THE BATMAN | Film Review

RELEASED: March 4th 2022
DIRECTED BY: Matt Reeves
WRITTEN BY: Matt Reeves & Peter Craig
PRODUCED BY: Matt Reeves & Dylan Clark
MUSIC BY: Michael Giacchino
STARRING: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis & Colin Farrell

REVIEW: It’s hard to say where exactly The Batman will sit in people’s collective ranking of Batman films. Some may be put off by the hefty runtime. Some may think nothing can ever match the down-to-earth realism of The Dark Knight. But for me? This may have leapt all the way to the top to become my favourite Batman film to date.

The Batman finds Bruce Wayne two years into his career as the caped crusader. When a string of murders by the illusive Riddler threatens to throw Gotham City into turmoil, Batman and his detective partner Jim Gordon must solve the case before Riddler’s plans come to fruition.

First off, let’s talk about Batman himself.

A big part of why I rate this movie over The Dark Knight trilogy is Robert Pattinson as Batman. I don’t think it’s too hot a take to say the best parts of the Nolan films were often the villains, rather than the hero. Here though, Batman takes centre stage, keeping some of the realism of Bale, while leaning closer to the comics (although not quite as far into the more fantastical elements as Affleck).

He encompasses more Batman facets than any Batman before him. He’s the brutal and efficient fighter, he’s the great detective, the gadget utilising hero, the tortured soul. He is, in my opinion, the best Batman, played perfectly by Pattinson, who brings a wealth of rage and brutality and anguish to his performance as a vigilante who’s somewhat experienced but hasn’t quite figured it all out yet.

The other facets of Batman lore are also extremely well done here. Gotham City looks like it’s been plucked out of a comic book – not quite the Gothic hellscape of the Keaton films, but far more gritty and florescent than the Bale movies. It’s a believable hive of scum and villainy where the criminal element is seemingly unstoppable, and a figure like Batman would be needed.

The rest of the characters that occupy this wretched city are well written and superbly cast. Dano presents a deeply unpleasant, yet unfortunately quite believable Riddler – it’s an excellent reimagining of the character, and Dano’s portrayal is fantastic. Wright gives a solid turn as the stoic detective Jim Gordon. Serkis, though limited in his screentime, offers up a supportive aura as Bruce’s father-figure Alfred. Kravitz serves as a great foil to Bruce, emphasizing the wounded and downtrodden nature of Selina Kyle in contrast to his position of privilege. Farrell, meanwhile, revels in his prosthetic-laden performance of the Penguin and brings a touch of fun to this otherwise dark outing.

‘Dark’ being the operative word there. Much of this film is shrouded in darkness, both figuratively and literally. Tonally, it’s brutal and gritty, more of a noir detective thriller than a superhero movie. Gotham is a wretched place, its characters corrupt and complex. The story isn’t about flying in and saving the day – it’s about stopping a killer and discovering just how messed up everyone actually is.

While, cinematically, it’s literally often quite dark. Much of the action is covered in shadow, illuminated only by gunfire or flickering lights. Reeves and cinematographer Greig Fraser show great restraint with their use of colour and light, so when they occasional detour away from that, it can be quite striking, making for some beautiful shots and some rich thematic imagery. But whether dark or light, this movie continues to look stunning throughout.

The cinematography is complemented well by the various designs. The costumes are on point – Batman’s especially. There are so many intriguing and practical facets to it that I’d love to see more of. The sound design is great throughout but really shines during the reveal of the Batmobile, which is an absolute treat.

The biggest thing against The Batman is probably its runtime. At three hours, this is a hefty film, and the first half is definitely the stronger of the two. Personally, I found myself engaged throughout – from the first appearance of Batman himself I was sold, and that bought enough goodwill to keep up my level of enjoyment sky high until the credits. Could it be shorter? Almost certainly. Some scenes go on just a touch longer than they need to, and the story doesn’t always feel like it needs to be three hours long. But to the film’s credit, even though this narrative sprawls out in various directions, it never loses focus of the main plot, namely Batman’s pursuit of the Riddler.

So despite the hefty runtime, I still dug it. If anything, I want more. I’m eager to see it again and to watch more chapters in this new take on Batman. They can’t come soon enough.

As such, I give The Batman

Thanks for reading! Who’s the best Batman? Let me know in the comments below!

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