Some minor spoilers ahead.
Matt Reeve’s The Batman is a great film which harkens viewers back to the 80s Batman films by Tim Burton. This version of Batman is darker, grittier, and feels more real. The predominantly darker setting and atmosphere made this film stand out as more of thriller than an action film, which lends itself well to the crime mystery at the heart of the film. The grittier aspect came in the form of imperfection in this version of Batman. It is shown early in the film that he wasn’t invincible against a gang of thugs and it was great to see him struggle and hit a few times. The real aspect came in the form of his skills and talents being based on reality than bending physics in that his glide from police headquarters resulted in a crash landing, which caused someone in the cinema laugh out loud, and his personality as a troubled individual felt more believable given his history.
Despite my comments above, I still love the Christopher Nolan films starring Christian Bale, they are still excellent films. Each film in the trilogy is strong, but the standout is obviously The Dark Knight with the unmatched performance of Heath Ledger as the iconic Joker. While great films, they offered a Batman who had perfect flaws. Christian Bale’s Batman with his personality as a philanthropic playboy and hero at night played well in giving us a slick and cool Bruce Wayne, but I felt it didn’t truly represent what Batman truly was, e.g. a typically flawed person who became a winged vigilante out to stop criminals because of the impact crime had on him personally at a young age. In a completely new angle to Nolan, what I like is that director Matt Reeves manages to bring all those classic Batman elements in crime detection and murder mystery back to the fore with such skill.
When Robert Pattinson was cast as The Batman, I thought it was a great choice. He had proven himself a skilled, talented actor in many big screen and independent films. He is unfairly tainted by a certain trilogy, which he did what he could with a bad script. There is no doubt that he can act. My comments before his appearance was that I had little doubt he would pulled this role off with his work ethic and determination.
Aside from Robert Pattinson, there is an amazing all-star cast of characters in Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle (Catwoman), Paul Dano as the Riddler, Colin Farrell as the Penguin, Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth and John Turturro as Carmine Falcone. Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz have great chemistry as Batman and Catwoman. I couldn’t tell that Colin Farrell was the Penguin under all that make-up. Andy Serkis plays a more grounded and protective Alfred to Bruce. Finally Paul Dano plays both an almost Martin Shkreli character with his odd online followers and murderous arbiter like Jigsaw from the Saw franchise. He does an excellent job creeping people out and his villainous plan manages to come across as quite original in this film genre when most action hero films usually resort to hero must beat big bad guy at the end of the film trope.
All the characters in The Batman are imperfect and that’s a good thing. Bruce Wayne is a tragic figure in many ways, his loss of his parents at a young age, his feeling of powerlessness, and his stubbornness when in in the film he turns down some advice from Alfred. We also learn about Bruce Wayne’s parents in a different way to other preceding films in that Thomas Wayne turned to organized crime to protect his wife, while Martha Wayne had mental health issues. These titbits manage to introduced these characters without rehashing their death scene over and over, yet give these characters a deeper meaning and history than just being really rich philanthropic people who get gunned down in a dark alley.
Batman’s journey at the start of the film is him saying “I’m vengeance” when he beats up a group of thugs looking to beat an innocent person for no apparent reason. By the film’s climax we realize that vengeance can’t be the answer as it leads down a spiral of despair. The turning point is when Batman hears the words “I’m vengeance” from one of Ridder’s followers and it’s at that moment that we see Batman realize what he needs to be to the people of Gotham and to himself. By the end, we see a Batman who wants to be the hope for the city.
I felt one of the key messages in the film is how power and money corrupts. It provides a commentary on reality that is hard to ignore. Powerful rich people, many of whom are invisible to everyday people are controlling our government and departments and use them to ensure a perpetual cycle of power is maintained. The power of the Falcone and Maroni families and their perpetual gangland wars, but also how they manage to control society from the eerie shadows. We learn in the film that the big bust on Maroni and his drug ring is nothing but a hoax to give false hope to the citizens of Gotham. Nothing has really happened and the drug ring is around and better than it was before.
Overall the film had a great story that captured a more interesting, true to form Batman. The villain was excellent and interesting. I really appreciated the action and mystery thriller elements. The Riddler’s clues throughout the film made it feel like a genuine adventure and it was a great adventure at that. The many messages were well illustrated and I was hooked from start to finish. Kudos to the cast and the team behind the camera for making such an incredible film.
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