Never have I seen this much hype for a Batman film since Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. It seems people were loving the darker tone this film was advertising. I was keener on Matt Reeves as director which I would classify in the film industry as another safe pair of directorial hands. Recently, producer Dylan Clark said in an Empire interview that he spoke to Christopher Nolan saying “We’re going to try to beat you”. Now that is a throwing down of the gauntlet if I’ve ever seen one. So I thought to myself if the film is so confident it can fit the boots of the Dark Knight Trilogy, let’s judge it as such. So, I’ve come to the conclusion of not exactly fitting, but this is the freshest look at Batman we have seen on cinema.
I suppose the first question to answer is if Robert Pattinson fits into the legendary cowl comfortably. Absolutely he does but in a different way. This will lead up to another point later, but this Batman is someone who is still trying to find his role in helping Gotham. In a way, it’s a late coming of age story where Batman is still integrating himself into what kind of hero the city needs. As Bruce Wayne, Pattinson gives a performance that is focused and dedicated to his Defender of Gotham image. There are only a few instances where you get to see Bruce Wayne, the young billionaire.
But the crown for most impressive has to go to Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle. I loved this character, mostly because her moral ambiguity is a great challenge to Batman’s view of justice. She gets tied into the main story of The Batman, but only because her personal mission eventually coincides with the bigger picture. The most disturbing performance award goes to Paul Dano as Riddler, this performance is as far from Jim Carrey as you could possibly go. This Riddler is someone who has a lot of bitterness to the elite citizens of Gotham, but this isn’t just as cookie-cutter “disdain for corruption”, Paul Dano makes it perfectly clear through a very terrifying performance that he has just had enough of the hypocrites within major Gotham figures. In terms of his riddles, you can clearly see the Zodiac Killer inspiration used for building the character.
So much praise has been given to composer Michael Giacchino for the score in The Batman, while it’s no Hans Zimmer, if you look at the purpose of the score, it’s perfect for the type of Batman in this film. The idea of Batman being the feeling of fear for Gotham’s criminals is drilled so much into the audience’s heads and Giacchino’s score feels ominous, the perfect feeling to match the stature of Batman. I’ll even say that this film has great sound design, when Batman is beating up criminals, you always hear the heavy footsteps of his boots before you see him. The number of shadowy places in a single location works brilliantly with this sound as you can expect Batman to come from anywhere.
Though what I would say to those with the image of Batman fighting bad guys, don’t think that idea will come out exactly how you think it will. This Batman is not the crime-fighting Caped Crusader as we have seen so often, this is Batman the Great Detective. Depending on how you like your flavour of Batman, this is going to be a little divisive, especially considering that The Batman is closer to a neo-noir film rather than a superhero film.
However, this doesn’t mean that fans of action shouldn’t be too disappointed, The Batman has a lot of brutal action that is probably the most down to earth Batman action to date. That is with one exception. I’ve heard a lot about how impressive a certain Batmobile chase is the most impressive scene we’ve seen from a Batman film, but in all honesty, while impressive it’s not exactly something to wildly rave about. Granted you get two of the greatest shots in the film during this sequence, which you can already see in the trailer, but apart from those two exceptions, the scene has a lot of shots from wing mirrors and car doors which I found to be very confined. While you have a good aesthetic appeal with the rain and the bright tungsten colour of the streetlamps, it does have the downside of obstructing space so the framing feels cramped.
The dark tone delivers as promised, but something I don’t think audiences will be expecting is just how large the moody atmosphere is in this film. I’m sure there is an argument to the necessity of this moody atmosphere, but I counted several times where I felt it took the doom and gloom too far. I think this is the most evident when Batman has to be Bruce Wayne. With other Batman’s, there was a clear change from the devoted, crime-fighter persona to the suave, billionaire Bruce Wayne, but there’s very little character change between the two. That’s my only gripe with Robert Pattinson’s otherwise great performance.
But when all is said and done, Matt Reeves does not disappoint, once again. With something so iconic to pop culture as Batman, the pressure to be better than what came before must be immense, but in reality, all we really want to see is a beloved character in a new light, to which The Batman absolutely delivers. Whether this vision sits with your film preference is up to you, but there will be very few who can deny that this is an intriguing take on Gotham’s Dark Knight.
Final Result: 8/10 – Very Good
Have you seen The Batman? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Red Rocket