Solid and immensely well-crafted if a little too plotty, this Batman channels the dark energy of serial killer, vengeance and torture porn films while, for better or worse, keeping a lid on its bold and perverse aspirations.
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano
Plot: 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.
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Audience Type: Mainstream
Viewed: In Theatres – Shaw Waterway IMAX
I always had faith in Robert Pattinson as the new Batman, considering his under-the-radar indie cinema work over the last decade.
In The Batman, he channels a dark and brooding persona as an emo loner rather than a rich socialite. His Bruce Wayne is a tortured figure but director Matt Reeves gives him enough agency and humanity to chart his own angst-ridden path.
Running at close to three hours, The Batman doesn’t feel long though it feels a little too plotty; nonetheless, it is a solid and immensely well-crafted first entry of what fans are hoping to be another brilliant trilogy.
From its Halloween-inspired opening to conspicuous nods to David Fincher’s Se7en (1995) and Zodiac (2007), Reeves’ work draws upon everything from noir, detective stories, serial killer, vengeance and even torture porn films, yet he creates something quite unique from familiar stylistic and narrative beats.
It’s still a PG13 wide release though, so for better or worse, the film does keep a lid on its bold and perverse aspirations.
“Fear is a tool.”
The ensemble cast is a treat: Zoe Kravitz is excellent as Catwoman; Paul Dano is creepy as The Riddler; and the Penguin is played by Colin Farrell, who is so unrecognisable that you might think that Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver (1976) had aged horribly and moved to Gotham.
Special mention goes to Jeffrey Wright as Lt. James Gordon, whom I feel is the glue that keeps everything sane and grounded.
I think The Batman will raise the profile of Matt Reeves even further—this is his most ambitiously self-contained film to date and what most audiences will remember about it is how effective its world-building is.
This Gotham is grimy, a grungy cesspool of unspeakable vices, sins and traumas, yet Reeves has made us care enough for it to want to live in it. As long as the Bat is around, our faith in the anti-hero is fervent and resolute no matter how frightening the times are.
More importantly, we feel the desire to want to be with him when he succeeds in being the real rain to finally wash the scum off the streets.