Directed by Matt Reeves, The Batman is a superhero-infused psychological thriller that seeks to engulf its audience. Following a decade of lacklustre returns, the latest film in the Caped Crusader’s cinematic canon is a triumphant return to form. Painting his canvas with precise direction, heart pounding action, and a tragically human ensemble of characters, The Batman presents a spectacular and impressive cinematic interpretation of the iconic DC character.
Richly layered in dark intrigue, The Batman takes viewers deeper into the psyche of Batman/Bruce Wayne, allowing for a numbing exploration of the iconic character. Bringing the Dark Knight back to his roots, Robert Pattinson’s subdued performance expertly plumbs the character to the depths of men with nothing left but anger, violence, and vengeance. With his brooding presence, stubborn defiance, and deep understanding of his own limitations — The Batman renders Pattinson’s version as one of the most realistic cinematic takes on the character.
With a gorgeous, albeit, violently-minded take of Gotham City, The Batman succeeds in creating the perfect hunting ground for its tragically nuanced hero. Thanks to Greig Fraser’s visually mesmerising cinematography, Gotham’s atmospheric aesthetic must be seen to be felt. A fully formed character in its own right, the city is brought to life with stunning set designs that range from the crowded, rain-slicked streets of Gotham to the iconic Batcave and a lived-in diner lit in green neon lights.
Yet, amidst its dark strokes and gritty tone, The Batman manages to deliver the most hopeful cinematic iteration of its titular character to date. By changing a key element of Bruce Wayne’s origin, the film manages to break sufficient new ground, introducing fresh ideas that do not retread on the character’s extensive filmography. By the end of the film’s intense runtime, we witness Batman undergoing a mythical transformation, a tragic hero who finds a renewed purpose in a city that’s on the verge of losing hope .
Alongside Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne, The Batman succeeds in introducing an exciting cast of characters. Bringing a sensuality that’s often absent in modern day comic book movies, Zoe Kravitz delivers the role of Catwoman/Selina Kyle with seductive elegance, with her every entrance echoed by Michael Giacchino’s excellent score. In addition, Colin Farrell’s Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot and Jeffrey Wreight’s James Gordon are also welcomed additions to the reboot.
While The Batman has the makings of the perfect Batman film, the screenplay prevents it from fulfilling its greatest potential. Despite its efforts in constructing a detective story, the central mystery of the Matt Reeves directed film is neither mysterious nor intriguing. Despite of being a noirish Batman film, the world’s greatest detective actually does very little detecting of his own, mostly relying on others to unearth clues and pass them on to him. In addition, the riddles introduced in the film are not as clever as they could’ve been, which does more harm than good to the intelligence of the film’s lead character.
Before The Batman fully settles into its central plot, the film expertly utilises legitimately disturbing moments to establish its primary antagonist. Played by Paul Dano, the degree to which the latest cinematic iteration of The Riddler is inspired by the Zodiac Killer cannot be overstated. However, the suspense that the film painstakingly built are significantly diminished when The Riddler plummets into the same cringe-inducing supervillain hall of fame that is occupied by the likes of Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman, Jamie Foxx’s Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and most ironic of them all, Jim Carrey’s The Riddler in Batman Forever.
Although it never quite reaches the height of Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed The Dark Knight trilogy, The Batman creates enough points to successfully distinguish from it, laying a great foundation for future Batman stories to take place. Bringing a lot of heart amid a disturbing backdrop, the latest Batman movie is an atmospheric flick that’s surprisingly subversive in the portrayal of its lead character. A gritty, moody, and thrilling superhero tale, The Batman ranks among the bleakest – and contradictorily the most hopeful – silver screen outings of the DC icon.