MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “The Batman” stars Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse, Tenet), Zoë Kravitz (Kimi, Mad Max: Fury Road), Jeffrey Wright (Westworld [TV series], The French Dispatch), Colin Farrell (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths), Paul Dano (Swiss Army Man, Little Miss Sunshine), John Turturro (O Brother Where Art Thou?, Transformers ), Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Peter Sarsgaard (Garden State, Shattered Glass), and Jayme Lawson (Farewell Amor, The Woman King). It is directed by Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes, Cloverfield), who also wrote the screenplay with Peter Craig (The Town, Bad Boys for Life).
In his second year as Batman, Bruce Wayne (Pattinson) is faced with his biggest challenge when a killer named the Riddler (Dano) offs one political figure after the next.
This one was a long time coming (a few years, I believe), and in such a wild, topsy-turvy garbage fire of a DC universe Warner Brothers has concocted, it was surprising to find a standalone “Batman” flick emerge from the shadows. What’s even more shocking is how it managed to blow the last decade of DC film out of the water…
I went into this one almost cold. One teaser trailer is all I saw, as my interest in this iteration of Batman never really existed. That is, until a month out from its release date. The names attached to this project are quite amazing. However, I was more so intrigued by the director than the actors. Matt Reeves gifted us the amazing “Planet of the Apes” trilogy that spanned the 2010’s. It was an unsung hero of a franchise that didn’t get much recognition; Reeves helmed it gracefully, and I was surely willing to see whatever he would concoct next. Little did I know that it would be a dark Batman movie with Robert Pattinson donning the cowl.
“The Batman” is the greatest portrayal of a live action Batman. Period. Yep, I said it. If the opening sequence doesn’t convince you this, I don’t know what will. During my childhood, there came a point where I stopped playing video games and switched over to watching film. However, a few games became exceptions to my free time, namely the Arkham series. I felt that, in playing those video games, I witnessed the true Batman. One who was trying to be a light in such a dark, twisted, gothic world. The visuals were akin to Tim Burton, yet the Batman character wasn’t as stiff. Years later, in watching Reeves’ “The Batman,” I was reminded of these video games, as I saw a Batman who was not only portrayed as scary, but dark.
I loved the look of this movie. The cinematography is gorgeous, with shots that will send chills down your spine. It gives us the look of Gotham that’s found in the comics, swaying from the realism Christopher Nolan promoted in his “Dark Knight” features while not leaning too far into the zany feel of Burton’s flicks (save for a few shots that did make me laugh, which I don’t think the filmmakers intended). The performances Reeves captures are quite awesome as well, with stand-outs being Pattinson, Jeffrey Wright, and Colin Farrell (who disappears into his role of the Penguin). It was an exploration in and of itself to see how this cast would tackle the iconic roles, and for the most part they did so with ease. Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne is a brooding, younger version who isn’t as charming as you would expect him to be. His Batman’s rough around the edges, which makes for a more compelling journey. I liked the approach, and would more so claim it’s different than the best (though he certainly competes for the best). There’s no doubt in my mind that I would want to see him again in more adventures, as there is much to learn for this young Bruce (and so many villains to see him face).
In total, the film is four minutes shy of three hours. Does it feel like it? A few moments toward the third act. But besides that, it’s a smooth ride. There’s a few villains to face in this storyline and all of them are given necessary time to be fleshed out. The most prominent of which being the Riddler, as we follow Batman in solving the clues he leaves with his victims. That arc is what fascinated me most, but I do think that the rest made for solid entertainment as well. What’s difficult as a fan of Batman is, once you study his backstory and read/watch a collection of his stories, there isn’t much new the filmmakers can do. Some of the twists found in this movie were quite predictable, but only because I knew the characters Batman was investigating. Proving a regular guy to be evil isn’t as surprising if you already saw that in another iteration. I don’t blame Reeves for this though, because it’s who the character ultimately is; and this film is an origin story for quite a few characters (one that is fleshed out extremely well, I might add).
Really, the only element of this movie that could’ve been improved is Catwoman (Kravitz). Her relationship with Batman wasn’t as strong as I would’ve wanted. They didn’t hold much chemistry, and quite a bit of their affection toward one another felt forced. That’s not to say the actors didn’t capture it well; it’s merely the circumstances their characters were placed in. As the story unfolded, I found more entertainment in other facets, and by the time the film was signing off, I realized I wasn’t as sold in the “Bat and the Cat” narrative. Maybe in a sequel it will grow stronger.
This feature is spectacular. No question. It’s the closest we’ve come to a Batman true to the comics, as the grit of this world is very appreciated. With that said (and this may come as a surprise), I don’t think it is the best Batman movie. I felt more impacted by “The Dark Knight,” which held a stronger theme than this one. Not to mention that by the end of this film, I didn’t feel as emotionally connected to Batman as I would’ve wanted (particularly in the finale sequence where he has to stop Riddler’s master plan). That may take another viewing, but who knows. Regardless, I hold true to my statement that this is the best Batman and Gotham we have seen. Reeves and his team pulled off a feat I couldn’t imagine, and I walked out of the theater satisfied. If you are a fan of the Bat, you will certainly love this. FINAL SCORE: 94%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: