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TV/Film Reviews

Film Review: ‘The Batman’ (dir. Matt Reeves)

The film opens with a title card featuring almost comically large text that reads “THE BATMAN,” filling the entire screen in a tall, skinny, red, sans serif font. Somehow, that was already a good sign.

The Batman is almost here, and this time, Robert Pattinson is going to be at the helm.Joining him in the Matt Reeves-directed film are Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman and Paul Dano as The Riddler alongside Jeffrey Wright, Collin Farrell, Andy Serkis, John Turturro, and Peter Sarsgaard. Fans have been anxiously awaiting the release of this film for months, and it’s finally time for it to see the light of day.

The marketing for this film has been insane, and it’s only going to ramp up even more in the final days coming up as we lead into the film’s international premiere. You’re going to have people on both sides of the aisle — it’s a superhero movie, they tend to cause a divide among most people — but I really think it should be up to you to decide what you think about this movie. People online are going to immediately call this a modern classic while others trash it up one side and down the other. I guarantee this film will bring about that level of debate and extreme polarity. Anyways, here were my thoughts…

The film opens with a title card featuring almost comically large text that reads “THE BATMAN,” filling the entire screen in a tall, skinny, red, sans serif font. Somehow, that was already a good sign.

Robert Pattinson plays The Batman with such (I’m going to say it…) vengeance. His voice completely sells it, and nothing about it feels overdone. I don’t think it’s fair to compare him to past Batman iterations. I don’t think it’s really fair to compare them at all. Blogs are about to be ranking their favorite Batman actors, and while I obviously see the fun in that (who doesn’t love arguing over lists and rankings on Twitter, right?), I think you should also judge these performances on their own merit. Pattinson really immerses himself into the role, and the way his body language, mannerisms, and voice work together completely transforms him into The Batman. Hearing him move around in the costume with the cape and leather squeaking, as well as the heavy stomp of his boots would strike fear into anybody.

Zoë Kravitz is really great here. You’re led to believe she will be a much more integral part to the storyline, and while she has quite an interesting arc and some ample screen time, I never felt like I entirely understood her character enough to form a real connection. Nonetheless, she manages to command the screen and steal the scene every time we see her. Kravitz is one of those actresses working today that always successfully pulls off the mystique and mystery of a performance without giving into the cheesy cliches we often see relying too much on being sexy and slinky. She carries herself with such swagger as Catwoman, and the finesse with which she moves with this character is incomparable.

Paul Dano delivers a chilling performance, and his voice triggers such a response from the audience. I want a daily Wordle-like game that just spits out a new riddle from The Riddler each and every day. Watching the mysteries that originate from The Riddler’s marionette strings play out was one of my favorite aspects of the entire film. Collin Farrell may very well trigger the same response as Jared Leto in House of Gucci. While it was outlandish and funny in the moment, his character didn’t really have much of a lasting effect on me. I found his character a little distracting due to his excessive prosthetic and makeup work, but I could see him being an interesting character given the right perspective. His upcoming spinoff project might give him a better chance to flesh out the character. Jeffrey Wright really can do it all, and he continually proves that here. The range this man has is unbelievable. While I do wish he had maybe just one more scene that gave him a chance to have a real actor’s moment, I still found him interesting and essential to what was taking place.

This just feels like a big box office movie. I’m not so sure it really feels like a comic book movie, however. This leans much more into its noir, thriller roots than its comic book origins, and that’s okay. I feel like we are at a point in time where directors finally feel comfortable straying off course from the traditional comic book movie formula that we so often see. Throwing out that playbook has been hit-or-miss, but when it’s a hit, it’s a hit. I mean, just looking at the trailers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness make it look almost like a horror film, and Eternals felt more epic in scale than what we’ve seen in recent memory. In that same vein, The Batman ditches its batman *booms* and *pows* for a rain-soaked, bone-chilling ride that goes from investigative crime scene drama to high-octane action thriller seamlessly.

This film has a beyond amazing score that’s chilling in such a classic comic book movie way but that also felt entirely original. It sounds like something you’ve heard before and are familiar with, but at the very same time, its style is something entirely fresh and unique. This should come as no surprise seeing that Michael Giacchino composed the score and soundtrack. (Giacchino has notoriously scored for several films including The Incredibles, Up, Rogen One: A Star Wars Story, Ratatouille, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming / Far From Home / No Way Home, and more with upcoming involvement on the scores for Jurassic World Dominion, Lightyear, and Thor: Love and Thunder.)

There’s also an original song playing in the film that couldn’t have matched the film and its place within the movie more. I can’t wait for it to hit streaming services so I can add it to my playlist.

The set design and props department really deserve their props (ha, see what I did there?). The Batcave and Batmobile are — for lack of a better word here — badass. It definitely feels more contemporary and less cartoon-ish than what the names might imply, which I think is representative of the rest of the film as a whole. There isn’t necessarily a specific time period being portrayed here, and Gotham City really felt like its own world mirroring our own, reflecting some of both the good and bad aspects of society today.

Reminiscent of its predecessors to enough of an extent that it pays homage in the right way, it never feels too on the nose, and I appreciated that.

There are so many (countless, really) frames that could deservingly end up on the One Perfect Shot Twitter account. The cinematography work is stunning, and the camera knew exactly how to frame The Batman and Catwoman against a sunset sky or a fiery backdrop.

Having sung its praises, however, it doesn’t come without a few flaws. With a runtime at around two-and-a-half hours, you certainly feel it. I have nothing against a long movie (if you can pull it off, go for it!), but I feel like you should entirely utilize the space to justify that extended time. The best movies out there can make a nearly three hour runtime fly by in a wink. There were just times near the end that I caught myself wishing The Batman would wrap things up with certain storylines more efficiently.

The last fifteen or twenty minutes felt like such a direct setup to a sequel, so I’m not surprised to hear Pattinson and Reeves already teasing a follow-up. It really tees up a nice segway into a sequel, and that’s good to hear because there are already plans for two sequel films (to form a trilogy) as well as two spin-off series in the works at HBO Max.

The Batman opens in theaters everywhere this Friday, March 4.

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