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BATMAN UNMASKED

Okay, Batman Forever hit the theaters just a tad over one week ago and most everyone has seen it at least once. And even if you're one of those few curmudgeon-types moaning about missing Michael Keaton or rambling on about Jim Carrey overload (or if you're like me, not enough Drew Barrymore!) you've got to admit, the third in the series is slicker than all get-out.

But what goes on behind the scenes to make a movie so smooth and shiny? Here's a few movie-geek facts that might enhance your understanding of what goes on behind ... The Bat!

BATMOBILE

Holy hubcaps!

Check out those tires on the batmobile! As well as having non-rotating back-lit bat signals, it's the first time in Bat-history that the actual Batman logo appears on the hubcaps. This effect was not achieved by computers, but by counter-rotating gears, so that when the wheel rolls one way, the hubcaps roll the opposite direction, keeping the logo static at all times.

Bat engine _ what's it got under the hood?

A totally non-street legal Chevy 350 ZZ3 high-performance motor, high compression, 345 horsepower, aluminium heads, angled plugs and a good valve grind _ all working together to reach a potential maximum speed of 160 mph!

The bat-auto troika

There were actually three Batmobiles made for Batman Forever:

The stunt model with modified suspension and front and rear brakes for spin-out action:

The fully-operational "hero" model for partial interior shots.

A "buck" model which didn't actually run, but provided a complete mock-up interior for inside shots of the Batmobile

Holy Fender-Bender!

In Batman Forever, Robin gets into trouble when he takes the Batmobile out for an unauthorized spin. Actor Chris O'Donnell, who plays Robin, could really relate to that incident! One day after filming, Chris took the expensive and rough-handling Batmobile for a spin. With director Joel Schumacher shouting "Run for cover," over the set loudspeaker, Chris zoomed a bit out of control and managed to be the first one on the set to trash the Batmobile when he crunched the fender on a curb.

COSTUMES

Specs on the Batsuit

The Batsuit is made out of a special foam rubber similar to the make-up prosthetics used for Two-Face.

The Batsuit weighs in at about 30 pounds.

Temperature inside the Batsuit can reach up to 140 degrees.

To keep the costume looking fresh during filming, there were more than more than 130 Batsuits made for the production.

The Batsuit is designed to be taken on or off in 10 minutes _ zippers are hidden underneath the muscles.

A thousand points of light?

Nope, even more when it comes to the Riddler's "Vegas Suit." One of the most spectacular of Carrey's costume changes (which he helped design) is this electronic outfit that has nearly 2,500 blinking lights, all computer controlled, and yet weighing little more than the average blase blazer.

MAKEUP

What's up with Jim Carrey's day-glo flattop _ is it for real?

It's pretty much wig-city for the Riddler. First, they bleached the back of Jim's hair, then they mashed down his brown hair with Gafquat (the gooey-stuff in hairspray). Then, on with the orange a la early Annie Lennox wig!

Makeup Countdown _ who spent the most time in the chair?

The Riddler (Jim Carrey) _ three hours. Unlike two-face, he only had one person working on his eyebrow covers, pinkish base and UV florescent green mask.

Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones _ two 1/2 hours, using five foam prosthetic pieces and two people working on him at the same time. By the end of the shoot, they had it down to 90 minutes.

Spice (Debi Mazar) _ about 2 hours for the five-piece wig they had to weave onto her head.

F/X

Bat capers!

Much of the cool cape action in Batman Forever comes via computer animation. In several of the action sequences, Val Kilmer (or his stuntguy) wasn't even wearing the clumsy rubber cape at the time of filming. By adding it later via computer animation, animators were able to form some really cool shapes. For example, Batman's 600-foot building drop when his cap shoots out into perfect batlike formation, is all thanks to modern technology.

More bat-animation!

If you think some of Batman's trickier wall-climbing stunts could never be done in real-life, you're right! Some of the slicker stuff was done by filming the movements of a stuntman and later modifying them on the computer with a completely computer-generated Batman.

Really Big Sets!

Both the Batcave and the Riddler's Lair are two of the largest movie sets ever constructed. Instead of relying on computer animation to fill out the big picture, designers went all the way using the largest enclosed space in Los Angles _ the airplane hanger originally built in the '40s for Howard Hughes' famous airplane, the Spruce Goose.

_ Information from Disney Adventures and Entertainment Weekly magazines, the Batman Forever official movie magazine and wire reports were used in this story.

More Batjunk you don't need

Naturally, with yet another installment of the big screen Batman series comes a lot of stuff manufacturers and merchandisers hope you'll bug your parents for. (Remember Flintstones Fever?) With bat products hitting the stores months before the movie even hit the theaters, the flood is only going to get worse now that the Bat's out of the gate. Here's what you, as the consumer, have to look forward to:

Warner Bros. has issued more than 130 licenses for Batman Forever toys and products. (Manufacturers must pay a fee and, ideally, meet certain product standards to use the logo; otherwise it's illegal.)

Batman Boutiques have cropped up in Sears stores, and displays with Batman Forever merchandise are in Toys "R" Us and Kmart.

Batman Forever commercials are continuously playing on the video walls at 115 Warner Bros. retail stores _ redubbed "Batman Headquarters" _ and the display windows are filled with Batman props and merchandise.

Warner Books has published a novel of the sequel _ including an audio-book version _ and Time Warner's DC Comics has produced a book about the making of the movie.

Time Warner's Atlantic Records unit is releasing two compact disks _ one of the soundtrack and the other of selected music from the score.

Rave-couture clothing designer Todd Oldham has jumped into the act, with a 21-piece Batman inspired line called "Todd Oldham Forever," created exclusively for Warner Bros. Studio Stores. Items include bat-shaped belt buckles and hair barrettes, Two Face-inspired jeans and backpacks in contrasting prints (half red zebra stripes, half yellow leopard spots) and most expensively, velour slip dresses with "emerald"-studded question-mark chains (only $244!).

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