He is vengeance! He is the night! He is PATMAN!!! Two years into his crusade on crime, Batman (Robert Pattinson) has little to show for it. Crime continues to run rampant and rot the core of Gotham City. A series of murders of Gotham’s rich and powerful lead Batman and Lieutenant James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) to the Riddler (Paul Dano), a serial killer intent on exposing the city’s corruption. As the murders and conspiracies unfold, Batman must reckon with the lies of Gotham’s rich and powerful as well as just how effective his fight for Gotham has been.
It has been ten years since the Caped Crusader’s last solo outing and the road leading to The Batman has been interesting. Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman introduced us to an older and more jaded version of the character played by Ben Affleck. The film’s reception was divisive, but Affleck’s performance showed promise. Affleck’s next project would have him direct and star in his own Batman feature but after a series of personal issues, Affleck stepped down and Matt Reeves would direct with Robert Pattinson to don the cape and cowl. Matt Reeve’s interpretation of the Batman mythos takes some interesting twists and turns and while the presentation is clunky in parts, The Batman is undoubtedly the most accurate interpretation of the character to date.
Reeve’s understanding and love for Batman’s mythology are undeniable and nothing reflects that more than in his interpretation of Gotham City. Whether you admired the gothic aesthetic of the Burton films or the grounded realism of the Nolan films, Reeves strikes the perfect balance between the familiar and the contemporary. Gotham City looks and feels dangerous, but at the same time, it’s also alluring. Gotham City is a living, breathing character which was something that was lost in Nolan’s Batman sequels. We get to see the higher-tier of the city as well as the seedy underbelly inhabited by Gotham’s most vile criminals. Gotham City is a vibe and the three-hour runtime provides an ample amount of time in exploring the world that Matt Reeves built.
Robert Pattinson has been having a career resurgence and his work in The Batman is the culmination of his grind and determination. The billionaire playboy we’ve come to know over the years is nowhere to be found. In his place is a recluse who takes more pleasure in being Batman than he does in being Bruce Wayne. It would have been just as easy to have Pattinson play up the billionaire playboy considering his conventional good looks, but both Reeves and Pattinson wisely opted to go in a different direction. The result is a fresh interpretation of Bruce Wayne that remains true to the essence of who the character is. In an era where superheroes rarely ever get hurt, it’s engaging to see Pattinson’s Batman get hurt and fail from time to time. With just two years under his belt, this is a Batman who still has plenty to learn and after watching The Batman, the sky is the limit for where they take this character.
Clocking in at three hours, this is the longest Batman film. Unfortunately, more doesn’t always mean better and you feel the runtime. The Riddler is featured as the film’s villain but John Turturro’s Carmine Falcone also plays a minor role as the antagonist linked to the corruption in Gotham. While acts one and three thematically align with Batman and his influence on Gotham City it’s the middle portion that pushes those themes to the side in favor of a plot-driven detective story. The Riddler sets off everything that happens but neither he nor Batman share any screentime together until the start of Act 3. Had Reeves truncated the Falcone subplot, this could have resulted in a film that was focused and streamlined.
A perfect film this is not, but The Batman is the most entertaining Batman film we’ve ever gotten. The world of Gotham City is fully realized and the performances all range from good to great! Zoe Kravitz and Robert Pattinson’s chemistry is on fire and Jeffrey Wright makes for an excellent Jim Gordon. For those expecting an action-heavy superhero film, The Batman will feel more of a piece with films like Zodiac as opposed to traditional blockbuster fare. For those simply wanting to immerse themselves in the world of Gotham City, then The Batman will give you everything you hoped for.