*note: this review was originally published on Patreon last month
In a word, The Batman is amazing! I was initially leery about the film running nearly three hours in length. Even though I’ve sat through films that long before (Infinity War and Endgame come to mind), there’s no getting around the fact that three hours is a LONG time to sit and watch a movie. Thankfully, I’m pleased to report The Batman doesn’t really drag at all. Three hours is really a perfect length for the story Matt Reeves is setting out to tell. In fact it reminded me almost of a play or an opera at times, because if you pay attention you can tell where each act ends and the next one begins.
Robert Pattinson makes for an incredible Batman AND Bruce Wayne. I absolutely love that this isn’t the playboy billionaire that we’ve seen in most every incarnation of Batman that’s ever made it to the screen. This version of Bruce Wayne feels so much more….I think the word is realistic? If you went through the trauma of losing your parents, you could easily withdraw into yourself the way Bruce does. Speaking of realistic, I also like how “real” all of Batman’s gadgets feel. They’re not sleek and shiny like some of the past iterations. These feel like they were cobbled together by someone learning as they go, which would make sense given that this is stated to be Batman’s second year of operation in Gotham. It’s not the “bare bones” you might expect from the very beginning, nor is it a well established operation like other films have implied, and I like that.
If I have one nitpick it’s that I wanted to see more of Andy Serkis as Alfred. I really like how Serkis plays the character, and I especially like the stern-but-loving relationship that clearly exists between Alfred and Bruce throughout the film. Hopefully the sequel will let us see more of Alfred. I also really, really liked Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon. I hadn’t realized before going in that he’d been cast for the part but my god he is PERFECT for this role. Wright perfectly balances between trusting Batman and being wary because he doesn’t know who Batman really is. That’s a relationship I really hope gets explored further in the sequel.
Speaking of relationships, I love love LOVED the chemistry between Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz. The Batman/Catwoman relationship is one of my favorites in comics and it was done so well here.
Back to the story itself for a minute, I couldn’t understand at first why a few people were comparing The Batman to a horror film…and then I saw the Riddler for the first time in the movie and I suddenly understood. I think we could definitely make the argument that The Batman is a superhero horror film. Certainly many of the segments involving the Riddler felt like they came right out of the depths of the horror genre (there’s one scene that felt like it came right out of SAW) and that’s not a bad thing. Given the twisted villains that can and have appeared in Batman stories in the past, it’s a wonder Batman films don’t dip into horror more often. I still prefer the bowler hat-wearing Riddler from the 1960s TV show, but I did enjoy how he was presented in this film as a part-brilliant/part insane serial killer.
What really made the Riddler unsettling for me is that, underneath the madness…he has a point. The most twisted thing about this film is that the Riddler is actually trying to do a *good* thing he’s just chosen the most twisted and sadistic way possible to do it, which I suppose makes the Riddler pure Machiavellian (the ends justify the means). That is….that’s how it feels right up until the last twist of the last act. I won’t say more than that, except to mention that I haven’t made up my mind if Reeves included one twist too many in this film, I’m going to need to watch a few more times and see if if plays out the same for me in repeat viewings.
I sincerely hope we see more of Colin Farrell’s Penguin in future films (I know there’s already a series greenlit about the character). If you didn’t know the casting, you’d never know it was Colin Farrell under all that makeup. I hated this look when it was first revealed, but seeing it in context, in the film, it works. The Penguin isn’t quite the suave criminal he’s appeared as in other films or shows, but he clearly has aspirations to being such and that helped the character grow on me throughout the film.
One final character I have to highlight and that’s John Turturro as Carmine Falcone. Turturro’s Falcone drips malice from the moment you meet him, but it’s a subtle kind. You can almost be suckered in to believing that Falcone isn’t that bad a guy, despite being a crime lord, until the last act lays everything bare.
All of this is to say that The Batman is well worth the three hours you spend in the theaters and is easily one of the best, if not THE best Batman movies ever made (and I do not say that lightly).
Let me know what you think about The Batman in the comments below and have a great day!
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