With all the hype surrounding Matt Reeves version of Batman, I’ve got to say, I walked into ‘The Batman’ with some very high expectations. I came out thoroughly pleased. ‘The Batman’ delivers a solid movie with some great cinematic moments and a handful of slip ups that I think can most definitely be improved upon if another Batman movie is made. While it’s not a perfect film, I do think it’s excellently done and it should make any fan of the caped crusader content that the subject matter was every bit as gritty as the trailers made it out to be. Spoilers ahead.
“The Batman” takes place in year two of Batman’s vigilantism. Robert Pattinson leads the film as it’s titular character as well as Batman’s human persona Bruce Wayne, a brooding millionaire with a childhood deeply rooted in trauma. I think we all know by now about Bruce Wayne’s origins as much as we know about Spider-Man and Uncle Ben’s. I think it’s such a great idea to show us a more inexperienced Batman trying to navigate his own path while also trying to figure out what kind of vigilante he needs to be for the cesspool that is Gotham city. It makes for a refreshing new take on the character while also offering up some familiarity to comic book readers. The film follows this version of Batman as he follows the riddles across a series of violent crimes, all placed by the mastermind The Riddler, who’s attacks are aimed at the corrupt politicians/people that hold power in Gotham City. In his journey, he crosses paths with Selina Kyle aka Cat Woman played by the wonderful Zoe Kravitz. Together, they investigate the crimes hoping to find a lead on who the killer is, and what he plans on doing next.
I’m going to jump right into my thoughts on Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of Batman. For the most part, I really enjoyed it. He’s dark, moody, brooding, and a silent watcher. You don’t really know what he’s thinking, and it makes it believable to me that thugs would be afraid to be in the same room with him. He has a strong and frightening presence, and he doesn’t hold back when it comes to taking out baddies. I also loved how close this Batman works on his cases providing support to Jim Gordon(played by Jeffrey Wright) and the Gotham City Police department. I think most of the Batman films really overlook this aspect in Batman a lot, so I was really glad to finally see it in a film. Sure, Batman is a crime fighter, but he’s also a detective who uses his intelligence to piece together clues and solve crimes. As for Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne? I think there is more to be desired. For me, Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne falls flat because he is very similar to his Batman. There is no difference at all there, but also we don’t really get to see Bruce Wayne all that much in this film. I get that it’s a younger Bruce so maybe he hasn’t quite adopted his millionaire playboy persona yet, but I just feel like this Bruce Wayne would’ve definitely given away that he is Batman, simply because of how strange and similar he acts as Batman. I do want to see how this Bruce Wayne develops.
As for the rest of the cast? Stellar. Everyone does their part so well. You have Zoe Kravitz as Cat Woman whose chemistry with Robert’s Batman is off the charts. Jeffrey Wright who plays Jim Gordon, a detective who’s relationship with Batman is established early on with them having so much mutual respect. Andy Serkis plays Alfred, Bruce’s caretaker. In the limited scenes he was in he was great! I would’ve liked to see more. Rounding off the cast, we have Paul Dano as The Riddler, Colin Farrell as Penguin, and John Turturo as Carmine Falcone, the film’s antagonists. Everyone brings their best to the table, even when the script is lacking at times. With so many characters, to introduce, sometimes the movie doesn’t allocate the proper amount of screen time to certain characters which is a shame, given that the movie has a long runtime of 3 hours. I think this is most present in Batman and Cat Woman’s relationship which seems rushed, even though there is definitely chemistry between the two. There’s a moment near the third act where Cat Woman kisses Batman, which doesn’t feel quite earned in that specific moment.
There are no complaints however when it comes to the cinematography and look of the film. The cinematographer who worked on this film is Greig Fraser, and the film just delivers some absolutely gorgeous and stunning shots I’ve ever seen in a comic book movie. Every frame is chosen carefully, highlighting the right amount of colors and framing. I also must say, the Gotham City in this movie, is my favorite live action Gotham. It’s ugly, looks grimy, and looks every bit like a shit hole city infested with crime. This is Batman’s Gotham City, and I love that it lives up to the reputation we all know it has. The world is inviting in a way that I want to see more and learn more about it.
Now, onto my biggest gripe with the movie. I think the movie gets bogged down because of its 3 hour run time. I felt every minute of it , and if they would’ve trimmed it down about a half hour, I think it would’ve made it much smoother and the storytelling tighter. There are lots of moments where the camera holds onto moments, building up the intensity, which does work, but was used too much. There is a moment in the beginning of the film where Batman slowly walks into the Subway station very slowly, which is used to build up fear in the thugs he’s trying to intimidate. Scenes like this work, but not all of them landed. Another thing I have to point out, the movie takes itself too seriously at times which is not always a good thing because there are many moments that come off very campy and over the top, and you just know it’s unintentional. They found the prefect fit and tone for this film overall, but when it kind of waivers (Riddler’s final tape/twitch stream) it takes you right out of the film and not in a good way.
Matt Reeves “The Batman” sets itself apart from it’s predecessors by offering up something as bold and fresh as possible, with solid performances and an overall engaging cinematic experience. This is definitely one for the Batman fans. It’s as dark and gritty as a Batman movie should be, taking place in a violent world in a nicely packed crime thriller-esque film. This is one where I look forward to the sequel because of the care that was put into this first film and the time they took in establishing a bold and different take into Batman’s dark world. Robert Pattinson does well playing the a hurt, brooding and moody hero, who’s trying to learn what type of hero he needs to be. The big takeaway? He’s vengeance.
The Batman is now streaming in theaters.