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Friday, 25 August 2017

Directorial Feature Spotlight: Joel Schumacher

'Too Many Box Office Bombs & Not Enough Movies I Genuinely Liked Of His, Schumacher's Output of Quality Is At Odds With The Poor Material & Creative Decisions He Makes'

Joel T. Schumacher is an American movie director, screenwriter, and producer, born in New York City, New York who rose to fame in the 1980s into the 1990s with hits in St Elmo's Fire (1985), The Lost Boys (1987) and Flatliners (1990). Schumacher's directorial debut was 1981's The Incredible Shrinking Woman starring Lily Tomlin. 

His subsequent Batman movies, Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997) were poorly received by critics and Batman fanatics and are cited for almost killing the franchise. After the furore and disappointments of those movies, Schumacher retreated from making Blockbuster movies and turned his attentions to lesser films, such as Tigerland and Phone Booth, with both of them starring Colin Farrell. 

The teen action drama Twelve (2010) about drug addiction, violence, and sex was referred to as the worst movie in the history of the Sundance film festival by New York Times writer Stephen Holden. It only grossed over $2.4 million worldwide on a $5 million budget that it took to make it. 

Out of the 23 movies, Schumacher has directed in total, there are only 3 of them that I thoroughly enjoyed or loved: A Time To Kill, The Client & Falling Down. Everything else is either not to my interest despite the impressive performances (The Lost Boys, Flatliners, St Elmo's Fire, Tigerland), come off as amateurish, too hokey (Batman Forever) or is just painfully dire and mediocre (Batman & Robin, Dying Young, The Number 23, Blood Creek). Recent efforts 8mm, Trespass which starred Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman, Blood Creek, Bad Company and Phone Booth reek to me as straight to DVD, B-movie fare. Although 2002's Phone Booth was watchable, despite that I wasn't too enthused by the casting. 

Batman Forever wasn't completely horrific: I preferred Val Kilmer's Batman and Bruce Wayne to George Clooney's in Batman & Robin and that film just plain sucked and looked even more ridiculous and absurd. I was so looking forward to Jim Carrey's against type role in The Number 23, but despite his noble efforts, that film was frankly all over the place and is a total mess.

Joel Schumacher is a director, who for me when he is at his best, he is very good - which is not very often, and when his movies are that terrible, that reflects badly on him. Whereas with someone like Paul Verhoeven, his movies tend to be very, very good, despite his reliance on gratuitous violence, sex, nudity, misogynistic depictions of the female form (something that I have a major gripe with), Schumacher's output- whilst he has had a FEW (and I say a few) good movies, he, himself, is not a consistently good director. 

But the major problem with Joel Schumacher is that he is a director who attaches good actors and actresses to terrible scripts. Although to be fair, the actors are to blame for a) accepting the role & b) putting in poor and dire performances. 

But at least he apologised for Batman & Robin - just how often do you see other directors admitting their movies, which sucked, were bad? & for coming up with the idea to add rubber nipples & coloured cod pieces to the Bat suit? Not very, so kudos to him. 

Be that as I may, even with A Time To Kill, The Client, Falling Down and The Lost Boys, these alone do not make up for the rest of his filmography, which leaves a lot to be desired. His movies, with better and improved direction, would be 10 times better than what they are, or were. If we are saying not guilty because he made one great film in Falling Down when the rest have been duds, that just doesn't justify the fact that his output is still below par. 

Batman & Robin remains as the biggest stain on his resume, but so is tepid and monotonous dirge in Dying Young - another Schumacher bomb that is often overlooked -that also belongs in the crap heap

And so after all that, what is my overall opinion on Joel Schumacher's work? Well, clearly, I'm more than disappointed. As much as I or we can go on and on about how terrible his film output has been (and is), the truth of the matter is his inconsistency at delivering the goods is at odds with what he should have & could have achieved with far greater things. As people still hold him to account for the mediocre Batman films, besides the Batman stuff and his early 1980s work, everything else but for Falling Down and The Client, isn't really my bag. 

With fewer movie successes and movies that I have enjoyed of his, Schumacher's efforts for what it is worth just doesn't wash with me. 

Notable Favourites: A Time To Kill (1996), The Client (1994), Falling Down (1993)
Notable Non- Favourites: Batman Forever (1995), Batman & Robin (1997), Dying Young (1991), The Number 23 (2007), 8MM (1999), Blood Creek (2009), Bad Company (2002), Twelve (2010)

Grade I Would Award Towards Joel Schumacher: E

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