Warner Brothers Pictures
Written by Matt Reeves and Peter Craig
Directed by Matt Reeves
Starring Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Jeffrey Wright, Paul Dano, John Turturro, Andy Serkis, Peter Sarsgaard, Jayme Lawson and Gil Perez-Abraham
When the Riddler, a sadistic serial killer, begins murdering key political figures in Gotham, Batman is forced to investigate the city’s hidden corruption and question his family’s involvement.
I am a huge fan and aficionado of the character of The Batman and with that in mind, I was excited for a new adventure of the World’s Greatest Detective. Knowing that this would be an adventure during his early years and that it would be a detective story made me even more intrigued at the possibility of what I might see on the screen.
Sadly, my actual experience with the film was hit or miss.
First, Matt Reeves has a beautiful dark vision for Gotham City and its characters. The film looks fantastic. It has a great palate of color and Reeves brilliantly uses darkness and shadow to showcase the city. With the film highlighting Batman’s second year as Gotham’s vigilante hero, there are moments when the realization that he doesn’t utilize those shadows is forgivable and others when it makes absolutely no sense. There are literally scenes where a masked vigilante knocks on a door to gain entrance.
Batman’s presence in the film is inconsistent at best. There are moments when he’s treated like an annoyance and others where he is supposedly feared and neither of those things seem to work together. I hate to be the kind of fan that nitpicks anyone’s interpretation of the character, but even a less seasoned Batman should know how to be a presence in the room and this one never seems to do that successfully. He’s just there and people in the room either accept or don’t but ultimately their opinion doesn’t matter and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t.
Pattison does a really good job as Batman. He has the presence in the costume as well as the physicality to pull off the action. His Bruce Wayne is almost too dour and emo most of the time. There is no connection between him and Alfred (Serkis) and therefore no counterbalance between Bruce’s activities and his responsibilities. Alfred is mostly relegated to solving puzzles, making side comments and generally being so passive as to almost be unnecessary to the plot. Serkis does his best with the performance, but nothing is changed in the story because of anything his character does.
Zoe Kravitz does a great job as Catwoman. There is always a hint of danger beneath everything that she does and you never get a sense that you can really trust her, which is a good thing for both the story and the character. Her wild card unpredictability actually helps the story in different ways as it moves forward despite Batman and not because of him.
Paul Dano’s Riddler is fantastic. I don’t think there was a single thing that I could find about his performance, motivations or character actions that I didn’t enjoy which is both good and bad when you remember that this is a Batman film and once again the villain is more compelling than the hero. His reveals and performance in the final acts of the film are amazing to watch and frankly make me wish for more.
The mystery in the film is the most compelling element of it and does a great job of utilizing the three hour run time to unfold. All of the pieces of the puzzle being constructed are well executed and grabbed my attention. I frankly wish the main character were up to the caliber of the challenge he was given because the plot had him stumble into too many things that were easily missed.
The Batman is a beautiful looking dark film noir mystery that is entertaining to watch, but challenging to enjoy. It’s not a bad film at all and has some interesting characters throughout. Its biggest inherent flaw isn’t the look, story or mystery. It’s in its Batman himself being a passenger in his own story while everyone else grows, evolves and changes around him.