Matt Reeves tries to both have his cake and eat it too with The Batman and mostly succeeds. It's easy to highlight the quality acting and impressive directing on display here as well as a top-notch update to the aesthetic of Batman that puts him in thuggish muscle cars, but I think it's far more important to highlight that The Batman challenges the gritty revenge-laden template of its predecessors while still delivering one of the most revenge-heavy stories to date that fully indulges in the very things it critiques.
In The Batman, an early-career Batman terrifies Gotham by night, regularly beating the crap out of kids in the street to feel better about his parents, when his routine is upended by the onset of a murder spree from the newest threat to the city: The Riddler. At long last audiences get to see Batman confront his most cerebral foe in a battle of wits where death is on the line.
In what proves to be a wonderful turn for the franchise, The Riddler brings a quality to the Batman films that fans have been craving since John Glover voiced his role in Batman: The Animated Series. For a character who is so often referred to as a great detective, it's wonderful to get to see Batman finally do some detection. The Batman doesn't stop there, though. While bringing on the refreshing turns, we also finally get a Batman who is learning to move past the death of his parents. Long-time fans will note that we get to watch Bruce Wayne's parents die in almost every single Batman movie ever made, and then some, and Matt Reeves has broken the endless cycle.
On the topic of Batman's actual character in the film, Robert Pattinson brings an interesting interpretation to the screen. Pattinson depicts a version of Batman that is more disinterested in being Bruce Wayne than any other actor. Often we see actors with this kind of charisma lean much more heavily into the Bruce Wayne persona, while Pattinson feels awkward and incredibly uncomfortable in a suit and tie. Often barely speaking while out. It's a wonderful interpretation that feels deeply true to the character.
Pattinson aside, all of the acting here is outstanding. Zoe Kravitz is delightful as Catwoman, Colin Ferrel is a downright sleazy Penguin, Jeffrey Wright is the most perfect commissioner Gordan since Batman Begins, and Andy Serkis kills as Alfred. The casting fully fleshes out a world that is as wonderfully populated with characters even as it is beautifully depicted visually.
For everything wonderful about this film, it's not purr-fect. The run time feels long as it drags through the last half of the film. The final turns in the plot feel very disconnected from the overall flow of the story. While eventually, Matt Reeves is able to pull everything back together to close out the film it takes a herculean effort to tie it all back up after coming a bit unraveled.
That said, I was entertained throughout. I loved the characters, the setting, the thrilling puzzles, and the wonderful new direction for the character. It's about time we saw a Batman that moved past showing us the same things we've seen over and over again. Definitely check this one out.
|Final Verdict:||An outstanding Batman flick that raises the bar for comic book films.|