Review of 'The Batman'

the_batman.jpg In this dark reimagining of the the caped crusader sees Robert Pattinson taking up the mask as Batman and his alter-ego Bruce Wayne, here a young man struggling to find his place in the world he finds himself in. When I say dark, I mean dark, with scene after scene gloomily lit with only the rare glimpse of the rising sun from the extremely popular setting high in a construction site where the bat signal is kept. The amazing Jeffrey Wright, no doubt familiar to fans of Westworld, is Lieutenant James Gordon who is also struggling to come to grips with rampant corruption in the police force.

The story begins with Gotham City mayor Don Mitchell Jr. (Rupert Penry-Jones) in the middle of a mayoral contest being murdered by a mysterious figure calling himself the Riddler (Paul Dano). Investigating the murder Batman discovers pictures at the Iceberg Lounge, a nightclub operated by the Penguin (Colin Farrell) showing that Mitchell had been having an affair with Annika Koslov (Hana Hrzic). Aided by Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), aka “Catwoman”, Koslov's roommate, Batman discovers that both ex-commissioner Pete Savage (Alex Ferns) and district attorney Gil Colson (Peter Sarsgaard) are on mobster boss Carmine Falcone's (John Turturro) payroll. At Mitchell's funeral the Riddler sends a bomb-laden Colson demanding that he tell him who the informant was at the trial of mobster Salvatore Maroni. Refusing, the bomb goes off and reduces yet more of Gotham City to rubble (there will be much more of this before the film finishes). As the Riddler strings Batman, Gordon and a rather more forthright and brutal Catwoman along to his merry dance the bodies stack up as the true picture begins to emerge…

Did I mention this film was dark? The story is most definitely on the dark side (I counted two people that are actually innocent here, Batman is not one of them, how many can you count?) as is, of course, the aforementioned lighting. You have to squint, both your eyes and your brain, to make heads or tails out of what is going on in this nearly three-hour epic. I say “epic” and I mean it with some massive action sequences though, surprisingly, none of the famously fantastic Batman/Wayne gadgets from previous films. Indeed, this film sees a much more subdued and less flamboyant Batman who prefers to spend his time in the gutters rather than dressed up and at the limelight (there is one sequence where this happens and it is remarked at how unusual this is and how awkward it looks). Batman is, unbelievably, even more brooding and sullen throughout this film…though he does tend to talk a lot with a cringe-worthy forced rasp, taking a deep breath before every sentence is uttered.

There is some incredibly brutal, personal violence here with the severed finger of the mayor playing a key part never mind the explosive ring around the neck of the district attorney…that goes off, with all of the visceral elements you might expect. Gore is most definitely on the table here making the film well deserving of it's adult rating. Not recommended for children, that is for sure.

What is nice to see here is the definite and clear progression of the Batman character from his self-description as “Vengeance” to realizing by the end that he must be more than this to better serve the people of Gotham. The film shows that vengeance alone will not solve the deep problems of the city…which are legion. I would seriously suggest reconsidering anyone thinking of moving there, what with the lack of light and all just to begin with, but with the bodies, a masked vigilante…

I am a bit ambivalent about Robert Pattinson who seems to be pretty much a one-note wonder here with a pathetic Bruce Wayne and a raspy Batman. Emoting does not appear to have been part of his training as an actor and he brings little to the part. Of the supporting cast, Zoë Kravitz is great as the anarchic Catwoman gleefully romping through the scenery. Jeffrey Wright plays to type as a character with very little backstory but, supposedly, a very high moral standard troubled with the corruption he sees around him. I can't remember seeing him smile at any point, but perhaps I just mised it? Personal favourite Andy Serkis is woefully miscast as Alfred, Wayne's butler, who spends most of the film berating his charge and toeing the family line. I am wondering if casting here could have been more to do with his English accent than anything else? Serkis has very little to work with though, admittedly, is involved in the most emotive aspects of the story.

An over-long, rather repetitive though often entertaining foray into the Batman mythos. Most definitely see it on the big screen even if only for the better chance at making out what is going on.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2022-03-20

Directed by: Matt Reeves

Studio: Warner Bros.

Year: 2022

Length: 176 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films by Matt Reeves: