“Robert Pattinson is going to be the next Batman.”
My cousin announced this news when my brother, two cousins and I were at a crowded restaurant in Disney World in 2019. I remember saying that I thought it was a good casting decision, although I was only so familiar with Pattinson’s work. I knew that the “Twilight” movies gave him a bad rap, but that he also had some really great performances afterwards. I was also confident in Matt Reeves, the director, as he had directed one of my favorite movies, “Cloverfield,” as well as the successful “Planet of the Apes” franchise.
Three years and a pandemic later, I got together with a group of friends to see “The Batman,” arguably one of the most anticipated films of the year. After production and release dates had been pushed back due to COVID-19, we finally got to see Pattinson and Reeves’ work on the big screen. And what’s my review?
It was pretty good.
Let’s break it down.
Pattinson delivered. Obviously, the role of Batman is one of the most coveted roles in Hollywood. Remember all of the backlash Ben Affleck got for his portrayal of Batman? Pattinson delivered a gritty, realistic Bruce Wayne that truly exemplified the tortured soul behind the cowl. It’s hard to compare him to his fellow caped crusader, Christian Bale, because Bale had three movies to fully flesh out his character. Though Bale’s Batman had its merits, Pattinson did a phenomenal job showing the psychological aspect of what it means to be the world’s greatest detective. I personally believe that he showed this side of Batman a lot better than Bale did.
As for other characters, Paul Dano’s Riddler is a really good counterpart to Pattinson’s Batman, and he too delivers a great performance that is genuinely disturbing at times. An unrecognizable Colin Farrell plays Oswald Cobblepott, the Penguin. Farrell, along with his co-stars Pattinson and Dano, delivers a gritty and realistic version of the Penguin that we haven’t seen in a live action film since Danny DeVito played him in 1992. Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman is extremely comic book accurate. Reeves does a fairly good job incorporating her into the story, and her character is pretty well fleshed out throughout the movie.
Finally, I really did enjoy the cinematography and the music in this film. Gotham almost looks like a noir detective film city, which compliments Reeves’ mission to make “The Batman” a detective movie. The city feels like a living and breathing character in the film; one thing the film seems to stress is that even though Gotham created Batman, it also created the other monsters that lurk the streets. The music, like many great film soundtracks, keeps you on the edge of your seat and communicates the tone of the movie extremely well.
Though I think the positives outweigh the negatives in “The Batman,” there still were some small things that didn’t quite land. A lot of it had to do with the writing. There are times where Batman responds to dialogue in ways that seem unconventional and confusing, and there are also occasions where other characters say things that don’t really add to the story; there’s one particular scene with the Penguin where I was left wondering what on Earth he was talking about. Some of the lines are too spot-on. At one point in the movie, some lines are said in a way that, on paper, would look well-written, but in reality it comes off as dialogue being cool-for-cool’s sake. Additionally, Paul Dano’s Riddler, though great for the most part, has some scenes where I was left thinking “Okay, I get it, you’re a crazy supervillain. Can we move on?” A point my friend made was that throughout the movie, it felt as if Batman was following the Riddler instead of being toe-to-toe with him, something that seemed out of character for the “world’s greatest detective.”
There were a few scenes that seemed to only prolong the runtime. Not because they weren’t conducive to the story, but because they could have taken out some dialogue and the scene would still have made sense. It’s a long movie, by the way. I wouldn’t recommend drinking anything beforehand if you don’t want to miss anything. On one hand, I understand wanting to establish things for the (potential) movies to follow. On the other hand, there could have been scenes and dialogue cut for time.
Finally, the plot, though intriguing, can be hard to follow. Maybe it’s just my brain not being able to keep up, but several times throughout the film I was left trying to retrace the scene I just saw to make sure I got all of the facts straight. I understand that it’s a detective movie and you want the audience to put the pieces together with some guidance, but I think there were a bit too many pieces to put together and fit to the overall plot. In essence, the subplots of this movie, though important to the main story, made the narrative muddied and confusing at times.
I really did like this film. I think that Warner Bros./DC chose excellent people to make it happen. The actors all did a fantastic job with what they were given and Matt Reeves is a very competent director who knows what the audience wants to see in a Batman, something that I think Warner Bros./DC missed the mark on in their previous iteration of the character. Overall, if you’re looking for a gritty, realistic detective story featuring the Dark Knight, you will get what you want. And even if you’re not a superhero fan, you can still appreciate it as a detective movie and as a cinematographic success. But few films are truly perfect, and if you’re looking for a perfect Batman film:
- I assume you’re comparing it to Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”
- Don’t do that. Though this movie still takes the “realistic” approach Nolan did, it is entirely different in tone and what it’s setting out to do. “The Dark Knight” is considered one of the best superhero movies of all time, and some say even one of the best films of all time. It sets a very high bar that may never be cleared. In summary, I’d recommend enjoying the ride for what it is instead of what it could be.
My overall ranking: 7/10