"The Batman" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Perhaps the darkest entry in the Caped Crusader's cinematic history, Matt Reeves' "The Batman" is a three-hour detective movie that relies more on the Neo-noir atmosphere than a superhero format to tell this new story. With Robert Pattinson taking over the role, there was a lot of hype surrounding this film, and some have hailed it as the most anticipated movie of 2022. Thankfully, Reeves and Pattinson don't disappoint, giving a fantastic movie that leaves you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire runtime.
The movie opens on Halloween night, two years into Bruce Wayne's outing as the infamous vigilante. He goes around Gotham City every night, waiting to take on the foes and criminals in the city. When a new criminal, who calls himself the Riddler (Paul Dano) kills many of Gotham's elites, Batman is drawn into this killing spree with Detective James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), as the killer leaves behind a single clue of who he is - cards addressed to The Batman.
Now being thrusted into the seedy criminal underworld of Gotham, he must investigate into why these killings are taking place, and who is behind the terrifying mask. In an adventure that forces him to interact with the Penguin (Colin Farrell), Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and the beautiful, yet mysterious Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), Bruce faces perhaps his most personal mission yet in the two years he has been donning the cape and mask.
To start, Pattinson is absolutely incredible in this movie. I have to admit, when they announced that he was being cast as the next Batman, I seriously had my doubts. I was unsure if he would be able to pull off this character, and Pattinson completely erases all of my doubts as the film progresses. He gives a more serious and gloom Batman, who is haunted by the murders and the secrecy of his parents' past. Unlike Michael Keaton and Christian Bale, who gave off a more charming and funny Bruce Wayne, Pattinson gives off a vibe that would remind viewers of the likes of Travis Bickle.
There have been talks and debates about how Batman is our main protagonist's true identity, with Bruce Wayne being a disguise of sorts. They have hinted at this throughout the Dark Knight trilogy almost a decade ago, but I think this movie supports that ideology more than any of the other Batman movies had. Unlike the other films centered around this character, we see more of Batman than we do of Bruce Wayne. Bruce take a more backseat approach into what is going on in Gotham, and is able to fully express himself behind the mask. I think the fact that Reeves decided to take this approach was such a great direction to go, and I thoroughly enjoyed Pattinson's performance as Batman throughout the entire runtime.
Alongside Pattinson, the other stars in this film do absolutely incredible as well. Kravitz has great on-screen chemistry with her Bat counterpart, and it is very easy for the fans to fall in love with their dynamics and relationship. Reeves crafts a more personal and complex reason for their relationship, which I think was perfectly created for these characters. They are both tragically flawed humans who are trying to do better, which I think gives great characterization for the film to expand on throughout the movie.
Farrell is also amazing as the Penguin. Even though he is a slender and good looking man in real life, the makeup artists are able to beautifully create him into the fat, disgusting Penguin that fans know and love. From there, he really takes the time to craft this character and give off a performance that steals the show in every scene he is in. When watching, it is very easy to forget that Farrell, who has starred in many great films up to this point in time, is behind all of the makeup. He is able to trick the viewers into forgetting they are actually watching a movie and not real life events.
The same can be said for Dano's Riddler. I was intrigued on how he would be able to pull off this more goofy character, and I think he does a fantastic job of putting his own dark and twisted personality into it. I'm trying to not spoil anything about this movie, so the only thing I can say is to go check out this movie to see Dano as this great Batman villain.
Even though the direction from Reeves is spot-on, I don't think it could have worked without the brilliant cinematography from Greig Fraser. Not only is he able to beautifully capture everything going on in the scene, he gives off masterful shots that makes the viewer sit there in awe while watching. This movie, after all, seems very much like an atmospheric movie more than anything. Therefore, the shots and camera movements have to be on point throughout the runtime. My favorite shot is when Batman crashes Penguin's car, and we are looking through Penguin's eyes as he is suspended upside down. Through the fiery wreckage, we see Batman walking to Penguin's car, with vengeance and purpose in his stride. It is such a beautiful and badass shot, and is definitely one of the best shots in any Batman movie ever. Fraser's cinematography is also perfectly complimented by the haunting and great score from Michael Giacchino. He crafts this haunting and terrifying score that will leave viewers on the edge of their seat throughout the whole movie.
Even though I had some doubts and worries about this film, all of them were completely washed away as I sat in the dark theater and let the film consume me for the entire three hours. Not only was I fully engulfed into what was happening and following the characters through all of the crime scenes and fight sequences, I thoroughly enjoyed everything that was happening, and wouldn't change a thing about it. Reeves has something very special in his hands, and it's exciting to see what he can do next with it.