Matt Reeves’ The Batman is one of my favorite movies that I’ve ever seen: point blank period. In a franchise with at least ten movies and a sub-genre as saturated as comic book movies, it’s hard to imagine reinventing the wheel to such a degree that The Batman achieves, but boy, do they ever achieve it. With a stunning visual style, unique take on a done and redone character and story, and refreshing thunderous sound – The Batman creates an experience like none other.
The Batman follows the crime-fighting vigilante in his second year as he fights to overcome his shortcomings and the shortcomings of the Gotham authorities, as they are murdered and exposed by the villainous Riddler.
[Spoiler warning for The Batman below!]
The Cast To End All Casts
I think it would be a great disservice not to point out the fantastic work done by the film’s cast. Robert Pattinson leads the film with authority. With the introduction he’s given into the story, you’re immediately convinced of who he is and don’t question it for another second. It’s also interesting how few bits of screen time he has outside of the cowl, and even with all that time acting under a slab of rubber, Pattinson sells himself in the part all the way.
Zoe Kravitz and Jeffrey Wright co-lead alongside Pattinson and also give killer performances. Kravitz is given more to do in the sense that she’s given a larger range of emotion, but Wright seriously disappears behind the mustache, and you forget about the charismatic loveable actor behind it all.
Paul Dano strikes once again as a creepy bad guy, falling right in line with his killer performances in There Will Be Blood and Prisoners. While I don’t think he hits quite as hard here as he does in those films, it’s once again a matter of “what’s on the page?” While he does go to a wide range of places in his performance, he still manages to be a terrifying presence in every moment he inhabits.
John Turturro and Colin Farrell also give career-defining performances here, which shows how deep this pool of talent really is.
Matt Reeves’ The Batman is a Technical Phenomenon
It cannot be overstated just how much Greig Fraser took control of this film. From start to finish, it’s a visual feast. Batman films historically have been incredibly compelling to look at. Every adaptation has had its own visual style, but none have reached a balance like this one. Combining Fraser’s cinematography with the design of everything is a perfect match. Never before have I despised every gross inch of Gotham yet fawned at every single shot. The town is a disgusting hell-hole, yet I want to live there.
The technical achievements for The Batman do not end there. The sound design and score for this movie are revolutionary as far as I’m concerned. Never before has mere sounds in a film – horror or otherwise – made my skin crawl and my stomach do jumping jacks. But especially never before has a movie’s sound made me both terrified and excited.
Moments when the Riddler attacks or comes on screen, you hear a musical sting that crawls down your spine and makes you wiggle in your chair a bit. But then, not long after, my chair was shaking as the batmobile fired up for the first time. My heart was racing so much that I was ready to stand up and cheer with all the breath in my lungs. This movie’s sound and visuals are enough to make it work just as a spectacle, but on top of all of that…the story is a revelation.
Batman Still Feels Fresh
As I said earlier: in a franchise with 10 (give or take) installments, it’s hard to imagine that The Batman is not only “reinventing the wheel,” but also that The Batman does it BETTER. The choice to take place two years into the career of Batman is clearly a purposeful one, and it makes a lot more sense than just starting from the beginning. Instead of a “so what, he’s donned the suit, now he’s Batman, whatever” moment, you reach an “oh wow, that’s THE Batman” moment, and it’s so much more rewarding.
Instead of haplessly focusing on the road that it took for Bruce to become Batman, they decide to focus on the journey for Batman to become a hero. It makes a lot more sense.
Think of it this way: if Bruce Wayne is driven to become the Batman based on the tragedy that befell him, wouldn’t it make sense that maybe he did it for the wrong reasons? He’s the personification of vengeance and revenge instead of the hopeful hero that people in Gotham need. We’ve finally seen the story of Batman becoming a genuinely iconic hero for the citizens of Gotham, and those final moments are really some of the best of the film.
If I Had To Complain…
Of course, this movie isn’t perfect. The film is structured around the riddles left for Batman, and the real action takes place in between them as he and Gordon try to figure it all out.
The problem comes once Gordon and Batman discover the second clue, trying to find out who “el rata alada” (rat with wings) is. That’s only the second clue they get, probably around the 30-minute mark, but then they don’t solve it until about 30 minutes until the movie’s end. Not to mention, they also have encounters with Gil Colson and Alfred. So there’s basically a huge two-hour-long mystery dead in the middle of this 3-hour long noir, with an extra 30 or so minutes on both ends.
The result is that the movie feels super well-paced and energetic at the beginning and the end, but everything in the middle is really slow and takes its time. Neither is bad, but the inconsistent pacing makes it feel even more pronounced. Here’s the good thing though; the movie is thoroughly great regardless. That’s the only issue I have with the film and it’s not even a big enough problem to get in the way of my enjoyment. I ended up loving the movie so much that I wanted it to last even longer.
With the visuals, the sound, the characters, the story, the sheer love and care dedicated to this project – I just wanted to experience it forever. Everyone has put their all into this project, and I just loved it from beginning to end. I’m more than ready to get my hands on a copy of this project so I can watch it again from beginning to end without anything to stop me.
My rating for this film:
★★★★½ / ♥♥♥♥♥
The Batman is now available in theaters. Check out the trailer below and let us know what you think of the movie in the comments or on Twitter @mycosmiccircus. You can check out Alex’s review of Matt Reeves’ The Batman movie HERE.