Thursday, March 3, 2022

The Batman - Review


As a cinematic entity, Batman has an interesting history. There have now been six different actors to don the cape and cowl, and thus, six (mostly) different interpretations of the character. But none feel as close to the comic book source as this newest iteration. A tortured, fallen prince, determined to bring vengeance and justice to his criminal infested city is easy enough for most adaptations to get right, but where The Batman differs is in its recognition that Batman is all that’s left, Bruce Wayne is actually the mask. 

In just his second year of crime-fighting vigilantism, Batman (Robert Pattinson) finds himself chasing cryptic clues lefts by a sadistic killer hellbent on unmasking the corruption within Gotham’s history. As mounting bodies and evidence slowly creep closer and closer to home and the scale of this villains plans become clear, Batman must forge new partnerships, find the Riddler (Paul Dano) and bring justice to the crime riddled city. 

Throughout his run on the Planet of the Apes films, director Matt Reeves more than proved his proficiency in developing worlds that feel lived in and real, even with the added fantastical elements. The Batman is no different, and Reeves once more proves why he is one of the most skilled directors in the realm of blockbusters working today. The almost nonchalant way that he fleshes out his characters and the city around them seems impossible, and yet, Gotham as a setting feels more like its comic counterpart than ever before, complete with grime and crime from top to bottom. 

But the excellence doesn’t end there, as Reeves and co-wrtier Peter Craig, craft one of the more complex versions of Batman put to the big screen. You still get all the brooding and crime-fighting you’ve come to expect, but Pattinson’s caped crusader has so much more under the surface, a damaged soul reaching out for something to hold onto, even if its just for a moment. And Pattinson’s performance only serves to elevate what’s on the page, layering a sense of dread, fear or even a little sadness into each glance. 

As Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman, Zoë Kravitz is eminently watchable, and her repartee with the far more grizzly Batman make for some fantastic scenes. Jeffrey Wright’s Jim Gordon, a lieutenant this go around rather than Commissioner, isn’t explored much as a character, but as the lone cop who doesn’t bat an eye at the masked vigilante investigating the crime scene, you almost understand everything he stands for right then and there. 

So what is new to offer in this umpteenth big screen adaptation of the Dark Knight? Apparently, quite a bit. First off, this Batman actually showcases his intellect beyond one or two scenes in the film, piecing together elaborate puzzles and solving riddles faster than any of the detectives could blink. And secondly, he feels like a human being still. Sure, Bruce Wayne has always been just a man with resources, but here we get to see the unsureness and anxiety that comes with pushing himself just a little bit further than what most people would attempt. He doesn’t just magically disappear from a room, but has to run for life sometimes. 

It’s easy to be dismissive of another big screen Batman, or of another superhero film in general, but when the product is this spectacular, it shouldn’t be ignored. Matt Reeves has set up a world that deserves be explored (which undoubtedly will get to do as much as he wants) and given us a Batman that has room to grow beyond the character so many people know just from the previous films. Pattinson establishes himself as the best Batman / Bruce Wayne yet, and has a great supporting cast around. Throw in a thrilling score from Michael Giacchino and some solid camerawork from Greig Fraser and you have a deliriously exhilarating ride of a film. 

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