"The Batman" stars Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis, and Colin Farrell. Releasing on March 4, 2022, the film has Batman attempting to take down the mysterious Riddler.
The film is directed by Matt Reeves, who also directed films such as "The Pallbearer", "Cloverfield", and "Let Me In". It serves as a reboot of the Batman film franchise. Okay, now we're starting to get to the good stuff this year. With Ben Affleck exiting the DC Extended Universe after the upcoming "Flash" movie, it's time for another actor to take the caped crusader mantle, and it's none other than Edward Cullen from "Twilight". While it's not the Batman film we're expecting regarding the DCEU lore and Affleck's intended plan, it is something that looks to provide a fresh and darker take on the DC hero. It's easy to admit that I have adored Batman since I was young. From the television shows to the big-screen adaptations to his direct-to-video adventures, I've always been impressed by Batman's journey of justice in the dangerous world of Gotham City. Yeah, there have been some ups and downs in the media throughout the years, mainly the DCEU's portrayal of the character, but in the end, Batman's star power always seems to outshine his troubling moments. This latest reboot of the franchise appears to be no different as it provides a more grounded and grim take on the lore. As if Tim Burton's Batman movies and Christopher Nolan's trilogy weren't dark and violent enough. While its tone does raise a few concerns, I could not help but be excited for this iteration, mainly because of Robert Pattinson taking over as the new Dark Knight and director Matt Reeves. Pattinson continues to have an impressive track record in the film department during his post-Twilight days, and it would be interesting to see if his latest role can lure in more people than his indie film followers. As for Reeves, I loved what he did with the last two chapters in the "Planet of the Apes" reboot trilogy, and I was pretty ecstatic to see him take on the superhero genre, let alone a Batman movie. The question is, are they enough to maintain the hero's reputation on the big screen? More importantly, is it as great as we thought it would be? Let's find out.
If this movie is your first encounter with the Batman universe, the best way I can describe it is that a billionaire named Bruce Wayne (Pattinson) dresses up as a bat and beats bad people up in a crime-filled city. Why does he dress up as a bat, you may ask? Well, it's because those bad people murdered his parents. That's pretty much all you need to know about the titular superhero. Instead of retelling Batman's origin story like Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins", "The Batman" sets the story during Wayne's second year of fighting crime as his vigilante alter-ego, which is part of the film's freshness. Here, we see Batman joining forces with the Gotham City Police Department and Lieutenant James Gordon (Wright) to investigate a series of murders. The culprit responsible for these heinous crimes is a masked serial killer called the Riddler (Dano), who targets elite Gotham citizens and seeks to "unmask the truth" about the corrupted city. Batman would have to stop Riddler's sick game while confronting his past. Along the way, he encounters a mysterious burglar named Selina Kyle (Kravitz) and the disfigured mobster Oswald Cobblepot (Farrell).
Like "The Dark Knight" trilogy, "The Batman" features a grim and realistic portrayal of a criminal underworld that made Gotham City a death trap. I hope you didn't choose this as your next vacation spot. More importantly, it involves a bleaker take on the Dark Knight, who's slowly learning to become the justice-seeking hero we know and love. It portrays him as an internally conflicted human who struggles to find a line between justice and vengeance in a corrupted city. Add that in with its noir-esque detective story, and you get a refreshing and astounding superhero movie that's more character-driven than frenetically action-packed.
Now, I had some concerns about the movie before walking into this terrifying and corrupted world of Gotham City, noticeably its tone and length. "The Batman" plays out like a detective crime drama with some minor noir and superhero genre bits thrown in there for good measure. It doesn't go all out with its immense spectacle regarding the action and visuals like any other superhero blockbuster in existence. Instead, it relies on grounded and complex storytelling to depict a more fleshed-out and immensely dark version of our favorite characters and settings while maintaining its PG-13 rating. To me, it's similar to "Blade Runner 2049", where the concept is much more story-driven than your average genre blockbuster affair but offers enough intriguing moments to compensate. This direction may impress specific people who are into this type of character, especially those who grew up watching the Tim Burton films and Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. However, it can also prove to be a tough sell for the younger crowd that is more into Batman's light-hearted and heroic side.
