Director: Matt Reeves
Writers: Matt Reeves, Peter Craig
Production: 6th & Idaho Productions, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros.
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Platforms: Theatrical Release (Reviewed)
Release Date: Out Now!
Wow, The Batman is quite the film. For most of the roughly-3-hour runtime, Matt Reeves’ long-awaited version of the Caped Crusader could barely be called a superhero movie – and I mean that in a very positive way.
Don’t get me wrong, the breathless set pieces and hard-hitting fight scenes are all here – but the DNA of The Batman is that of a big-budget detective noir film for the modern day, and in that sense it’s wonderful to experience. It feels as though Robert Pattinson’s varied forays into lesser-known films such as Good Time, High Life, The Lighthouse, and more have been quietly building him towards taking on the infamous role of Bruce Wayne/The Batman, where Pattinson gets to both stand up starkly in the spotlight, and also be brilliantly subdued in the shadows.
We can visibly see the conflict within this version of Bruce Wayne, who is at an early stage (Year Two, to be precise) of his Batman career; he isn’t quite sure of his direction, and he often makes mistakes – just watch how many hits his enemies get in on him. That vulnerability feels more raw than any other live action version of Batman I have seen, and adds palpable stakes to the action. However, this doesn’t stop him from being a relentless force of nature, and that mix of efficiency and roughness makes for a magnetic presence on screen.
All around Pattinson are similarly fantastic performances: Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) fills the femme fatale position and runs with it, The Riddler (Paul Dano) is a genuinely scary threat that consistently pushes the narrative forwards, and The Penguin (Colin Farrell) is one of the numerous charismatic side threads that makes this dark, dirty version of Gotham feel alive. As aforementioned, this really is a detective noir first and foremost, and it demands your full attention to pay attention to every piece of the puzzle that is slowly, meticulously unveiled.
Whilst this willingness to be patient is one of the strengths of The Batman, I do think the pace drops too much around the halfway mark before the film ramps up to the final act. Perhaps some sequences around this point could have been shortened slightly, just to maintain a more intense momentum. Indeed, the richness of the plot makes The Batman a slightly tougher proposition for multiple viewings.
Still, I don’t want to stray from the positives here. The Batman is a stunning watch and yet another example of the different genres that superhero movies can extend to. It’s a treat for the eyes and ears, too, with an absorbing colour palette of oranges and reds, complimented by a striking score from Michael Giacchino that instantly etches itself into the mind.
We’ve waited a long time for The Batman, but it comprehensively delivers. It absolutely feels like Matt Reeves’ undiluted vision for a movie about “The World’s Greatest Detective” that focuses on the “Detective” – and with this being the first in a planned trilogy, I can’t wait for more!