Released: 4th March, 2022
Director: Matt Reeves
What should have been one of the most revolutionary comic book movies of all time has fell short of any expectations and grinds out an extremely tedious story.
There was a lot riding on this and the hype around this movie was incredibly hot amongst both film critics and comic book fans. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to seeing anything as much as this which is probably why I feel most disappointed.
Matt Reeves had quite an impressive resume of films so when it was first announced he was attached way back in 2017, even before Ben Affleck departed, I was excited for it. I love Cloverfield and his Planet of the Apes were very well written so I knew that Batman was in safe hands.
His vision however, whilst being aesthetically pleasing, is a long drawn out effort that tries to be innovative but feels familiar in more ways than one.
There’s parts of this I really liked though which is why it’s so frustrating. Take the introduction of Batman for example, that scene is worked around the visual of Gotham City, the dark, rainy and gloomy Halloween night mixed with the chilling Michael Giacchino score. All of these combined build the tension to the eventual reveal of the dark vengeful figure coming out of the shadows to beat up a gang of thugs. Reeves’ Gotham City seems to be a blend of all that came before – there’s elements of the gothic vibe that the Burton movies were known for, the jazzy neon lights of the Schumacher movies and the functioning modern looking city of the Dark Knight trilogy.
The movie looks fantastic, the cinematography of Greig Fraser needs every bit of praise as to how well it’s used to try and enhance the story. It sounds fantastic too, as mentioned above Michael Giacchino’s score is like another character on screen at times, his triumphant yet frightful theme for whenever Batman appears created the atmosphere needed to establish Gotham, the city full of lawlessness and corruption.
Other than a few impressive moments the whole story gets disorientated in a runtime that doesn’t do the movie any justice. Normally I don’t mind the nearly 3 hour movies, they seem to go in quite quick but The Batman is remarkably sluggish. I found the whole middle and final act to last forever and with no real worthwhile end. Speaking of the ending without giving away too many spoilers: “I hope Mr Bane can swim!” Batman crossed with the Day After Tomorrow meant for a pretty dumb master plan from our villain.
I liked the support cast though, Jeffrey Wright was a grounded Jim Gordon and his interactions with Batman were nice to watch. Andy Serkis seemed to be a good Alfred but he’s genuinely only in the movie for 5 minutes, there is a heartfelt scene between him and Bruce that is pivotal to the motivation of Batman. Colin Farrell is menacing as The Penguin yet it feels like the movie needed him more of him to establish his performance at bit more. Surprisingly, John Turturro was enjoyable as Falcone but he’s one of the biggest problems to the story. Once again, we’re relying too much on Falcone to influence a Batman movie and it gives off too much Batman Begins vibes and feels highly repetitive. As for Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, her character is given much more depth than we’ve ever seen her before and she brings a fresh take to the role.
As for the movie suffering from a recurring idea, it seems Reeves took influence from far too many things despite him giving off the vibe that this was going to be a noir like film that we’d never seen before. Yes Paul Dano as The Riddler is frightening at certain points but he’s far too comparable to Heath Ledger’s Joker in his creepy video messages and the Jigsaw like traps from the Saw movies. At no point do I feel he is multiple steps ahead of Batman nor am I convinced anything he is doing is going to have extreme consequences.
How does Robert Pattinson compare to others who have donned the cape and cowl you may ask? Well let’s just say he won’t make my top 5 that’s for sure.
The problem with Pattinson in this is that he’s too one dimensional as Batman and his Bruce Wayne is exact the same when he takes off the batsuit. Now I know there’s the argument that the movie takes place during only his second year of being Batman and that he’s still trying to master the facade of the billionaire philanthropist but you just can’t buy into him when he takes off the mask. Despite there being a few moments that almost convinced me that he is the world’s greatest detective, there’s too much chopping and changing from being in the batsuit solving the Riddler’s riddles to being normal Bruce Wayne out in Gotham trying to do things he would be better off doing as Batman.
On the whole, The Batman tried to craft a fresh take on Gotham’s dark protector by using familiar methods that masqueraded as something original. There are some elements that Batman fans and general comic book fans can be proud of but it deteriorates as the movie’s final act plays out and what’s left is an uninspiring finale that should have meant so much more.