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The Batman – Movie Review
March 4, 2022
Synopsis: 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.

Director: Matt Reeves

Stars: Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Barry Keoghan, Colin Farrell, Jeffrey Wright, Paul Dano

Have you ever been on a first date where the person sitting across the table from you kept talking about their ex? ‘My ex never would have come to a place like this!’. ‘My ex hated sushi’. ‘That reminds of that time with my ex….

Not too much fun, right?

Heaven forbid you were that person going on and on about their ex. Admittedly this is an odd way to start a review for The Batman but I feel I was indirectly guilty of this behaviour. I absolutely loved Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ movies. I would say it’s one of the best trilogies of all time. Combining his vision with superb acting and storytelling just made for a great series. After Nolan walked away from directing Batman movies, we were introduced to Zach Snyder’s direction and Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne and more importantly Batman. I was indifferent to the casting of Affleck, but I had a lukewarm response to Batman vs Superman and Justice League. They were good movies but not ‘Nolan-esque’. I kept thinking ‘what if Nolan was still involved?’ Really involved and not just some token ‘producer credit’. I spoke of this in my reviews, and I was, unfortunately, that person who went on about an ‘ex’.

Coming into this new film my hopes were low. I have well documented that between DC comics and the other guys (that other studio with the mouse), I felt that the ‘other guys’ were more polished, they had things planned out more. That being said, Batman is my favourite superhero so I was excited to see what this film would bring. I mentioned I had a ‘meh’ reception to Affleck as Batman, and it wasn’t until I saw this new film that I understood why…Affleck’s portrayal of Batman never made me excited. That childlike anticipation of seeing Batman on the screen. It never came in either of the Affleck Batman films. That isn’t a criticism of Affleck but the overall films. They were good, but not great. I feel also part of the issue is that when we saw Batman v Superman and Justice League they were collaborative films in that we had multiple superheroes on screen. That isn’t necessary with Batman, he can carry a movie on his own. I will admit, it can take me awhile to warm up to a new actor in a franchise and while I never did with Affleck’s Batman, I can say it took me the third Daniel Craig Bond film to accept him as 007. However, it took me about 10 minutes to accept Pattinson as Batman. Within the first ten minutes of the film, it happened…something that hadn’t happened in either of Affleck’s Batman movies, I was excited for Batman’s appearance. The child in me was ignited and I found his performance believable.  When Robert Pattinson first arrives onscreen, I went back to being a kid who just loved Batman. Now I’m just an adult with that love reinforced.

Right of that bat, no pun intended, one of the things I appreciated about this new Batman film is that it wasn’t an origin story. It didn’t waste screen time by taking us back to a period where Bruce Wayne was a little boy. Matt Reeves gives us the benefit of the doubt that we know how Batman came to be.  Batman narrates the opening scene telling the story of a man who is a ‘nocturnal animal’ and he ‘can’t be everywhere.’. He speaks to the importance of the ‘Bat signal’ and what it does to criminals.

From a plot perspective, Batman and James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) are investigating a series of murders of high-profile people in Gotham. The murderer leaves riddles for the caped crusader and there are scenes that seem to channel David Fincher’s great film Se7en as we deal with grisly murders and try to understand the ‘why’ and the ‘who’ behind them.

When I think of my favourite superhero movies one common denominator, they all have is whether the hero deals with some sort of real adversity and that is present in this film. Pattinson is extremely believable in this role, and you could see his performance wasn’t ‘mailed in.’

The decision to cast Robert Pattinson as Batman has been questioned and met with skepticism as anyone would be taking on such an iconic role. I would say if you thought Twilight when you hear his name, I would understand but he has done so much more. His roles in The Lighthouse, High Life and Tenet have shown he is an excellent actor. He does a fantastic job in this role. Reeves, to his credit, isn’t trying to just copy other Batman films but has put his own stamp on it. Focusing less on the playboy version of Bruce Wayne and more so on the man focussed on fixing Gotham. As Bruce Wayne, Pattinson reminded me more of Chris Gaines, respect if you get that reference, than a Gotham billionaire but it worked for me.

In addition to my ‘man-child’ excitement during certain scenes, I was deeply impressed with this film. The film is two hours and forty-seven minutes before the end credits start and it doesn’t feel that long. I wasn’t checking my watch to see how much time remained because I was so invested in the film.

In addition to Pattinson and Wright, Zoe Kravitz is solid in this film as Selina Kyle. Unlike the last time we saw this character on film, she is given a backstory and an explanation to why she is how she is. Kravitz is great with her material and while most of her previous roles have been in supporting parts, don’t be surprised if we start seeing her in more leading roles.

Colin Farrell and Paul Dano both deliver great performances as well as you would expect from actors named Colin Farrell and Paul Dano.

Michael Giacchino delivers an amazing score for the film. Taking over from Hans Zimmer is never easy but this transition was seamless. The music can be its own character in film and it’s no different here. Larry Fong, who is a great cinematographer, has shot a beautiful film. Not too dark, not too bright but as Goldilocks would say…Just Right!

There is a cheeky end credit scene but after this film I wasn’t running for the exits, I was taking in everything I just saw as I remained in my seat. I was astonished by this film.

And like that person who must come to terms that their ‘ex’ is gone, I respect everything you did for the franchise Mr. Nolan but there is a new boss in town and his name is Matt Reeves. Reeves deserves so much credit for what he has accomplished with this film. Stepping in to direct an established franchise isn’t easy but don’t tell that to Reeves because he blew it out of the park.

Overall, this is a stunning film. People will ask ‘is this the best Batman movie ever?’ and I don’t like those questions because recency bias steps in. That’s a question that can be answered over time. I will say that the same way I never thought another director could use IMAX the way Christopher Nolan does until I saw Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is the same way I can confidently say that Matt Reeves has constructed a Batman movie that Nolan and fans of the franchise can be proud of. This film has rejuvenated my faith in DC film projects, and I just hope they can take the baton from here and keep it going. This film shows Batman doesn’t need to be part of an ensemble; the character can carry a successful franchise on his own.

Before I was invited to the press screening of this film, I had tickets to see it twice. Those tickets won’t be refunded, and I will be looking forward to seeing this amazing film at both showings. Over the past two years in these pandemic times, understanding people’s levels of comfort going to the theatre, where streaming services are so popular and easily accessible, I had said there is one movie that needed be seen on the big screen and that movie was Dune. I’ve added a second to that list and it’s called The Batman.

Grade: A

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