The Batman unfolds like an operatic piece on the big screen, dipped in melancholy. This Batman is not suave but brooding and lost, picking up the pieces of his beloved city which is crumbling around him. It’s just his second year fighting crime in Gotham and we get to know this through a voiceover by Bruce Wayne, a comic book technique that allows this film to go into the mind of Bruce.
Matt Reeves’s Gotham is a dark city, broken, rotten with corruption and amidst all, there is an overworked Batman, stomping out of the shadows. His heavy footsteps ring loud as a warning when he makes an entry.
Anger and sadness floats in his eyes when Batman says, “I am vengeance.”
Gotham is a rain-soaked city filled with despair as reflected in the grey of its sky. The people in power, the honest ones are all corrupt to the core. And Bruce is moonlighting as the caped crusader battling crime, trying to save Gotham.
In the opening sequences, as the bat light shines yellow against the dark sky, it becomes a tool of fear. Criminals run away from the shadows, fearing the Batman. Shadows are the lurking place for this bat. This Batman uses fear as a tool, he is learning what the city requires and what it needs him to be.
Greig Fraser’s camera moves fluidly giving us terrific moments. Be it a car chase, the grand spectacular set piece of the film or a scene shrouded in darkness where the only light source is the bullets fired. The film is soaked in greys, fading yellows and reds.
Matt Reeves has worked with the realism of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy but has infused it with a comic book flavour. The story unfolds like a Neo-noir, paying homage to movies like David Fincher’s Seven. We get a Batman who looks for clues and does detective work, like in the comic books. All of this is elevated by a brilliant score by Michael Giacchino. His Batman theme is dark, emotional and adrenaline rushing, all at the same time.
Robert Pattinson brings melancholy and sadness to the role of Bruce. His voice is heavy when he is the Batman, as goes the tradition. His kohl-lined eyes reveal deep emotions and most of the times, he observes rather than speaks. The character has shades of Kurt Cobain, the Nirvana band leader. Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman delivers a grounded performance. She has a layered backstory and Zoë plays the role with sheer commitment. Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth delivers a good performance, but doesn’t have a meaty role. Collin Farrell does his role of Penguin sincerely and is unrecognisable under layers of makeup. Jeffery Wright plays James Gordon with sconviction, as if he is the good cop in a buddy cop movie (in a good way), so does John Turturro as mob boss Carmine Falcone. Paul Dano is good as the Riddler, a man broken from his childhood, galloping in madness trying to clean up the city and mostly his scars that he doesn’t know are there. This is the right way for him.
Matt Reeves has tried and is largely successful in putting out a true to comic book film. There are some obvious inspirations but this film is inventive and a thrilling emotional experience in its own right.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.