- Director: Matt Reeves
- Writers: Matt Reeves, Peter Craig
- Stars: Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffery Wright, Colin Farrell, John Turturro
So, first off you may be asking why The Batman is being reviewed by a horror centric website? Well, The Batman is the darkest, downbeat and absolutely the most grim Batman film that has graced the screen, ever. Horror adjacent certainly but with such a noir pall cast over the entire film, it fits. This is Batman in the universe of the film Seven.
Into his second year of being Batman, Bruce Wayne (Pattinson) is struggling. Feeling lost, like he makes no difference and constantly angry, Gotham has gotten worse. However, he still going to keep trying and he says in voice over – fear is a tool – and he uses that. As the film opens we are witness to a brutal murder, we are introduced to James Gordon (Wright) – who hasn’t made commissioner just yet, he is the only one that believes Batman can do good things for Gotham and when there is a note and riddle left at the scene specifically for Batman then its game on to try and find out who is doing this and why.
Batman also meets the mysterious Selina Kyle (Kravitz), originally Batman uses her to get closer to the gangster Carmine Falcone and his right hand man Oswald Cobblepot (Farrell) but as the film progresses they become a ying/yang for each other. Tempering the need for justice versus the need for revenge.
The Riddler (a great performance from Dano – more on him later) wants to expose corruption, Batman also wants to do the same. Obviously they go at it from different angles. The Riddler isn’t a merry prankster with a penchant for riddles here, this time he is basically The Zodiac Killer but with meaning behind his murders as opposed to random executions.
At nearly three hours of run time the film has room to let things breathe and develop, something not normally afforded with comic book films. Reeves and writing partner Peter Craig gives all the actions and reactions time to land, to further emotionally progress Batman’s rage, his internal fight to stay on the right path and not give in to full blown deadly vigilantism. Pattinson is one the best actors going around and the moment and has been for some time. Always haunted by Twilight, he is far more than that and just a quick trip through his filmography reaffirms it. As Batman he is predictably great, playing Batman as the strong silent type and Bruce Wayne as the ‘mask’ he wears. We barely see Bruce Wayne in the film to be fair and I think that’s because he identifies more with what Batman is, as Bruce Wayne he is cosplaying as a human being. The chemistry with Kravitz is great, not at smouldering hot levels but it is certainly palpable, whilst Kravitz herself exudes confidence, whilst still retaining vulnerability. Farrell, Turturro and Serkis are all terrific as well, everyone here knows exactly what is required, an unrecognisable Farrell doing a great skeezy De Niro impression as part of his character is a masterstroke. Then we have Dano, his Riddler is a chilling villain. High pitch sequels, deep growls and the unhinged mentality makes him unforgettable. A underrated actor that hopefully gets more exposure after this.
Reeves direction and composition of shots is something to behold, everything is meticulous and detailed, from the black shadows to the red hue that so depicts the price for living in Gotham city, blood. The action is great and the quieter moments are beautifully framed. Shots of Batman emerging from the shadows or through the mist are worth the ticket price alone and the climax has so many moving parts that it is in itself an incredible feat. Whilst the writing is good, the plot does get lost a little, when The Riddler goes missing for a good chunk of the second half of the film, yes the pay off is worth it but it does side track the building tension. The music from Michael Giacchino is amazing, hitting the right notes (pun not intended) at the right time, it really bring forth the menace and foreboding.
Reeves and Pattinson and company make you want to spend more time in this world, despite its grim nature. The Batman drills down to get to the emotion behind Batman and ends up being one of the best Batman films.
Ryan Morrissey-Smith | Twitter: @TigersMS78