The Batman: Movie Review

Over the past three decades we have had quite a few cinematic incarnations of DC Comics Batman. While Michael Keaton remains my personal favorite, some of the others, including Christian Bale and Ben Affleck have put their own stamp on the comic book hero. This time around, Robert Patterson dons the cape and cowl and he does a much better job than many were expecting. Does that mean writer/director Matt Reeves’ The Batman is a winner? While it gets a quite a few things right, I can’t say that I was a fan of the film.

The Batman opens with The Riddler (Paul Dano) taking out his first target, the Mayor of Gotham City. Detective James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) invites Batman (Robert Pattinson) onto the crime scene because The Riddler left an envelope addressed to Batman taped to the victim. Of course, there was a riddle inside. This scene in particular does a great job setting the tone for how the city views the vigilante. The cops as-well-as the Commissioner (Alex Ferns) do not trust the guy. The only one on Batman’s side is Gordon. He is unwanted by everyone else. Because things are set during Bruce Wayne’s second year as Batman, he is still relatively new, and he doesn’t always handle things in the best way.

One of the major differences between Matt Reeves’ The Batman and previous films based on the character is that it is less of an action spectacle and more of a slow-burn detective story. Although he does get down and dirty with the bad guys, more time is spent with Batman trying to find The Riddler. This puts bad guys like Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) and his associate Oswald Cobblepot/ The Penguin (Collin Farrell) in his way.

While the cast is mostly good, I can’t say I was a fan of Paul Dano as The Riddler. While, the tone of the character feels right for the film Reeves has given us, he still comes across as someone from a Saw knock-off than anything else. While he is sinister, he just wasn’t all-that compelling to watch. Zoë Kravitz’ take on Selina Kyle aka Catwoman is another matter. Here we get the most complex version of the character to date and Kravitz absolutely nails it. First-of-all, the character’s intentions to save her friend are pure and she may make some not-so-ethical choices along the way, she is the most human of any of the film’s heroes/ villains. I was also able to buy the attraction between the Bat and the Cat, which is something that never quite worked as well in Batman Returns and The Dark Knight Rises.

Matt Reeves and Cinematographer Greig Fraser helped create and dark and moody looking Gotham and the city has never felt more, true to the comics. Michael Giacchino has also delivered an incredible score. However, even with my praise, I still had issues with The Batman. For me, the central villains have always been the best elements of the Batman films. Since The Riddler is the main bad guy and I didn’t care for him, it made it harder for me to enjoy Reeves’ feature. There is also the three-hour runtime. Now, I don’t have a problem with long movies. It feels like most tentpole films run about 2.5 hours and if they deliver, that time flies by. While The Batman does have action in it, including a really cool car chase and an arena set battle, this is more of a detective film that feels on-par with something like David Fincher’s Seven at times. When we get down to the last forty minutes, there are multiple times when I felt like The Batman was about to end, but then remembered there were other issues that I had completely forgot about that needed to be resolved. Then we get a final moment that really needed to be cut from the film completely.

The Batman is going to have plenty of fans, but it will most likely disappoint many as well. While I wouldn’t mind seeing this version of the character continue in future sequels, I am glad that we still have Keaton returning to the role in another universe.

By: Marc Ferman