Written by Bryan Dawson
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to have global mass appeal, Warner Bros. and its DC Extended Universe have been comparatively struggling. One aspect of the DCEU that’s done well for WB in almost every instance is Batman. Now, the latest installment in the Batman franchise is here, and it’s one of its best entries. Let’s take a closer look in our review of The Batman.
This isn’t a new take on the world’s greatest detective. If you’ve seen the trilogy of Batman films from Christopher Nolan, you already have a good idea of what to expect from The Batman. While Matt Reeves doesn’t tread on old ground, if you called The Batman a prequel to The Dark Knight, it wouldn’t be that farfetched. To be clear, this isn’t a prequel, but the themes and style of The Batman make it feel very close to Nolan’s trilogy of films, especially The Dark Knight.
Robert Pattinson takes on the role of Bruce Wayne and Batman. If you’ve been keeping up with the actor, he was a lot more than just that guy from Twilight even before The Batman. This is a younger Batman that has only donned the cape and cowl for two years. His inexperience shows periodically, but it’s still very clearly Batman. Pattinson’s take on the role is a bit more soft spoken compared to Ben Affleck or Christian Bale, and that may take some getting used to if you’re expecting the deep growl of prior Batman actors.
Almost every time you see Pattinson on screen, he’s Batman. There’s very little Bruce Wayne in this film, and that’s intentional. Despite the nearly three hour runtime, this film doesn’t spend time on unnecessary scenes. An argument can certainly be made that a few minutes should be cut from certain scenes to lower the runtime down to around two and a half hours, but The Batman doesn’t drag as much as you might expect from a three hour film.
While Pattinson’s younger Batman isn’t the best for me, give the character 10 more years of experience in Gotham and he could very well become the best Batman. On the other hand, Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle (Catwoman) is the best version of the character we’ve seen on the big screen to date. This isn’t a campy version of the character that was required of Michelle Pfeiffer to fit in with the Tim Burton films, and this isn’t the stale take that Anne Hathaway gave us in The Dark Knight Rises. Kravitz sets a new bar for the most dangerous and seductive take on the character. In many fight sequences it almost feels as though she’s a better fighter than Batman.
Paul Dano offers a unique take on The Riddler that feels like it was ripped right out of a Mindhunter episode. His scenes walk the line between comic book film and horror movie. They don’t quite cross over that line, but it’s closer than we’ve ever seen from a Batman villain. He’s not having demented fun like Heath Ledger’s Joker, he’s just mentally and emotionally unstable, with a high IQ, and vengeance on his mind.
As good as the performances are in The Batman, Jeffrey Wright’s take on James Gordon is right up there with Zoë Kravitz. Wright captures Gordon in the perfect way. He trusts Batman, but he’s still hesitant. There’s fear in his eyes, but he knows what has to be done, and he’ll take the fall if things go sideways. A number of actors have provided great performances as James Gordon, but Wright’s nuance with the character is unmatched.
Colin Farrell doesn’t get much to do as Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin), but with an HBO Max series in the works, that was likely intentional. Likewise, John Turturro surprises as the calm and collected Carmine Falcone. He’s underused in the film, but what little we do see of him is scene stealing.
The Batman has a lot going for it, but there are problems. Most people will likely overlook these issues and just enjoy all of the amazing characters and atmosphere The Batman delivers. However, the movie is too long. Similar to The Dark Knight, the last 20 minutes feel tacked on. The bridge between the first two and a half hours of the movie, and the last 20 minutes feels a bit disjointed. The finale works, just like it did in The Dark Knight, but it feels as though there was a better way to get there.
There also aren’t any truly memorable moments in this film. You’d have a hard time naming just one favorite scene in The Dark Knight, and even in lackluster films like Justice League or Batman v. Superman, there are a few scenes that stand out. The Batman doesn’t have that, and what little is there was already highlighted in trailers. The movie as a whole is good, but there aren’t any stand out scenes that I would want to go back and watch again.
Undoubtedly there will be a number of people who consider The Batman the best take on the DC hero. I’m not one of those people, but the film was still very good. It simply felt as though no new ground was covered. Nothing Matt Reeves showcased felt fresh. It was everything I would expect from a Batman film. That’s not a bad thing, but how many times can I watch the same Batman movie and still be excited for it? People like to say Marvel movies are all the same, but Captain America: The First Avenger is wildly different from The Winter Soldier, which is quite a departure from Civil War (although Cap had some help in that one).
The Batman is a very good film, and easily one of the best DC movies in some time. It does almost everything right, but it doesn’t take the character in any new directions. This feels like the same Batman we got in Christopher Nolan’s films, and not all that different from Zack Snyder’s take on the character. Not every Batman comic is the same, and it’s time for the movies to start to feel a bit more diverse as well.
- The best live-action take on Catwoman yet.
- The Riddler feels as though he could easily exist in the real world.
- Jeffrey Wright’s nuanced take on James Gordon.
- The overall visceral nature that Matt Reeves brings to the film.
- It doesn’t feel as though the movie brought anything new to the character.
- The film did not need to be three hours long.
- The shift into the final act feels a bit disjointed.