Yom Kippur starts this Saturday. As one of the two highest-of-high holy days in the Jewish religion, Yom Kippur basically involves asking forgiveness for the past transgressions against God over the previous year. But arguably as important is Erev Yom Kippur, which is the day before the high holy day, which involves asking the actual people you've transgressed against for atonement. In that spirit, let us take a few moments to finally let go of a few alleged transgressions in recent cinema history. Don't do it for them, do it for yourself.
Why we should let it go:
Because it's been twenty years. Let's not pretend that had The Godfather Part III not been considered a disappointment, then Francis Ford Coppola probably would have won instead for finishing off his classic trilogy on a high note. Third of all, Dances With Wolves remains an exceptional motion picture. It's a thoughtful epic, a mournful drama, and a sterling action film. As for Costner's post Wolves output, we got twenty years of tricks (The Postman, The Bodyguard, 3000 Miles to Graceland) as well as some glorious treats (JFK, A Perfect World, Tin Cup, Open Range, The Upside of Anger), and everything in between (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Wyatt Earp, Waterworld, Swing Vote).
Scorsese's Goodfellas ended a post-Raging Bull slump that saw him taking an unknown Tim Burton's sloppy seconds (Burton was originally going to direct After Hours, but he passed out of respect for Scorsese). Cape Fear, Age of Innocence, Bringing Out the Dead, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, and Shutter Island. All either critical and/or box office smashes. Marty's doing just fine, and he finally won that Oscar sixteen years later. It's time to admit that Dances With Wolves was a pretty terrific film back in 1990.
Under strict studio orders to make a toy-friendly picture, Schumacher plunged completely into camp, giving us a Batman picture not based on the 1960s TV show, but one lodged firmly in the late 50s/early 1960s nadir. Buried beneath a solid story of Bruce Wayne coming to terms with becoming a surrogate father as his own (Alfred) lay near death stood a thousand miles of cheese: Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze ice-puns, Uma Thurman's sexy but grating Mae West impression, Alicia Silverstone's halfhearted attempt at playing a feminist Batgirl, George Clooney's overly cheerful Batman, etc. The film crashed and burned after opening weekend, Clooney fell on the sword, and the Batman series was dead for eight long years.
Why we should let it go: First of all, had Clooney not floundered so badly, he might not have made the defining choice to act for art, forgoing big paydays and instead making artier, more personal pictures that have made him one of the most interesting movie stars of his generation. Sure we get an occasional The Perfect Storm and Ocean's 11, but Clooney's filmography is filled with the likes of Out of Sight, Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana, Michael Clayton, Confessions of A Dangerous Mind, and Up in the Air. Second of all, the audience rejection of such an overtly fan-unfriendly adaptation of a comic book property gave notice to studios that the next wave of comic book films should at least try to appeal to the hardcore fans.
Had Batman & Robin been just a little bit better and been a little less of a financial failure (it grossed $238 million, but at a cost of $200 million), then maybe we wouldn't have gotten the wave of reverent comic book adaptations (X-Men, Spider-Man, etc) that jump-started the 2000s. Most importantly, had Joel Schumacher not killed the Batman franchise, Chris Nolan never would have had the chance to bring it back to life in its current glorious form. Let's face it, without Batman & Robin, there would never have been a Batman Begins. For that alone, we owe Schumacher just our forgiveness, but our thanks.