me back to the question of "Batman & Robin. Is it really THAT bad?" My forum answer was as follows:
"It depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a good laugh and don't mind a little (or rather a LOT) of camp, then it's actually a decent movie. But if you're looking for a dark and serious storyline, and tense scenes where you find yourself gripping on tightly to your armchair, then yes it is terrible."
I'm going to leave Batman & Robin with a score of 3-Stars. If you like a bit of a laugh at camp stuff then upgrade the score to 5-Stars. But if you want Oscar winning material then thump it down to 1-Star. Sorry, but that's as low as it will go.