And Now, My Review of The Batman!
Well over a month after the film's theatrical release, Director Matt Reeves’ The Batman has arrived on the HBO MAX streaming platform! MINOR SPOILERS BELOW!
But is this latest reboot based on the iconic Superhero slash vigilante, featuring Actor Robert Pattinson (Twilight, Tenet, and The Lighthouse) who dons the cape as the new titular character who investigates a murder of a Gotham politician that leads into an intriguing web of lies, deceit and corruption that may break or make his crime fighting career.
Running at 176 minutes, The Batman wastes no time focusing on some origin’s narrative. After a brief prologue, there’s a title card with noting, except "The Batman" text.
Afterwards, we hear a brooding Bruce Wayne providing narration of a decaying Gotham City reminiscent of 1976's Taxi Driver but less angry and unhinged than Travis Bickle. During the night, the streets are rampant with crime and disorder which is the perfect opportunity for the Bat to come out and dispense justice. He's seen as a scourge to some and a hero to others especially Commissioner Gordon. However, the Gotham Police see him nothing more than a masked vigilante or a freak.
Pattinson looking like "Emo Bruce" is convincingly intimidating when donning the cape and cowl. His suit is practically bulletproof and he's not above giving serious beatdowns as demonstrated within the first 15 minutes in. I may have misjudged his casting as with Michael Keaton, but once again, I stand corrected. And speaking of Emo, Nirvana's "Something in the Way" is played twice during the film's run like bookends. I'm no fan of Grunge music with the noted exception of Alice in Chains, but Kurt Cobain's lyrics fit the tone of the story. I have been very skeptical if Pattinson's casting ever since I heard the announcement, but I may have to take back some of what I said in the past. He does a great job emoting underneath the cowl as Pattinson displays some modicum of stoicism, true to the Batman mythos be it Denny O'Neil or Frank Miller's run on the DC Comic.
There is that unmistakable "Se7en" aspect throughout the movie as Batman with the help of Commissioner Jim Gordon, utilizes his detective skills to unravel clues from the masked serial killer after two high profile murders, one was electoral Mayoral incumbent Don Mitchell. Andy Serkis is more than just a butler and confidant to Bruce, as he helps to solve the ominous clues left at the murder scene, and what few scenes between the two, are satisfactory.
A good amount of The Batman was inspired not only by Batman: No Man’s Land, The Long Halloween, Batman Year One or David Flincher's Se7en, with Jeffery Wright is Morgan Freeman's Detective William Somerset while Robert Pattinson plays Brad Pitt's David Mills but "what's in the box" is far more dangerous than a severed head! The USB "Thumb drive " scene was quite clever if not funny.
Regarding other comparison, if you're one of those lucky gamers out there who played Batman Arkham Origins, you’ll notice that some of the detective aspects and especially the hand-to-hand combat scenes were inspired by this very underrated prequel within the Arkham series. As for the main antagonist, the Riddler, Reeves' take is loosely based on the infamous Zodiac killer however, he reminds me of Jigsaw from the SAW films when you factor how his victims are disposed of via mechanized death traps but not before explaining why they must die for the "greater good."
The set pieces and cinematography especially during night scenes, are reminiscent to 1994's The Crow and what was interesting was Bruce’s secret entrance to the Batcave. It’s not hidden in some makeshift waterfall, but what looks like an abandoned transit hub where Bruce can ride his Batcycle or Batmobile from a location more clandestine.
Zoe Kravitz as Selena Kyle gives off this subtle sexual chemistry between her and Bats and to be honest, at first, I felt that her arc was a bit shoehorned in the beginning until there's this revelation of who her father is. Almost akin to that "Darth Vader trope." Catwoman plays an integral role in this film and it’s not just for a romantic angle but a trusted ally. She's no Michelle Pfeiffer, which she drew inspiration from, but far superior to Halle Berry's version.
Colin Farrell is unrecognizable as Oswald Cobblepot who runs a seedy underground establishment and what little scene both him and John Tuttoro have, their respective performances gave The Batman more credibility. I would be remiss had I not mentioned Michael Giacchino's soundtrack, especially Batman's theme. Its gothic tone complements the new Dark Knight and is more memorable than the previous Bat themes including Han Zimmer's.
There's one ridiculous scene where an SUV crashes through the funeral of Mayor Mitchell with the driver having a bomb attached to him...with the attendees still present until Gordon tells them to "evacuate. " What the hell happened to survival instincts?? Also, the "El Rata Alada" clue was obvious, and it took over a period before the "World’s Greatest Detectives" got the hint! But there is more to this than meet the eye. What I admire about this Batman, is its surrealism which is more than the previous Dark Knights of cinema. He feels pain from injuries from punches, bomb blasts, bullets, and spills, and during one escape scene, it looks as if he's afraid of heights. But when Bruce is not beating down thugs, there are moments of heroism. Batman has a great character development arc from an avatar of vengeance to a symbol of hope.
The Batman has a more organic approach to the franchise that adds plenty of suspense, shocking surprises, and sociopolitical allegories i.e., the judicial system and class warfare may have you emphasize with the motivations of certain villains or Antiheroes, but not necessarily their actions, however. There is plenty of action scenes that balance out the story driven dialog. One memorable moment was the Batman's pursuit of Oswald in a high-octane car chase with his Batmobile, bearing a sleek DIY design.
The meta regarding social media martyrdom is on the nose, as we have witnessed cult like followings adopted into extreme fringe groups during the last presidency. The Batman is an engrossing 3 hours and, in my opinion, Pattinson makes for a great successor for wearing the mantle of the bat and since Ben Affleck won’t resume his role as the previous Dark Knight, I’m okay with that. The Batman is now available for streaming on HBO MAX with bonus extras.
Check out our previous podcasts that raised skepticism of Pattinson's casting..until now.