What’s long yet flies by? Tense but humorous? Dark yet inspiring? And masterful all over? I’ll tell you what… The Batman.
After five years and several delays Matt Reeves’ The Batman has finally been released in cinemas and it fulfilled all of my expectations.
Despite being the eighth live action standalone film of the caped crusader, the world of Gotham city has never felt more alive.
I felt like Reeves was able to take the best aspects from the Year one comic as well as the Long Halloween story and create a truly special iteration of the Batman mythos that felt organic and fresh. Not only does it feel like a definitive take on the Batman legend but it also works really well as a smart and standalone detective noir film.
It’s very different from the other Batman films, not only visually but the story that Reeves tells is really inspiring and hopeful. It’s a beautiful film about how external and internal corruption can destroy us all if we let it, and this is explored masterfully through the world of Batman.
It won’t be a surprise to those who have kept up with Robert Pattinson’s post-Twilight career that he makes for a brilliant Batman, but for anyone in doubt of his acting ability, don’t be. Pattinson is easily my favourite adaption of the character; he not only embodies the brooding darkness that inspires fear into the hearts of Gotham’s underworld, but he also portrays the heroics of the character that is often missed.
Out of all the live action depictions of the Dark Knight the one that Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson have created definitely captures the essence of the comics the most. Everything from Pattinson’s low voice to his dry sarcasm and slow movements really brought the character to a whole new level and it reminded me a lot of the character from the Long Halloween and Court of Owls comics.
Despite being shrouded in the Batsuit for the majority of the three hour run-time, Pattinson is still able to deliver a masterful performance. Through periods of silence and long intense stares he’s able to create a Batman who’s not only intimidating, but also portrays a man who has not quite mastered the job yet. It was also a really nice change of pace to have an actor who wasn’t constantly taking his mask off, not that that’s been an issue in Batman’s previous films, but it was really awesome to have a film that featured the character in costume for the majority of the run-time.
The film is also laser-focussed on Batman’s character and his journey throughout the movie. Whilst this shouldn’t be a surprise in a film titled The Batman he has been known to be overshadowed by his iconic rogues in the past. But here Reeves utilises narration to really delve into Bruce’s mindset and show the audience what it actually means to be Batman in a way that hasn’t ever been done this effectively.
Speaking of rogues, the film is packed with iconic villains. From Paul Dano’s Zodiac-esque Riddler to John Turturro’s Don Falcone and Colin Farrell’s unrecognisable Penguin there is no short supply of fantastic and deranged performances in the film. The way Matt Reeves was able to flesh out the organised crime side of Gotham whilst also playing into the crazier over the top antics of Gotham’s most insane really made for a more inspired and crime-ridden city.
The cast as a whole are on another level of talent. Zoë Kravitz is fantastic as Selina Kyle, she brings an emotional vulnerability to the character whilst also embodying the fierce and vengeful Catwoman persona. She also has really good chemistry with Pattinson’s Batman and their scenes together are some of the best in the film.
Jeffery Wright and Andy Serkis are also really good as Jim Gordon and Alfred. Whilst I didn’t think they were quite as good as Gary Oldman and Michael Caine’s iterations from The Dark Knight Trilogy, mainly due to a lack of screen time, they did fit right into the grimy Gotham that Reeves has created and I’m excited to see them get more to do in future instalments.
In general one of the greatest and most unique strengths the film has over the other Batman movies was just how well fleshed out and atmospheric Gotham city was. It’s not just a Chicago or New York stand in, the city has a life of its own.
Greig Fraser’s cinematography as well as James Chinlund’s production design create a dirty and at times suffocating Gotham that’s dripping with atmosphere. You truly believe that it inhabits the worst of the worst.
The noir lighting and production design felt like it was lifted straight out of a Tim Sale panel, finally allowing Gotham to have a life of its own.
The sound design in the film is also brilliant and adds to the grimy atmosphere of the film. In particular Reeves utilises Batman’s heavy footsteps to great effect, it really makes him feel more real and tangible.
And of course I couldn’t not mention Michael Giacchino’s thunderous score. His music really helps you get into the mindset of an angry vengeful Batman, and the way it evolves throughout the film to mirror Bruce’s journey was nothing short of incredible.
But despite the overall darker atmosphere of the film, don’t be fooled into thinking the whole movie is depressing and dull. It has a lot of humour and campy moments, particularly with Colin Farrell’s Penguin who gives off a lot of Tony Soprano vibes. Pattinson’s Batman also uses a lot of dry sarcasm which was funny throughout.
Like I’ve said, it’s a very inspiring film, so whilst it’s perhaps too dark for younger children, it’s definitely not a movie that will depress you.
Overall the film is a visual feast which breathes a new life into the Batman mythos. Reeves delivers what feels like a definitive take on the Batman character in live action, brought to life by Robert Pattinson’s outstanding performance. Whilst the film carries a dark atmosphere it’s still a joy to watch, and for me it was a mesmerising experience, I can’t wait to return to Reeves’ Gotham and see what he does next.
Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros