Sunday, May 22, 2022

‘The Batman’ Spoiler-Free Review: A New Variety of Batman Film (And The Only Variety We Hope To See For Years To Come)

Matt Reeves’ nearly-three-hours-long The Batman is nothing short of a masterpiece.

I want to start by stating that the only thing that could have enhanced this film is a R-Rating. The film is, unfortunately, encumbered by the PG-13 restraints and with the themes coursing throughout this dark, depressing, and truly psychotic piece of art, it could have used some more room to really expand on that and dig into those intense themes on a more mature level. The Batman is so dark and gritty that it manages to feel like a thriller and horror movie, so giving it more room to breathe would have only been a benefit here. The creative team certainly pushed the limits of the PG-13 rating, but I would personally rather see a tame Rated-R movie than a PG-13 pushing the limits. Nevertheless, The Batman still provides an impressive film.

Historically, I’m not a huge Batman movie fan, with the exception of the obvious masterpiece that was The Dark Knight (RIP Heath Ledger). Despite loving the Caped Crusader in comics, I’ve just never been completely sold on the various versions of the character we’ve seen live-action. This creative team nails it, in my opinion, and the performance is brought to life impeccably by Robert Pattinson. To no surprise, Pattinson nails the darkest corners of Bruce Wayne’s personality and provides an intricate look at the early days of Bruce Wayne’s time as Batman and how that affects every aspect of his life, none more so than his mental health.

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In addition to nailing the personality and complexities of Bruce Wayne, Pattinson also hands-down has the best live-action Batsuit that we’ve seen thus far (in my opinion), and a fantastic Batmobile to top it all off. Again, it’s nice to see him still figuring out how to be Batman and how to utilize all of his tools to the best of their ability, and we get to see a slew of various gadgets being utilized throughout this film.

Zoë Kravitz steals the screen every time she enters a scene. Not only does she nail the cat-like movements of Selina Kyle, but she also brings out the best parts of Selina’s personality and adds a new level of depth to the character that is attention-grabbing and electric. The chemistry between Kravitz and Pattinson was perfect for the overall themes in this film and it was nice to see the beginnings of the Cat and the Bat.

I knew Paul Dano was going to be an incredible Riddler, but even still he amazed me. Dano has consistently proven in his career that he can reach depths of insanity that are difficult for most actors to achieve, and in The Batman, he has outdone himself. Dano’s Riddler is completely unhinged, relevant to today’s world, and believably scary. I don’t want to say much more there because it is absolutely something that needs to be seen to be appreciated, and nothing I type here will bring that performance justice.

The rest of the cast are also spectacular in their own ways, and every single actor in this film brought something new and unique to their characters. The scenes between Pattinson’s Batman and Jeffrey Wright’s James Gordon were a phenomenal on-screen representation of the city’s two best detectives working side-by-side, despite the fact one of them certainly doesn’t work well with others. However, I would be amiss if I did not shout out Colin Farrell specifically, who while completely unrecognizable as Oswald Cobbplepot, stole the scene every time he was on the screen and gave this dark movie some much-needed humor every once in a while to lighten things up.

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The villains of The Batman are all deeply rooted in a much more modern and relevant reality and are therefore increasingly believable and scary, but they are STILL batshit (ha) crazy villains obsessed with the Dark Knight at the end of the day. There was special care brought to these characters to ensure that the audiences could believe in them, to be fooled into being so far immersed into this movie for nearly 3-hours that the audience can almost see The Riddler or The Penguin reflecting real-life villains in their every action. These villains aren’t gimmicky or over-the-top (unless intentional), but they still manage to bring the beloved Batman-villain humor to the table when it is appropriate.

The score for this one is absolutely incredible, and I will be listening to the score on repeat. There will be no surprise when the soundtrack pops up on my Spotify wrapped next year. Of course, a stunning and haunting soundtrack is only to be expected from Michael Giacchino, the genius behind this score, and many others including Spider-Man: No Way Home, Ratatouille, and even the end credits score to 2008’s Cloverfield, which was the first collaboration between Giacchino and Reeves. This score builds where it needs to, it never overpowers a scene, and the primary melody is so well constructed and hauntingly beautiful that using it throughout the film just makes sense.

if you’ve read any Batman comics, this film will feel like it was ripped from the pages of comic books. The cinematography allows the movie to feel like comic panels being brought to real-life. Every camera angle is intentional and executed with immense precision. This film has every type of scene you could possibly expect or want to see in a comic book movie and perfects these scenes for a Batman movie. The visuals in this film are repeatedly stunning, and it was amazing to see a comic book movie that didn’t need to use heavy CGI, which really nails home the point of Batman: he’s just a guy, with no superpowers or magic, trying to do what is right for his city. In my theater on the evening of March 1, the audience was quick to clap for those moments that were visually stunning and deserving of praise.

The Batman will leave you not wanting a sequel but needing a sequel, especially thanks to that final cameo appearance. More on that to come.

As I’ve mentioned, this is a nearly three-hour-long film, but everything in the movie is necessary and you don’t want to miss a single moment. Make sure you go to the bathroom before going into the theater.

The Batman is playing exclusively in theaters now.

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