Starring: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Paul Dano, Colin Farrell, Andy Serkis, John Turturro, and Peter Sarsgaard
Director: Matt Reeves
Director Matt Reeves’ detective noir The Batman is as visceral and full of intrigue as any Batman story you’ve ever seen on screen. The performances are uniformly excellent (as is the action), though the obvious standout is Paul Dano’s chilling turn as The Riddler. The Dark Knight’s tale of vengeance takes a slower approach in telling its story, leaning into the seediness of Gotham way more than any previous Batman films, but it’s unlikely that the slowness turns anyone off to it. Michael Giacchino’s score and the film’s stellar sound design steal the show.
Riddle me this: What do you get when you mix David Fincher’s dark, noir style with Matt Reeves’ world building? You get the darkest and rawest Batman we’ve seen yet. Gotham City’s new gothic look is brought vividly to life with beautiful cinematography, which is heightened with a flawless score by Michael Giacchino. His music pulsates through the film, giving the entire thing a beating heart. The film’s biggest flaw is that it’s a whole lot of plot & hardly any story. However, Robert Pattinson as The Dark Knight and Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman are my favorite iterations of the characters yet.
The Batman, the tenth live action Batman (or Batman-adjacent) movie since 1989, does a lot of things amazingly well. The tone is pitch perfect, the cinematography is superb, the violence is visceral, and the acting is good enough to overcome some cringy dialogue. It could have been the best Batman movie ever if it wasn’t for the plotting. In its efforts to be a franchise-starting, labyrinthine mystery, it’s just way too overstuffed. This movie didn’t need to be three hours long. It never drags exactly, but it’s unnecessarily convoluted. Still, it’s essentially Seven featuring Batman, which I can’t be too mad about.
Matt Reeves’ The Batman works best when it leans into its noir detective story, but Reeves also includes an underlying 007-esque sexual tone that feels unnecessary. As for the cast, Robert Pattinson excels as the Caped Crusader, but his Bruce Wayne, along with most of the supporting characters, are nothing too special. It’s also entirely too long. So much so that I wonder if the film may have been better served by cutting out Zoë Kravitz’s storyline entirely to shave 45 min off the runtime. Save her for the sequel. There’s a lot to like about The Batman, but there isn't a lot to love.
The Batman is essentially the next Arkham video game, and it’s a compliment when I say some dialogue sounds like it’s ripped right out of the games. Director Matt Reeves nailed the gritty “world’s greatest detective” story, Michael Giacchino put his FOOT into that score, and the action is intense (two words: car chase). Zoë Kravitz is charming, Paul Dano balances outrageous and unhinged, and Colin Farrell is delightful. And John Turturro? BRA-VO! But most intriguing is Robert Pattinson because he’s Batman even when the cowl is off, and I can’t wait to see how he eventually grows into Bruce Wayne.
I don’t like using this word, but The Batman is a near masterpiece. Writer/director Matt Reeves’ version of Batman is a detective neo-noir in the vein of David Fincher and it is marvelous. Robert Pattinson might be my favorite Batman yet, while Paul Dano’s The Riddler is actually frightening. Everyone behind the camera is at the top of their game, especially Greig Fraser’s cinematography and Michael Giacchino’s score. And while I wouldn’t call this an action movie, when there is action, it’s brutal and awesome. Slow, sure, but it moved fast for me. Suffice to say, I loved it.