Film Review: “The Batman” at his darkest!

Right off the bat I best lay my cards out here in the open.

First off, I’ve never reviewed a superhero film in my blog before. Good chance after this clumsy attempt I never will; but instead, return to reviewing family-friendly stuff like those I previously uploaded.

Second, I’m not a fanboy of Batman (though I have always admired this iconic DC comic hero). So to diehard fans, please don’t chortle me for my insolence here; to tread on your hero’s sacred lair with this amateurish write-up.

Third, I dare to post this only because, well let’s face it, my blog has (chuckle) more posts than followers.

Still with me? Ok great! Thanks!! But just in case, I’ll redeem myself and add some links to “official” film reviews at the end of my blog. Heck, I wouldn’t even blame you if you jump there now!

So with all that said, let’s get cracking shall we? And don’t worry, I’ll give no spoilers. How can there be anyway, with a character and story this familiar?!

Synoposis of “The Batman” (2022; 175 min)

Source: CNN Entertainment

The story’s set two years into Bruce Wayne’s nightmarish role as Gotham City’s caped crusader and do-good vigilante.

Still getting the hang of things, he teams up with police lieutenant James Gordon (played by Jeffrey Wright of HBO’s “Angels in America”) to investigate a series of bloody murders. Beginning with Mitchell the mayor of Gotham, followed by Savage the police commissioner, and Colson the district attorney.

All influential city officials and pillars of society. And all revealed as corrupt, thanks to clues left by the mystery murderer who goes by the moniker “The Riddler”.

Remember “Batman Forever”? The 1995 campy version that had rubber-face comic Jim Carrey play this villain? No? Can’t say I blame ya!

Thankfully Paul Dano (whose credits include “L.I.E”., “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Okja”) does a far better job than Carey, giving viewers more than the requisite chills with his psychotic take on Riddler. All that while wearing a khaki winter combat mask that looks practically suffocating (which might explain the psychosis!).

Along the way, familiar characters like the Penguin (the unrecognisable Colin Farrell) and Catwoman (Lenny Kravitz’s svelte daughter Zoe) join the fray, and the cat-and-mouse game to uncover who’s next on Riddler’s hit list gets underway.

Of course there’s the usual hardened criminals, hard-boiled detectives and police officers, and lots of gun-shooting and chase scenes, not to mention kicks and punches. Except in this film all these elements are cranked up several decibels and the body count is at Armageddon-level.

Not an exaggeration when you consider how the Riddler nearly drowned downtown Gotham and its citizens during the inauguration of the new city mayor!

Batman as film noir was the right call

Source: CR — Jonathan Olley/Warner Bros. The Batman (2022) Robert Pattinson and Matt Reeves on set.

I’ll level with you.

After watching it three nights ago, I have a strong feeling true blue fans of the Bat would be leaving gifts and bouquets at the doorstep of director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, and those Planet of the Apes sequels). For he’s made by far the darkest version of the Bats that we’ve seen so far on the silver screen. From what I understand, that’s how the original comic book hero was — dark and tortured.

Not a mean feat for Reeves, when he’s coming after the likes of Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy) and Synder (“Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice”, and the uncut version of “Justice League” that sent Whedon’s chopped-up version packing).

And those were already dark enough for this reviewer’s sensitive family-friendly-film proclivities!

Then again how else to slice it but the way Reeves did in this latest rendition? Cos no way will fans allow the movie to go back to the Schumacher days (cringe!). Even a non-fan like yours truly can imagine how ridiculous that would be!

So I must concede that the classic 1940s and 50s’ Hollywood style of film noir is best suited for this dark knight’s tale. And few would disagree that it was exactly the treatment the franchise needed to make this latest version a bona fide reboot! Never mind that the movie spanned almost three hours!

No doubt it will now open the way for future sequels unbounded by the need to sync with Justice League’s next iteration.

Pat’s Bat as “work in progressis on point!

Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

Whether or not Robert Pattinson (“Pat”) fans are amused their beloved “vampire” has (like all myths about vampires) transformed into a bat, one thing’s clear. Pat’s likely seen more light in the Twilight saga than he did here as the dark knight of Gotham.

Now Pat’s always been a tad too angsty for me as an actor. He’s got that forever tragic look etched permanently on those perfect features.

Still, given Reeves’ bold vision, who’s more suited to play the brooding, bruising and battered Bruce Wayne than him right? And though he’s behind the mask in more scenes than others like Keaton, Kilmer, Clooney, Bale and Affleck, I’ll stick my head out and say this: no one in Hollywood can ooze more hurt and pain despite his face being mostly hidden than our Pat! A testament and nod to the casting choice.

All that in 175 min of a film shrouded in seemingly-perpetual night…well that’s film noir par excellence for you!

But what really moved me about this Batman was how utterly vulnerable he was, and how at times (yes) inept! His fight and flight scenes were often hatchet jobs, as he’s repeatedly felled and wounded. It made me wince at our hero’s undeniable mortality.

In the scene where he wakes up in a room full of policemen, the Bat looked powerless and needed Gordon’s help to escape. When he eventually reaches the roof for the big leap to freedom, it was painfully clear this was his maiden flight! He fumbles with the wing straps on his costume like a young girl removing her first corset.

Somehow though, it was precisely these glaring foibles that made this young Batman (just two years on the job remember?) believable.

Yes. Like the title says, this is “THE Batman”! The one worth the wait.

Because we the audience can now believe that Batman’s greatness is just a wait or two away.

See you in the sequels Pat!

Rating: 4/5

Links to other reviews:
CNN Entertainment
The Guardian
The Lamplight Reporter
Rotten Tomatoes
Hollywood Reporter

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