“The Batman” is a gritty but excellent rendition of this classic character.
Bwum bum bum bum! Director Matt Reeves’s take on “The Batman” is dark, dirty, and violent but that perfectly fits with Gotham’s criminal underworld. Batman is desperate to track down the Riddler who is killing off the most powerful members of society in gruesome and calculated ways.
Bwum bum bum bum! “The Batman” is not an origin story in the traditional sense but it is clear that Bruce Wayne has not gotten over his parents’ deaths, which is woven into the plot in a somewhat dissatisfying way. Robert Pattinson takes over the role as Bruce Wayne and returns him to his classic no-killing mantra, which is in stark contrast to Ben Affleck’s recent homicidal version. Perhaps the best way to describe Pattinson’s performance is that he is an excellent Batman and a mediocre Bruce Wayne. Luckily, he spends most of the film either in the mask or with the dramatic mascara smear on his face.
Bwum bum bum bum! This is a violent movie and Pattinson does not hold back. The audio during fight scenes highlights the power behind Batman’s fists and how painful it must be for him to get shot as many times as he does. While Batman is not using lethal force, he has no problem impaling criminals’ legs or breaking bones.
Bwum bum bum bum! What makes any good Batman movie is the villains and the casting department nailed it for this film. Paul Dano turns the Riddler, who is usually a campy character, into an unhinged serial killer. Dano is terrifying at times but still maintains the methodical approach that the Riddler is associated with. The biggest surprise though is Colin Farrell’s Penguin. Not only is he entirely unrecognizable but he also brings a sleazy brightness to the film with his perfect laugh and mobster vibes. Danny DeVito would be proud.
Bwum bum bum bum! It’s time to explain this. “The Batman” is in love with Pattinson, dramatically and slowly walking out from the shadows to cause terror in the criminals he is about to pummel. In every one of these scenes, and even in a few others, this theme song plays. It works in some scenes but since the movie is roughly three hours long, it wears out its welcome. The runtime is the real villain of “The Batman” as some unnecessary storylines add length to an already jam-packed plot. The sections related to Bruce’s parents in particular fell flat and ate up a good portion of the film. It was meant to add personal stakes but this was achieved in a better way later in the film anyways.
Another disappointing aspect was how helpless Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman was in this film. She frequently tells the Caped Crusader how capable she is but at times is little more than a damsel in distress. Catwoman does serve the purpose of making Bruce realize that there is more nuance to criminals than just someone breaking the law, but she still feels underutilized. The romance between her and Batman also felt like it was crafted solely because it looked good on camera and served no other purpose.
Regardless, “The Batman” expertly creates tension and drama at every opportunity. While certain plot elements made it too long and Catwoman constantly needing saving certainly detract from the film, it is nonetheless still a great movie full of delightfully evil villains and a brutal but effective hero.
“The Batman” is available only in theaters.