The definitive Batman movie is upon us. A neo-noir detective story for the ages, reminiscent of Zodiac and Seven. Full of beautiful cinematography, and one heck of a performance by Robert Pattinson.
When the Riddler, a sadistic serial killer, begins murdering key political figures in Gotham, Batman is forced to investigate the city’s hidden corruption and question his family’s involvement.
After 5 viewings, I think I’m finally ready to talk about The Batman. Truly a movie for the ages. After five long years, a pandemic, release dates being moved. The Batman has finally arrived and it some how exceeded all of my expectations. Expectations that have never been higher for a movie, which, to say the least is a little unjust and unfair, but when you love Batman as much as I do, it’s hard to resist. This is everything I’ve ever wanted to see in a Batman movie, from the character himself, Gotham City, his fellow rogues gallery, and how the universe was built. This is a perfect blend between realism and fantastical, a perfect mesh of the animated series and the Arkham video games. Two of the greatest iterations we have ever seen from the character. Sprinkle in a little Scott Snyder New 52 Comics run and we have without a doubt in my mind the best Batman movie to ever exist.
It’s year two and Batman has become a nocturnal animal. His entire life is dedicated to the Batman. He thrives on being “vengeance” and striking fear in all the criminals of Gotham, even if he can’t be everywhere at once. As days and weeks mush together like one long acid trip, Batman uses camera contact lenses and journaling to record and keep track of everything that is happening around him. A cool idea that makes his detective work easier on the mind and lets us realize further that this iteration of Batman is always the smartest guy in the room.
Written and directed by the great Matt Reeves. A fan of the character, which you can tell from the first 10 minutes of the movie, that this is a man who understands Batman. From the narration by Pattinson at the start and end of the film, leading into the first appearance of the character, as he describes himself as being “the shadows” of Gotham. Matt Reeves has crafted a euphoric experience for the hardcore Batman fan. Subtle teases, Easter eggs and references galore gives us such a vast array of characters and what’s to possibly come for The Batman.
Greg Fraser (cinematographer), who is fresh off Dune, bring us arguably the most cinematic and beautiful comic book movie we have ever seen. The cinematography is at the highest of highs with every single shot practically picture perfect. POV shots, wide frame and the aesthetics throughout the movie, make this not only just a great looking comic book movie, but movie in general. Gotham City comes to life as a dreary, rainy, grimy and gothic city. That feels forever dirty and hopeless and becomes a character in itself during the duration of the movie. Gotham City is just as important as Batman when crafting a great story. Something that has lacked in recent Batman outings, but not here. You know you’re in Gotham the entire time, and it’s a depressing place. Somewhere you would find a grown man in a bat costume lurking in the shadows. When he appears on screen and Michael Giacchino’s epic and haunting score hits, it sends chills down your body. Batman is no stranger to having a beautiful scores, but this whole ensemble truly is one for the record books.
Everyone and I mean everyone is acting their ass off in this movie. From Jeffery Wright’s Jim Gordon, who has such an interesting relationship with Batman. The buddy-cop routine between them is something we haven’t really seen before. They have so much time together on screen, solving cases and bouncing ideas off one another. One thing I loved, he was constantly refer to Batman as “man” like they are pals. He understood what he stood for and the more the movie went on, the more of his fellow officers understood why Jim was so close to Batman. Zoe Kravitz gives a memorable and electric Catwoman performance. Serving as not just the love interest, but a vital role in the story being told. She’s able to help Batman with his detective work and makes him realize that you need to expand your circle sometimes. Paul Dano and Colin Farrell act as our villains here. Riddler and Penguin respectfully. The more I watched the movie, the more Riddler grew on me. He’s a nut job, at the end of the day, most Batman villains are broken people with broken minds, and that’s exactly what we got from Paul Dano and his Riddler. He’s a full blown psychopath, and they are always the most dangerous bad guys. There’s a great scene where Batman is interrogating Riddler and he’s so frustrated because he can’t lay his hands on him and you can see his rage and frustrations. The Riddler has outsmarted him and Batman is realizing sometimes your fists can’t solve every problem in Gotham.
Penguin is one of the best parts of the movie. He’s basically involved in the best two scenes of the movie. One at the Ice Berg Lounge, the club that he runs. Even Batman going to the Ice Berg Lounge was so cool to see in live action, and Penguin was just perfect. Farrell is unrecognizable and he deserves a ton of praise for what he does. Funny, smart, cunning, and looking to be the biggest mobster in Gotham. The best scene in the movie, a horror esque Batmobile highway chase scene. We don’t see the Batmobile until about half way through the movie. When that engine revs up, it’s giving Christine vibes, Stephen Kings famous killer car a run for it’s money. It’s loud and it’s intimidating as heck. What follows is an all-timer chase sequence where Reeves and Fraser truly deliver something remarkable.
Now for the reason we are all here, Batman. Robert Pattinson, that man was born to play this particular iteration of Batman. Everything about his performance is thought out. The way he walks, the way he turns, the way he makes eye contact with certain people. How his cape moves, the way he uses his gadgets, how he fights. It’s all so strong, and mechanically beautiful. Rob just felt like Batman, the way he talks, his relationship with both Gordon and Alfred. The use of rain and the sounds of Batman’s boots walking is so flawlessly executed here. He’s a cowboy in a Western, but they are used to let people know the boogeyman is coming. When we first see Batman, it’s like a horror movie villain popping out for the first time. Very Jason and Michael Meyers, where you know he’s coming, you can hear him, but it’s to late to run now. Batman was treated so differently here than any movie prior. All these small details that you wouldn’t think could contribute to a Batman movie, that actually elevate it to new levels. It’s hard to put into words how I feel about Rob and what he accomplished. I smiled my ass off even the fifth time I saw the movie. He just has moments where I’m like “THAT’S BATMAN.” Some of those moments are seconds long, some are minutes, but one thing is for sure, he is the new definitive Batman. From the first person he saves to the last, his arc comes full circle and it’s heartwarming and emotional to see. From the citizens of Gotham asking Batman not to hurt them after saving them, to a little boy reaching for his hand in darkness. He just felt so raw. It’s only been 2 years, he isn’t peaked. He’s still afraid of heights, makes mistakes and honestly at times, gets beat up a little bit.
My only true gripe with the movie. Not enough Alfred. Andy Serkis is fantastic, but he has maybe 10 minutes of screen time? I think he had a busy schedule during the making of this and it’s something I need more of in the sequel. He’s a brilliant detective and it appears that he trained Bruce in a lot of ways growing up. Couldn’t write all this without mentioning Alfred!
The Batman takes a place on the Mount Rushmore of movies for me. For so many reasons. For what it stands for, what it accomplished and what’s to come within this universe that Reeves has created.
I left the movie time and time again wondering why Jim Gordon shined that bright light into the sky and what adventure Batman will get up to next.