The Batman Review ~ The best The Caped Crusader has been on film (SPOILERS)


   The Batman is the first installment of a new series of Batman films directed by Matt Reeves, who is known for his directorial work on The Planet of the Apes series and the Cloverfield series of films. The story follows Batman as he tries to solve a series of murders committed by a serial killer known as “The Riddler,” played by Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood, Prisoners). The killer isn’t just killing anyone, however; The Riddler is targeting corrupt city officials and politicians. The clues and riddles left at each crime scene lead Batman, played by Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse, Good Time, Twilight), police Lieutenant Jim Gordon, played by Jeffrey Wright (Westworld, No Time to Die), and Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, played by Zoë Kravitz (Kimi, High Fidelity) down a path that reveals how corrupt the city of Gotham truly is.

   The movie is two hours and fifty-six minutes long. Despite the long run time, the movie doesn’t feel long at all. The movie is paced incredibly well, spacing out scenes of Batman fighting crime with his fists, and scenes of him doing detective work with Gordon. The story has many scenes of Batman just standing and talking with other characters, in full costume too. This was great to see because many superhero movies are strangely afraid to show scenes of the hero talking to people in full costume. Many times the hero will take their mask off to give the actor more screen time. The Batman didn’t have to deal with this problem because the batsuit Pattinson uses looks better than any other suit any Batman movies have used on screen. It fits him perfectly and it translates the comic book’s ideas of the suit into a live-action setting fantastically. It looks intimidating and even frightening in some scenes. This is perfect for the character of Batman. In fact, the entire movie exemplifies the character of Batman perfectly. 

   Pattinson does an excellent job at playing the Dark Knight. He represents the character better than any other actor on film, and he does a great job of showing how young this version of the character is. In this story, Bruce Wayne has only been “The Batman” for about two years. The death of his parents is still a fresh memory in his head and you can tell. This Batman is violent, and out for vengeance. He perfectly represents the character as seen in comics like “Batman: Year One,” “Batman: The Long Halloween,” and “Batman: Dark Victory.” These stories are known for being some of the best Batman comics ever, and all tell stories about a younger, more violent Bruce Wayne. The movie, however, doesn’t just copy the comic books, it changes up this version of the character’s backstory. In the film, Bruce Wayne’s father is revealed to have been a corrupt politician similar to the victims of the Riddler. His parents end up being killed because of his corrupt actions, which changes the context of Bruce’s actions as Batman. Despite this major change, the character arc Batman goes through in this film is inspired by all these books, which is perfect, and it sets up Batman as many fans know him. At the beginning of this movie, he is a selfish, vengeful vigilante, but by the end of the story, he is a selfless, hopeful hero. The actions of the Riddler make him realize he can’t just strike fear into the hearts of criminals, he needs to inspire the citizens of Gotham City.

   Speaking of The Riddler, Dano portrays a significantly different version of the character than has previously been seen on screen. This version of the Riddler is a sadistic twisted serial killer, who is trying to make the city pay for its sins. The costume the character wears is very reminiscent of the zodiac killer, and many of the scenes where he kills people are very clearly inspired by the film based on the killer, Zodiac. Many of the traps the Riddler lays out for his victims are based on the traps seen in the Saw movies. Despite the movie’s PG-13 rating, a lot of the scenes featuring the violent villain are genuinely frightening and disturbing. Once the character is caught, however, he is revealed to be a meek young man named Edward Nashton. Nashton is an orphan just like Bruce Wayne, and his whole life was treated as if he didn’t exist. This version of Batman and The Riddler act like two sides of the same coin, which makes their relationship throughout the movie fascinating to see pan out. The swift change after The Riddler’s capture from horrifying serial killer to a demented psycho who looks harmless is quite interesting, and it was a part of his character that added another layer of depth.

   Other characters like Jim Gordon and Catwoman also take inspiration from Batman comics such as “Batman: Year One.” They work perfectly for the story being told, and they, and every other character in the movie, fit into the web of corruption that is central to the plot. A tale of corrupt politicians being exposed is a subject that seems to fit the world, not only of Gotham but also our real world. This surprisingly political tale is reminiscent of All the President’s Men (a film about the journalists who exposed the Watergate scandal during the ’70s), which seems like an odd choice of inspiration for a superhero story, but it works perfectly. 

   Every element of the film collides in a great way, and there is very little the film could possibly change to improve it. The music in the movie is incredible, whether that be the licensed music from Nirvana, like “Something in the Way,” or Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” or the fantastic original score. Batman’s main theme song is awe-inducing, and it does a good job exemplifying the character arc Bruce Wayne goes through. He transforms from an angry man to a hero. Similarly, the song goes from a dark and simple string of piano notes to a loud, bombastic, heroic symphony. The cinematography is also some of the best, not only in recent superhero movies but movies in general. The use of colors in the movie does a good job of making the film look visually appealing, while also relating to what’s going on in the plot. The action choreography is also great, whether it be the fistfights that are executed perfectly, or the insane car chase between Batman and The Penguin, played by Colin Farrell (The Gentleman, The Lobster).

   In the end, The Batman is the best Batman film yet. It may not have as great of a villain as Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight, but it certainly makes up for that with a drastically better portrayal of Batman and Bruce Wayne. It takes influence from some of the best cinematic moments in film over the last few decades, and it uses the source material of the character to craft a new, and brilliant version of the Caped Crusader. It is the best film I’ve seen in recent years, and I can’t wait to see what director Matt Reeves does with the character next. The Batman is exclusively in theaters, and I highly recommend anyone who enjoys any kind of movie to see it as soon as possible.