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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews The Batman

February 28th, 2022 by Andrew McCarroll Comments

The Batman (15)
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Starring Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano and Colin Farrell

When the Riddler, a sadistic serial killer, begins murdering key political figures in Gotham, Batman is forced to investigate the city’s hidden corruption and question his family’s involvement.

Opening with a truly brutal beginning more akin to Zodiac than The Dark Knight, director Matt Reeves seems intent on making his own mark on a character that now sees no less than three iterations in less than two years.

Picking up in year two of The Batman’s crusade, thankfully we don’t need to once again see the Waynes riddled like swiss cheese in a hail of bullets and pearls. Here, Pattinson’s Gotham Knight, like the movie itself, is driven by legacy; a nihilist that wants to be killed in battle to change the perception that his family’s name is associated with a helpless billionaire dying in a gutter. It’s a theme that runs throughout the movie, with all of the central characters wanting to step out from the shadows of perception and stamp their own narrative.

It’s unfortunate then, that the film quickly turns into a mixtape of its influences.

Lifting scenes, themes and dialogue (“I believe in Gotham”) wholesale from other movies including other Batman movies; it’s a Frankenstein’s monster of a movie that taps so much into what’s gone before with Batman thinking his presence has caused escalation etc, that it never feels like its own thing. As someone who has read literally hundreds of Batman comics, I rarely read them and think ‘that’s from that other comic’ because there is such a rich history you can tap into, not only with the characters but the world itself.

Here, sadly, Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne is unexplored and his Batman, voice and all, comes off as Baby Bale. Dano’s Jared Leto-Esque tripe about being unable to sleep due to how dark the character was bleeds into his performance and his wavey-handed, monologue delivering Riddler fits more into Snyder’s Justice League world than a hard-boiled detective story. And this is the central issue with the movie. No one seems to be in the same film; John Turturro’s mob boss, Carmine Falcone, Kravitz’s Catwoman and Jeffrey Wright’s Jim Gordon are lifted from the pages of The Long Halloween, while others adopt cartoonish “hey I’m walking here” accents.

The Batman tries to be too many things.

Pattinson’s Batman is an almost wordless emo enigma, which is then offset by having him narrate every thought that pops into his head; Riddler’s plan, which is a mix of Bane and Joker’s from the Nolan movies, brings to mind the assassin character from The Simpsons, promising a plan that is “as intricate and precise… as a well-played game of chess” before volleying the door down and blindly firing a machine gun.

The near three-hour runtime of muddled momentum sets up his master plan that is resolved in minutes with minimum fuss with an underwhelming feeling of “is that it?”

It lacks the coolness of Nolan, the spectacle of Burton or even the scope of Snyder.

That said, The Batman is an interesting and engaging starting point that leaves several interesting dangling threads to be explored in future movies. However, it feels like a huge missed opportunity for Matt Reeves to plant his flag on the character and move on from both Nolan and Snyder.

3 out of 5 Nerds

From Warner Bros. Pictures comes the biggest film of the year: Director/Co-writer/Producer Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson in the dual role of Gotham City’s vigilante detective and his alter ego, reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne.

Two years of stalking the streets as the Batman (Robert Pattinson), striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City.  With only a few trusted allies—Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright)—amongst the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens.

When a killer targets Gotham’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the World’s Greatest Detective on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle/aka Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), Oswald Cobblepot/aka the Penguin (Colin Farrell), Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and Edward Nashton/aka the Riddler (Paul Dano).  As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City. 

Starring alongside Robert Pattinson (“Tenet,” “The Lighthouse”) as Gotham’s famous and infamous cast of characters are Zoë Kravitz (“Big Little Lies,” “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”); Paul Dano (“Love & Mercy,” “12 Years a Slave”); Jeffrey Wright (“No Time to Die,” “Westworld”); John Turturro (the “Transformers” films, “The Plot Against America”); Peter Sarsgaard (“The Magnificent Seven,” “Interrogation”) as Gotham D.A. Gil Colson; Jayme Lawson (“Farewell Amor”) as mayoral candidate Bella Reál; with Andy Serkis (the “Planet of the Apes” films, “Black Panther”); and Colin Farrell (“The Gentlemen,” “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”).

Reeves (“The Planet of the Apes” franchise) directed from a screenplay by Reeves & Peter Craig, based on characters from DC.  Batman was created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger.  Dylan Clark (the “Planet of the Apes” films) and Reeves produced the film, with Michael E. Uslan, Walter Hamada, Chantal Nong Vo and Simon Emanuel serving as executive producers.  

The director’s behind-the-scenes creative team included Oscar-nominated director of photography Greig Fraser (“Dune,” “Lion”); Reeves’ “Planet of the Apes” production designer, James Chinlund, and editor, William Hoy; editor Tyler Nelson (“Rememory”); and Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran (“1917,” “Little Women,” “Anna Karenina”).  The music is by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino (the current “Spider-Man,” “Jurassic World” and “Star Wars” films, “Up”).

A Matt Reeves Film, watch “The Batman” In Cinemas March 4.

Andrew McCarroll never quite built on the dizzying career heights that he hit at 6 years old, when as a member of the “Ghostbusters” he would charge his neighbours to remove any unwanted spectres. Now retired from slaying spooks, he spends his time obsessing over superheroes (especially Batman) and devouring shows like Dexter, Game of Thrones and Archer in a manner that would make Galactus proud. You can follow his rants on twitter @andymc1983