Director: Matt Reeves | 2h 56mins | Action, Crime, Drama
When Batman finds himself hunting down the serial killer known as The Riddler, he must go into the political underbelly of Gotham City corruption to unveil the truth and catch him.
Batman as a character has taken many shapes and forms over the years, all the way from Adam West’s iconic turn in the 60’s to the gritty interpretation beloved by many that Nolan created in 2005. Matt Reeves’ The Batman is more akin to Nolan’s gritty and grounded style to the caped crusader’s story, channelling aspects of Frank Miller’s comic-books and using it’s Noir style to finally give us a cinematic story honouring Batman’s name as The World’s Greatest Detective.
The most notable change in Matt Reeves’ film is in it’s interpretation of Bruce Wayne himself, who still maintains the physical intimidation when donning the mask but doesn’t harbour any of the flashy spontaneity of a lonely billionaire playboy, but more finds himself brooding alone in his batcave, unable to connect to the people of Gotham. It’s an interesting change that has genuine relevance to the plot, as Bruce realises that while investigating he is able to open just as many doors as Bruce Wayne as he can as Batman. Sometimes Pattinson’s performance feels more angsty than it does grief-stricken and disconnected, but for the most part it feels like a fresh take.
As a performer Pattinson is intriguing, he’s made riskier career moves in order to move away from his franchise role in Twilight but now back in the blockbuster limelight he doesn’t seem to have lost a step. There is always trepidation when casting such a huge character in popular culture, but fans can rest assured that Pattinson is not only doing the character justice, but giving it a fresh coat of awkwardness and discomfort, something that doesn’t always translate into inner turmoil like the film wants it to but does create a new approach – something that helps to justify why a new Batman was needed in the first place.
Being able to create tone and mood is incredibly important, but being able to capture your character’s feelings is something that The Batman goes that extra mile to achieve.
In The Batman’s somewhat bloated 3-hour runtime Batman crosses paths with a number of iconic villains (Colin Farrell gives a particularly great turn in heavy prosthetics as The Penguin), but it’s Paul Dano’s sadistic Riddler that is at the heart of the mystery. Dano excels in the weird and unhinged and his turn here is in keeping with the Zodiac-esque thriller that Reeves has created. Reeves has obviously kept a keen eye on the very best Neo-Noir films as inspiration, with its perpetual rainfall and seedy conspiracy feeling eerily similar to Fincher’s work, the film succeeds in tone and mood far more than any of the Snyder films in recent years.
Tone and mood are not the only place the film succeeds though, its cinematography wonderfully captures a city in turmoil but its ability to capture loneliness and disjointedness in its characters is something that is incredibly important for the film’s unique tone. Not just in Bruce Wayne, but especially in Zoe Kravitz’s turn as Catwoman (a scene stealing performance throughout), someone who’s own loneliness connects her with Batman. Being able to create tone and mood is incredibly important, but being able to capture your character’s feelings is something that The Batman goes that extra mile to achieve.
Matt Reeves’ newest incarnation doesn’t fully loosen the grip of Snyder’s glossy approach, nor does it stray far enough away from Nolan’s iconic trilogy, but there is a genuine attempt to create something new from a character we’ve seen so much of. The grim Neo-Noir style is matched by wonderful cinematography, and the cast give solid performances that balance the campy and grounded aspects – this is a Batman we’d happily welcome back to our screens.