Film reviews

#488 – Alyas Batman en Robin (1991)

Alyas Batman en Robin (1991)

Film review #488

Director: Tony Y. Reyes

SYNOPSIS: Kevin is a comic book obsessed teenager that idolises the heroic exploits of Batman and Robin. When two men dressed as Batman’s enemies The Joker and Penguin, Kevin convinces his brother to dress up as Batman and him as Robin, in order to take on the criminals and bring them to justice…

THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Alyas Batman en Robin is a 1991 superhero comedy musical…parody…it’s a lot of things. The film centres around Kevin, a high school student that idolises the comic book adventures of Batman and Robin. His classmate, Jocson, prefers Batman’s nemesis The Joker, and when his uncle Paeng begins to start a crime spree, Jocson convinces him to become the Batman villain The Penguin (calling him the Paenguin), while he adopts the guise of his favourite The Joker. Seeing the reports of these criminal deeds, Kevin convinces his brother Kuya that they should become Batman and Robin to put a stop to the villains, to which Kuya initially reluctantly agrees. The film is basically a parody of the 1960s Batman TV series, which might seem a bit odd because both that the series was already light-hearted and a parody, and also that this film came out in 1991: twenty-five years after the series first started airing. I guess the series is a bit timeless, and there was the fact that the newer, darker Batman films were being released in the West at the time, so it doesn’t come completely out of nowhere. The film is basically just a bunch of setups with the Penguin and Joker doing a crime, and Batman and Robin trying to stop it. It’s fairly simple stuff, and provides a stable enough backdrop for all the other comedy stuff going on. In this regard, it does resemble the Batman film based off the 60s TV series, as that also had a similar setup and pacing. It’s all just a bit of fun, and doesn’t need to be anything more complex. The film is funny when it isn’t trying to be, through it’s low quality and haphazard production, but not too funny when it tries to actually be funny: the fourth wall jokes just come from nowhere, but there’s still a few lines that are somewhat humorous, and the film is generally entertaining in it’s “so bad it’s good” way.

The characters are all fairly standard, and it’s easy to follow who they are. The characters all seem suited to the costumed roles they take up: Kevin is youthful and optimistic like Robin, Kuyo is stoic like Batman, Jocson is eccentric like the Joker, and Paeng is scheming like The Penguin. Everything in terms of characters fits together quite appropriately. Catwoman also turns up, and the end credits features a musical number comprised of of many, many more superheroes, like Superman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman and more. Why they weren’t used in the film itself is a bit puzzling to me; maybe they wanted to stick to focusing on Batman and Robin, but given how the film is a parody that breaks the fourth wall and has little consideration for logic, it seems odd that it would not use these character in some way, even as punchlines for a joke somewhere.

In case you hadn’t guessed, this is a film that does not have the licence or permission to use any of the characters that star in it. It exists in that strange sub-section of films that could only have been made and released in pre-internet times, when corporations who own these characters could not find these productions and sue them into oblivion. Obviously taking other people’s characters and trademarks isn’t good, but you can still have a soft spot for these blatant parodies that just have a bit of harmless fun with the property. The low budget production does however have some good points: the costumes are pretty accurate to the TV series it is based on, and they are colourful and fit pretty well. The Joker’s costume is pretty good: Jocson’s moustache is used as the Joker’s extended top lip, which is pretty clever. Even the Batmobile looks pretty good. The musical numbers are perhaps one of the stranger aspects of the film, but for the most part, the songs are pretty forgettable. The performances are, however, probably the most memorable parts, as they’re just so ridiculously over-the-top and flamboyant in a way that you would never expect these characters to act, that it’s certainly something you won’t see anywhere else. Overall, Alyas Batman en Robin is a silly bit of fun that is fairly empty in terms of story and production, but there’s enough competency and a willingness to play with the concept and characters that means it is at least entertaining enough to sit through.