TL;DR – After a long time, they nailed what it is to do a Batman film.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene, there is a thing at the end, but you can Google it rather than stay back for it.
Disclosure – I paid to watch this film
Warning – some scenes in this film use flashing lights.
The Batman Review –
I don’t think it will be news to anyone that the DC Extended Universe has been a bit hit and miss. The race to get to the Justice League film meant that there was no time to establish your characters, and one of the significant casualties of that was Batman. While it was clear that Ben Affleck was throwing his all into it, the character never found its feet. This all led to a mix of emotions when it was announced that there would be a stand-alone Batman film, but DC adjacent and starring Robert Pattinson. Thankfully, I should not have worried.
So to set the scene, it is Halloween in Gotham City, a city that is barely holding it together after years of corruption and nepotism. However, that night Mayor Don Mitchell Jr. (Rupert Penry-Jones) looks at his dwindling polling numbers. A figure appears in the background and strikes. The Riddler (Paul Dano) has made his first kill. However, while the city might be on the precipice, there is at least one farce trying to stop the crime, the masked crusader, the dark night, vengeance himself, the Batman (Robert Pattinson).
Right from the start, I liked how they brought Batman into a modern setting that still retained the more dark and gritty elements that have permeated the franchise since Batman Begins but presented it in a different and more grounded way. How they have approached this is by smashing a couple of genres together. We get on one hand a classic mob story with Falcone (John Turturro) and the Penguin (Colin Farrell) scheming and manipulating the powers that be. While this is all happening, we have Riddler murdering the influential people of Gotham and leaving clues to his final plan. These two stories are smashed together with Batman at the heart, and this all works. I wondered if there was enough story for the three hours or if there would be a lot of padding, and thankfully it uses the most of its time.
The cast also knows what kind of film they are in and plays into that quite well. I know that Robert Pattinson has been dubbed emo-Batman, but I like what he brought to the role. This Batman has been banging his head against the wall for two years and does not know why things are not changing, not realising that he is approaching it from the wrong direction. Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz) embodies the best aspects of Catwoman, her passion, her thieving, and her ability to command every scene. Penguin is sort of having an origin story of his own, and it is clear that Colin Farrell is having a blast. I liked that they gave the character homage without having it fall into slapstick [okay, they do it once, and it is fantastic]. The best thing I can say about Paul Dano’s performance was when I got into the car afterwards, I inadvertently checked the mirror and checked the back seat. Finally, Jeffrey Wright hit the perfect balance of being the one honest cop in a city full of bribes and has the common sense needed to stay alive in a city where he is the only honest cop.
From a production perspective, I liked that Gotham sat in a very real, grimy world, but there is just a hint of fantastical reality to make it all fit together. The actions scenes all work quite well, with goons throwing themselves into Batman’s fists, but also, Batman does not come off as wholly invulnerable, just mostly. The highlight in that respect was probably the car chase that captured all of this chaos in the moments of glory. I know this film will be too dark for some, with most of it set at night. That wasn’t a significant problem for me because Batman and night kind of go together like peanut butter and jam, but also for the moments where thematically and literally Batman gets dragged into the light.
While overall I did like the film, some moments didn’t quite come together or felt like missed opportunities. First, when it came to the ending, certain aspects of Batman/Bruce Wayne’s story felt rushed, which is frustrating when you have a three-hour runtime. I liked Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, but he was only there for one scene and felt underutilised in other places. It also got a little muddied with its themes in areas, but thankfully never so much that it became hollow, like my experience with the Joker.
In the end, do we recommend The Batman? Yes, yes, we do. You will be in for the long run with film, which might be an understandable barrier for some people. They did a good job bringing Batman back after a couple of failed starts and with an unenviable legacy. It will be interesting to see if this stays as a one-off or if the upcoming Flash film has something to say about that. Well, at the very least, Barry Keoghan has something to say about that. If you liked The Batman, I would also recommend to you Dredd.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Batman
Directed by – Matt Reeves
Written by – Matt Reeves & Peter Craig
Based on – Characters from DC
Music by – Michael Giacchino
Cinematography by – Greig Fraser
Edited by – William Hoy & Tyler Nelson
Production/Distribution Companies – DC Films, 6th & Idaho, Dylan Clark Productions, Warner Bros. Pictures & Universal Pictures.
Starring – Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell, Jayme Lawson, Gil Perez-Abraham, Peter McDonald, Alex Ferns, Con O’Neill, Rupert Penry-Jones, Max Carver, Charlie Carver, Hana Hrzic, Luke Roberts, Stella Stocker & Barry Keoghan
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 12; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: 15; United States: PG-13