The Batman REVIEW – Noir Goodness

The Batman's style is reminiscent more of Zodiac than any of its predecessors.

The Batman
The Batman

I’ve been waiting for The Batman for as long as I can remember. I was intrigued to see where the casting of Robert Pattinson would take us, as well as the new takes on Batman villains and characters that we’ve encountered before. I was hopeful that it would be as fantastic as the trailers suggested, and boy was it ever. It’s a gorgeous well-made film, taking the Batman narrative in a direction we haven’t quite seen in the live-action films. The film is a bit too long, with some lulls here and there amidst the investigating, as well as the fairly protracted ending. But everything else is pretty great.

I won’t say that Robert Pattinson is my favourite Batman – that honour will probably always belong to Christian Bale – but he’s done a great job with the character. He’s menacing, as you believe him when he say that he is vengeance, and he exudes the strength and brutality necessary to play the character. His Bruce Wayne is certainly more emo, less the philanthropist playboy we saw in previous iterations, but more broken and sad because of what he’s lost. This choice helped the movie have more emotional weight, especially in his scenes with Alfred (Andy Serkis) and Selina, aka Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz). Pattinson and Serkis only have a handful of scenes together, but they make these scenes count, and there’s enough there for us to understand the nature of the relationship and how close they are.

One of my gripes with the Nolan Batman movies is how little chemistry Bruce had with his love interests. He loved Rachel but was barely in a proper relationship with her. There was that fling with Talia, and of course he ends up with Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle at the end of the trilogy, but none of these relationships felt particularly well-developed or convincing. Pattinson and Kravitz are a different story. They are so sexy together, with long moments of yearning stares and deep kisses. Selina’s first appearance in the film is show-stopping stuff, and Kravitz effortlessly embodies the character – her movements, her walk, even the way she holds and caresses his face.

The film, for all its noir elements, is actually pretty funny. The main source of humour is Colin Farrell’s Penguin. Every time he’s on screen he’s cracking jokes, and makes an impact despite not really being a big part of the story. Paul Dano is no stranger to playing mad, villainous characters, and does an incredible job with his version of the Riddler. The look and costuming is certainly less ostentatious than the Jim Carrey version, but his madness is frightening. He manages to achieve that in stillness and when he’s raising his voice, which is just impeccable acting.

Some have commented that his Riddler is very similar to Heath Ledger’s Joker, which isn’t a fair assessment. Madness has variations, and the Riddler’s madness is calculative, angry, explosive, while Joker’s feels more restrained yet chaotic. The one character that was a bit lackluster was John Turturro’s Carmine Falcone. I’m so used to seeing Turturro in comedic roles that I just couldn’t buy him as a mob boss. Maybe the intention was for him to be unassuming, but it just didn’t work.

What deserves the most applause is really the look and feel of Gotham. Director Matt Reeves has done a hell of a job in bringing Gotham to life. In previous versions, the setting doesn’t stand out in any way. Yes Nolan does give Gotham a cleaner look in The Dark Knight to show how Batman and Harvey Dent have been cleaning the streets of crime, but Gotham just felt like this generic city. In The Batman, we get a true sense of Gotham, from the gothic mausoleum that is Wayne manor to the seedy nightclubs – it feels vast and expansive.

Also, I really need to wax lyrical about the cinematography, as some of the shots in the film are so utterly gorgeous, and I just love the way the reds and oranges are used to contrast the darker figure of Batman. The Batman is everything a blockbuster should be, and then some. If you’ve yet to make the trip to the cinemas this year, let this be the film you go back to see. It’s worth the time and energy, and I can’t wait to see where Reeves takes us next.

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The Batman
There's so much to love about Matt Reeves' The Batman: the characters, the cinematography, the stellar soundscape, the incredible world-building. The screenplay could have been a little tighter, though.