Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone. Written by Akiva Goldsman, Christopher McQuarrie. Directed by Joel Schumacher. Rated PG-13 for violence, adult themes.

Just when it seems that Batman (George Clooney) and Robin (Chris O’Donnell) have put the lid on crime in Gotham City, another pair of twisted villains emerges. Dr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a man whose chemical composition has been altered so that he requires a state of constant refrigeration, is on a crusade to save his terminal wife by stealing the world’s largest diamonds. Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), a woman whose chemical composition has been altered making her blood and kisses toxic, is out to reclaim the earth for its plants.

Meanwhile back at the Batcave, butler Alfred Pennyworth has fallen gravely ill and his niece, Barbara (Alicia Silverstone), has flown in from jolly old England where she has been studying computer science at Oxford. She will, of course, become Batgirl in due time. The three caped crusaders have their hands full when Dr. Freeze and Poison Ivy decide to team up. Ivy even manages to drive a wedge between Batman and Robin by means of a pheromone-based dust. Rest assured that the bat and the bird will patch things up long before it’s time to sign on for "Batman 5".

Even as the least of the lucrative Dark Knight film franchise, "Batman & Robin" still packs entertainment value into its meager punch. With plenty of neon, glow-in-the-dark paint, and fluorescent coloring along with one-liners that will make you groan, this film comes closer than its predecessors of being the most like the campy TV series of this 60’s. This isn’t good news to most, however, because the mood of the "Batman" films has traditionally been as somber as the architecture in Gotham.

George Clooney does an okay job as the new Batman, but he doesn’t live up the legacy created by Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer. Mr. Freeze is a great character, poorly written while Poison Ivy is an ineffective villain further hampered by Uma Thurman’s off-key performance. Chris O’Donnell fairs best, and one can only wish that Alicia Silverstone had been given more than a few scant screen moments as Gotham’s newest crimefighter. Ignore the filmmaker’s attempts at tackling themes like family and trust as these attempts are fumbled badly. Instead relax, take a deep breath, and put your brain in neutral if you are game enough to try the summer’s latest thrill ride.

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