Finally, we have the kind of Batman movie I have wanted to see since I first read Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. This is the darkest and boldest Batman movie yet. In essence, it is a gritty, neo-noir superhero film.
Writer-director Matt Reeves has made an impressive movie. This is a fresh new approach to what most consider to be a somewhat overplayed and overexposed comic book character. It feels like a detective story with a David Fincher vibe. I can see why most reviewers have noticed some influences from Fincher’s Seven (1995) and Zodiac (2007). It is beautifully shot — the texture of most scenes is dark and reddish, almost like Batman is constantly surrounded by shadows. There could have been better lighting in some scenes, but overall, it is a gorgeous-looking piece of filmmaking.
This is not another Batman origins story, which is a good thing. The movie starts with Batman, already established as the cape crusader. It is hinted that he has recently gone to battle and put away the Joker. And even lieutenant James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) seems to be working closely with Batman, almost like detective partners. And though they sometimes appear as somewhat ineffective and incompetent detectives, their investigative process is entertaining. Most significantly, there is a new take on Bruce Wayne — He is not the typical womanizer from previous films but more of a reclusive billionaire type of character.
Robert Pattinson is solid here, portraying an emotionally damaged and tortured version of Batman/Bruce Wayne. This is probably the most badass version of Batman yet. However, this isn’t my favorite version of the cape crusader. Michael Keaton’s version remains my absolute favorite. Nevertheless, I would like Robert Pattinson to continue to play and explore this character further and see how far they can push things.
The rest of the cast is impressive. Selina Kyle / Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz) is pretty convincing; her pain and suffering parallel Bruce Wayne’s pain. Their chemistry is excellent. Paul Dano delivers a terrifying portrayal of the Riddler; he is sadistic, evil, driven by hate, and hungry for revenge and chaos. So there is more from this character to explore. I’m looking forward to the upcoming six-part comic series Riddler: Year One, coming out later this fall ’22.
Formidable performance by Colin Farrell (Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot / Penguin). Physically, this early version of the Penguin has shades of Robert Deniro’s version of Al Capone in appearance but is not as menacing. John Turturro (Carmine Falcone) is always great in everything he does and is great here again. Even Alfred (Andy Serkis) feels different from previous versions of Alfred Pennyworth — here, he seems more of a caring father figure.
The Batman was marketed as a stand-alone movie. But I noticed some similarities with Todd Phillip’s The Joker(2018), like the tone and overall darkness of both stories — and their mother’s mental health issues. It would be pretty cool if they could figure out a way to connect both movies somehow. This Batman’s fighting style and the action sequences are less superhero-like and more sloppy than in previous Batman movies. The violence is better grounded on what realistic street fighting would be like. And there are fewer gadgets and high-tech weapons at Batman’s disposal. All of that was pretty remarkable.
Gotham City looks a lot more like NYC than in previous versions, which I also liked. It is heavy on plot, but it works; it doesn’t trip all over itself. I did not mind the length of the movie. It is 3 hours long, so there has to be a more extended cut available (I hope). The score and soundtrack is outstanding — Nirvana and the Ave Maria song show up all over the movie.
The Batman is an outstanding, complex, and daring new entry into the cinematic Superhero comic book genre. It is a fun and delightful movie-watching experience. I’m looking forward to the next installment.
Four out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿🍿
The Batman (2022).