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Disclaimer: This review WILL have spoilers for The Batman. Reader’s discretion is advised.
This weekend released director Matt Reeves’s newest film, The Batman. The 2022 edition of the superhero allows for an interesting new take on the caped crusader, pushing him and the cast of well loved characters (heroes and villains alike) for the new age, while still keeping up with the dark, brooding hero we’ve come to know and love.
The storyline of this movie follows Batman in the grittiness of Gotham City. A gruesome murder of Gotham’s mayor in the height of mayoral elections starts the plot, revealing to the audience a haunting parallel to the grisly murder of Thomas Wayne — which Bruce notices as well. This event triggers a noir style murder mystery case of finding out the identity of the killer known as “The Riddler” (played by Paul Dano), all whilst uncovering the dark corruption that lies in the underbelly of Gotham City. During this Batman meets the incredible Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman (played by Zoe Kravitz), all while Bruce Wayne deals with the inner turmoil of his identity of being both Bruce and Batman.
I went to see this movie with my dad, and on the way there he asked “so Emily, why are people going to see this movie? What makes this movie so special?” Truly asking the questions for the ages. What makes this movie so different from the other Batman movies we’ve seen? Batman has a long history; totaling around eleven major blockbuster type movies, as well as numerous TV shows and comic book runs. They’ve all told the story of Bruce Wayne, so why do we need another? Well, after watching this film, I can tell you wholeheartedly what makes this stand out from the rest– the gorgeous cinematography, the star-studded cast (I’m looking at you Robert) and the subtle shift of a hero dealing with saving his city in the age of the Internet.
One of the most standout qualities of The Batman is the impeccable cinematography. Director of Photography Greig Fraser, most known for his work on Dune, The Mandalorian, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, does it again by creating a feast for the eyes with The Batman. A prime example of the gloriousness of his work is a part where Batman and The Penguin (played by Colin Farrell– who I did not recognize as Colin Farrell due to the incredible prosthetics put on his face, so shout out to the amazing work done by the makeup department.) are in a car chase, leading to the Penguin’s car flipping over and causing an explosion in the background. From the point-of-view of the Penguin, we can see a figure coming from the explosion– that being Batman. The shots cut back and forth from the point of view of the Penguin to the Penguin’s expression of horror as Batman kept coming closer and closer, elevating the tension to a whole new level. This is what the film does so well. In terms of being shot, you are not just an audience member; you are a part of the story. You are walking around behind Catwoman in the club finding out secrets with her. You are not just watching Batman saving the people of Gotham City, you are being saved yourself. This added level of audience interaction heightens the movie going experience as a whole.
This iteration of Batman would not be complete without Robert Pattinson. I would like to give thanks to his years being in Twilight because Pattinson brings the level of brooding, moodiness that is needed with Batman. While Pattinson plays Batman with the exorbitant level of “kick-assery” needed to play the caped crusader, he really shines when he takes the part of Bruce Wayne. A central theme throughout the entire movie is the struggle one can have with identity. When Bruce learns some incriminating information about his father, his whole world shatters around him, leading him to question his belief of being the Batman and being this idea of “vengeance” that he harbors inside. Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne is utterly scrubbed raw, leading to a gripping and emotional portrait of a character that we already know and love. He is a Bruce that is still coping from the loss of his parents, and is a hot mess while learning to be himself. Apart from his emo tendencies, we see a side of him drawn from love and infatuation pushed out by Zoe Kravitz’s portrayal of Catwoman. The two have, I believe, chemistry! I know there has been some talk online about how the two do not; but if you really look at the scenes and the way they just look at each other, it’s filled with it. But if you really get into the scenes of them talking to one another are filled with such a romantic tension that makes you feel like you are intruding on something, without being overtly disgusted. Alongside her, the supporting cast helps create a holistic feeling to the film, evidently shown by the villainous foe “The Riddler.” He really plays up the insanity and intelligence that comes with The Riddler, and is a very interesting rival in terms of how he creates this allegiance around himself.
The Riddler uses social media and the dark web in order to gain a following around him and his ideals, that ultimately perpetuate to the catastrophic ending of the film. He creates blog posts and uses Instagram Live in order to rally his troops in a way. This creates a feeling of fear that is so present in the film — and in our lives now. Bringing forth the terror that the dark web is and can bring into a social media induced world brings a realistic horror to this otherwise non-realistic comic book movie. There was a true moment where The Riddler is talking to his “fanbase” on a social media app to discuss their plans for an invasion that will occur. The people he’s talking to discuss what kind of guns and bullets to bring, where to meet up, etc. and that brought a genuine note of terror into my heart because of the absolute ideal of how these sorts of events start just like this. We are seeing a Batman brought into our world — a world of the parasocial, modern, social-media age, and it is gruesome and phenomenal.
Coinciding with this is the point of corruption of the structures in which society is based on. Batman learns about the dark underbelly of Gotham City that involves the corruption of the police force, the mayor, and more city institutions. It is really when we learn that mostly everything that the Gotham is founded upon has a dark past of murder, corruption, and more. It is just incredibly interesting how there is a weaving of elements of current social and political issues from the modern century into a character that spans over decades.
While this film is chock full of goodies for the comic book enjoyer and hater alike, the one element that I personally did not enjoy was the fact that it was three hours long. There is this idea in Hollywood right now that blockbuster movies need to last more than two hours; and I just do not think that is the case! You can tell a beautiful story of heartbreak, betrayal, identity, love, etc. in under ninety minutes, and make it make sense. Some points of the story did seem to drag on just a little bit for my taste, towards the second act, going into the third. But even with this fault, The Batman truly is a masterpiece.
The Batman directed by Mark Reeves and played by Robert Pattinson is a testament to the hero himself. With stunning visuals, a haunting, almost biblical in nature soundtrack, great performances by Pattinson, Kravitz and Dano themselves it truly lives up to be one of my favorite movies about the caped crusader. (Not number one though. Nothing can live up to the masterpiece that is The Lego Batman Movie by Chris Mckay.) So if you want to see a film that is a feast for the eyes, you love the character, or just want to see Robert Pattinson in eyeliner fit for a My Chemical Romance concert, go see The Batman. You will not regret it.
Featured Image Courtesy of Warner Brothers.