‘The Batman’ Movie Review

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It’s been over a decade since we saw Batman on the silver screen in his own film. Since then Ben Affleck put on the cape and cowl. Now, it’s time to introduce a new Batman and the result is jaw dropping.

‘The Batman’ focuses on the titular character as he works to solve the series of crimes at the hands of the Riddler. Robert Pattinson takes on the iconic character, Zoë Kravitz stars as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Jeffrey Wright takes on the role of Commissioner James Gordon, Colin Farrell disappears into the Penguin, Paul Dano is frightening as the Riddler, and Andy Serkis plays Bruce Wayne/Batman’s confidant, Alfred. At the forefront of this great cast is Matt Reeves who directs the film and shares a writing credit with Peter Craig.

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover in this review but of course this will be a Non-Spoiler Review.

Set in a very uneasy and turbulent time in Gotham City, within minutes it is established that this is not going to be your average big budget superhero blockbuster. The world is set up rapidly with what might be one of my favorite opening narrations in a film in a long while and a haunting score by Michael Gracehino. By the time we first lay eyes on the Dark Knight himself, we as the audience believe that this is someone criminals fear and question whether or not we should too.

Robert Pattinson is an immensely talented actor. From a captivating performance in 2017’s Good Time to a frighteningly good role in 2018’s The Lighthouse. Pattinson has proven his range and is more than deserving of a lead role of this stature. To say he disappears into he role still wouldn’t accurately convey the brilliance in his performance. If you are someone who is on the fence about the casting choice I can assure you, there’s nothing to be hesitant about. The few times we see Bruce Wayne outside of Batman, he is a deeply damaged individual, and he acknowledges it. Hiding from the public eye, saying few words, and isolating himself from the world. Portrayals of this character have led audiences to believe that the mask for Bruce Wayne was Batman. Matt Reeves turns the tables and acknowledges that no, Bruce Wayne is at his most comfortable and confident when he is Batman. The mask is Bruce Wayne and that’s made very apparent here.

As for the supporting cast rallying around Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz is great as Catwoman. She commits to the role and brings a welcome vulnerability to this character. As her motives become more clear, we learn about this character and empathize with her. The dynamic between her and Pattinson is in the vein of a “Will they, won’t they?” but not in the way that you would think. Jeffrey Wright feels more like a rougher version of this character than what we have seen recently. The detective duo of Gordon and Batman is the best we’ve seen to date. As the two investigate crime scenes they share great conversations and well established rapport help the detective aspect feels very legitimate and quite enjoyable. If Batman walked into every situation and feel so disassociated from the detectives in the room it would feel flat, but every time the two meet up, you can’t help but get excited to see what they do next.

Colin Farrell transforms into the Penguin from beginning to end and even brings a bit of levity to a scene or two there are a few lines just might make you chuckle. Bringing elements of beloved fictional gangsters like Tony Soprano I can whole heartedly say that after seeing this character on screen I am very excited to see the upcoming HBO Max series centering around the character.

The main villain, The Riddler played by Paul Dano. An unsettlingly realistic and unrelentingly psychotic serial killer. The character, akin to the Zodiac killer and John Doe in David Fincher’s Se7en. The onscreen presence of this character as well as the effects of his actions that we see ripple through Gotham, create an atmosphere laced with horror elements. The riddles and aftermath of his crimes will have you on the edge of your seat and they only get more intense as the runtime continues.

This is not going to be a film for everyone. Dark does not even begin to accurately describe the tone. From the first shot to the last this is a grim and grimy detective thriller that hearkens back to films form the 90s and early 2000s in the same genre. As I mentioned above the Riddler is similar to the killers in Zodiac and Se7en (both films directed by David Fincher). The atmosphere of The Batman is also very similar to these two films. From the kills to the horrifying antagonist, this is an experience that will ask a lot of the audience as it unfolds.

While not rated R like many people had hoped it would be, it is baffling to me that this film doesn’t have an R rating. The onscreen blood is minimal but from the implied violence, some brutal fight sequences, and overarching dark tone, the PG-13 rating was pushed to the limits.

Every once in a while, a project comes along that demands to be seen on the biggest screen audiences can find. The Batman is one of them. Numerous moments will leave you speechless. From the sound design to the directing, a unique sense of immersion is created and that is maintained the entire film. Without giving away one big screen sequence that will have your jaw on the floor, there is a moment with a certain sound that you can feel and it is stunning.

The big question though, the reason you are here is this: bathroom breaks. Being a three hour film, there’s a good chance you are hoping to find that segment where you can get up and run for a mid movie break. I’m here to break the news that there is no good time to leave the auditorium. Despite the three hour runtime, the story moves at an impressively quick pace. Every scene brings something into the next one and conversations are had that can’t be missed.

The bar for what a comic book film can be has shifted over the past few years. Deadpool introduced us to the profane, violent, and very funny anti hero. Logan was a deeply emotional neo western, and recently Joker brought important themes to the forefront and gave audiences a very compelling character piece. Now, The Batman brings a new version of an iconic character to the big screen that most people will have never seen before. Never shying away from illustrating the seedy underbelly of a broken Gotham and bringing audiences along to a haunting crime story.

Verdict: ‘The Batman’ is a brilliant, bold, and bleak story. The entire cast brings their A gam with Robert Pattinson knocking it out of the park. Reminiscent of detective thrillers of the 1990s and early 2000s. Matt Reeves has crafted an enthralling and compelling film that happens to have Batman in it.