The Caped Crusader is back on the silver screen, and he’s better than ever.
Matt Reeves’ The Batman has finally released in theaters, after years of hype, and it’s tough to figure out what to talk about first: the cinematography? The fight scenes? An unrecognizable Colin Farrell as Penguin? Let’s start with the Batman himself: Robert Pattinson.
Pattinson (returning to movies after his 2020 films Tenet and The Devil All The Time) shines as Bruce Wayne, the brooding billionaire with the Batman alter ego, and his grim take on the role is one of the best ever. His acting fits perfectly in the world of the neo-noir detective thriller, and director Matt Reeve’s writing and directing emphasize the “World’s Greatest Detective” aspect of the character in a way that hasn’t ever been seen before. Numerous actors since the sixties have taken on the moniker of Batman– arguably the most famous superhero of all time– but Pattinson is a breath of fresh air in the role, and he ends up nailing every scene he’s in. It’s almost reminiscent of his iconic role as Edward Cullen in the Twilight series, in the best way possible.
The film hooks audiences right off the bat (no pun intended) as serial killer and main antagonist The Riddler, played by Paul Dano, commits his first in a series of murders intended to expose the corruption in Gotham City. It quickly establishes the tone for the movie; Reeves does not shy away from the grim and the gruesome, and audiences will be left shocked at how dark the movie gets, even with a PG-13 rating.
After the murder, the film opens with narration from Pattinson’s Wayne, his gravelly voice chronicling his inner conflict between leaving the darkness he stays in as Batman and entering the world around him. The cinematography is masterful in introducing us to Batman. “I am the shadows,” he mutters, before emerging from those same shadows to beat the ever-living crap out of some thugs. Batman has a bit of plot armor, for sure, but it’s offset by the fact that he does have real armor and still ends up getting his butt whooped a couple of times.
Audiences may have one major complaint: the film is nearly three hours long, and you feel every bit of those three hours. The movie definitely drags at some points. But Matt Reeves has created one of the most intricate stories we’ve seen in a comic book film in recent years, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where any part of the movie could be taken out; everything feels essential, if a bit slow.
Most of the rest of the movie is fantastic. Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle– aka Catwoman– especially shines, and her chemistry with Pattinson’s Wayne is electric in every scene they’re in. Dano’s Riddler is an excellent psychopath, and his chronically-online-terrorist personality is a great update for the character from the comics, but it does feel a bit overacted and off at some points. Colin Farrell (in an insane amount of prosthetics and makeup) as the Penguin, Jeffrey Morgan as Detective James Gordon, and Andy Serkis as Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred Pennyworth also round out an exceptional ensemble cast.
Setting normally takes a backseat in films, especially comic book movies, but Reeves truly treats Gotham City as a character in the film. The “cesspool,” of a city, to quote the Riddler, haunts Batman throughout, and the playboy billionaire side of Bruce Wayne isn’t as present in the film as Batman explores Gotham, attempting to bring the Riddler to justice. Riddler, who is killing to expose corruption, and Batman, who is trying to find him for the same purpose, create a great duality, even when Wayne doesn’t know his real identity. It’s a masterclass in making a detective story.
Ultimately, the entire movie isn’t a masterclass: the plot drags slightly, there’s more room for the dry humor it utilizes occasionally, and the action scenes leave more to be desired. But in the end, a top-tier aesthetic, amazing cast, and the exceptional duo of Reeve’s directing and Pattinson’s acting make The Batman one of the best comic book movies in recent years, and one of the Dark Knight’s best films of all time.
Hi! My name is Brendan Shore and I am a staff writer for The Mycenaean. I am an avid photographer and rock climber!