Lisa Schwarzbaum
June 27, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Batman & Robin

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
Wide Release Date
06/20/97
performer
George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Glover, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, Alicia Silverstone, Uma Thurman
director
Joel Schumacher
author
Akiva Goldsman
genre
Sci-fi and Fantasy, ActionAdventure

We gave it an C

As inevitable as tie-in toys and just as disposable, blockbuster soundtrack albums are now merely part of the Hollywood marketing grind. That view, while justified, still sells these records short. Movie soundtracks have become useful educational tools for all facets of the entertainment business — not to mention for life in general! For instance:

Soundtrack as Barometer: Big-budget soundtracks are now as much a marker of success as the Billboard charts. Name the current platinum-plaque holder — the Smashing Pumpkins, Jewel, R. Kelly, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony — and you’ll find them on the shamelessly opportunistic Batman & Robin. The Pumpkins’ two tracks have identical lyrics but different moods: ”The End Is the Beginning Is the End” is standard hurricane roar, while ”The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning” is sulky synth pop. R. Kelly outdoes Des’Ree in the feel-good arena with his sumptuous ”Gotham City,” while Jewel contributes an orchestrated remake of her ”Foolish Games.” (Isn’t it curious that she keeps re-recording songs from her weakly produced debut? Maybe she should remake the entire disc, call it Pieces of You Too!, and be done with it.)

Such a multiple-crossover strategy has huge sales potential, but as with many current pop soundtracks, it also results in collections as incoherent as the Batman films themselves. Batman & Robin jams in a symphonic overture, agreeable R&B (Eric Benet), a dash of techno (Underworld), and intentionally clattering alt-rock (Soul Coughing, Arkarna). The whole mess will make you want to head for a cave — without bats. C

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