Then you have the runtime, which is nearly three hours long. This is unusual for something that serves as a launching point for a potential franchise, as the superhero sequels are usually around the same length. You also have the slow-burn essence of its pacing and the overabundance of dialogue-driven scenes that may put some kids with short attention spans to sleep. In other words, don't expect "The Batman" to be another fast-paced, action-packed extravaganza for your children. I don't mind that much about the movie's runtime as long as it has enough interest and craft into the story it wants to tell and the characters it wants to portray. It has always been my go-to rule regarding these movies, and nothing's going to change that for me. I can honestly say that the length did keep it from being my new favorite Batman movie, with the crown still belonging to "The Dark Knight". However, its gripping noir plot and marvelous craftsmanship in its production design and cinematography make "The Batman" another fantastic piece of superhero cinema.
One of the essential elements that made the storyline great for me was Batman himself. Not only does it showcase more of Bruce Wayne's vigilante persona than his regular self, but it also represents the character as a detective rather than a crime-fighting superhero. Yes, he does some superhero-type stuff now and then, but most of the time, he's in Sherlock Holmes mode, and admittedly, it is just as enticing as him beating someone to a pulp. The movie also successfully provided Batman's intriguing development by making him into a young and inexperienced vigilante who questions the difference between heroism and injustice. Part of that is due to Robert Pattinson's incredible performance. He flawlessly captures the brooding spirit of the Dark Knight and the reclusiveness and sadness of Bruce Wayne. While I can't say whether he's my new favorite Batman or not, I will say that Pattinson continues to impress me outside of his "Twilight" phase.
The rest of the cast was also fantastic in their respective roles. Zoë Kravitz was stunning in her role as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. She, like Batman, delivered enough moments to make her more interesting than the other film versions of the character. Jeffrey Wright also gave a riveting performance as James Gordon, and Andy Serkis was unsurprisingly engaging regarding his take on Alfred. However, the only cast member that managed to wow me the most was Paul Dano as the Riddler. He is so realistically unnerving and enthralling that he makes Jim Carrey's Riddler from "Batman Forever" seem more obsolete than ever. Combine that with his motives, and you get the best film iteration of the Batman villain to date, at least in my eyes. Finally, I also want to address the elephant in the room: Colin Farrell as Copplepot. Farrell was also great in the role, but I also have to give the filmmaker major credit for making him indistinguishable in terms of the makeup and direction towards his performance.
But, of course, the presentation is also what holds the film together, and unsurprisingly, it looks incredible from a cinematic standpoint. Matt Reeves is known for delivering some hauntingly beautiful craftsmanship amid his dreary yet engaging storytelling, and "The Batman" is no different. The production design, cinematography, and lighting helped bring out a more violent and bleaker side of Gotham City without going too far on the former. More so than the other film iterations of the DC character. They also worked wonders for the film's action sequences. Not only were they nicely executed regarding the thrills and choreography, but they're also shot gorgeously without any shaky camera maneuvers whatsoever. Reeves did such a fantastic job understanding the history of Gotham City's corrupted state while using his technical qualities to mold it in his creative image in terms of his direction and screenplay, which he co-wrote with Peter Craig. I also think that Michael Giacchino's score was nothing but phenomenal as it embraces the atmospheric setting of a violent city and the epic-ness of Batman himself.
Overall, "The Batman" is a reinvigorating and bleakly gorgeous depiction of the caped crusader that's full of ambition and quality. Even though it doesn't top "The Dark Knight" as my favorite Batman movie, it's still another fantastic adaptation of the DC character that's also thrillingly engaging. With its brilliant cast, Reeves's direction, strong storytelling, and flawless technical aspects, the film prove to be another excellent example of superhero movies being more than just pieces of blockbuster spectacle. Despite its beefy length, I would highly recommend it to Batman fans and even people who grew up watching detective movies.