To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, The Batman is a noir detective superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. The film is a reboot of the Batman film franchise and set in its own universe outside the DCEU. The film was directed and co-written by Matt Reeves and stars Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis, and Colin Farrell. Set during his second year of crime-fighting, the story follows Bruce Wayne/Batman as he tries to uncover the corruption in Gotham City while pursuing a serial killer who calls himself the Riddler, who is targeting Gotham’s political elite.
Matt Reeves does a great job directing. The Batman is a great noir detective story just like Reeves stated it would be. The film draws inspiration from crime thrillers such as Zodiac, Seven, and Saw. With it comic inspiration coming from Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Zero Year. We get a younger Batman similar to Batman Begins but his years away from Gotham training are not shown. We get more information about the history of the Waynes and for the first time in a while, we do not see them killed on screen. The film deals with the corruption that’s rampant within Gotham, but unlike previous films, it also deals with mental health. We hear more about the mental state of Batman as he tries to clean up the city, but also many other characters such as the Waynes, Selina Kyle, and the Riddler.
Reeves also addresses modern topics such as white privilege and economic inequality. All of these topics fit neatly into the story he’s trying to tell and everything is connected in a way that makes sense. This is also the most we see Batman onscreen of any Batman film to date. The Gotham he creates feels lived in and dirty. It rains a lot and everything feels crowded. It feels like a good mix of the gothic Gotham from Burton and Schumacher films and the megacities shown in The Dark Knight Trilogy and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Reeves also includes Easter eggs for die-hard fans such as references to the Joker gang, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and the Court of Owls. Clearly, he is setting up for future films and the Gotham P.D. series.
Robert Pattinson is good as Bruce Wayne/Batman. He’s more reserved than other incarnations and is rarely in the public eye. Batman narrates the story as it unfolds starting on Halloween and ending a week later. Throughout the film, he is mostly Batman. His Batman voice is closer to a rugged whisper than the grizzled screaming of Bale or the synthesized voice of Affleck. This Batman is also shown scouring the city as a civilian, hiding his identity with a hat and scarf while carrying his armor in a backpack. The technology Batman uses isn’t too far off from realism which is typical in most incarnations to keep Batman more of a grounded character. The Batmobile in this film is probably the best onscreen version of the vehicle yet. It is not overly cartoonish or a repurposed military vehicle but more closely resembles something Bruce built himself. Something that doesn’t necessarily require money to build.
Zoë Kravitz plays a very emotional and mysterious Selina Kyle. She’s strong and fierce and has more connections to the criminal underworld that hasn’t been explored in previous films. Kravitz has great chemistry with Pattinson and you can see a relationship between Batman and Selina starting in this film. Selina is also shown to be a very caring person as she spends most of the film looking for her friend to make sure she is safe. Andy Serkis’ Alfred isn’t in the film that much, but his scenes are strong. He has a father-son relationship with Bruce and does his best to help him when he can. Also, like previous versions of the character he wants to make sure that Brice spends as much time living up the Wayne legacy as he does fighting crime.
Paul Dano is striking as the Riddler. This version of the Riddler isn’t a goofy genius but more of a Zodiac-type killer. Not a physical villain but one that tests Batman mentally. All of his puzzles and death traps make him similar to Jigsaw more so than the Riddler seen in the comics and cartoons. This film makes him a foil to Batman as he is also an orphan who wants to save the city from corruption. He even feels as if he and Batman are on the same side in a way. The viewer doesn’t see his face until the final act of the film which helps add to the mystery of who he is. This is a very interesting take on the character that hasn’t been seen before.
The score for this film is superb. Michael Giacchino is beginning to join the ranks of Hans Zimmer in terms of scoring a film. His themes for each character sound fantastic and fits the dark and dreary world the film is set in while also giving a sound of hope the longer they play. The cinematography is great. We get a lot of first-person shots from Batman’s point of view either when he is doing reconnaissance work or driving, etc.
Make-up and costume design are also fantastic. Colin Farrell is unrecognizable as Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin. He looks similar to the version we see in the video game Batman: Arkham City, albeit a little taller and with more hair. This version of the Batsuit looks more like armor than previous incarnations. Looks like something he put together himself and not repurposed military gear. Batman is almost like an outlaw in the Wild West. When he walks his armor moves and his grieves sound like spurs jingling. They also show Bruce putting the black makeup on his eyes before donning the cowl instead of it just appearing out of nowhere. Also, the mask riddler wears is very similar to the Zodiac killer and it obscures his breathing giving him the presence of a Darth Vader-type villain.
This version of Batman however is not shown as the best fighter compared to previous iterations. This could be explained by him still figuring things out or the more realistic take, but it’s usually best to keep him and nigh unbeatable. There are also sometimes when the viewer is expected to suspend disbelief when people do not take the opportunity to find out Batman’s identity. Lastly, the film does run a bit too long and drags in the middle. It feels like it has two endings; one fitting a crime noir thriller and the other more similar to a superhero final battle. More time could have been cut for a tighter story.
This film is a different take on Batman that somehow feels eerily similar yet completely different than previous incarnations. I give The Batman a Decent 8/10. I am very interested to see where Reeves takes the story in his next two films and hopes that he introduces more new Batman characters instead of treading on those we’ve been adapted many times before.
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