SAN ANGELO, TX- "The Batman" gives a fresh take that Bat-fanatics have been waiting for. A true, detective, noir, thrill ride of a film.
Director Matt Reeves delivers one of the better Batman movies that can rival Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Reeves’ direction and behind-the-scenes squad he put together gave us one amazing Batman film.
“When that light hits the sky. It’s not just a signal. It’s a warning.”
The Batman kicks off and doesn’t hold back from the first scene and doesn’t let up for quite some time. Robert Pattinson even narrates in the film giving us a look into how Batman sees Gotham City.
The film picks up in early in Batman’s crime fighting career. Early enough for criminals to not quite believe in Batman but late enough for the famous Bat-Signal to make its presence known throughout. Also late enough for even casual Batman fans to realize some of the events and people mentioned could help build this new “Bat Universe”.
There really wasn’t a bad performance from anyone in the cast. Reeves really pulled the best out of everyone from the titular hero to the dirty cops on a mobster’s payroll.
The Batman even makes the new muscle car Batmobile and Gotham City feel like their own characters. While in recent iterations, the Batmobile was more of a tank, this monster gives us one of the best car chase scenes in recent memory.
Every scene that takes place in the seedy, underbelly of Gotham makes the city imposing without knowing the crime and corruption that it produces. This Gotham also isn't so rooted in reality that some of the more colorful bad guys from Batman comics.
“They think I’m hiding in the shadows. But I am the shadows.”
Robert Pattinson’s career over the past 10 years has been something else. He could’ve easily settled into the “teenage heart-throb” and made out in life. But working on his craft in The Rover, Good Time, High Life, The Lighthouse, Tenet, and The Devil All the Time set him up as one of the better actors currently working.
Something that has been teased in the past and not really shown is Batman’s detective ability. The Batman focuses on this making it a slow-burn, noir, thriller more than a comic book movie. Be it solving the Riddler’s cryptic messages or knowing his way around a crime scene, “The World’s Greatest Detective” gives fans more than enough.
“It’s okay honey. I’ve got nine of them.”
Selina Kyle was brought to life by Zoe Kravitz who does a fantastic job as Catwoman. The chemistry with Pattinson’s Batman is tremendous but that’s not to say she can’t take care of herself. Her work life leads her into the story as she gets to know some of Gotham’s most upstanding and disgusting leaders. This story serves as almost an origin story for Catwoman and Kravitz delivers a memorable performance.
“I’ve always loved little riddles.”
Paul Dano’s take on the Riddler is absolutely insane. Cryptic cyphers and word games have always been the Riddler’s forte but death traps, duct tape, and explosives are new. Dano takes on the role with the real-life serial killer, the Zodiac, in mind. Gone are the green tights and bowler hats and in are green trench coats and military, cold weather face masks.
The Riddler kicks things off taking out Gotham leaders, sometimes live streaming the “event” online leaving behind little clues only to further his plan. While Riddler isn't some muscled-up physical specimen, the games he plays are deadly and psychotic. He will be likened to Jigsaw from Saw or John Doe from Se7en.
“Hey! Take it easy sweetheart!”
While Selina works in the Iceberg Lounge, the man famous for running the joint is Oz, better known as The Penguin. Colin Farrell steals every scene under the prosthetic scars and fat suit. From the word “go”, he understood the assignment and his take makes an impact. Everything he did worked on every level and is involved in one of the best scenes in the movie. Colin Farrell’s work was so memorable an HBOMax show has been talked about and Oz is certainly a character you'll want to see more of.
“You could’ve at least pulled that punch, man.”
Jeffery Wright’s take on who might be the only good cop willing to stick his neck out is great. Wright and Pattinson get quite a lot of screen time together and it works. Batman’s entire relationship with the GCPD is due to Gordon. There are other good cops in the department, but Gordon takes it upon himself to bring Batman in out of desperation.
Dirty cops and corrupt leadership really pull Gordon and Batman together. The scenes they work together in are gold and Wright was incredible casting.
“You’d be surprised by what even a good man is capable of.”
Carmine Falcone always had to be in “The Batman” and John Turturro puts on a powerful show. The shadow mayor so to speak, Falcone is one of the biggest mob leaders in Batman lore and Turturro owns the role.
The connection to our hero’s past and parents makes Falcone an important figure only seen in the comics.
“You needed a father. All you had was me.”
Batman’s only “family” comes in the form of his caretaker, Alfred Pennyworth. Andy Serkis takes on the role in the film and while he doesn’t have the most scenes, his are important. While this story is Batman focused, Alfred gets pushed out but still tried to get through to Bruce that he is a Wayne and can really do good in Gotham City.
The role again isn’t huge but Serkis manages to blend Jeremy Iron’s take and Michael Caine’s take on the former SIS member who turns into Bruce’s only family.
Matt Reeves didn’t make an incredible Batman film on his own. Two of the individuals he enlisted are Greg Fraser and Michael Giacchino who really helped build the look and sound of the film.
Greg Fraser is a cinematographer whose recent work includes Dune and The Mandalorian. He’s been nominated for an Oscar for his work on Dune and helped develop what is known as “the volume”. The volume is a huge screen with high-resolution LED displays. Where actors used to sit infront of a green screen, the volume responds to camera movements and adjusts perspective and lighting.
The Batman is stunningly beautiful, and the music completes it. Batman has some really notable themes and Michael Giacchino’s is beautiful and powerful.
While the film is awesome and the build-up of intensity is incredible, the movie does drag at points. The Batman’s runtime is just shy of 3 hours and the third act and ending’s seems a little out of place due to the first two acts being phenomenal. Overall, The Batman is one of, if not the best "Batman" film and will rival Nolan's "The Dark Knight Trilogy".
While it is a comic book movie, the dark tone and some unsettling scenes might not be for children. Nothing in the marketing suggested it would be toned down for young viewers. While it’s been called a horror movie, the scenes in question are more distressing and upsetting than anything and does push the PG-13 rating.
"Riddle me this. The less of them you have, the more one is worth."
If you’re a Batman fan you need to see this movie on the biggest screen you can. This is Batman’s first solo outing in 10 years and the potential for sequels could take Batman to places he hasn’t been in a long time.
While this film is realistic and gritty, it doesn’t feel outside the realm of possibility to bring in some of the more colorful villains from the rouge’s gallery. Certain events alluded to in this movie already set up several well-known and several never-before-seen in film villains.