The Batman is unlike any Batman movie (or superhero movie, even) that I’ve ever seen before.
It leans – very hard – into its gritty, grungy film noir vibe. It’s more of a detective story than a superhero story, and it shows off Batman/Bruce Wayne’s sleuthing skills in a way that’s never really been demonstrated in any of the live action Batman films that I’ve watched.
It’s a long, broody movie, and it may not be everyone’s particular cup of tea. However, I dug it, and I’m excited to hear from comic book fans who loved it too, reporting that it really captures the essence of some of the comics.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have been super hyped for a new Batman film. I already love the Christopher Nolan films (my favorite is the third one, which I acknowledge isn’t the most popular opinion but I love it anyway). I also really liked Ben Affleck and Zack Snyder’s take on the character too, and was bummed we never got to see a solo Batfleck film.
But when I heard that Matt Reeves wanted to make a Batman movie, I was immediately on board. Reeves’ two Planet of the Apes films were far better than they had any right to be, and I still feel like that reboot franchise is criminally underrated, and doesn’t receive enough appreciation for how thought-provoking and well-made those films are. If Reeves thought he could bring a new take to the character of Batman, I trusted him.
I know that there was some skepticism (and jokes about Twilight) when Robert Pattinson was announced as the star of this movie, but I was actually intrigued by that. I can appreciate a bold, unconventional casting choice, and after seeing The Batman, I feel like Pattinson was definitely the right choice.
The movie starts off with a very noir-ish narration from Bruce Wayne, which we learn is him writing in his journal. This opening style really helps sell the idea that this is going to be a hard-boiled detective movie.
The film wisely skips retreading the origin story aspects of previous Batman films, though of course the loss of Bruce’s parents is a key part of his psychology and serves as the driver behind his actions. I also really liked the distinction that while this Batman fights crime, he doesn’t kill. He knows the importance of creating a larger-than-life persona as a vigilante, and it turns out that criminals have come to fear the “Bat in the shadows” so much that even the sight of the Bat signal is enough to send them running.
This movie clocks in at nearly three hours long, and while I feel like 20 to 30 minutes probably could have been shaved off, I don’t feel like any of that time was necessarily wasted. The film’s multiple villains actually work rather well, because the stories all tie together in the end.
It’s always a pleasure to see Jeffrey Wright and Andy Serkis, and I enjoyed them as Gotham PD officer Jim Gordon and famous butler Alfred Pennyworth, respectively. Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz also had great chemistry as the Bat and the Cat, and their will-they-won’t-they relationship again added to the noir feeling of the overall film. Paul Dano was creepy as heck as a more realistic take on the Riddler.
I haven’t been able to get back to the theater to watch this movie for a second time, although I feel like this is the type of movie where repeat viewings are necessary to take everything in. While this movie does work as a stand-alone Batman story, I’d definitely like to see more of Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman, especially stories that continue to emphasize Batman’s detective skills.