The movie becomes undoubtedly carried by its aesthetics and its villains, namely Mr. Freeze. Schwarzenegger takes a rare sinister turn as the oddly sympathetic maniac, and the pieces are in place to heighten the viewer’s depiction of him. From his makeup to his motifs to simply Arnold’s delivery and mug, Mr. Freeze is a creepy dude. But he’s also trying to save his wife, and we get some emotion out of the actor who has the tendency of delivering surprisingly effective performances throughout his career. Here, of course, that performance is laden with ice puns.
Thurman’s Poison Ivy, on the other hand, is driven by insanity only. Her motives get muddled, and Thurman’s performance is so over-the-top, yet somehow it works to Schumacher’s liking.
As a visual piece of art, Schumacher and company have outdone themselves. The costumes and makeup are impressive, and the Gotham cityscapes look fantastic, especially the Roman-inspired architecture of the bridges that roller coaster over town and the brand-new Gotham Observatory, mounted inside of a Statue of Liberty-type grip. within pockets of the film, but this one loses the sleep element, which makes Freddy so unique and, more importantly, justifies his existence. And with that absence, the film, while entertaining as a whole, just isn’t as effective.