Director: Matt Reeves
Writers: Matt Reeves, Peter Craig
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Jayme Lawson, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell
Cinematographer: Greig Fraser
Editors: William Hoy, Tyler Nelson
The opening sequences of The Batman are eerily silent, building up to a murder that kicks off the carnage that forms the core of the plot. As we get the first full shot of Gotham city, the narrator's voice seeps in. It is that of Bruce Wayne. For most avid comic book readers, this is a pivotal moment. With it, Matt Reeves sets up the kind of movie The Batman wants to be. The movie now promises something done only in comic books so far – telling Batman's story directly from his point of view. This sets the stage for the reinvention of the onscreen caped crusader, and answers the question, "Did we really need another Batman movie?"
The answer is a resounding yes.
The Batman finds Robert Pattison's Bruce Wayne a couple of years into his quest to bring justice (or vengeance) to Gotham. Conveniently side-stepping older origins sequences, we see a Batman who already has a working relationship with Lieutenant Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), being called in to investigate the murder of a mayor murder by a mysterious villain. This antagonist leaves clues specifically for Batman, and his investigations lead him to an underground club, a series of new murders, corruption, clues and Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz). As the bodies of Gotham's top echelon pile up, Batman and Catwoman align their agendas and work to not only stop the murders, but bring down the Penguin (Colin Farrell) and Carmine Falcone (John Turturro).
Of course, non-believers haters are proven wrong along the way. Robert Pattinson's Batman is good. He is brooding, imposing, and surprisingly, probably the most intimidating version of The Dark Knight we have seen on screen. His Batman is pretty good at the DIY detective work too. The movie painstakingly establishes the value our he brings to the table as a detective/vigilante par excellence – and why Gordon not only tolerates, but also indulges him.
Pattinson's Batman walks the line between Christian Bale's grounded realism and stealth, and Ben Affleck's physicality – while adding an amplified sense of fear and foreboding. There are moments where fantastic cinematography and some top-notch sound work make Pattinson's Batman seem like he was ripped right from a DC comic book. Matt Reeves also ups the ante on the realistic fight choreography we had seen in the Nolan trilogy, making it more fluid and as brutal as a PG13 movie could allow.
Writers Matt Reeves and Peter Craig make some interesting choices, which eagle-eyed fans of recent Batman comic book mythos may enjoy, especially when it comes to the Wayne and Arkham family histories. Kravitz's Catwoman stands out among the A-list cast. There's a depth to Selina's backstory, which Zoe exploits to the fullest, even managing to chew the scenery a few times. Turturro is at his usual versatile best, but Colin Farell and Andy Serkis are criminally wasted in the movie.
What doesn't necessarily work in the movie is the excess. It's evident how much freedom the team had while making this movie, and that's great. However, there are some moments where it doesn't pull its punches, and should have. Paul Dano's Riddler is scary, fantastic and genuinely intimidating when masked, but almost unintentionally comical, when unmasked. Occasional visual choices seem strange. Even the inventive narration aspect suddenly disappears for most of the movie.
The multiple, elongated 'Peter Jackson in LoTR-esque' endings are extremely frustrating as well. The Batman is 20 minutes too long, and that is is to its disadvantage. Also, my membership to the 'I believe in Tumbler Supremacy' club remains intact.
Nonetheless, The Batman is, well, THE Batman movie you had been waiting for. Original, visceral and faithful, its reinvention of the world's greatest detective is refreshing – and is arguably one of his best cinematic outings so far.