The Batman

March 2, 2022

comic book, DC, Review, Theatrical, This Week Leave a Comment

This is a moody, atmospheric and at times genuinely creepy flick, with some top shelf performances and a couple of surprising and quite subversive moments in the final act.
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The Batman

Anthony O'Connor
Year: 2022
Rating: M
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast:

Robert Pattison, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, Zoë Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Andy Serkis, John Turturro

Distributor: Warner Bros/Universal
Released: March 3, 2022
Running Time: 176 minutes
Worth: $17.50

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

This is a moody, atmospheric and at times genuinely creepy flick, with some top shelf performances and a couple of surprising and quite subversive moments in the final act.

Depending on what cinematic metric you use, there have been between 8-10 Batman films since 1989 when Tim Burton first got Michael Keaton to don the iconic cowl. There have been highlights, like Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), lowlights like Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin (1997) and wonderfully bizarre works of surreal genius like Burton’s overstuffed and gloriously messy Batman Returns (1992).

However, none of them have been quite like The Batman.

The Batman takes place a couple of years into the life of the caped crusader, played by Robert Pattinson this time around, and Gotham City is in a bit of a rough spot. Crime is on the rise, trust in public officials and institutions is at an all time low and now it appears a serial killer is on the loose, one with a desire to expose the corrupt and kill them in hideous, ironic ways. This tricky bugger, who calls himself Riddler (Paul Dano), also seems to have a very personal connection with Batman, leaving clues and puzzles for him to solve. Add to that increased criminal activity from the Penguin (Colin Farrell), a mysterious newcomer in the form of Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), and the batty one has a lot on his plate.

The first thing you need to know about The Batman is that it leans heavily on the detective angle in regards to Gotham’s self-appointed protector. Sure, there are effective action scenes sprinkled throughout the movie’s bladder-punishing 176 minute runtime, but the bulk of the story is Bats, and GCPD lieutenant James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), struggling to untangle various webs and conspiracies. In fact, the whole film feels a little like a superhero version of David Fincher’s Seven, replete with hideous (although mostly off screen) deaths, a grim, grimy aesthetic and a sense of mounting, nihilistic dread.

Of course, all the superhero/police procedural gear in the world wouldn’t work without a top shelf villain and, happily, the Riddler is an absolute cracker. Coming off like a combo of Jigsaw from the Saw movies, John Doe from Seven and a 4chan edgelord, Paul Dano imbues the character with a shocking amount of cerebral menace. Casting in general is superb, with Pattinson’s Batman very effective and Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman making a big impact. Colin Farrell’s Penguin is also solid, although not as prolific as one might like (they’re probably saving his best bits for the recently announced eight episode HBO spin-off), and Jeffrey Wright and Andy Serkis do excellent work as always.

Director Matt Reeves clearly had a very specific vision for The Batman and he executes it deftly for the most part. On the slender downside, the film probably doesn’t need to be as long as The Lord of the Rings, and some judicious editing would have been appreciated.

That said, The Batman is an embarrassment of riches for those who like their dark knight downright stygian. This is a moody, atmospheric and at times genuinely creepy flick, with some top shelf performances and a couple of surprising and quite subversive moments in the final act. And if you want to see a take on fiction’s most iconic mammal cosplayer that leans heavily into the “World’s Greatest Detective” vibe, The Batman will be right up your grimy, neon-hued alley.

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